Basic carpentry

Every house needs a carpenter
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Bram van Munster
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Basic carpentry

Post by Bram van Munster » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:21 am

Today, I'll be going over the absolute basics of carpentry, just to cover all the topics available.
Every person alive needs to get some work done sooner or later, which can be anything from replacing a nail in a picket fence or something more difficult like replacing and hanging up a new door. As you got to start somewhere, why not start with the tools you need.

- Hammers in various sizes and various materials, as you don't drive in a small "carpet nail" with a sledgehammer, and you don't use a steel hammer to a chisel. (use a plastic or nylon hammer for chisels)
- Tape measure, as you want to make sure you get the right sizes of wood
- Straight angle - for making 90° angles when needed
- (water)level, because nobody likes crooked work
- Saws, just like with the hammers, in various sizes for obvious reasons. You don't use a chainsaw to cut through a 1/2 inch thick, 10 inch long piece of plywood
- Tongs / pincers to get rid of bend or old nails.
- Pencil, to scribe the wood with after you measured it.
- Ruler, for making straight lines. Use a steel ruler if you use a boxcutter for scribing.
- Chisels, to carefully remove small pieces of wood that got in your say, or when you want to make space for a door lock or so.
- Wood glue, for when nails alone won't do the job.

With these basic tools, you should be able to get a lot of the basic woodworking done. If you're unsure about how to do a certain project, read about it or YouTube it, and always remember the first rule of carpentry: Measure twice, cut once. After all, you can't undo a cut that's done in the wrong place!

Here's a funny thing though, when we're talking about measuring...
Let's say you need a certain length of wood, for a doorpost, table leg, shelf, you name it. As I said, measure twice, cut once, and here's something the brightest science guys can't figure out yet. Take your tape measure and measure its length. Suppose that is 120 centimeter. Half of that would be 60 centimeter, so mark the 60 centimeter point on your piece of wood.
Now measure it from the other side. The length is still 120 centimeter, but your 60 cm mark is in a different spot.
If you wouldn't have measured it from both sides and happily started to cut, you'd end up with a post that is either too short or too long for its intended purpose. Only by taking the exact middle of BOTH 60 centimeter marks will you end up with exactly 60 centimeters!!!

When you're cutting the wood, always try to make sure to keep it safe so you get to keep all your fingers. This is especially important when you use electric saws of course. The best way to cut wood is to make sure it can't go anywhere. Put it in a vice, on a stool with your foot on it (not recommended with long pieces) or use a workbench and clamps to make sure the wood can't get away and mess up your work. It probably cost you enough work or money to get just that beautiful piece of wood, and when it slides even slightly it can ruin your idea, so essentially you are cutting firewood instead of that doorpost.

OK, so you got all the wood, and it basically fits perfect, time to get it together!
Always use the right nail for the right job. Here are a few examples:


Why not use just any nail? Well, you see some are slightly serrated which will help to keep pieces in place. Suppose you made a rocking chair and granny is sitting on it, she rocks happily and suddenly the thing falls apart because you used finishing nails instead of casing nails, that could seriously ruin your day. (For the record: always also glue pieces of a chair for extra support)

Some carpenters like to use screws instead, but that's a whole new topic which I will address later.
I hope this short article will get you started!!!

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