When it comes to making sharp and smooth curves, it may never be a cakewalk, especially if you have just begun your journey as a woodworker. Remember “Every master was once a Beginner”. There will be moments when you will be awe-struck by certain projects and it may be a long time before you can sail a smooth ride.
No matter what project I work on, I always make a ton of mistakes. Woodworking can be fun and something that gives you a lot of creative freedom but just so you don’t repeat your mistakes, we have compiled a list of "13 most common woodworking mistakes that beginners make". You are going to thank me for making you aware of these pitfalls. Avoid them, save time and enjoy woodworking!
1. Using the wrong tool for the job
Woodworking is like any other work of art which can be fruitful only if the right tools are put to use. There are a variety of woodworking tools like bits, wood routers, spindle, motors which you will use in your journey as a woodworker. You should develop a habit of knowing what tools works for which requirement as not knowing so can be fatal at times woodworking machine are quite heavy. So picking up the right tool is very important.
Most of the tools you will use are not going to be cheap and when something is expensive you should be careful with them. If you are unsure, then better work under a mentor or you can always look for alternatives like look for a rental service or finding an equivalent tool, just make sure to never try to make compromises with a tool. When you have just begun, you can use inexpensive tools but once you have gained some confidence, do jump to the correct tools.
2. Router Burn
By this time, if you have tried your hands at woodworking. You will know that a sharp saw or flat blades can cause some burn marks. The truth is under high resistance and force, wood starts to burn. The easy and small burns can be rubbed using a sandpaper but the burns caused by router bits can be slightly difficult.
To avoid causing router burns, maintenance is required. You should clean the router bits after every project. The only reason to do this is to avoid the router from heating up quickly which generally happens due to dust accumulation. Another important tip would be take break and passes when working on a huge project that needs several adjustments and cuts.
3. Usage of Dull Blades
In the beginning, you will find every cut happening smooth because the blades and saw is new. Overtime, they tend to get dull and the bluntness reduces. This causes resistance which increases the possibility or router burn. This is a reason why you need to have a sharpening device or a local sharpening service which can help you keep the blades and other tools sharp.
There are various factors that determine if you should get your blades sharpened or be replaced. Buying a new one can be very expensive which is why we recommend choosing blades that can be sharpened time and again. A dull chainsaw or a dull blades can become your enemy if you don’t maintain them.
4. Improper Ripping
Ripping is a term used to define cutting a wooden plank across its length. Such a cut tends to be long and can be done using various means like using a free hand, using a rip fence or a circular saw. In most cases, Ripping is done on a table saw. If you don’t do it the right way, there are chances that you may end up wasting a huge chunk of your wood.
To avoid improper ripping, we advise you to go slow in the beginning. Once you start slow, you can better judge how the cut is unfolding. With time, you will improve and get efficient in your process.
5. Lazy Handling
Woodworking can be treated as creating practical pieces of art. You have to treat the wood just like you would treat a canvas. Even a slight bump, dent or scratch on your wood can get difficult to fix if it happens on a project like creating a dinning table.
Learn to treat your material with care. Don't get lazy and if you are just beginning out then make sure to go slow and only start once you have the proper information about the tool. You need to handle all your raw materials, finished products and tools with utmost care. Afterall you may not want to spend extra time just to fix one silly dent.
6. The Forgotten Kerf
This is one of the most common mistakes beginners make. Due to thickness of the saw cut, newbies tend to cut short few pieces as they don’t consider the width of the blade when taking measurements to cut. As an example, You need to have three cuts of length 1*6 material, each of 4 feet long. If you have a 12 foot stick of 1*6, you should mark two lines and start doing the cuts.
But when using those pieces, you will fall short due to kerf. A kerf can be measured using the width of the blade, It usually is 1/8th of an inch. This is one of the reason why you have to keep in mind some extra space for your cuts. Do a partial cut, get used to your marking pencil and the width of the kerf, when making the cut, match the line and cut the edge.
7. Blowout (Tearout)
You may have seen results when the wood is torned out from some edge leading to an uneven non-pleasing surface. Blowout also referred as tearout are those chunks or wires of wood which come out from the sides. A major reason behind this is due to usage of using worn out tools to make the cut. A dull blade does more harm than you expect. You should never use it for two reasons: first it harms the wood and second it can compromise on your safety.
Using the correct blade for a particular woodworking job is very important. When it comes to the material of the Blades, linoleum and OSB can take heavy load and not cause tear-out. You can also make use of the painter’s tape. Using the tape allows better control and can prevent the tearout.
8. Dirty Environment
Woodworking is a job that produces loud sound from the machines and since the operations happen on wood, expect loads of dust and debris from the remains of the wood. Though you can’t prevent all the dust but you can definitely practice a few things like using two different locations for your build and the finishing work, using a dust collector to ensure clean area and always keeping the router bits and machine free from dust.
Only once you finish, the dust shall settle. It’s important to keep the surface clean for which you can buy a dust collector vacuum pump. Dirty environment is the last thing you would want on your woodworking table.
9. Safety First
When you begin woodworking, you may have gotten familiar with tools and the simple terms. What most people tend to take for granted is their own safety. There are a lot of harmful tools which are sharp enough to give you a deep cut. If you ignore tools like chainsaw, router bit and heavy duty blades, they can prove to be hazardous.
Whenever you are on the woodworking table, even if it is a small task. Always make sure to use the safety gear. It includes a safety glass, high-quality hand gloves, and headgear. This may look like too much to begin with but it's important for you. A woodworking room is filled with powerful tools and you may not want to play around without having your safety gear on.
10. Have a Spirit Level Ready
When you are working on a woodworking project. It is easy to get deceived at certain angles. Whether it is having a miter cut at 45 degrees or just having a balanced wooden table, You should not trust everything right away with your naked eye. You may have to bend certain angles and also squeeze yourself a little to figure out if the whole surface is even or not. But the truth is however hard you try, you may be wrong a number of times.
The best way to avoid getting into the mess of working on uneven surfaces is by using a spirit level. This will save you a lot of the time and also help in the precision of your work. Using this tool, you can easily check all the different angles and make sure there is no trouble in giving a clean finish to the product.
11. Know your wood
Depending on the region where you live and the supply of wood to you, you may get a ton of different types of wood. A wood which suits crafting a bookshelf can’t be used for making a dining table. You need to understand simple aspects of the wood like the thickness, grade, texture. If its a particle board or a marine ply or something else. Picking the right timber is very very important.
Whenever you begin working on a new woodworking project, spend some time researching over your product and the wood usually used to make it. It will help you understand aspects of how to give shape to a wood, which wood can take up the heat from the tools and which can take the maximum resistance. Make it a habit to read and work yourself over different types of wood so you can be well versed in knowing their usage.
12. Slow Down
As discussed earlier, Woodworking is like making a practical piece of art and since it involves a lot of work where you will be using heavy tools, you need be cautious of the way you run the operations. Never rush due to the initial excitement of things. You may want to take things little slowly when beginning doing stuff. Woodworking is not a cake walk if you never had an inclination towards heavy tools.
Spend ample time doing research and have a go-to attitude towards making the most out of the resources which you already have. It is very easy to get injured when you have no experience. You can sail the boat smoothly only once when you have honed the art of perseverance as there will be times when something will test your nerves.
13. Don’t Overcorrect
Woodworking is not like clay where you mould something and then re-mould it into a different shape. In woodworking it is very frequent to make rookie mistakes when you have just begun but don’t spend too much time just fixing those mistakes. Often times, you may end up messing the woodwork piece even more.
The best thing to do in such a problem is to reflect back and see at which point you made the mistake and see if it can be fixed using anything. If not then don’t hold on too much and spend time correcting it. It is alright to make mistakes, but not learning from it will be a huge mistake.
Woodworking is like working on a beautiful canvas made up of timber. You have to feel the type of the wood and continuously visualize the end result. As a newbie there are a ton of mistakes that you will commit and that’s completely fine. Make sure you have went through our guide of the most common woodworking mistakes. Once you have honed the art of learning, you will be fine for most of the mistakes. If it’s your beginning, hold your nerves and keep coming back to ace the axe.