If you decide upon construction lumber, you want kiln dry lumber. Green lumber will warp on you as it drys. Dig through the stacks and pick out the straightest, cleanest pieces. Generally, the boards that are sitting loose on the stack are those that other people left behind, as they sorted through looking for better. Be prepared to move them out of the way, and to dig down to the better stock. Be nice, though, and put everything back when you're done.
Palomar Community College in San Marcos, located about 35 miles north of San Diego, offers certificate, degree and life-long learning programs to more than 20,000 students a year. In particular, the Cabinetmaking and Furniture Technology Department offers in excess of 50 classes annually, and the present faculty is composed of four full-time teachers, 21 part-time instructors and 11 teaching assistants. As of Fall 2013, woodworking students will have access to a newly remodeled woodworking facility equipped with three machine rooms, three bench rooms, a saw mill and a finish room.
A shed is a great project to earn your sawdust legs on. It is just some very basic carpentry skills. You could build the whole thing with a circular saw, hammer, utility knife, pencil, and tape rule. Find a friend or relative that has some decent skills to help. You could do it in a weekend. Keep the size on a four foot increment to minimize wastee. I would recommend a 12 x 12 or a 12 x 16 if you can. If you don't want to cut any rafters (which is really a simple process), you can order small triangle shaped trusses for the roof from your local lumberyard. If you are using T1-11 for the sides, get the real plywood based stuff, no waferboard. Same thing for the floor, use plywood (treated if you like). Cedar for the trim, not pine. The visqueen underneath is a good idea. Insulate the walls inside to help temper temperature swings. Build overhanges into the roof all the way around, 12" is nice. These really are a fun project. You can add a small window with a flower box underneath to make it look a little homey too.
Next is the shelf. Start with the 24x48" piece of MDF. Clamp this on top of the base, and pencil in the outside of the stretchers and the inside angle of the legs. Flip it over, pull out your trusty cutting guide, and cut it to width and to length. Cutting out the angles is simple, with a jig saw. It's not much work with a hand saw. If you took enough care with supporting blocks and stops, you could probably do it with a circular saw. Since I did have a jig saw, I used it.
For most of the course, we'll be heavily focused on developing your skills using hand tools. As a developing woodworker, there is no substitute for putting in the hours of direct hands on practice it takes to gain an intuitive understanding of wood. The early part of this course focuses on working with hand tools as we believe they bring you closer to wood as a material. You can rip a board on a table saw with out much thought to the wood itself, but you will understand much more about grain if you rip a board with a hand saw. As the course progresses, machine processes are introduced as a pragmatic aid in expediting projects.
In this class, John will explain and demonstrate safe spindle turning techniques for turning a bud vase or a carvers mallet, an essential tool for anyone wishing to sculpt wood or make hand made joinery. Objective Through hands-on learning students will gain experience and confidence using our new Laguna mini lathes. You will develop an understanding...
The projects in this course follow a natural progression of skills, techniques and tools. Some of the early student-made tools are, in fact, used to help make the next tool or bench fixture in the series. You are supported in the building of these projects with step-by-step outlines, knock-down examples and continuing, one-on-one consultations with the faculty. Periodic evaluations of your progress with a specific faculty-mentor help keep you on track.
My wife has given me the OK to buy a "Rancher"-style shed from Lowes and have it installed in the backyard. The discounted installed price will be about $2,600 and this includes the 12' x 8' structure along with a lot of upgrades (twin metal doors, a window, 2 skylights, storage, vents, etc.). I can save about $300 if I build it myself, but my skill level isn't there yet, so I'm going to pay Lowes to assemble it. (See Post #12 below for some photos of the shed and the space I have to work with.)