Easy Woodworking Techniques for Your DIY Requirements
Easy Woodworking Techniques
If you’re new to DIY woodworking, this section is for you, where we cover some simple and basic descriptions of various tool-working techniques used in woodworking, together with some definitions of common woodworking terms.
If your woodworking skills are very basic, you can get comfortable with the terminology and pick up new techniques by reading over this section carefully. Woodworkers with more experience can review it, too, to brush up on techniques that are sometimes taken for granted.
Measuring and Marking
Careful layout and measurement are as fundamental to good woodworking as is using the correct measuring and marking tools. You shouldn’t use a tape measure to mark a straight line, or rely on a square blade to make a circle. Likewise, it’s important to stick with the same tools through the completion of the project — switching tapes or marking gauges in midstream is the cause of many small mistakes.
Usually, the steel tape is the basis of all measuring activity. Most general measuring jobs go to the tape because it’s fast and accurate within 1/16″ — acceptable for almost any but the finest of woodworking projects.
But a steel tape can’t strike a straight line over any distance. The metal band will move or distort no matter how careful you are. For distances less than 36″, a straight edge is the best choice if you need to mark a line.
As an option, you can always use a chalk line — a chalked string stretched between two points — or you can use the tape to mark short increments over a greater distance, then strike lines between them with a straight edge if need he.
When marking for a cut, traditional woodworkers often use only a steel scribe or a pointed awl tip. But a sharp pencil can still make a very accurate V-shaped mark, which works well because the point of the V shows right where to cut.
Marking a square or perpendicular edge is the job of a square. This is necessary for marking crosscuts or transferring a line to the remaining three sides of a board. A try square does the job best on smaller pieces, a framing square on the larger ones. Use it by laying the stock, or handle, of the tool against the edge of the work, and marking, in pencil, a line along the blade. To transfer the line to the side and back surfaces, walk the square around the work, using the tail of the previous line as the start of the next one, and so on.
To lay out a radius of partial or full circles, use a compass. Open its legs to the correct radius, then place the point at the center of the circle or arc you wish to make and swing the other leg to make the mark. Remember that the radius is half a circle’s width, while the diameter is its full width.
Figuring angles can be difficult, but the job is simplified with a protractor. The standard transparent type or the stainless steel kind with degree-graduations along the edge are both fine. Lay the bottom along the work’s baseline and the measurement can be read at the top arc. But the more sophisticated bevel protractor has a pivoting arm that can be laid alongside the angle as well, making it easier to read or establish the existing angle or bevel.
A level is used to establish the degree off of “plumb” (straight up-and-down) or “level” (horizontally straight) of a framing member. The level’s frame is laid against the side or top of the member, and the position of the bubble within the appropriate vial tells you how true the piece is. A centered bubble indicates perfect accuracy. For plumb measurement, the end vials are used; for determining level, the center one is read.