Easy ways to upskill your woodworking DIY

Up your skills for woodworking DIY projects

We’d all like a wise old granddad who showed us how to use a hand plane and drill, but most of us weren’t that lucky.

It’s never too late to learn and there are more resources out there to help you get on the tools than ever before, whether you’re an absolute beginner or wanting to take the next step on your woodworking path.

YouTube has endless videos made by experts and filled with practical advice. Whether you want to learn more about tools or work on a particular project, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of the 38.6 million woodworking videos on the platform.

One word of caution – the advice is… let’s be polite and say variable. There are some young makers out there who are superstars, and others who are clearly only in it for the clicks. Take your time to read the reviews or play it safe and look for professional makers and restorers. That grizzled old person with a woodplane and a pencil tucked behind their ear is a trusty cliché for a reason. 

If you’re wanting to know more about specific tools, many of the leading brands have their own channels that will help you learn about both usage and maintenance. 

While you’re already settled in for some viewing, take the time to watch a few extras on repairs, cleaning and sharpening. You’ll save a fortune if you can keep all your tools in good condition, and you’ll have better results and less risk of accidents. 

Your local library has three big advantages: it’s free, the how-to books that you can borrow will have even more comprehensive instructions than most videos (as well as telling you the name of that thing you sort of know but have no idea what it is called, so can’t look up) and the librarians have great contacts with local groups, which may include woodworkers. Most libraries also have digital assets, which means you might not even need to leave home to borrow what you need.

Woodworking clubs, men’s sheds and classes are the next step up for anyone who has the time (and usually a bit of money, though classes are very reasonably priced compared with other crafts). They’re filled with experts who will be able to give you a solid grounding in techniques and help you when you get stuck. Men’s sheds also do a lot of great community work, from providing mental health support for men to building toys and other timber objects for local groups. You can even commission work from them if you have a project in mind. Find your local men’s shed here, or learn how to start a shed here

Many hardware stores run classes on tool use and household DIY, often including classes specifically for women. They’re also a great place to find ‘the person’, as each one tends to have their own experts when it comes to general DIY, outdoor builds and even paint. You can get a lot of brilliant advice and assistance from store experts, just time your visit well so they have time to chat: Saturday lunch is not your best bet.

Finally, if you’ve mastered the tools and know your way around a deck, try green woodworking techniques. Using fresh wood, a hand axe and some specialty carving knives, you can make anything from spoons and kitchen implements to mallets and turning lathes. While the craft is more popular in the US and Europe than here, you can find spoon carving courses around Australia.

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