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How to Develop Your Skills Using Woodworking Plans

If you are just starting out in woodworking, it should be fairly obvious that you would want to work with woodworking plans. Do you realize, though, that even professional woodworkers use woodworking plans to guide them to success? Woodworking plans can even help you evolve into a professional.

The first thing I ever tried to fabricate out of wood, as a youngster of 7 years, was a soapbox derby racing car. I planned to make it out of wood scraps and metal parts I found abandoned. I soon found that I had absolutely no idea of how to complete this. I bent over nails and hit my thumb with the hammer many times. After a while, I felt overwhelmed and gave up completely. I could have used some adult instruction and I certainly could have benefited from a good set of plans. 

Much later in life, I evolved into a professional woodworker, furniture designer and president of a company that made original, custom furniture for well-heeled clients. In between the soapbox derby car and the furniture firm, I made a lot of mistakes and tried to learn from each and every one of them. What helped me early on was the discovery that reasonably priced woodcraft plans were to be had that could show me how to make things out of wood. I determined that some plans were poorly drawn and often imprecise, leaving me scratching my head as to what I should do next.

Occasionally, I would discover well-conceived, well-drawn, step-by-step plans that I could actually use. They contained not only well-designed, easy-to-follow drawings, they had clearly-written, detailed instructions as well as a precise inventory of materials needed. I noticed that with this quality of plan, I could not lose.

In the beginning, I would look for plans that I liked and then follow them exactly to completion. I learned a lot of basic, intermediate and advanced woodcraft abilities from doing this. As I went on, I would find plans that I felt confident in modifying to my taste, just a bit, here and there. As time passed and my skills evolved, I started drawing my own plans, thus giving an outlet to my personal creativity.

Now, I never initiate a project without a plan in hand, whether it be someone else’s plan or my own. So, I guess what I am suggesting is that the novice woodworker should look at following someone else’s plans exactly and then, as his or her woodworking skills develop, go into modifying plans and even drawing your own plans.

Am I through with following pre-made plans? Not at all! In fact, I still benefit from them, all the time. Today, at the very least, they give me inspiration for projects that more than likely would have never occurred. They are extremely useful for building things around the home, inside and out. 

To help you to see what I mean by plans giving you ideas, here is a much-abbreviated listing of plan types available from one of my favorite sources of plans. This online supplier offers access to a downloadable package of over 14,000 plans of all types. Here are just a few of the many types of plans he offers:

You’ll find barn, bed, bench, billiard table, bird feeder, boat, book case, bridge, cabin, cabinet, carport, cart, chair, chest, clock, coffee table, compost bin, computer desk, cradle, deck, desk, doghouse, dresser, file cabinet, fireplace mantle, frames, garage, gazebo, greenhouse, guitar, gun cabinet, home office, hutch, kitchen, lamp, landscaping, media center, mirror, ottoman, playhouse, shed, shelf, stool, storage, swing, table, tool box, toys, utility building, wagon, wind generator, windmill and many, many more categories of detailed woodworking plans.

All you need to do is click on the sort of plan you are interested in and you will be shown all the plans under that category. Pick one of these and you are ready to start. Access to all 14,000 plans is accessible to you for one, very low, affordable price.

Are you thrilled at the thought of beginning a new woodworking project, learning new skills and producing what is drawn in the plans to an ideal finish? There are plans for beginner, intermediate and advanced skill levels so you can, without difficulty, pick a plan that is appropriate what you have absorbed before and what you are ready to learn now.

I was going to say “Good Luck” to you but following these expertly-crafted plans has nothing to do with luck or skill. All you need to know how to do is follow simple, clearly written instructions. So, insteadArticle Submission, I’ll just close with “Have Fun” and “Be Proud” of the final result!

Bob Gillespie

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Bob Gillespie writes on many subjects including woodworking plans. He is a full-time woodworker, Internet marketer and author who lives on the island of Maui in Hawaii. Learn more about woodworking plans at Bob's blog at:

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