Top 9 Woodworking Project Ideas for 2013

The year is wrapping up and it’s time for a “Woodworking Daily” top 9 list – one for each month I’ve been on the blog. We’re going to cover some terrific woodworking project ideas and general inspiration in this list to get you ready for 2014!

9. Massive workbenches. When I first came on board at Popular Woodworking in February, I could not help but notice how much content we had on behemoth benches. I had to read quickly to come up to speed on the Roubo and its kin. Each bench tells an interesting story, and it’s fun to imagine what can be built on these solid workshop appliances. Many readers have already made this journey!

8. Traditional tool chests. From discovering our bench trove, it wasn’t long before I came across another useful shop appliance that we have examined as a traditional standby. I built one for my shop and one, in modified form, for a friend’s apartment. This was one of the most popular woodworking project ideas of the year, community-wide.

7. Rehabilitated antique handplanes. Once you have a traditional tool chest, you have to acquire some traditional tools to fill it. Or maybe I have that backwards, but in any case they go hand in hand. Old handplanes are not “antique” in the sense of “nice to look at and possibly something you’ll find in your aunt’s sewing room.” Old Stanleys (and other makes) are useful today! And they don’t require that much effort to rehab. I did one myself this year.

The trestle table is a great woodworking project idea that never gets old (even if you give it an antique finish).

The trestle table is a great woodworking project idea that never gets old (even if you give it an antique finish).

6. Trestle tables. I can’t say exactly when or where this image got into my head. And I sure can’t tell you where it’s going. But I am enamored with the look and functionality of these tables.

5. While we’re talking tables … I saw a beautiful Shaker side table by loyal reader Dana Farmer in May. I have been studying the clean lines and solid joinery of these tables ever since. We even put together a free download that features a Shaker side table plan.

4. First hand-cut dovetails. I know, it’s corny. But I think it happens to every woodworker sooner or later. You figure out the dovetail joint, and a light comes on in your head. For me, it was as simple as building some planter boxes this spring that had hand-dovetailed corners. The plants all died, but the dovetailing I learned will go on! How many of you have been building this skill in 2013?

3. Timber-framing. Woodworking isn’t just furniture, after all. You can think on a bigger scale! It’s inspiring to study this type of joinery, whether by watching a Roy Underhill video or visiting a school where they teach these skills.

Toshio Odate's workshop door is more than your basic roll-up.

Toshio Odate’s workshop door is more than your basic roll-up.

2. Japanese joinery. Again, I don’t really know why this image has stuck in my head for months on end. All I can say is it’s having an influence on my woodworking. I even bought my first Japanese hand tool this year, and started putting it to use.

1. My constant companion through 2013 … and the source for all of the above projects and ideas, is the Popular Woodworking complete collection in digital format. We just released the 1995-2013 set. It is worth the money because it is so fun to browse and brainstorm. Buy it today and get ready for next year’s projects!

Tell us your most inspiring woodworking ideas for the year in our comments section below.

Dan Farnbach

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Dan Farnbach

About Dan Farnbach

Dan apprenticed and worked in two professional shops during the years after college. But sweeping shop floors only goes so far toward learning woodworking. These days Dan is online editor for Popular Woodworking, and is learning new skills every day. He divides his time between Boston and Maine.

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