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Carpentry is as easy to learn as cooking or dressmaking. It's surprising how quickly the few basic techniques can be mastered, and how satisfying and economical it is to build even the simplest of objects. It's really a matter of organizing the tools and materials, then following the directions step by step, carefully and patiently. However, your projects should be something you are interested in making and useful upon completion. In quality, they should compare favorably with similar items available commercially. In selecting projects you should consider such matters as: Are necessary materials and tools available to make the project? Is it worth the time, effort and cost of material? Is it within my ability? Visit your public library for illustrated books on woodworking projects and to acquaint yourself with the terminology and correct methods. Visit a lumberyard and hardware store to learn about wood and woodworking materials. Ask questions. Offer to assist a cabinetmaker to learn the trade.

Planning: Efficient planning helps us to solve problems, avoid mistakes, and use correct techniques and methods in woodworking. The kind of wood largely depends on the use, function and finish of the product. A project should be of the proper size to serve the purpose for which it is intended. Proportion is considered as the ratio of the dimensions of a piece. We usually should make a project only strong enough to fulfill its purpose, otherwise it may appear to be heavy and awkward. Is the project designed to fit its surroundings? Is it durable? Are the most appropriate materials being used? Do the parts blend well together? Does it have eye appeal?

To start, you should make a pencil sketch and use this as a working drawing of your project. Sketching your project freehand with a pencil gives you opportunity to make design changes that make it more functional or appealing. Pictorial (three-dimensional) sketches are recommended. Making sketches of your project helps you to plan procedures and helps you to see how its parts fit together. In making a pictorial sketch, draw only the object lines of your proposed project. First draw the project as it appears from its front. Then draw its top and one side at an angle to the front to provide a pictorial effect. A working drawing provides shapes and dimensions of a project. A final working drawing may be drawn to scale using squared, lined paper. This usually consists of two or more views. Detail views (often enlarged) are used to show types of joints and shapes of special or irregular parts.

Material and tools: Wood is made up of long tubular cells like a bundle of drinking straws glued together. This structure makes wood much stronger in one direction than the other and it's much easier to cut along the cells or grain than it is to cut across them. Most timber merchants or lumberyards hold a large selection of stock sizes. Select clean, straight pieces and try to look through the stock for those without knots, splits, or discoloration. For most projects, any of the softwoods will do.

A large variety of special-purpose tools are available. Many of these are for convenience only and most work can be done perfectly well using a minimum number of hand tools. Power tools are quicker to use, but unnecessary for basic projects. Cutting tools must have a keen edge and are therefore potentially dangerous. A workbench is the heart of any workshop. It must be solid and sturdy. Ideally, your bench should be at least 1.75 by 1.5 meters from the floor to the top. The bench must be large enough to make provision for adequate tool storage. Consider mounting a sheet of perforated hardboard on the wall above your bench to hang tools (from metal hooks inserted in the perforated hardboard).

Basic tools include, depending on the complexity of your projects, a vice, hammer, handsaw, plane, 6 mm chisel, files and rasps, 3m retractable tape, screwdrivers, pliers, carpenter's square, levels, drill, sanding machine, a sharp pencil to mark the line and if you have a trimming knife, you can use it to score the wood (it severs the fibers and gives a cleaner cut).

2,000mm x 800mm hollow-core door (for table top)
Chipboard 710mm x 200mm x 16mm thick (for legs A) and 710mm x 184mm x 16mm thick (for legs B)
Pine 16mm x 5mm x 205mm long (top edging)
16mm x 5mm x 200mm (bottom edging)
40mm and 50mm long wood screws
15mm long nails
Small quantity wood glue and woodfiller
Glossy black enamel paint and small amount grey
Paint roller
Natural sea sponge

To make: Join B and A with a butt joint, glue and screw together with three 40mm screws countersunk, ensuring pieces are square. Clamp together until dry. Repeat for remaining three legs. Cut one end of top edging to 45-degree angle, attach to top edge of legs with glue and two 15mm nails. Attach side edging to leg side edges with glue and three 15mm nails. Cut one end of bottom edging to 45-degree angle, attach to bottom edge of legs with two 15mm nails. When dry, sand legs and door edges to ensure a smooth finish.

To assemble: Place top of one leg flush with top of door, glue and screw to door with four 50mm screws, countersunk. Clamp to ensure tight joint. Repeat for remaining three legs. Fill all holes with woodfiller, sand smooth when dry.

To Paint: Paint with two coats of glossy black enamel paint. Sponge legs with natural sea sponge and grey enamel paint.

Garden bench made with two boards
Besides the straightforward design of this garden bench, other advantages are its imperviousness to weather and its stability. It is heavy enough that it won't tilt even on soft ground. All members are of rough-cut, 2-inch redwood, which is a full 2 inches or more in thickness. Rough-cut cedar would serve equally well. You can make the bench with just three saw cuts. Choose rough-cut boards that are uniform in width and thickness, and preferably fairly dry.

Materials: Rough-cut redwood or cedar; 2 galvanized 20-penny common nails; 16-penny nails, waterproof glue, ¼ x 5-inch galvanized lag screws and washers.

To make: A handsaw will do the job, but most lumberyards will make these cuts for you if you wish. Cut a 50-inch length of 2 x 4 for the leg brace; cut two 13-inch lengths from an 8-foot plank, and you then have both legs and top. Best width for the plank top is 14 - 16 inches, but you may find that some of the more commonly available 12-inch stock in your local yard is over 13 inches wide (rough-cut lumber varies in width) and is wide enough for this use;

To Assemble: The legs of this bench are secured to the 2 x 4 brace with two galvanized 20-penny common nails at each end and were toenailed to the top from below with 16-penny nails. For more positive joinery, brush waterproof glue on the joints before assembling or use ¼ x 5-inch galvanized lag screws and washers in drilled holes. The completed garden bench requires no finish or stains and can be left outside to weather naturally.

Salad Bowl
Select a block of softwood in the size of the project. Make a working drawing of the project by drawing the shape of the salad bowl onto the wood block. You can use hand-carving tools or a router to create this project. Begin cutting the recess in the centre of the bowl, gradually enlarging it toward the outer edges. Sand the rough edges with fine sandpaper.

Bread Board
Select a piece of wood in the required size for the project. With fine sandpaper, sand the wood until it is perfectly smooth. You may use a stencil to trace lettering or an illustration directly onto the wood. Using chisels and a trimming knife, carefully carve out the engraving. Lightly sand the edges with fine sandpaper.