Building a well-proportioned project is one of the most gratifying things about woodworking. I don’t care if you own a circular saw and a hammer or a robotically controlled multi-axis router set-up, you can build something nice and useful that will last.
That’s the idea behind our “I Can Do That” column, which appears in every issue of Popular Woodworking (and will be the subject of book this fall). We show you how to build a professionally designed project using a few simple tools, such as a jigsaw, drill and hammer.
And we do it all in just two pages of the magazine.
How do we do that? Well, we have a free on-line manual that works hand-in-glove with the published project plans. The project shown in each magazine gives you the blueprints for the project; the on-line manual tells you everything you need to set up a shop with just a few tools and shows you how to perform all the basic operations. It’s a 69-page book, but it grows as we add new techniques.
I know that a lot of beginning woodworkers are frustrated by how many expensive machines it seems you need just to build something. I remember how that felt myself, but I’m here to tell you that it isn’t true. The manual shows you how to really stretch a basic kit of tools. I also know that beginning woodworkers get frustrated when they try to purchase materials for a project. Specialty hardwoods can be tough to find if you don’t know where to look, and some hardware has to be found by mail order. However, we have a solution to that problem as well: Every project we build uses materials you can find at any home center store or well-stocked hardware in the country.
Every issue, we drive down to our local Lowe’s or Home Depot and pick our materials for the “I Can Do That Column.” And we build the project using the tools and processes shown in our manual. And you know what? Despite the fact that many of us here are long-time woodworkers, we think it’s a blast to build the “I Can Do That” project. We get to build something nice using basic tools and materials , and it gets done in a couple afternoons of work.
If you haven’t experienced our “I Can Do That” column yet, I’d like to make you a special offer. Download our free manual here. Then download the free project plans from the February 2007 issue, a Country Chest that Megan Fitzpatrick and I built (and had a great time doing it). It’s a great project , so much so that some friends of Megan saw the chest and immediately commissioned her to make another one for them. We’ve created two versions of the plan. One is a high-resolution file; the other is intended for dial-up users.
We hope you enjoy this project (and the manual). And, as always, let us know what you think.
– Christopher Schwarz