While woodworking is fun, there are some simple mistakes that can be made. There are many practices and processes that have to be considered when cutting wood, marking measurements, joining boards, glue-ups, creating joinery, and so much more. Here are 5 simple woodworking mistakes to avoid that I’ve learned in my short time as a female woodworker.
Side note – woodworking is not just for men! It is a craft that is mainly male-dominated, but there are women that have made their mark in this field. If you’re interested in becoming a female woodworker, feel free to take some classes, stop by your local woodshop, or email me. I’d love to help you start your woodworking career!
Alright, let’s jump right into the list of simple mistakes and how to avoid them.
Not Paying Attention to the Wood Grain
This is a common mistake that I’ve made a few times when starting out. Paying attention to the wood grain is MAJOR KEY to any woodworking project. Here’s why – wood is likelier to break along the grain. An easy rule-of-thumb to remember is that when connecting two pieces of wood, the grains should intersect ( | – ) *. If the grains are parallel to each other ( | | ), the chance of your piece breaking is significantly higher.
* This does not apply when gluing boards together to create bigger pieces, like tabletops.
Using Dull Marking Tools
Marking tools such as pencils and scribing knives help to mark precise lines on wood, and other materials. The lines made by your preferred marking tool is the first step to creating your wooden masterpiece. Your marks guide your cuts. If your marking tool is dull, the line is no longer precise and reliable to keep all of your pieces true to its measurements.
- The scribing knife creates a clean cut across the wood fibers, which helps to guide other tools along the mark.
- It doesn’t dull quickly, like a pencil.
- Pencils are the most commonly used marking tool in the shop – I prefer these. It’s easily accessible and very affordable.
- Although, as a pencil dulls, the marked line becomes thicker, which results in a less-precise line.
Super Helpful Tip – If you’re using a pencil as your marking tool, consider using 0.5 mm mechanical pencils. Using a straight edge, (like a ruler, combination square, or drafting triangle) follow your mark with an x-acto knife. This helps to cut across the wood fibers like a scribing knife. It’s an extra step, but I personally love this technique!
The Misuse of Shop Machinery and Hand Tools
Woodworking in any form is potentially dangerous. Please use machinery, hand tools, and other equipment with extreme caution. Do not use equipment if under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or extreme drowsiness. Protect yourself at all cost. Wear nonslip shoes, short sleeves, and ensure your hair is tied back into a bun and slipped under a hat. The use of eye protection is strongly recommended. For more info on this site’s liability, please read this disclaimer.
Applying Poorly Balanced Clamp Pressure during a Glue-Up
You want to be sure to apply even, balanced clamp pressure along your piece. The amount of clamps needed depends on the overall size of the piece you’re gluing. An easy rule-of-thumb is to remember to place clamps in the center, and outer edges of your workpiece.
A successful glue-up is key to having a strong, bonded piece. Depending on your project, you’ll need to use a different type of glue. In a later post, I’ll go into detail on the different types of bonding techniques.
Inconsistent Sanding and Finishing of Wood Parts
Sanding and finishing are the last steps to pulling your wooden piece together. Aside from the successful glue-up, sanding and finishing add that beautiful touch to your piece.
Sanding allows you to correct surfaces that aren’t flush to one another, and helps to get rid of *almost* any topical imperfections. It creates this smooth, yet amazing to feel piece. The more you sand, the more smooth your piece becomes.
When sanding, be careful to not sand one spot of your piece more than another. This can create dips in your piece. When sanding a flat surface, I recommend purchasing a cork sanding block, to place your sandpaper around. This allows your sandpaper to sit flush with your workpiece. The porous nature of cork allows it to move with the workpiece to adjust when sanding corners.
My recommendation – due to experience and excellent advice from my mentor, work your sanding from coarse to smooth grit sandpaper. A great range from sandpaper goes from 80 grit – 600 grit. You can usually complete a great sanding job around 220 grit, but the higher the grit, the smoother your piece will feel when touched.
Super Helpful Tip – wear a dust mask! Inhaling sawdust is never good. Over time, it can build up in your lungs and cause complications later. In woodworking, it is always better to be cautious to avoid any harm associated with this craft.
Finishing of Wood Parts
Ah, you’ve made it to the end of constructing your workpiece. Now it’s time to choose your finish. In a later post, I’ll go into extensive details on different types of wood finishes, but here’s a quick need-to-know on wood finishes. READ THE MANUFACTURER’S INSTRUCTIONS!
It is imperative to read the manufacturer’s instructions for wood finishes. It not only includes how to apply the finish, but it explains in detail the environment you need to be in, and other safety information. I also advise that you are in a well-ventilated area to help minimize the inhalation of the fumes.
Remember, there are many practices and processes that have to be considered when cutting wood, marking measurements, joining boards, glue-ups, creating joinery, and so much more. These are common mistakes, so don’t be hard on yourself! You’ll get used to correcting these and will be able to help others in the future. Please use machinery and hand tools under professional supervision.
If you’ve learned something new or found any of these tips helpful, please share this post! It helps to grow my blog and bring you more awesome content. See ya in the next one!