In Feature Articles, Shop Blog, Woodworking Blogs

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Being new to woodworking is a scary thing. There are all sorts of societal expectations and in many cases way too much information. I don’t want to dwell on gender here, (because I know many excellent female woodworkers), but there is an expectation for males to know how to “do” things. Build, fix, adjust, whatever. This is not innate knowledge and depending on your upbringing you may never have had a chance to come in contact with a hammer, let alone a 12″ helix-head jointer made by Hammer. And because of that societal pressure, we don’t want to admit to a lack of knowledge, thereby admitting our lack of testosterone-fueled competency.

Yes, you can attend courses in one of a number of very good woodworking schools around the country, but the distance and expense involved may not fit into your lifestyle at this point. You can surf YouTube and get so much information on every topic that it just becomes difficult to decide what is good information. It’s out there, but it’s not always easy to recognize.

That’s why we decided to start the I Can Do That! video series (special thanks to our sponsors Woodcraft & Titebond). To help new woodworkers learn the basics at a pace that makes sense and without asking them to spend thousands of dollars on tools and machinery. We started with only portable power tools (jigsaw, circular saw, router, cordless drill) and the usual hand tools that most of us already have in our garage or basement. We didn’t ask you to learn to cut a dovetail (though that’s not an awful thing to learn!) but kept the construction of cool projects simple and achievable. There’s the point. If you have a success in your first and second and third woodworking projects, your confidence is strong and you’re likely to want to try again and again.

So, if you’re new to woodworking and want to learn from a proven source, allow me to introduce you to the I Can Do That! videos. The video links below are from our fourth season and all are available to view for free. In this season we’ve stepped up our skills a bit and introduced a benchtop table saw. If you need to start a bit earlier in the skill set, please check out Seasons 1-3.

Season 4, Episode One: Introducing the Table Saw

There have been a variety of work surfaces in the I Can Do That shop – from sawhorses and plywood, to elaborate benches. In this episode (and the next, it’s a two-parter), we’ve finally answered the need. Our I Can Do That workbench is built simply, sturdily and affordable. We used plywood and home center materials with basic but useful storage options, a face vise, and bench dogs. And we even make it mobile!

Season 4, Episode Two: Table Saw Basics

In this episode we’re covering three more types of cuts that will take your woodworking to the next level. By angling the blade, you’ll be able to make bevels and chamfers that add a lot of dimension to your projects – I show you how to avoid issues in making this cut. Next, we cover the basics of using a dado stack. For cabinets and shelves, the ability to make a dado quickly and safely is a huge advantage. Your projects will be stronger and more stable because of this type of joinery. I use a 6″ Freud dado set available from Woodcraft. Finally, we dive into how to make a tenon for mortise and tenon joinery. Many would consider mortise and tenon to be the ultimate wood joint.

Season 4, Episode Three: Routers Beyond Roundovers

Woodworkers love their routers, but they may not be getting as much out of them as possible. In this episode of I Can Do That, Andrew takes routers beyond roundovers, and shows how to cut rabbets, makes a simple jig for accurate grooves and dadoes, and shows a few methods to create arcs and circles with a router. Lot’s of router fun! Download plans for the grooving jig.

Season 4, Episode Four: How to Build a Torsion Box Workbench (Part 1)

There have been a variety of work surfaces in the I Can Do That shop – from sawhorses and plywood, to elaborate benches. In this episode (and the next, it’s a two-parter), we’ve finally answered the need. Our I Can Do That workbench is built simply, sturdily and affordable. We used plywood and home center materials with basic but useful storage options, a face vise, and bench dogs. And we even make it mobile! Download the free version of the workbench plans.

Season 4, Episode Five: How to Build a Torsion Box Workbench (Part 2)

In the second part of our I Can Do That Workbench series, we build the torsion box top. It features a replaceable hardboard top surface and an affordable quick-action face vice. The bench’s design also allows for storage on both sides of the center beam and for good measure, we’ve added flip down casters and made sure we had clamp storage and power access. Download the free version of the workbench plans.

Season 4, Episode Six: How to Make a Router Mortising Jig

Andrew Zoellner shows how to make and use a clever mortising jig using the router of your choice. Make sure your mortises are centered and perfectly-sized for your next project using this simple jig.

Season 4, Episode Seven: How to Make a Mortise & Tenon Shop Stool

A fairly important piece of equipment in any shop is a decent shop stool. For detail work, it lets you get close to the work in a comfortable way, and after a long day in the shop, it lets you relax and appreciate what you’ve accomplished. Follow along as Andrew Zoellner takes you through the steps to make this oak shop stool, and learn some steps to make mortise and tenon joinery. Download plans for the shop stool.

Season 4, Episode Eight: Measuring Hacks

Accuracy makes a difference in woodworking, so how you measure things – and the tools you use – can make or break a project. Learn the ins-and-outs of a nice selection of measuring tools (and tricks to using them) as David Lyell gives a tour of I Can Do That Measuring Hacks.

Season 4, Episode Nine: How to Make a Simple Slab Coffee Table

Wood slabs are all the rage and we’re not immune at I Can Do That! In today’s video Andrew takes you through the steps to build a simple router jig to flatten a slab, making it ready for use as a coffee table. Next, you’ll learn to make half-lap joints on the table saw to build a modern base for the table.

Get the PDF plans & cutting list for the coffee table here.
Download the coffee table SketchUp files.

Season 4, Episode Ten: How to Build a Modern Kitchen Island

At every party, the kitchen ends up being the center of activity. So, adding a kitchen island to help focus that activity only makes sense. Our I Can Do That! island is sized to fit nearly every home, with seating for two and modern open shelving for cookbooks, spices or nick nacks. Easy to build with lap joints and pocket screws, anyone can tackle this project!

Get the PDF plans & cutting list for the kitchen island here.
Download the kitchen island SketchUp files.

Season 4, Episode Eleven: Building a Router Bit Storage Case

Router bits are a significant investment in your shop, so it makes sense to protect them from damage. Our I Can Do That! Router Bit Case does that and makes the bits easily accessible, and cool to look at! We’ve added an unusual hinge for our clear acrylic door that gives the case a very modern appearance.

Get the PDF plans & cutting list for the router bit storage case here.
Download the router bit case SketchUp files.

Season 4, Episode Twelve: Metalworking Basics

When you’re working on a woodworking project, there’s more than a chance that you’re going to stumble over some metalwork. In the spirit of those frequent occurrences, this I Can Do That! episode is a collection of helpful techniques for working with metal. Learn about cutting, drilling, tapping, grinding and finishing metal for your next project!

Season 4, Episode Thirteen: Handsaw Basics

Being able to use a handsaw is one of the most valuable skills a woodworker can have. In this video, we show you a few different types of saws and share some tips on using a couple of the more common types. Plus, we show you our pick for a perfect handsaw for beginners.

Recommended resources:
Handsaw Essentials
Handsaw Tune Up

We’ve got five more episodes coming to round out the season, so follow us on YouTube and we hope you’ll be building lots more woodworking projects!

– David Thiel


Product Recommendations

Here are some supplies and tools we find essential in our everyday work around the shop. We may receive a commission from sales referred by our links; however, we have carefully selected these products for their usefulness and quality.

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