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My wife recently passed away. I used my time off to build her a giant bookshelf (reddit.com)
536 points by frans 56 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 238 comments

My woodworking journey started when I was quoted $2500 to fix my porch railings. $1000 in materials, $1000 in tools mix in youtube tutorials and patience and now I'm hooked. The sliding compound mitre saw was the life changing tool for me. It was what was holding me back all these years from doing my own projects. I was always outsourcing this type of work for simply the cutting of lumber and thought I could do better than what I paid for. My railings turned out really well and mercifully passed the wife approval test.

YES! This is why it's SO important to keep this sort of stuff in schools.

Sliding compound miter saw is a magic tool.

Now just wait until you get a MIG welder and a bandsaw, you'll be UNSTOPPABLE and the world will suddenly look a whole lot different!

Sidenote: I'm the program director at a nonprofit where I teach/create curriculum. One of the workshops that I love teaching is a week long where we teach the following skills to a group of 12 kids:

Welding: learn to run a mig welder well enough to make art, furniture etc. Welding is easier than you think!

Woodworking: learn how to use a miter saw, and make 2x4s into smaller pieces and then reassemble them into larger pieces of different shapes!

Arduino programming: make lights blink on and off in exactly the way you want them to, and learn some C++ and core programming concepts in the process.

Laser cutting: learn how to take things out of your imagination and create beautiful things on the laser. Lasers always blow peoples' minds at how cool the the things they can make are, and how easy it is to use them.

These specific skills mean that these teenagers leave with a totally shifted perspective on the world around them. The experience you had realizing that the railing you wanted to fix was actually something that you can interact with and modify is what we're doing for these kids, but doing it with: things made of bits (computing), things made of wood, things made of metal, and things made on a computer (CNC). I'm really passionate about it. If you know of a group of kids that would enjoy this type of workshop, please email me!

It really is sad that most schools have discontinued these programs. I have a cousin who makes knives. When I visited his shop in Ohio last year, he commented that a lot of the workbenches and tools that he had in his shop were bought at auctions from schools getting rid of their shop programs. It’s a shame.

My high school was the regional hub for vocational training, so we had an entire wing devoted to these things. There was even a small restaurant and I remember one of the capstone projects for the year was actually building a house. Fortunately it has continued to be well-funded.

Unfortunately, an honors-level academic load meant there was no time in the schedule to take many of these classes.

35 years ago I had to argue quite a bit with my high school advisor to be allowed to take drafting. She was adamant that a “college bound” student shouldn’t take shop classes. I use things I learned in that class to this day (it was all hand drafting but there was an Apple II sitting in the corner with a primitive CAD program that I was allowed to play with towards the end of the semester)

Hah, my Engineering School in college required drafting courses (one dedicated hand drafting course, one dedicated CAD course) as low level requirements for every major, including Industrial, Chemistry, and Computer engineering students that didn't always know how/where it would come in handy (but there are indeed lessons applicable to everything). It's a general knowledge communication skill, even if you aren't communicating mechanical diagrams, there are still plenty of carry-over to all the other sorts of diagrams we all see in every field.

This is uncanny. I have the same exact story from 25 years ago.

Before freshman year, I had to sit down with my guidance councilor to select my electives. I chose Spanish and Drafting. She said both of those were a "bad fit for an honors student"; that I should take French and Art instead.

I acquiesced, not too happy about it but also trusting she knew what was better.

A few weeks later I got my schedule. Apparently French was booked up so I got Spanish. But still had to go to Art class.

I dropped that a week later and switched to drafting, which I did all four years of high school. The first two years were technical drawing and the next two were architectural drafting. This is when I convinced the teacher to let me fire up the 386s in the back of the room. They all had Generic CADD[0] on them, which remains one of my favorite CAD programs of all time. Simple, but wicked fast with two-key commands for everything. (i.e. "ZB" for zoom to box, "C3" for a 3-point circle, etc.)

[0] https://winworldpc.com/product/generic-cadd/60

My only saving grace there was that my dad was a Land Surveyor and made heavy use of AutoCAD. We had the full digitizer tablet and access to a color plotter.

I didn't care so much for the 2D stuff, but over time I taught myself a lot about modeling stuff in 3D. I blew people away in drama club one year when I showed up with a rendering of the auditorium, stage, and lighting locations for one of the plays.

I took am automotive technology class in highschool and my teacher was amazing at teaching students the art diagnostics and troubleshooting. The skills I learned from that teacher did far more to get me where I am today in my career (started out at the bottom ring of IT Support and have since moved up through Sysadmin roles and now in the dev process automation game) than any other class.

Ha! I was the only one taking AP-level everything and electronics and power mechanics as my electives!

The shop teacher was so grateful that he finally had someone super-interested in more advanced topics that I got to do extra projects he'd had on his wish list for years. One of my favorite high school memories and experiences.

Unfortunately I think a lot of kids would shy away from doing this today as it can hurt your GPA -- because of weighting, an A in an AP class is worth more then an A in a shop class.

So if a school is mostly focused on college-bound students, it's kind of natural that these programs have fallen away.

I'm old enough that I did basic shop stuff in middle school -- soldering, bandsaw, even a table saw. No way that would fly today.

Colleges don't care about weighted GPAs, only unweighted. Of course, they'd prefer if you take more advanced courses but they'd rather see that you perform well in the courses that you do take rather than struggle in courses that are too hard for you.

You touch on one of my frustrations with high school. In most schools, tracking means that you either take APs or you take classes that teach hands on skills. As if someone with a BA will never need to know how her car works.

Agreed. I doubt the schools wanted it this way. I think we, as a society, are allowing this to happen. Wish I knew how to reverse it.

It seems pretty obvious it died down as a result of the shift to knowledge economy. It would reverse if manufacturing & the trades resurged in importance.

I'm a grown man and I would LOVE to be in that workshop and learn those skills!

If you are in the US and live near a Woodcraft store, many of them have dedicated training rooms with regular clubs and class schedules. 100% woodworking, but still valuable knowledge and experience. I know there's a pandemic on right now, but when we get back to mostly normal I suspect they will start their classes back up again.

See if your neighborhood adult school has any classes. I have taken a woodworking class in local adult school. Courses were done in the workshop of a high-school.

This is a really honorable and amazing occupation you've found for yourself and I'm glad folks like you are out there changing people's perspectives and lives. Do you have any resources you'd recommend for learning welding? That's been a skillset that I've wanted to pick up for awhile.

Just buy a welder. Seriously. The machine I learned to weld on was a lincoln 140, and the machines we have at our space are miller 210s (which are LUXURY imo).

There are probably thousands of videos on youtube that will show you how to use it, but here's the thing: if you use it wrong, who cares? You really can trial and error your way to it.

Just don't trial your way into a situation like this https://youtu.be/6RSRou0D-MM :P

A $99 Harbor Freight stick welder, a cheap grinder, plus mask, gloves, long-sleeve shirt and what-not. Then go to a local metal supply place and ask if you can buy some scraps to practice welding---I ended up with a box of pieces of 1/4" steel plate for free. Technically, I should take them back to recycle when I am done, but I'm too ashamed of the horrible welds I did on them. I still can't scratch-start worth a damn.

Just be sure to watch some videos or read up on on how to do it safely.

I learned to weld when I was a kid, I was raised on a citrus farm by my grandparents and when you grow up on a farm you are by virtue a farm hand. My grandfather was past the age of "I want to learn new stuff" and a lot of modern parts for machinery where starting to be produced in aluminum, so my grandfather bought a TIG machine and I was told figure it out (I also learned how to rebuild automatic transmissions due to him not wanting to learn them). Anyways back then they did not really have spool guns for MIG machines so pretty much if you wanted to repair aluminum you needed a AC TIG machine or a DC TIG and had to run pure helium. We got an AC machine because helium is a lot more expensive than argon. Anyways I ended up becoming proficient at TIG welding really quick and honestly there is more involved (rods, gas, torches, etc) but after doing TIG/MIG/Stick I think TIG is the easiest process to actually learn the manual process of welding. To me it is far more natural than using a MIG torch or holding a stick clamp and using your finger to try to guide the stick due to the fact that stick requires some serious gloves to keep the heat at bay whereas TIG you can use very light kidskin gloves. The torch to me is the big part of where TIG shines as it is the most similar to using a pencil to draw. Learning to feed the rod takes some time, but it's not critical, with a TIG peddle you can slow down the weld to allow you time to synchronize feeding the rod. Finally TIG produces the superior weld in both strength and aesthetics the problem with it, is it is the slowest form of welding so it is frowned upon for production welding unless it is absolutely necessary such as welding exotic metals. That being said, I think it is a great process for hobbyist as it allows the most control over the process and provides the person welding with the ability to weld the greatest amount of different metals. I would not discount learning TIG if a person is interested in learning welding, especially if their interest lies in doing metal art or jewelry.

I would also recommend people look at China Mart welders for hobbyist use and possibly a multi-function machine, you get a lot of bang for your buck and there are some decent ones I personally have an Avortec AV6X, the welder is designed in the US, manufactured in China, quality controlled in the US and warrantied by the US company. It is a multi-function welder that does, TIG/MIG/Stick/Plasma and runs a 100% duty cycle. A similar offering from Lincoln on Miller would be upwards of 8k, I paid 2K for my welder. That being said, it is overkill for a hobbyist, one can get a decent AC TIG for under $600 and a combo AC TIG/Stick/Plasma for about $750. DC TIG machines can be had for a little over $200 but you have to run helium to do aluminum and they will not do stainless steel, titanium or any other exotic alloys which pretty much relegates them to common mild steel, but that is pretty much the same as MIG unless you spring for a spool gun to do aluminum on a MIG. Stick can do a variety of metals but it is really only good for industrial in the field welding as weld quality is the poorest out of the three and aesthetics are certainly the worst. One is not going to show off their stick welds, that is for sure.

Also for those looking into it, Miller has an app and website:


It takes all the guess work out of the welding process, you put in the process, the metal, the thickness and the type of weld (butt, lap joint, etc) and it spits out:

rod, gas flow, power settings, electrode, Torch Cup Orifice Diameter for TIG.

Wire size, gas flow, power settings, spool rate for MIG

rod, power settings for Stick.

Honestly this is 80% of learning to weld and nowadays you don't even have to go look it up in a book, you just put in the parameters and it spits out the variables you need. Basically all you have to do is learn manual process of welding.

Also follow up tip, welded metal does not look hot but it can be very hot far away from the weld. When learning try to not pick it up with you hands, use a welder clamp or some grips. Assume all metal is hot, but when learning you are inevitably going to pick one up, we all did it, we all do it. You learn quick to not trust that metal is not hot.

And another tip, for those of you that do look to get a machine if you are in the US don't buy a 120v welder, they will do the job for really thin metal but about the time you get the hang of welding you will say to your self I should have bought a 240v machine. You pretty much outgrow a 120v machine the moment you grasp the process. Don't get me wrong, they have their place like fixing panels on cars but they are very limiting on the thickness of metal you can weld.

Why specifically MIG and not something like flux core? Also, what resources do you recommend for learning to weld? I wish I could take a class on this but all I see is like two year old programs for becoming a certified welder and I am just looking to do it for random odd jobs.

Not OP, but I learned MIG at my local community college about 15 years ago. It was mostly pipe-fitters getting certified in the class and I was able work on whatever projects I wanted. I started with stick, then went to MIG, and then did a follow on class where I told them I just wanted to do Oxy-Ace. I think now they offer a more variety of classes, for people who want to do art and such.

If I recall, flux core is dirtier, and having a tank of argon on your cart isn't too expensive for a shielding gas. I lived in a studio and luckily my neighbors were cool with me running a chops saw.

I have that same problem, too.

I got a cheap stick welder and some plate and played around until I could kinda do it. Then I fixed my mailbox. It looks horrible, but it doesn't move anymore.

Most MIG machines can run flux-core wire without any problems. Gas-shielded welding (MIG/TIG) produces cleaner welds with less slag that needs to be cleaned off, but doesn't work outside with any wind.

Depending on your location, you may have a local makerspace, tool library, or similar; oftentimes places like that will have beginner classes on the cheap. Granted, that may all be on hold presently for Covid-19, but could be a nice thing to bookmark for later.

Edit: as an example from my own locale, the Denver (Colorado, USA) Tool Library typically has a beginner's welding class for $150: https://denvertoollibrary.org/upcoming/welding-101-fjbkt-k4g..., though they've suspended all in-person classes while the pandemic rages.

Flux core is really useful if you either don't have the ability to use gas, or are working outdoors in the wind.

Our shop is indoors, and we have nice machines.

I am intrigued. What is the minimum age requirement for this workshop ? Do you have a website for this ?

The ideal age is 13+ for that class. There have been some really bright kids that are younger who have done it, but that is the right age for the kids to get the most out of it.

Ok Thx. I have a few years to wait then :)

Not the op, but in the Bay Area The Crucible does classes for all ages


Blhack do you have a portfolio/website show casing your creations I can see? :)

I enjoy woodworking quite a bit, but before anyone gets any misconceptions, cost savings is NOT a reason to get into it. Unless you need very specific custom dimensions, IKEA can sell a piece of furniture significantly cheaper than I can get raw materials (even if my time is valued at zero).

I saw my rotting railings as a way to fund a new hobby. Since that project I've built a gate, a few planter boxes, fence repairs, a table with the scrap wood and a few other minor things. Enjoyment aside, my cost savings including the value of my vocational time would be reason enough but like you said I have specific cases that can't be bought off a shelf. It is also difficult to get skilled labour to perform small jobs where I live so it is almost a necessity at this time.

But surely your raw materials will be significantly higher quality? Well-made furniture lasts for generations. IKEA is a consumable.

Well made furniture can be pretty difficult to make. I'd guess for the average skilled person it probably takes a half dozen projects and lots of research before you start making pretty decent furniture, so keep that in mind!

On top of that, designing good looking furniture takes much more skill and time. Sometimes ya just don't have the knack either.

That being said, it's still super satisfying to make furniture, even if it gets cracks from expansion, has all kinds of weird defects, or doesn't look all that great!

Not necessarily in ways that matter. If I use equivalent materials (MDF), it's still more expensive for me. If I use good plywood (which is usually the right choice) or solid wood (which despite common perception is the wrong choice for almost anything involving large flat panels), it may be more durable but becomes significantly more expensive.

IKEA stuff may not last centuries, but it often lasts fine for its intended use. I have a number of cheap IKEA Kallax-style bookshelves around my house. They're made of cardboard, hopes, and dreams, but have held up to all the loads I've thrown at them for years and even survived a couple of apartment/house moves (admittedly, the big one would probably not survive another move). How many people ACTUALLY want to keep the same piece of furniture with the same dimensions and styling forever? How many people who want to actually manage to in the face of new residences, combining furniture with roommates/partners, etc.?

IKEA is only one example. The same arguments apply for other brands, including some "real" furniture. I'm in the middle of building a queen-sized Murphy Bed. All said and done, my material costs are approaching $2000 (without a mattress) and I've spent several weeks worth of evenings on it. It's been a challenging project, and I don't regret it, but economically it would ABSOLUTELY have been better to buy one.

> is the wrong choice for almost anything involving large flat panels

This is not at all a common or majority opinion among the fine woodworking community. There certainly are advantages to engineered wood products, but the shortcomings of wood as an organic material (it moves with respect to humidity, regardless of what you coat it with) can be overcome through successful furniture design.

Also, IKEA is not the comparison for my DIY projects. I compare quite favorably in cost to Thomas Moser, West Elm, etc.

It's difficult to generalize, given that they have an absolutely huge inventory, but the IKEA pieces I own (Two tables, two sets of cabinets) have held up for a decade, and are likely to hold up for at least two more.

The key to IKEA furniture, I have found, is to place it where you want it and never move it. I have Billy bookcases that have lasted 15 years while being FULLY loaded. I also have had to replace my son's Billy cases as we've rearranged and updated his bedroom multiple times over the years. He doesn't abuse them, they just don't like be moved in and out the room,even empty, for painting or other projects.

Wood's expensive. High quality exotic wood can be very expensive. Someone making their first pieces of furniture will likely (should) be using MDF or pine, same as an Ikea item, but will still be paying more just for the materials than the finished item.

You are totally right about furniture, though if you enjoy it; it can certainly be worth while. With practice you can save money over higher end places like Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn that might have more interesting design than Ikea. Any furniture you build should be because you enjoy the process, saving money can be elusive.

For things like the railing the original poster mentioned, that really falls under home improvement. For those things which are generally site built by a carpenter, you can absolutely save money even factoring in a few tools.

And in a year when it needs to be replaced they’ll sell you another.

Depends on the item. IKEA is known for it’s cheap and flimsy particle board furniture, but it also sells solid hardwood furniture that is quite solid and well built.

I have a $99 table and 4 chairs that i bought from them something like 8 or 9 years ago. Still holding up very well, though I can see how some of their other stuff wouldn't do so well.

That’s very noticeable in the price though.

It's still cheap compared to comparable alternatives though.

Not for the same quality though. Ikea is convenient, but most items won't last.

Miter saw (even without sliding) was transformative for me as well. A cheap table saw complements it nicely (I then splurged and got a CNC router, too, which opens up a wide range of techniques). AFter that I ended up playing with chisels, which I always thought were very primitive, but you can do a surprising amount of nice work with just a chisel and a hand saw.

I'm a computer programmer but I expect that more and more of my hobby time is going to be making things by hand. It's really a job, after struggling with some stupid code, to just go design something on paper, make a few cuts, and see it work in reality.

That’s the exact reason I (as a programmer) want to start doing some wood work, there’s something about creating tangible stuff that web programming just doesn’t fulfill.

You talk about the table saw as a complement. I thought it was a must have, legit question, how do you make precise long cuts without a table saw?

A track saw is a great option for long straight cuts. As with any tool you can find inexpensive to very expensive options. The cheapest option is to use a straight edge with a normal handheld circular saw. Next up are jigs that attach to a circular saw. Finally there are the true track saws. For the budget friendly end, look at the options from Kreg, on the high end, Festool.

A tracksaw will generally perform better than 99% of the tablesaws out there for breaking down sheet goods. And will be far safer as well (kickback is a bitch).

I clamp both ends of straightedge to the work, and use that to guide a handheld circular saw's edge.

If you're interested in making furniture you should check out Lost Art Press' Anarchist's Design Book. It describes making "vernacular" furniture, i.e., not fancy but sturdy and durable furniture.

It's only in last few years that I've learned the key thing about tools: if I'm doing any work and struggling, I'm probably using the wrong tool.

I had the exact same experience.

I'm in my early 40s now and had never done any woodworking a single day in my life and never even had really used any type power tool other than maybe a drill.

Early in the lockdown, my wife and I decided to completely redo our backyard, We were initially going to hire someone to do it, but after receiving bids for $20k+, we chose to tackle it on our own.

My first project for the new backyard were two simple cedar planter boxes. Fast forward five months and I've made more planter boxes, a deck, some steps, acoustic panels to hang in my studio, and a custom desk for my daughter.

I've found that while the end results are far from perfect, they're still pretty great. Even after figuring in purchasing a few power tools (including a sliding compound mitre saw like you mentioned) we still have spent way less money than had we hired someone to do the same work.

I'm really looking forward to my future projects. My only regret is not taking this up sooner!

So, this is a stupid question, but do you mind explaining what are the benefits of using planter boxes vs just planting directly in the ground? We're getting into gardening a bit during the pandemic as well and I'm trying to understand why planter boxes have become so popular. Thank you!

There are probably other reasons people use them, but a few reasons why planter boxes can be the right choice:

(1) If you live in an area with very poor soil conditions, it may take years and lots of hard work to get your soil usable for the things you want to plant. Or you can grab planting soil that meets your requirements upfront and dump it into some planter boxes.

(2) They look nice, and some people are going for that look in their garden.

(3) Not needing to kneel so much, which can be a game changer for people with eg knee problems.

I'll add to this:

4) Not having to actually dig to plant. The work involved in buying soil and dumping in a planter box usually pales in comparison to digging a hole a couple-to-few feet deep, wide, and long.

Thanks! This makes sense. Appreciate both replies. :)

Like probably many people here I had my first computer (running DOS) at an early age.

I've never shied away from DIY projects but didn't truly feel comfortable that I'd do them well until I started building up my tool collection.

Equipped with the right tools and youtube as you mentioned, there's usually nothing complicated about it and it's a lot of fun to go from virtual to physical creation.

Just bought myself a new 12" dual bevel sliding miter saw. Such an amazing upgrade from my cheap 7.5" single bevel sliding miter saw I had. I didn't want to spend $450 on it, but damn I'm glad I did.

I used this justification to buy a really good router. I would love to have a drill press and a spindle sander; there's some things you just need one to accomplish well.

Always get the best tool you can afford! During the lockdown, I got a new DeWalt table saw with a proper rack-and-pinion fence. It can make the most accurate cuts and is an absolute joy to use! Worth every penny and then some! I've already used it for a number of projects.

Beautiful bookshelf! At a capacity of 5200 books I feel “bookshelf” does not do the work justice, maybe a “library” is more fitting.

It seems so fulfilling, being able to make such beautiful things. But also a bit expensive eh... to get the woodworking skills (presumably by taking classes at a technical college?), the equipment, and the time involved.

If any folks here are capable of doing this stuff, would you please share details of your journey, I feel inspired to learn some of this myself. Did you feel it was all worth it, what would you do differently if starting over again?

I'm a bad woodworker. My furniture has bad joints, gaps between pieces of wood. I don't use good wood. I do a poor job painting or staining it... and everyone still just sits down on my chairs and says, "This is so cool that you make your own furniture."

Start small, start bad, improve on each project... and give it time.

Woodworking is one of those skills where you can see literally every flaw about your finished product, because you know what greatness looks like and you cannot achieve it.

And nobody will notice but you, and maybe another woodworker. But generally they're nice enough not to say anything mean.

I like it because it keeps me humble. Just when I believe I have the largest amount of domain knowledge related to my job, and just when people are starting to view me as an expert. . . .

The god-damned half blind dovetails don't fit, and I know I made them right. I KNOW I DID.

It's also one of those frustrating life lessons about putting in the work.

Like, sanding. When you first start out you're very tempted to just give it a very cursory sand to get any splinters off the edges or whatever, but once you sand something butter-smooth once, you have the frustrating realization that you're going to have to keep investing that much time and effort on every project you make going forward.

OCD sanding warning: down this path you may discover it's possible to sand some types of bare wood to a mirror finish.

Sanding well is huge. It can be the difference between "yep, you nailed some 2x4s together" and "oh my god, that is so beautiful"

Or you just cheat and epoxy the thing and then poly it for UV protection. Gives a nice glass smooth surface, but every woodworker will know you cheated and took the easy route and you loose the feel of a nice oil finish but everyone who is not a woodworker will marvel at it.

I took Jory Brigham's TWW guild Hank Chair class, he said something like 30% of his shop time is spent sanding.

For me, finishing is not as fun as joinery; but patience during the sanding and finishing is absolutely essential to a good result.

Can't upvote this enough!!

And there's no freaking undo button with wood.. it's mentally challenging to not freak out about every little mistake.

Over time I'm learning to get better about this, but it's rough.


I built my daughter a rocking horse- any woodworker or trades person looking at closely would chuck it in the bin as the joins are slightly off and the seat isnt symetrical but when i posted a photo of it on instagram or showed it to anyone- my friends where sharing it and people where commenting on it saying wow asking could i build one for them

Stupid question - would it be sane to get involved in this stuff without having a means of transporting large objects?

Every time i look into wood related work, be it home repair or artsy stuff, everything is huge. I have a Prius. I'm not too thrilled at the idea of buying a 2nd car (truck), and i don't want to drive only a truck.. so how am i to get the supplies?

Sounds like a silly question, but yea - things are just big. And i always thought i can't bother if i don't have a truck. Especially with the ~$70 overhead on shipping i see from lowes, home depot, etc. And i'm not aware of any local (wood) places that deliver.

Am i missing anything obvious?

I do this (edit: build furniture) for a living. I have a roof rack on my Civic for getting lumber, and I occasionally rent a cargo van for deliveries.

Be aware that nominal lengths are usually approximate. I busted a windshield in the Civic because I knew I could fit a ten footer. Turns out my ten foot board was 10' 2" and when I was wiggling it to get the back end in the trunk, I wiggled it into the windshield wrong :-(

I had that happen.

I knew I had successfully put in a 10' piece of plastic conduit before. I tried it again, wiggled a little too hard, and crack. The 1" conduit is not as flexy as 1/2" and that was enough to cause a problem. I use a towel on the windshield end now.

I have transported a bunch of lumber with two Civic sedans, mid-1990s and mid-2010s. Small cars with seats that fold down, kind of like the Prius in that respect.

If possible, I get the store to cut the stock down beforehand. Works for 4x8 sheets of ply, for example. To fit in my car, it kind of needs to be less than 36" wide and not much more than 8' long, but specifics vary.

If I need basically a full sheet (4'x8' or 5'x5'), I put a blanket on my car roof, put the wood up top, and use 2 moderate-duty ratcheting straps (less than $20) to hold it down. No problem.

If it's long stuff (for my car, ~10') then I either put it up top, or let it hang out the back with a red flag on it. You can optionally get an accessory for your car to hold the trunk lid partway open so it does not sway up and down throughout the trip home. Keep the driver's window down a bit so you don't pull exhaust into the car.

Another solution that I've used to avoid delays getting pieces cut down is to take a saw with me. A basic $25 Japanese-style pull saw will do a great job on mouldings (and is just a good tool in general), and a hacksaw works for thinner metal. Some people take a battery-powered circular saw -- again, not a bad tool to have anyway, especially if you're bought in to a given battery-powered system (e.g., Bosch, Makita).

I live in a city, and this means I often have to take surface streets on the way home. I favor closer lumberyards for that reason.

Home depot will rent you a pickup for an hour for $20. And you can drive it to pick up at stores that aren't Home Depot.

There's also the idea of making friends with someone who has a larger vehicle. Minivans work almost just as well and are more commonly available.

A Prius is one of the best compact cars you can have for this purpose, it can easily fit 8' lumber that's 2' wide, stacked 2' thick. In mine (2008), I drop the back seats, slide the front passenger seat forward and tip it all the way back, both extremely easy.

I haven't tried it yet, but I'm convinced with the right strapping and padding, and driving at low speeds on a non-windy day, you could also strap full 4x8 sheets on the roof.

You'd be surprised how many mom and pop places will deliver. And like others have said, for anything else, there's always the rental truck or a U-Haul.

If you want nice furniture, listen to all the other comments here. If you want the joys and sorrows of woodworking, look into making boxes.

We're not talking about apple crates here. Some people make some very nice boxes. You can start simple and get more complex, but even the simple projects require precision and care. You can involve all sorts of advanced woodworking techniques like inlay, homemade veneers, marquetry, hidden joints, it's an endless list. You can't really buy nice boxes like you can build, unlike furniture. And you end up with nice gifts, especially for people who appreciate fine craftsmanship.

8' (or even 10', depending on your model) studs can probably fit inside the vehicle if you fold down the rear seats and use a towel to protect your dash. If you have a sunroof, it's even possible to transport a few 12' boards by sliding them up through the sunroof and out over the hood/bonnet (again, with a towel to protect the roof). It looks ridiculous, requires taking slower backroads and is probably best done when there is little/no traffic but it is doable.

You can drop the back seats and fit wood from the end of the dash to the back of the trunk. I put a movers cloth on the back of the seats to prevent it from getting messed up. You can use a hand towel on the dash to prevent it from getting scratched.

But you cant really fit a 4x8 sheet into the back of the car, truck rentals might work out. But honestly if you have a buddy with a truck, just ask, and if they say yeah, fill up the tank for them when your done with it.

I had a 2003 Pontiac Vibe, a hatchback, and the best feature, next to the variable valve timing, was the hatch glass lifted up apart from the hatch. All I had to do was lift the glass and slide in long lengths of lumber. Brilliant design feature that I remember from my family's obligatory station wagons from the 70s and 80s. I still love wagons...

If you have a Home Depot nearby, they rent trucks for like $19 for the first 75 minutes. Go for a wood run, rent the truck for an hour, buy enough to make it worth it, and return it.

From what I've seen though, wood isn't cheap to have delivered. They can cut it for you in the store, but obviously a prius still isn't best to ship it in.

Maybe find a friend with a truck or light trailer that you can borrow every couple of months?

Transporting the full sheets of plywood can be really hard. But I have a hatchback and that's the only thing I have had really a lot of trouble with. I have had 16' long pieces of trim hanging out of the back of my car. As long as it isn't dragging on the ground you can still get it home! Now getting those 16' pieces down in to my basement was the real challenge...

I had the same problem and what I do is cut the big 4x8 panel in to 4 equal size pieces. 99% of initial woodworking projects are small. You are rarely making big giant dining tables and every car fits 1x4 panel.

My local lumber yard offers free delivery.

Also, I have fallen in love with the fold down rear seat on my Civic. You can fit surprisingly large objects in the car with the seat folded down.

Near me we have U-Haul (not sure if they're a national company) and you can rent a truck for $20 and then it's something like $1 a mile.

if you have a smaller vehicle, just stick to smaller sizes. At HD (or any large box hardware store) you can have them cut large stuff down.

The biggest things I put in my SUV are large plywood panels and long dimensional lumber. Those can be strapped to the roof if you have a top rack.

I think this is wisdom that applies very generally, to more than just physical things we make.


Beckett's famous "fail better" is broadly instructive.

I can totally relate. I always strongly believed in being able to do and build things myself. That's why I also even learned to knit at some point.

There is a great sense of self to be experienced by doing these fundamental "tasks".

Same here. Every project I finish is something where I go, "Well if I were to do it again, I'd do it like this instead..."

meh... I asssure you a bunch of that its only impostor syndrome... we need only keep doing it. Mastery comes later

It happens to my here and there.

> presumably by taking classes at a technical college?

Trial and Error is all you need. I've never formally trained myself in woodworking and I'm pretty good at it. I could definately replicate what this guy did if I had the time and money. My wife and I have a book collection that currently lives on eight 2.5 metre high by 1 metre wide Oak bookcases that fully line two walls of our living room (which we call the Library). Each unit has 8 shelves (so 64 metres-ish of book space). All built by my fair hand.

The trick is to plan, and to plan well. being able to mock things up in a basic CAD package is a must. I use an old copy of Sketchup (the offline version) and it does me.

After that it's tools. Bad tools make for a bad job. If you can, spend money on good tools, but only buy what you need for that job. After a few years, you'll have a workshop full of nice kit that enables you to tackle anything. Once you learn what your tools can do, you suddenly realise how many projects are now accessible. It's a bit like getting a 3D printer and realising how many things you can now build or fix!

Finally, measure twice and cut once. This is your mantra. Accuracy is everything. If you are not sure, cut the wood slightly too big and trim off until it fits - it's easy to make a bit of wood smaller, it's impossible to make it bigger.

I've also designed, built and fitted our kitchen (that's all Oak also), and the desk units in the study (where I'm typing this) plus numerous other projects to long to list.

If I could give up IT and do woodworking everyday, I would.

If I could give up IT and do woodworking everyday, I would.

I feel like this every time I do some project around the house. After replacing my toilet a few years ago I realized that manual labor is bad for the knees but good for the soul. But knowing me I would probably end up writing a script to help whatever job I was doing, and then end up making that my focus.

"Why are we tracking parts using a pen and paper? There's a much better way to be doing this..."

Cut to five years later when your former-plumbing shop is now selling an inventory control PAAS to other plumbers and you're now trying to learn swift so you can port to the latest ipads.

> measure twice and cut once.

I've had to amend that after a shameful disaster with a half-lap joint beam - "Measure twice, think once, cut once."

Yeah, doesn't matter how many times you measure if you did your math badly. Definitely happened to me a couple of times.

There is an old saying in construction and woodworking, all defects can be covered up except for a board cut too short.

I use an old copy of Sketchup (the offline version) and it does me.

Blender and FreeCAD are both good open source options. You can also alternatively draw an SVG in Inkscape, import in to one or the other, then 3D extrude it.

For those who have never used these tools, they are very good but have an _extremely_ steep learning curve. If you just want to make stuff but see this software as a roadblock, you can still accomplish a lot with good old pen-and-paper.

100%. You can even learn to render in 3D well enough with pen and paper. Sometimes with simple maker projects you can even start with a loose 3D render and do the rest in your head.


Sketchup is so much easier to use than blender though. Amazingly easy.

> measure twice and cut once

Evidently order is important here. Measuring and cutting are not commutative operations.

Also, if you have two parts to join, the measuring on both sides doesn't cancel.

If only carpentry and woodworking were as easy as algebra.

I really liked OnShape for my latest woodworking project.

Allows to make 2D drawing and assemblies etc, even animate joints. It's not open-source unfortunately though.

Example: https://cad.onshape.com/documents/72898c3fef68768a08c1287a/w...

So was Fusion 360. I'm glad I hadn't gotten around to putting any time into learning it.

The author mentions that he used OnShape for the project, actually.

> I could definately replicate what this guy did if I had the time and money

Perhaps you can but for anyone else reading, this is a big and complicated project. Far beyond the capabilities of an enthusiastic/studious beginner. Your mitre saw or cross cut jig/sled being just a few thousanths off will mess this project up. This guy did a really great job.

I wasn't dissing his work. It IS great. What I was trying to say, is that without any training, and by pure self-learning, I have the same skill set. I was replying to the parent comment about needing formal training.

Just get started, really. Start small, make the same thing twice: one for learning, another with the lessons for the first.

I will not claim to be a good woodworker, I recently made https://preview.redd.it/oyg8onja3ll51.jpg?width=4608&format=... which I'm quite happy with. Some rough edges.

I do not consider myself particularly handy, but just get started. And watch a bunch YouTube videos for tips.

Tools used: cordless drill, saw, tape measure, 90 deg angle thingy, some clamps, 45deg angle cutting template block. I had the wood panels sawed at the DIY store, so no need for a table saw.

I think all the tools used can be had for a few hundred euros.

EDIT: I think the hardest part of this is imagining how to put everything together, do the accurate measurements or design things in a way that you can tolerate less accuracy.

I learned a ton making this, would do it differently next time, but both had fun doing it and now have a nice pillow box. People tell me "I didn't know you were so handy". Well, me neither.

>I think the hardest part of this is imagining how to put everything together, do the accurate measurements or design things in a way that you can tolerate less accuracy.

Woodworking is a lesson and exercise in planning and preparation, more than anything else. The actual skills used are fairly basic hand-eye coordination. But the planning. Oh the planning. You absolutely have to see the steps laid out to completion, one at a time, when you start. Otherwise you cannot even begin the project with hopes of finishing.

I'm fairly certain there's a metaphor in there somewhere, but it's early in the day.

The Dutch saying is 'good tools are half the work' and there is another saying 'A good plan is half the work', so with a good plan and good tools, you're already done...

Not wood working, but I remodeled almost my entire last house. 1 kitchen, 1 bathroom, 2 bedrooms, a hallway and minor work to the dining room and family room. These were complete guts down to the studs with new windows, doors, electrical, plumbing, insulation.

Expense wise, you need quite a few tools and obviously materials. Doors I always went with solid core doors (vs hollow) and double pane windows. We used fiber glass insulation and drywall was appropriate to the room (water proof drywall in the kitchen / bathroom, regular in the rooms) always at least a half inch.

Demolition was fun if not exhausting (plaster and lath walls). Neighbors took the original doors to match existing builds.

Took time to get good at mudding the joints to get them smooth. I did the electrical; sub contracted out for plumbing. I don't mind electrocuting myself lol, but a leak in plumbing and you can throw all of your work out.

Dad (who has experience) helped and I learned a lot from him (especially on cutting trim and tile). Otherwise watching a ton of home improvement shows; youtube videos; etc...

All of it is totally doable; just need to take your time, measure 20 times, cut once, etc...

My favorite work was masonry - I built a brick pizza oven 1 year; then a concrete block planting wall with a fireplace in it the following year.

Can't say I want to do it again; took all 8 years before we divorced and she kept it to get everything but 1 bedroom done; but if I have to when I buy my next house, I know I can and how.

In NZ the majority of modern plumbing is done using https://www.buteline.com/nz/nz/buteline or similar.

The tool and connectors are relatively expensive, but it is super simple to do your own plumbing reliably. I have done a few odd home plumbing jobs, and it doesn’t take a lot of skill to do something as reliably as a plumber would do. I’m not sure I would trust the similar push-on connector systems.

I think the search keywords is “pex fittings”, but just go to your hardware store and see what they stock.

We did our bathrooms, and learning the plumbing aspect was probably the most interesting still addition for me. My father in-law taught me how to do copper pipe soldering, and stupervised the upstairs plumbing.

Feeling emboldened, I ordered a shower kit off of Amazon. Ye gods... the 4 head unit came with a tin template and a 'good luck'. Ended up putting together a 4 head double loop with pressure equalization.... after many, many attempts.

After those projects, I'm reasonably OK with it. Will be using coper piping when the zen 3 threadrippers finally hit the store.

Agree with all of this.

People act really shocked at the level of DIY I get up to, but really the main secret is having a go.

You can definitely get as close to as good a finish as a pro, it just takes longer and is more fun for you!

The current project is a home office from scratch; which basically meant learning how to build a wood frame building. YouTube is a wonderful resource! (First fit is done, plastering next)

Best lesson learned on plastering - thin it out a bit with water and add a little dish soap - helps keep bubbles out. Google it (where I got it from lol)

Ceilings are the hardest part :( So much reaching :( Eventually I got good at corners but that took effort.

Ah good tip thanks!

I did some external plastering with cement once and it was horrible! So I'm steeling myself to have a go :)

> Took time to get good at mudding the joints to get them smooth

I can attest that drywall work and mudding is definitely an acquired skill. No matter how many youtube videos you watch it takes practice.

It's less expensive than pre-made furniture.

A good place to get started is construction lumber -- just 2x4s. They're not bad once you clean them up with a sander and potentially planer and finish them, and they have a certain industrial aesthetic raw. They're cheap enough that if you mess up or change your mind, you can throw them away and try again. And if you want to redo a piece of furniture, you can do that too. If you want to make a custom mount for something, just drill a hole.

Homes look surprisingly good when all the furniture is custom -- floor-to-ceiling wall-to-wall bookcases, desks designed for what's on them, etc. -- even if it's just cheap construction wood.

From there, you can move upscale. You can go quite far with Home Depot plywood sheets. Done well, they look great.

I have a mix of fine woodworking pieces (which take a month or two to do), to things which take a couple hours to throw together. And it feels awesome once most of the furniture in your home is handmade. And it's a much better use of space.

Get a few 2x4s, a pair of cordless drills, some nice screws, a circular saw, a carpenter's square, a tape measure, and safety glasses and you're good to go to get started.

If you want to step it up a notch, get a random orbital sander, proper guides, (GOOD) clamps, a router, and a jigsaw. If you can at all afford it, buy NICE tools. Better beats more. I'd rather have a good Bosch cordless circular saw and drill than a full kit of Walmart toolkit. And they'll cost less in the long run, with less damaged work pieces, and fewer broken tools.

Also, Youtube videos are great. So are online woodworking forums. Classes are nice if you can afford them, but hardly necessary.

You probably know what you're doing but for a beginner, 2x4 isn't a good choice because:

1. 2x4 are not 2" x 4" and when you start, you make a lot of assumptions that land you in hot water.

2. A beginner will not know what does "green" vs. "klin" mean and will have a hard time getting anything to be straight.

3. Construction lumber is made for construction and not interior use because of many different factors.

I would highly recommend choosing poplar 1x8 boards (they will neither be perfectly 1 inch in thickness nor 8 inches in width but close). They are easy to work with because poplar is soft, even though it called a "hardwood". And the wood takes paint and stain very well.

Also, with poplar, your list of beginner tools will be spot on. You wouldn't even need much more and I'm confident that I can put together a good enough kit for under $250 by using only corded tools and an extension cord.

1. Precisely! When you run into catches like actual versus nominal dimensions, you don't want to be working with a $40 piece of wood, but a $5 piece of wood. When you're wrong, you toss it and try again. Or you unscrew it and try again.

2. That's okay! If it's not quite straight or square, it's really fine for most pieces. Unless you've really s-ed up, you won't be able to tell.

3. I have plenty of pieces of furniture made from construction wood, especially in the kids' room, and they do just fine. Kids grow fast, and an elementary school table won't be what we want in middle school. Heck, we might want something different if and when hobbies change.

The point is to make a bunch of pieces quickly, and to develop the technique to be able to:

* Make a (roughly) perpendicular screw hole without having the wood splinter on the opposite side, and perhaps with a proper countersink hole

* (roughly) cut a piece of wood to length, with a (roughly) square edge

* Get intuition for the order to measure/cut/assemble pieces so everything fits

* ... and so on.

There's a bunch of mechanical skills (like making a square cut) and spatial reasoning skills to develop. The best way to do this is to do it over, and over, and over many times. Once past that stage, poplar is ideal. Starting out, make as much stuff as you can as quickly and cheaply as you can.

Even now, I'll sometimes cut a piece of wood to the wrong length, and I've been doing this a long time. The first few pieces? Forgetaboutit.

I’ve been using 2x4s (1.5” by 3.5”) as a beginner, and I’m happy so far. They’re a very nice, convenient shape for a lot of things and aren’t very heavy and are very cheap.

2x4s can go a long ways. I know that this is a professional furniture maker but Hal Taylor made a beautiful rocking chair out of 2x4s from Lowes. That said, this does not make it cheaper because it still a professionally made chair with very intricate details, but it is a testament that you don't need expensive tropical hardwood to make something beautiful.


> (GOOD) clamps

Any advice on what to look for or what brands you might recommend?

I bought a couple furniture clamps a few years ago and they are complete garbage.

I agree with the advice of all the other commentators, but I'll add a recommendation to have a few Irwin Quick Grip clamps on-hand (or similar). They're my go-to for 90% of just holding something in place for a moment (e.g. when drilling a hole with two pieces aligned).

You want a good pair of parallel clamps or pipe clamps too, for when gluing stuff, which can hold something precisely for a long time with a lot of pressure, but most of the time, you want something fast.

I also recommend a few clutch-style bar clamps, since a lot of time, you're reaching over something.

I absolutely love pipe clamps. They still provide a lot of clamping pressure but are significantly cheaper than parallel bar clamps. And if you need a longer clamp all you need to do is go buy a longer piece of pipe

How much adjustability do they have?

If I got pipe clamps would I need to have a whole range of pipes just to handle standard work?

No, the pipe clamps still work for anything shorter than the pipe. One end of the clamp screws on to the pipe and the other side slides so it is very adjustable. But I would still recommend some small clamps like the quick-grip clamps or some F clamps.

Bessey is very good and worth every penny. I also have some Bora clamps that are good. Parallel clamps are generally the best since the clamping force is even.

Parallel clamps are the result of hundreds of years of research into developing a clamp even less intuitive than handscrews. I love 'em, but man are they a hassle when the head doesn't engage the bar.

Pipe clamps are comparatively cheaper with the bonus that if you need longer clamps, you can go to the plumbing supply for a longer bit of pipe. They aren't as nice as parallel clamps for gluing up thin panels though.

For handscrews, I highly recommend Miro Moose. The Besseys are surprisingly subpar. Lie-Nielsen makes them as well for a reasonable price, but they galvanize the screws, and I don't like the action as much.

> It's less expensive than pre-made furniture.

Not a chance. Perhaps if you live in the Pacific Northwest, but outside of certain regions wood can be very very expensive.

The desk in my son's room cost <$100, and had I bought it commercially, it would have been >$1000. It's customized to his interests/hobbies. If it didn't have all the bells and whistles, it would have been <$50 (a few 2x4s and a spare chunk of wood I used for the top).

You're comparing apples and oranges, if you're building a desk out of some 2x4s and a spare chunk of wood, and comparing that to $1000 products. Undoubtedly the manufactured products are lighter, more robust, and made from better materials. That isn't to say that these desks are more suitable.

One could build a desk from even better materials than the $1000 desk; maple, walnut, mahogany, stainless steel, brass, whatever. But it wont be <$1000 for materials then, let alone <$100.

I'm in favour of DIY and think it's admirable that you would build your son's desk yourself rather than buy, but I think it's important to be realistic about the costs and materials. These costs were a surprise to me at least, after getting into woodwork/metalwork.

Nah. The costs are for specialization. Anytime you buy a specialized product, you're going to pay an arm and a leg. If you want to get a proper lab workbench (for just about any scientific/engineering discipline; that's not a generic thing), a proper studio desk, or what-not, you're going to pay an arm and a leg. That's not buying you a mahogany desk, so much as something well-suited to an esoteric task.

Compared to commercial, what he's got is:

1. Lighter (2x4s are light)

2. More robust (2x4s are tough)

3. Looks better (An off-the-shelf product would look better in a showroom, but this one fits his room exactly, and fits his equipment exactly; that makes a much bigger difference).

I'll mention: That's true for most of the crude furniture I make. I have fine woodworking, and I have not-so-fine woodworking. The fine woodworking pieces tend to be generic (e.g. a bookcase). The not-so-fine-ones tend to be special-purpose. Right now, I have custom stuff built up for remote work, for example, with cameras/cables/etc. properly routed.

Perhaps it's a regional thing then, in my country 2x4's aren't exactly cheap if you're buying enough to build an e.g. woodworking bench, and you need a planer even if they're pre-planed.

I'm currently planning a studio desk right now, funny enough. I could buy one for maybe €500, but just the heavy duty shelf sliders I need will be €70 for a pair. A pre-bought one will also have a light aluminium frame, whereas mine is going to weigh a ton with steel tubing.

Like you say though, if I make one it will fit the space perfectly etc. All in all it's worth it for me even if I personally don't save money

Funny that. I bought heavy-duty shelf sliders for $15 for a pair:


They're rated for loads up to 100lbs, and they're plenty tough enough to hold up a full-sized MIDI controller. They're stiff enough too.

If you're worried, though, you can double them up (two on each side). Now, you're at $30. Typically, when you double up, the load-baring capacity more than doubles.

I have a planer, but I didn't use it at all in this project.

Might be regional. US has a ton of land and resources, so maybe wood is cheaper here. You're pricing in Euros, and Europe is a bit more densely populated.

I wouldn't expect a beginner to have a planer. (Nor would I put it in the first $2500 of tools to recommend to someone starting out.)

Price list:

* Bosch drill/driver kit: $100

* Circular saw: $100

* Tape measure: $20

* Square: $10 x2 (one big, one small)

Total: $240. That's 1/10th of what you quoted.

"Step it up a notch" kit as next step:

* Random orbital sander: $70

* Router: $170

* Planer: $120

* Guides: $20

* Clamps: $100

And we're up another $500. Still a good ways short of $2500. And that's at current Lowes prices. If you wait a few months, you can find complete 5-tool kits on sale sometimes.

I don't think $250 is unreasonable to spend on a hobby starting out. If OP is at FAANG salaries, then dropping $750 isn't unreasonable either. And if OP is a student, use a university woodworking shop, or buy used. These things go for a song on Craigslist sometimes.

Planer (or belt sander) saves money in the long run. You can recycle (free) old wood, use cheap S1S2E wood, and similar. For the most part, you just want to build a lot of stuff. Given the random orbital recommendation, I thought of the two, a planer was more versatile. It has unanticipated beginner uses too. E.g. If you mess up and make something 1/16th of an inch too small, you can trim a bit, and it will fit. Or if you can't do layout/cuts precisely and well, you can leave a bit of margin, and keep trimming a piece of wood until it fits.

Nor should they. A planner won't even get the board flat. It'll trim a small amount off the top.

I got into woodworking when I was 11. I checked out a library book about making wooden toys and used a simple hand scroll saw my dad had kicking around to make some of the wooden animal figurines for my younger siblings. Then I started making swords, daggers and shields since I was interested in all things knights and castles.

I saved up and bought a cheap, underpowered Craftsmen jigsaw and my production output increased. Then my parents bought an old farmhouse and had it renovated. I shadowed some of the carpenters and learned a lot.

When I was 17 I asked to work for a local furniture shop that made reproduction furniture. I told the owner that I would do anything, sweep the floors, clean the windows as long as I got to be in proximity to the equipment and expertise in the shop. Eventually I graduated from sweeping the floors to milling lumber, sanding case pieces, gluing up panels and then making full pieces of furniture. I was going to go to a technical school for fine woodworking but decided computer science would be a better career. I still miss having a shop.

Your story is a lot like mine! Computer science was so hard to turn away from back then.

I don’t think I regret leaving wood working as a career, but I do wonder sometimes. I actually enjoyed it. Except in winter - the shop was always freezing cold, haha. We’d sticker lumber for the kiln in the rain for days or weeks sometimes.

Something I was really into before leaving was the CNC machine. I think I could have enjoyed getting to know and using that thing.

I started when we bought our first house and there wasn't much money left for kitchen furniture. But we needed a kitchen, so I decided to get some big box store pine, hinges, drawer slides etc to build some temporary cabinets. I didn't know much and I made many mistakes, but the kitchen I built lasted us... 7 years, and is gone now mainly because we're renovating the whole house.

All the tools I had back then were a cordless drill, two hand saws, some chisels and a sander. You don't need much and you should only buy new equipment if the project requires it. Also I did not "design" anything, just did some sketches on paper then improvised on the spot.

Woodworking instantly became my hobby and after watching some Youtube videos - including ALL of Paul Sellers videos - I made a decision to go the unplugged route.

If I were to start over I'd read a book about the basic principles of woodworking and joinery, especially how the wood behaves and how to apprloach it. I sort of got all of this by intuition, however an introductory book would be a better start. Also I should have mastered sharpening way earlier in my journey.

I too used Paul Sellers as a guide when I started up, but it's important to realize that he isn't really unplugged. He shows you how you can do it unplugged, but he uses a wide variety of power tools for "monkey work" as he calls it. This includes jointers, planers, and bandsaws (though he demonstrates that tool explicitly).

Unless you're able to get wood already S4S, unplugged is a helluva lot of work.

I'm well aware that Paul Sellers uses machine milled / planed / dimensioned lumber. I am quite comfortable starting with rough sawn boards straight off the mill (I'm not crazy enough to re-saw logs by hand). Yes, it requires effort and depending on the size of the project I will either use S4S wood or rip, flatten and true boards by hand.

However if I were to have machines in my shop I'd get a bandsaw first, then a jointer/planer. I'm mostly limited by physical space, not self-imposed constraints, although it is very fulfilling to build something without electricity.

Paul Sellers' book is worth a buy as well. It's a good reference on not only the use, but also the care and feeding of pretty much all of the core hand tools, with pictures.

Woodworking is one of those "skills" that might seem so unapproachable, and yet the learning curve is quite steep (in the technical sense).

I'm nowhere near a master and make a lot of stupid mistakes. But my relatives think I'm worrying to much about those, nobody notices, nobody cares besides me. But next time I do the same thing again, I know. If it really counts or is entirely botched I just redo the piece.

Wood is similar to clay. You just try by sawing pieces in two smaller pieces, start to grind them, then come different sawing tools and techniques, then finishing (oil, laquer, etc.), then routing... Obviously you start with smaller, simpler things.

And in contrast to what others said: Don't be afraid of mistakes. A dent is just a dent, the piece is supposed to "live" anyway. Your kids will put their teeth in soon. And a piece of wood can be replaced cheaply (don't start with ridiculously expensive hard woods obviously). You can always cut a new one.

There's also something to be said about woodworking and making things meant for garage, behind the house, tool shed etc, a lot of the times it doesn't even need to look good, as long as it is sturdy. Exposed screws or metal brackets can be fine. Not sanding a surface may be perfectly in order.

I built a huge built in bookshelf for my wife, just without all the lighting like this article. I had very little experience with woodworking and did all sorts of things wrong at first, but just adopted an attitude of play with it.

It took nearly a month to get all the oak that I needed ordered and delivered (who knew there was huge demand for oak from artisanal whiskey distillers), so in that time I just spent hours watching YouTube videos, sketching things out, getting tools I needed, etc. The process wasn’t much different than when I’m building a software system, it’s just a different medium.

After the bookshelves I felt comfortable redoing my entire kitchen, including doing the plumbing. Just be fine with things taking you an entire afternoon that might take a person with experience an hour.

I’d say just play around with it, realize there will be many frustrating unanticipated things that come up as a beginner, and get curious about solving the problems that crop up!

I've built plenty of stuff. Basically, trial and error and a fair amount of watching YouTube videos to make sure I'm not going to remove a finger using a new tool. I've built a gate for our deck, a bench and seating system for an entryway, some shelves for a pantry, planter boxes, a huge sandbox for our kids, but I think I'm most proud of the farm table I made out of reclaimed hemlock. It's 100" x 46.5" and my family uses it everyday: https://i.redd.it/e0yrn0g1jpp01.jpg

Apart from the safety issues of tools - or the potential waste of materials if you make a wrong cut -- it's really a very satisfying hobby for anyone who enjoys solving problems, working with their hands, and seeing something progressively come together.

I always feel very humbled when I read stories about things that makers make.

As someone with absolutely no skills in woodworking, metalworking, or anything of the sort, it is completely awesome (in the traditional sense of the word) and seemingly so far out of my potential.

All of these comments are good and provide value, my "take" wouldn't add to the conversation. However, I did notice that no brought up that at the beginning, you can compensate your lack of skill by spending more time on the project.

The difference between a novice and professional is efficiency. Good tools will aid in efficiency but not always necessary.

A simple box will take a beginner several days, an intermediary a day, and a craftsperson a few hours.

Substitute your lack of knowledge and tools by spending more time on quadruple checking everything, making good marks, and always doubting yourself.

Woodworking does require a bit of equipment, room and expense. In the US, there was a bit of a resurgence decades back and the New Yankee Workshop inspired many.


While I don’t have space for a shop so not a woodworker, I think I could do many of those projects. I’ve done more carpentry, first volunteering with Habitat for Humanity decades back, then helping friends restore their old homes, picking up skills and eventually building a small timberframe after taking a class.

The first time you do anything, it will come out badly but like anything it’s just practice, reading books, watching experts.

For woodworking, it really is important to read about woods and finishes up front. So many people buy all the equipment and make projects but don’t know how to assess wood or just slap on whatever finish from the corner store. Beautiful work, looks like crap. There are countless restoration channels on YT with a wealth of experience that you would not ever learn on your own.

It really does not have to, equipment is a tradeoff for time. The ancient civilizations produced a lot of masterpieces with simple hand tools. Not to mention the French periods of fine furniture such as Louis XIII which was the late 1500's IIRC. You can do a lot with hand tools, power tools just save you a lot of time. Much of the old furniture was built with a handsaw, hand drill, planners and chisels. You could reasonably build nice things with just those, but you are going to spend months rather than weeks doing it with those tools.

Start simple. Find a project on YouTube that looks interesting and go for it. For the tools yeah they can be expensive. For me I buy v1 at Harbor Freight for cheap. If I use it enough to break it time for v2 from Snap-On, Dewalt, Milwaukee.

First project I ever did was a workbench. It's a great first project as you can use it for all of your future projects. Have fun.

Setting aside cost, space is also something of an issue. A couple power saws and a cloud of sawdust will happily consume a small garage. Even if the saw itself is small, maneuvering a large piece of work through the saw requires clearance.

It's just like software, honestly. You start with "hello world", not a 3D game or a TCP/IP stack.

I build furniture, which has surprisingly little overlap with carpentry, which TFA is much closer to. To be clear, I'm not saying one is better or worse, but they are different.

I got started down that path taking a basic hand tools class, which in turn started not with "here's a bit of wood", but "here's a grinder and some sharpening stones". After getting our planes acceptably sharp, then we learned how to take a piece of rough lumber and turn it into a board with two flat, parallel faces, two edges parallel and square to the faces, and two ends square to the faces and edges. We (eventually) progressed to joinery from there.

It was sort of the Learn Python the Hard Way of woodworking: if you don't learn the basic steps and skip right to something cool, you're forever dependent on somebody else doing the basic stuff for you and accepting what you can get (milling the lumber, in this case). Or you have to go back and learn it anyway. To quote Raney Nelson[0]: "If you cannot already do the machine's job by hand, the machine will outwit you."

I try to avoid milling lumber by hand because it would be a surefire way to lose money hand over fist on most projects, but it's a good skill to have when your boards are bigger than your jointer.

If you don't want to spend money on a class, there are infinite youtube videos. What you lose learning that way is somebody watching what you're doing and telling you why you aren't getting what you want done.

Getting into the tools is something you can do pretty incrementally and inexpensively if you are willing to put some time into it. There are plenty of excellent old Stanley planes out there for $40 to $70. Buy pre-war. The quality dropped off afterwards as power tools got cheap. If you take the time to learn how to tune one up, you'll know your tool better than if you spend a couple hundred bucks on a Lie-Nielsen or a Veritas (which are both excellent tools, let me be clear) or ~$170 on a new import (Wood River, Bench Dog, whatever. No experience, no opinion).

The US-made Buck Brothers chisels at Home Depot are decent steel and a steal at the price of ~$15 a piece. The modern Stanley Sweethearts are a good middle of the road choice (I own a set; I'll upgrade them piecemeal as I need to). You can spend as much or as little on saws as you want to. I have a $15 Husky from Home Depot I use occasionally, and a Lie-Nielsen dovetail saw I spent an order of magnitude more on. They both cut, but the LN is worth sharpening when it gets dull.

The layout and sharpening tools are worth spending money on. You can get a decent combination square for $40 (anything that's $15 at your local hardware store is crap. A $100 Mitutoyo or Starrett is worth the investment if you're in it for the long haul), a decent marking gauge for a similar price, and a decent marking knife for under $40. Figure $120 for the basics. Another roughly $40 for a Shinwa sliding bevel (again, hardware store stuff is crap) for angled work, and you're pretty well covered for the basics.

For sharpening, a craigslist grinder will probably cover your needs for $50 or under. You certainly don't need a Baldor, and you don't need slow speed. Any 7" or 8" grinder will do. And then spend what you want to on oil stones, water stones, or a piece of glass and some sandpaper/emery paper. They all do the same thing, and a discussion of the tradeoffs is outside the scope of this thread.

My first "workbench" at home was a stupidly cheap IKEA table. I screwed 1/4" MDF into the legs to keep it from racking, and a use a couple clamps in lieu of a vise. It sucked, and it was slow, but you can get work done on it if you want to.

Starting with an inexpensive set of tools, you can get a lot done. Build a couple things from the canon of absolute beginner projects: A bird house, a tool box, etc. Build them slowly and intentionally, focusing on precision. Get a copy of The Anarchist's Design Book[1] and pick a project out of there (the staked furniture projects will require a few additional tools), any of the excellent books on Shaker furniture, or a subscription to Fine Woodworking or Popular Woodworking. Pick a project or two from there and build it.

The joinery that holds wood together hasn't fundamentally changed in literally thousands of years[2]. I don't mean to be flippant about this, but Jesus was a carpenter, and while he had a lot of firsts, working in wood wasn't one of them.

So yeah, we're talking maybe $600-$800 all-in on tools to get started. That's more than an iPhone SE, but less than a Mac Mini. The tools will last several lifetimes: my newest Stanley plane was built during WWII. Is that expensive? It depends on how you look at it, I guess.

Was it worth it for me? I mean, I do it for money now instead of writing code. The pay is a lot worse, but I'm fortunate to be married to somebody who is better paid, we leave cheaply, and I love what I do.

[0] https://www.daedtoolworks.com/lounge-against-the-machine-dae...

[1] https://lostartpress.com/collections/books/products/the-anar...

[2] http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/article00788.html

You can learn everything you need to know from YouTube videos. Start small with some hand tools, and it won't cost much. If it's something you enjoy, buy more tools as you discover you need them.

It's a fantastic hobby.

My father had a couple duplexes, and I learned to hack stuff together pretty well there. But I did take a class at Woodcraft that was pretty nicely done about 10 years ago. It was a simple course over a few nights. I learned a couple woodworking tricks that upped my game, but there were a couple beginners. Hopefully Woodcraft will start having classes again once things start opening up again. If so signup and they will teach you how to use the basic tools and more importantly you will walk away with a bit of confidence and knowledge on how to fix mistakes.

I wouldn't say I'm good at woodworking, but just like with programming you can go read about it or watch youtube tutorials.

I've built a few simple things with a $20 power drill and a cheap hand saw.

I started looking up plans online and built a bench and table. From there I've built various other pieces of furniture - tables, benches, shelves etc. It's mostly as others have said, trial and error.

Wood is pretty forgiving, especially soft woods like pine/spruce/cedar.

It's mostly just finding plans and ideas online and YouTube. Then taking your time. Like anything else, you have to enjoy it. I personally like how different it is from programming.

Definitely worth it for me, higher_quality_furniture++

As everyone is saying - just go for it. Also, sometimes "difficult" or "complicated" things aren't really that difficult or complicated. Also, don't pay too much attention to some of the "elitist" videos/tutorials. Pockethole joins aren't for real woodworkers? It holds two pieces of wood, looks neat, and is very simple to achieve, so I'm going to go for it, "real" woodworking or not.

I grew up around wood working. Or really all kinds of working of everything from wood to metal to plastics. My dad was handy.

I left childhood with a decent understanding of how to build things. After moving out I started to miss it and took a job working an entry level job at a joinery. We made cabinetry, some furniture, doors, windows - even made flooring and custom trim in the mill. It was fun, and I learned a lot that I hadn’t as a kid.

I taught myself to program while working there and took a job doing that instead after a few years.

I missed it again and began buying tools around 8 years ago. At first I used hand tools only and build small projects. I’d focus on learning techniques at first, and tried to really nail down my understanding of the fundamentals. I learned to select not only the right wood for assorted projects, but how to do so based on factors like species and moisture content.

Eventually I had too many kids to have time to be productive with hand tools. I enjoyed the activity, but actually getting projects done became too hard. Since I make things my family uses, I decided to grab a table saw, planer, and jointer.

These are sort of the trifecta of woodworking productivity. You can machine milled lumber to spec very quickly and easily. Make a cut list, machine it, cut to length, and start building.

My most recent project was a bed frame. Even with nice lumber and quite a bit of it, the project came in around $1800 - at least half of what we were looking at if we ordered it.

Other recent projects have been bunk beds, a bench for our home entrance, shoe racks, a toy chest, and a kitchen island.

If I was starting over again I’d learn the fundamentals first and then not hesitate to invest in power tools after. Buy used and learn about basic maintenance. I had a sort of purist bent for a while which really just kept me from making stuff me and my family loved. Hand tools are fun, but so hard to work with quickly if you aren’t very skilled with them.

I highly recommend the hobby if you’re interested. It’s been a lifelong thing for me. Holding your own work in your hands is very grounding. Solving and working with physical problems is extremely engaging. For me, wood working and gardening are two productive activities that (not joking) really make me feel alive and connected to something. Programming is great, but it doesn’t do that.

My next project is a speargun to replace the one I currently dive with. I’m very excited to build it.

Depending on where you live you might be able to find classes through different groups, not just a technical college. For example, here in San Francisco, the Randall Museum has a fully equipped shop and several levels of woodworking classes.

I'm somewhat obsessed in woodworking but got into it the same way I was drawn to programming - just making things.

Like most things if you expect the first thing you make to be any good it'll be a hard road.

It is expensive in both time and money, yes. But what better way to spend than on creating something meaningful that others can use?

I have been doing some woodworking for the past couple years now (still very much an amateur). My woodworking started with making some standing bottle openers as presents (kind of like these [0]). All it required was some cheap pine, a bit of stain, a sander and a saw (I used my dad's table saw, but you could just use a hand saw). I have since made some various pieces of furniture, odds and ends like random shelves around my house and some cutting boards. My advice:

- Hand tools are a great place to start, they are cheap they don't take up much room, they don't make too much noise and dust. Working with hand tools can be pretty relaxing, and can also be a good workout (which could be a bonus or a negative). I do have a decent collection of power tools now but still not everything. The power tools I use the most are drill, miter saw, circular saw, and sander.

- Check craigslist often, both for cheap (sometimes free) wood and for cheap tools.

- You can make something really cool out of something else. I made a kitchen island out of some old wall cabinets and a butcher block I got off craigslist. I also made a pirate ship wheel out of old stair spindles and a garden hose reel. This allowed me to try out skills on a bigger project while using someone else's work to kind of start from. I didn't have to first learn how to make cabinets or learn to turn wood on a lathe.

- Youtube is your friend you can learn how to do almost anything. The maker channels are great but often times they do have a lot of specialized expensive power tools. The "This Old House" youtube channel [1] is pretty good and has a lot of good basics. Also "Woodworking for Mere Mortals" [2] as the name implies is also good at showing how you get things done without investing in super expensive specialized tools.

- You will always notice the mistakes you have made, but hardly anyone else will. And you will make mistakes, I have made plenty and there are still plenty in my "finished" products.

- Routers are super cool tools and with the different bits you can get you can make awesome professional looking patterns. I got my router and a set of bits off craigslist as well, but there are some cheap options out there.

[0] https://www.etsy.com/listing/174667441/personalized-wood-bot...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/user/thisoldhouse

[2] https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBB7sYb14uBtk8UqSQYc9-w

Memento mori.

Do the things you really want to, need to or should do. One day, it's going to be too late.

There is a german word for that: torschlusspanik

Basically means the unsettling feeling that opportunities will vanish as one ages

Fantastic word. Thank you. I love wiktionary's example usage:

"Midlife-crisis-induced Torschlusspanik has driven quite a few middle-aged men into the arms of young women, wrecking countless marriages." [0]

[0] https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Torschlusspanik

Here's a nice YouTube channel you may like.


A compendium of invented words written by John Koenig, that aims to fill holes in the language—to give a name to emotions we all feel but don't have a word for. The author's mission is to capture the aches, demons, vibes, joys and urges that roam the wilderness of the psychological interior. Each sorrow is bagged, tagged and tranquilized, then released gently back into the subconscious.

Ha - that looks great. Thank you

Torschlusspanik is rather the (possible) outcome if one is not aware of one's mortality until it is almost too late already, I would say.

Maybe surprisingly, this was my brain speaking and not the gut.

Having a visceral feeling for our mortality might be 'good' in a sense but so far I have really avoided meditating on it. I fear that it would be a really disconcerting experience.

Man what a depressing story.. You could say that it isn't a story, but just life..

Life is unfair, and life just happens, the best thing we can do is try to live the best we can.

Have to say, that really is a wonderful bookshelf, I just hope to see a picture when it is full of books.. I cannot even fathom how heart breaking it must be, every time you see the bookshelf, you remember your dead wife and her life wish she didn't get too see fulfilled.

This kind of stuff just hits you differently.. I have also always wanted to have a home library where I can hide away and just read books for hours on end, guess this could be a kind of wake up call to go for it sooner than later, since you never know when your end is coming...

What a nice thing to do! However I couldn't not notice the typical anonymous mob commenting. Some of the comments on that reddit are so mean. How evil can some folks be when someone just went through his wife's passing.

This kind of comments are really difficult to get rid of, especially so in a site that doesn't strictly tie with your real self.

Also, that kind of behaviour is extremely hard to curb. If moderators lay guidelines on what kind of talk is and isn't allowed, people attack the mods and the subreddit for taking away their freedom. If mods are lenient, this and much worse happens. I used to moderate a popular sub (top 100 subs on reddit), and I hate to say that these are mild by reddit standards and about what you should expect on a popular post (the key being "reddit standard"). I'm pretty sure mods are cracking down on these comments, but a mob of people can generate them much faster than a dozen or so volunteers can delete away

> especially so in a site that doesn't strictly tie with your real self.

I never realized it so clearly, but this is definitely the case for me on HN and probably for more commenters on HN.

Use handles that can be traced back to you everywhere reasonable

> especially so in a site that doesn't strictly tie with your real self.

In the bigger view, that isn't really something to fix. In fact it might be a good thing - let people make mistakes, be downvoted, see what enlightened people commented and maybe learn.

Do you have comments sorted by controversial or something? It took me quite a while to find the comments I think you're talking about in any other sorting method.

I sorted by newest

I didn't see much of that, most of the comments seems to be nice and supportive (at least I've felt a bit uplifted from how nice a lot of the comments were)

Most of the bad ones have been removed now: https://www.removeddit.com/r/DIY/comments/j321gz/my_wife_rec...

Lots of comments talking about how it's too little too late and accusing OP of karma-whoring.

Hell of a way to do it.

For me, I find woodworking and more specifically cabinet-making to be a very full-brain activity much like programming. It requires both left and right brain - technical and creative sides working simultaneously. It's become a joy and passion. I don't do it to save money (though the pieces I do turn out cheaper than if I'd hired someone) but just because I have a vision, and I want that vision to be precisely my vision, not what the contractor wants to do to get their job done cheaper and faster.

If anyone's interested: https://leonardteo.com/woodworking/

I picked up woodworking only a few years ago after buying this place. Watched YouTube videos, attended a workshop where they taught some of the tools and safety. Then did the rest on trial and error.

Gargantuan bookshelf but for a good cause...sorry for his loss :-( Here are the images and descriptions from imgur while building it, without the reddit commentary: https://imgur.com/a/rL5Z6Sd

> at the ripe old age of 30

Fuck me...

Once this happens in your life, you never look at opportunities and time the same way. My wife died from pancreatic cancer at 36, and it seems like there are little reminders all the time... like today, when she would have turned 41.

Truly, carpe diem.

This is a reminder for what we should all keep in mind... Things happen. Work for tomorrow but remember today. And record your journey.

I read this [0] just yesterday, and section 5 is acutely relevant here. I also liked the Halley comment in the discussion [1].

But yes, fuck cancer.

[0]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24637930

[1]: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24640599

When I bought my house I told myself I was going to learn how to do woodworking so that I could build some basic things or improve some things. I bought a bunch of tools and built a workbench (err, well, I finished 90% of it, I never cut the final boards for the bottom shelf) and then... did nothing. I need to finish the workbench and move it to the back of my garage (once I move it I can't put in the bottom shelf without moving it back). Does anyone have any good starter-projects or good things to do to "flex" the "muscle" of woodworking?

I really like the the weekend wood worker https://theweekendwoodworker.com

He has lots of starter projects but for the first one he suggest building a box because every woodworking project is more or less a variation on the box.

I built a jewelry box for my wife. Made lots of mistakes but since it was small and simple I didn't feel stressed about wasting resources. (Wood isn't cheap)

Thank you! I will check this out.

Start doing the projects by Rex Krueger (YT), then some of foundations by Paul Sellers (blogs, YT), I'll leave here some manual woodworkers for your delight: - James Wright, Wood by Wright

- Mike Siemsen

- Rob Cosman

- Frank Klausz

- Shawn L. Graham, Worth The Effort

- Roy Underhill

- Joshua Farnsworth, Wood and Shop

- James Hamilton, aka Stumpy Nubs

- Matthew Cremona

- Jay Bates

- Shannon Rogers

- Simon James

I would add Christopher Schwartz to this list. Not really on youtube but his publishing company Lost Art Press is an absolute gold mine for information. His blog (blog.lostartpress.com) has some good information too.

THANK YOU! I'm adding these to my "Watch Later" list. I'm hoping this helps break my "woodworking-block".

Is there a name for this type of ceiling? It's angled, so the roof is directly above the room (no attic). There's also a higher wall whose top portion is presumably adjacent to the attic.

I've seen this in California homes, including my own master bedroom. It really heats up during the day, presumably due to heat convection from the roof and attic.

It's called Vaulted Ceiling.


Typically there isn't a lot of room between the ceiling and the outside roof and the insulation they use in that space doesn't provide enough protection from the heat and cold. This is an area that is ideal for Spray Foam which provides superior insulating properties.


Called a vaulted or cathedral ceiling around here.

Often looks nice but as you say in some climates you pay to heat or cool that space.

The problem is less conditioning the extra space and more the fact that a good R-60 roof requires about twenty inches of fluffy insulation between the drywall ceiling and the roof deck.

Vaulted or, less often, cathedral.

Woodworking was the happiest time I had in high school. Second happiest was between FIRST robotics and Track and Field.

I want to do some kind of shelf where my TV hangs in front, and some kind of pulley system to lift it to access what is behind on the shelf. I think that would be a clever use of limited wall space. But I have not found anything like it online and it feels quite complicated to construct from scratch. Any ideas?

In my experience, the woodworking community is extremely friendly to newcomers. Find some online tutorials, building something small to get used to using your tools, then ask away!

Heh, I'd love to start, but now I unfortunately have a good excuse. As soon as I get to it, I'm sure I'll first-time-manual-cpp-memory-management my fingers right off my fucking hand and I'll end up in a hospital in a middle of a pandemic...

If you have the money, there are saws that will save your fingers.[0]


Nice to see Reddit as a good place. For all the darkness, online, there can also be light.

As I say with all these massive social networks: they have tons of users, and there is all kinds of people in the world, so it's bound to be a lot of interesting and useful and inspiring and enlightening content in them. That still doesn't say much about the social network itself.

They've had a number of reorganizations over the years to get rid of the more toxic subcultures on there.

the reorganizations were primarily to appease advertisers, and they've also increased all sorts of tracking, including outbound link click tracking, pushing their POS mobile app etc.

There's also serious censorship [2] and narratives that are pushed, especially messaging that's pro-CCP, mostly thanks to the recent $150M investment from Tencent



Don’t forget things like this being promoted on the “Popular” section:


There are many in the thread of Jewish faith asking it to be taken down, feeling that it promotes Holocaust denial /minimisation. If you read the horrendously uncaring Moderator sticky post dripping with sarcasm you get a good feel for the state of Reddit in 2020.

One problem with Reddit is that every major community experiences something akin to Channel Drift [1]. Like the subreddit you linked to (r/pics), they all become some version of r/politics-lite where the majority political view gets shoved into every possible sub-community, even where it's not relevant.

It makes the default subreddits totally unusable imo. Sometimes I just want to see funny pictures, not be lectured to about why I'm a racist or how my unconscious biases blah blah blah.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_drift

This is a really cool project, but I can't help thinking that the LED strips should have been placed closer toward the end of the shelf so that it illuminates the spines of the books instead of their tops.

Wow, amazing project. Alway interesting to see what people can do with some technical skill and wood working capability. Really beautiful way to honour the memory of his wife - cancer is terrible.

Can someone repost the actual story? I can't figure out how to find it on Reddit. I can only see some of the comments.

I can't imagine the loss. Books fill a void for me, but nothing that could fill that hole.

What a story...

Quite. Thank you for posting.

I found it quite comforting that both the author and his wife both saw this as a project they wanted to get done. There just wasn't enough time to complete it.

Before reading the story, I feared the guy had always postponed it, only to start on it when it was too late...

I had the same thought, and I worried there would be more regret in the story. While it's not a (traditionally) happy story, I'm glad that wasn't the case.

It's still a good reminder to pull the trigger on those things that will impact your life. Don't wait for the perfect time, or when you'll have "more time" to do it right. It's cliché now, but Live Your Best Life; it's too short to put that off.

Love ftw.

The lighting looks nice, but I think it'll be a little unfortunate when the strip starts failing. Other than the strip that shelving could last decades, but the lights won't.

I've had mixed luck with LED strip, -- with some becoming glitchy after only a few months of operation.

I've had some start to twitch and it's usually a bad connector. When I first installed my LED lights the connectors were actually a destructive type. They would pierce the strip to make the connection. The resulted in shaky connections that would fail easily. I then upgraded to non-destructive connectors and they work much easier.

They're easy to replace, and decent ones last a really long time.

If you undervolt them slightly, the chips will basically never fail.

Sounds like you bought cheap LED strips. The slightly more expensive ones are a lot more reliable.

In fact, I bought fairly expensive ones but I think what I got were fakes. (Thanks amazon). I subsequently found a vendor that I get reliable parts from -- but the point remains that regardless of how good those strips are, the shelves will outlive them.

You could say that about any lightning source used anywhere. In general, a piece of wood is going to outlast and electrical device.

Right, but if e.g. it were fixtures with socketed bulbs they could be replaced.

I built large bookshelves last year (though not as cool as the posts) and didn't integrate lighting for this reason-- and it's really good that I didn't because it turned out the strip I was using at the time didn't last long.

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