Beginner’s Guide To Woodworking

Beginner’s Guide To Woodworking

If you’re curious about the craft of woodworking, you’re in good company. Across the globe, people are discovering the satisfaction that comes from transforming a simple piece of wood into something beautiful and functional. Let me guide you, in this beginner’s guide to woodworking, through the fundamentals to get you started on this rewarding path.

This isn’t just about learning to hammer and saw; it’s about the deeper joy of creating something with your own two hands. Whether you’re aiming to build furniture, craft small trinkets, or simply enjoy a new hobby, woodworking can offer you that sense of accomplishment.

In my experience, safety is the cornerstone of any successful woodworking practice. Consider protective gear, proper tool handling, and workshop safety measures as your allies, not just rules to follow. It only takes a moment of inattention to ruin your day, your week, or your piece. Working safely will not only ensure your well-being but also improve the quality of your work.

As you start this journey, you’re going to find out about various sources of woodworking ideas, from classic patterns to innovative designs. Inspiration is all around you, from online communities to woodworking magazines, and I’ll point you where to look.

Setting Up Your Workspace: The Foundation of Craftsmanship

When you’re just starting with woodworking, having a dedicated space to practice and create is as crucial as mastering the skill itself. You’ll discover that a well-organized shop can make a world of difference in both the enjoyment and safety of your woodworking journey.

Choosing the right location is your first step. Your workspace doesn’t need to be large, but it should be well-ventilated and dry to protect you and your materials. If it’s a shared space like a garage, make sure you can keep it organized and secure when not in use.

Beginner Woodworking Tools

In my opinion, investing in essential tools is paramount for getting off to a good start. Begin with purchasing quality basics: a reliable saw, a smooth plane, and sharp chisels. Quality doesn’t have to break the bank—look for well-made pre-owned tools or brands with a solid reputation. If you buy cheap tools, you will spend more in the long run. Buy the best you can when you are able.

Organizing your workspace is about more than just neatness; it can quite literally prevent accidents. Clearly label storage for tools and materials, and ensure that common tools are within easy reach. Spending a little time planning your layout can pay off in a big way, making your workflow smoother and safer.

Lastly, don’t think you need the fanciest setup right out of the gate. Start with a sturdy workbench that suits your height to avoid back pain, add good lighting, and you’re well on your way. You can always adjust your approach down the road as you get more invested in the craft.

Mastering the Basics: Key Skills for Aspiring Woodworkers

Have you ever watched a skilled woodworker and wondered if you could ever match their prowess? Well, becoming proficient in this craft is a mix of understanding core techniques and consistent practice. I’m going to walk you through the key skills that every beginner should focus on.

Measuring and marking accurately are the cornerstones of successful woodworking. Remember the old adage, ‘measure twice, cut once’? It’s timeless for a reason. Improper measurements can lead to wasteful mistakes.

Here’s a quick little anecdote for you. Way back in the ’80s my uncle was building a vacation cottage in Florida and I was invited to stay for the summer. The cottage was rustic, with plywood floors, and the second-floor stairway was a ladder. We had electricity and running water but that was about the extent of it. They brought a bed in and we put it upstairs but there were no shelves or any furniture of any kind so I needed a set of shelves. I went down to the Big Box store and bought some 2x4s and some plywood and figured I’d make myself one. I cut 2 x4 inch slots out of the corners of the plywood pieces and nailed some 2x4s underneath them but when I went to put the 2x4s in the slots they were not big enough. I learned about nominal versus actual measurements that day. A 2×4 is not 2 in x 4 in it is three and a half by one and a half. All my uncle had to say was “Measure twice, cut once”.

Joinery is where your projects start taking shape, quite literally. From simple butt joints to more complex dovetails, each has its place, and learning when and how to use them is a game-changer. It affects the durability and aesthetics of your finished piece.

You also need to know your materials. The type of wood you choose can influence the project’s look, feel, and lifespan. Softwoods are generally more user-friendly for beginners, while hardwoods might require more advanced tools and techniques.

Finishing your project with sanding, staining, and sealing can turn ‘decent’ work into ‘stellar’ results. These steps are crucial for the look and longevity of your work, and they’re worth getting right from the start.

These skills aren’t just about reading and theory. They require you to roll up your sleeves and get some sawdust on them. Start with some small projects like a birdhouse or a simple box to get a feel for the process.

Navigating Challenges: Common Mistakes and Solutions

When you start diving into any new hobby, especially one as intricate as woodworking, there’s a steep learning curve. You’re going to find out about several stumbling blocks along the way. But don’t worry too much about that; it’s all part of growing into a skilled craftsman.

One of the biggest issues for novices is underestimating the importance of precise measurements. Use tools that are accurate to start with and you will get better results. If you want to create pieces that fit together seamlessly, it’s critical to measure twice and cut once – it’s a cliche for a reason. A hair’s breadth can make a difference between a project that fits perfectly and one that’s askew. So my advice here is to slow down and double-check those numbers before making any cuts.

Another common mistake is choosing the wrong wood for your project. Hardwoods and softwoods behave differently and picking the wrong type can lead to issues down the line with durability, appearance, and workability. I recommend starting with softer woods that are more forgiving and easier to work with, like pine or cedar. In either case, use dry wood. Wood moves as moisture is absorbed or evaporates. Dry wood is stable wood.

There’s always a chance of equipment mishaps, which can include a dull blade causing rough cuts or poor maintenance leading to inaccurate measurements. Your tools are your best friends in the shop, so keep them sharp and in good working order. And if things do go sideways, a calm assessment and an internet search or two can often provide a fix.

I’m going to touch on an underrated aspect: patience. Processes in woodworking can be time-consuming and sometimes temper-testing. Rushing can often make mistakes more likely and lead to frustration. It’s essential to remember that woodworking is a craft that improves with time and that your first attempt doesn’t need to be your last.

In the end, mistakes are invaluable learning opportunities. Every chip of wood and every sawdust pile is a story of challenges faced and knowledge gained. I encourage you to share your experiences with the woodworking community – forums, social media groups, and local clubs can be tremendous resources. Now let’s look ahead to when your skills are more developed, and talk about how you can share your work and keep evolving in your woodworking journey.

Creating and Sharing: Beyond the Basics

You’ve laid the groundwork, acquired the skills, and faced down challenges on your woodworking journey. Now what? It’s time to spread your wings and explore just how far your new talents can take you. This isn’t just about making things, it’s also about personal growth and community.

As your confidence grows, you’re going to find out about intricate techniques like inlays, dovetails, or even woodturning. Each of these skills opens up new possibilities, letting you tackle more complex projects or put your stamp on classics. Choose something that resonates with you and challenges you.

But woodworking is not solely about what you make—it’s about the connections you forge. Sharing your creations can bring a sense of accomplishment and joy. Whether it’s presenting a handmade gift, selling pieces at a local craft fair, or contributing to community projects, your work has the potential to touch the lives of others.

Don’t forget to document your journey. Taking photos of your projects provides a visual history of your progress and can inspire others. Social media platforms are perfect for connecting with fellow woodworkers, sharing tips, and showcasing your masterpieces.

Lastly, remember that learning is a lifelong journey. You can always adjust your approach down the road by attending workshops, signing up for classes, or diving into books dedicated to woodworking. Every piece you create is a learning opportunity and a step towards even greater achievements in woodworking.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed this beginner’s journey into the world of woodworking. Keep building, keep learning, and most importantly, keep sharing your passion with the world.

I’ve been playing around as a hobbyist Woodworker for many years.  I have a few tips and tricks up my sleeve.  Feel free to look around at this website and see if any of my projects give you a bit of incentive to start your own journey.  I especially like to create novel tools and fixtures that make my life easier.  I know that you can buy most everything these days but there is a certain pride to  create something that you can use all the time to make your life easier in the shop.

Carved Cherry Serving Bowl

Last Fall my sister asked for a Serving Bowl for her birthday.  She had a large flat serving bowl that had been used by her Mother-In-Law for many years and passed down to her when she passed.  The large flat bowl had finally succumbed to long-term use and the side had broken.  My sister needed a replacement so I stepped up and created a Carved Cherry Serving bowl for her to use to replace the broken heirloom.  I hope that the replacement will fill the need and become a family heirloom in its own right.

Finding a Good Design for the Carved Cherry Wood Serving Bowl

I’ve been getting Fine Woodworking magazine for many years.  Occasionally, they will provide special editions for various focuses within the Woodworking niche.  One, in particular, was dedicated to handwork.  In the back of this issue was an article on carving a wooden bowl using an Adze, Spokeshave, and a Hatchet.



I liked the design but wasn’t interested in using their process to create the bowl.  I’m going to use the design and power tools to create a similar dough bowl.

This design is an elongated bowl hollowed out in the center and has two “wings” for handles.  One at each end of the oval-shaped bowl.  It is a freeform bowl so there aren’t any square corners or sharp edges anywhere.  This is a good choice for a hand-carved bowl( even if I’m actually carving with power tools).

 Selecting the Wood for the Cherry Serving Bowl

 To start this project I needed a piece of wood to work with and I happen to know that there was a pile of firewood that hadn’t been split yet so I selected a couple of pieces of cherry that were roughly 15 inches in diameter and about 24 inches Long.

I  started debarking the first piece and on one side it had a large divot in the side. As I started cleaning this out I realized that some rot had started and, being in Tennessee, the termites had moved in. I decided that this would get split and go right into the fire.

I moved on to the next piece. The first thing to do was run it through my bandsaw and split it down the middle so that as it dried the heart crack would not spread into the wood. Since I didn’t see any additional critters hiding in the wood when I split it in half, I went ahead and debarked it.

Laying out the Shape of the Cherry Serving Bowl

I wanted this to be an oval bowl So I started to layout the shape of the bowl on top. The layout needs to be in the shape of an ellipse.

 An ellipse has two specific axes. It has a main axis which is the length of the ellipse and it has the height or the width of the ellipse. The long axis is the primary axis, the width is the secondary axis. The first step in creating this on the top of the bowl is to find the center point and draw a center line and then determine how long you want the primary axis of the bowl to be. Next, you will draw a perpendicular line across the width of the bowl from the center point.

To layout the ellipse, you need to determine where the focal points (the pivot points) need to be located.  Measure half the distance of the Primary axis and strike a point from the end of the secondary axis to the Primary axis on each half of the Primary axis. Using a compass or a set of dividers will make this easy.

Place a tack or small brad into each end of the primary axis.  Stretch a string tightly between the two pins.  Pull the pins out and move them to the focal points that you found in the last step.  Now you have a loose loop of string hooked on the brads.  Place a pencil inside the loop and use the loop as a guide to draw the ellipse.

Repeat this process adjusting the measurements in or out to layout the wall thickness of the bowl or just trace the original ellipse with a compass set to the wall thickness.

Also, lay out a smaller ellipse on the bottom of the bowl. This will give you a flat place on the bottom of the bowl for the bowl to sit securely.

Carving the Cherry Serving  Bowl

When I read the original article for this bowl they were using an adze and a hatchet to layout to shape of the bowl. I don’t have a good hatchet for carving and I’ve never owned an adze. I was left with trying to carve it with chisels or gouges or using my Arbor Tech mini carving system.  

I decided the Arbor Tech was the way to go. I also have some flap sanders and sanding discs that fit on my angle grinder. I used them to remove stock, mostly on the outside of the bowl.

I started on the inside of the bowl and removed about an inch and a half down into the bowl. Grinding away with the Arbor Tech removes stock very quickly. I needed to set the depth of the bowl so that I knew how far to go. I carved a trough at the midpoint of the width and using a dowel stuck through a piece of wood, I measured the depth that I was going to go. When I had established the bottom depth of the bowl, I went ahead and continued to grind with Arbortech. While I was doing this I held the bowl clamped down to my workbench top. Since I needed to hold it in various ways and turn it frequently, I often would just hold it between my knees and carve from there.  It’s not a very safe way to do it but it seemed to be the most efficient way to remove stock from the far side of the bowl.

It would be wonderful if I had a Roman workbench to work from that I could clamp using either wedges or holdfasts.

When I got it to a shape I liked then I moved to the outside.  I used the grinder and the Arbortech to hollow out under the handles and shape the outside of the bowl making sure that I left a flat oval on the bottom of the bowl for it to sit on.

I kept the walls of the bowl even by moving my fingers and gauging how far apart they were. Eventually, I found my bowl caliper that gave me a measurement of the bowl thickness just so I could keep it uniform.


Finishing the Carved Cherry Serving Bowl


When I was happy with the shape on both the top and the bottom and the sides were relatively even I started with sanding. I went from 120 grit all the way through 500 grit.  On the outside, I was able to use a random orbit sander, on the inside I pretty much had to hand sand the whole way through. 

For the finish, I used Minwax Tung oil.  I applied six coats letting it dry in between and sanding with 500 grit paper between coats.  I wiped the surface with a tack cloth to remove the dust then reapplied the next coat.


Finished Carved Cherry Serving Bowl 


Here is a picture of the completed Serving Bowl.  This was a nice project that I’m sure will get lots of use at my sister’s house.  It’s a good size to display or can be used to serve pasta or salad to a crowd.  The Minwax Tung oil is fully food safe once it fully cures ( about two weeks).

Carved Cherry Serving Bowl

While working on this project, most of the tasks were straightforward.  Holding the irregular shape of the bowl was the most difficult problem. It is much easier to hollow the inside of the bowl before the outside has been shaped. For this, I clamped the ends of the bowl with wedges and worked the inside and outside near the center to define the walls and hollow.

These are the tools I used while carving this bowl:

Laguna 18BX Bandsaw

An Alternate Bandsaw that runs on 110 VAC :Laguna 14BX

Arbortech Mini Carving System

Bosh Angle Grinder




Laguna 18bx Bandsaw Review| A Big Saw with Big Capabilities

Laguna 18bx Bandsaw Review| A Big Saw with Big Capabilities

Laguna 18bx BandsawName: Laguna 18bx Bandsaw

Price: $1999 to $2200

Overall Rank: 95 out of 100

Laguna 18bx, Product Overview

The Laguna 18bx Bandsaw is the big one!  This bandsaw is mostly for resawing and prepping wood right from the log.  The big 3 horsepower motor will power through just about anything that you can throw at it.  The 16-inch height capacity and 18-inch throat will handle large pieces as well.  Do you need this capability?  I’ve found it to be invaluable in my work.

I love this saw.  There is not a day that goes by without using it for something in my shop.

Laguna 18bx Specifications

  • Part Number: MBAND18BX2203
  • Motor: 3HP, 220V, 1 Ph. 12 Amp.
  • Recommended Breaker: 20 Amp.
  • Magnetic Starter: √
  • Min-Max Blade Width: 1⁄8″-1 1⁄4″
  • Resaw Capacity: 16″
  • Throat: 18 “
  • Blade Length: 145″
  • Disc-Brake with Micro Switch: √
  • 220V Outlet on Back for Light: √
  • Window for Tension: √
  • Window for Tracking: √
  • Magnetic Blade Tension Guide: √
  • Worm Gear & Pinion Upper Guide: √
  • 10 Point Laguna Ceramic Guides: √
  • Flat Poly-Groove Drive Belt: √
  • Premium Anodized Insert with Micro Adjustment: √
  • Dynamically Balanced Cast Iron Wheels: √
  • Urethane Single Piece Snap-on Tire: √
  • Cast Table Size: 20″ x 26″
  • Table Tilt: -6°, +45°
  • Quick-Release Tension: √
  • Hi/Low Anodized Aluminum Fence: 22 1⁄2″ x 5 3⁄4″ x 1⁄2″
  • Table Height: 38″
  • Dust Ports: 2 x 4″
  • Overall Height: 77 3⁄4″
  • Dimensions, Base: 27″ x 20″
  • Dimensions Overall: 36″ x 30″
  • Dimensions Box: 82″ x 34″ x 24″
  • Weight (Net/Ship): 410/460 Lbs.

Here is a video overview of the 18CX bandsaw.  The 18BX is not designed for cutting metal as is the 18CX but otherwise these two models are very similar. The gearing and speed change functions are not installed on the 18BX.

The Good & the Bad

The Good:

3 Hp motor to chew up the biggest pieces that you can get up onto the bed. I’ve cut through wet and dry logs and pieces of Live Oak that were so large I needed help to get them up onto the infeed rollers. (Roller Conveyor).  It has only jammed one time and I was cutting 15-inch wet Oak that was from a branch.  The reaction wood tightly pinched the blade and then twisted as it went through.  I don’t know of any saw that will cut through that scenario.

Foot Brake – I love this feature.  If you are handling some big wood, you need both hands to steady the material as it goes through the final inch of the material.  Being able to shut off the machine and keep control of large pieces is a lifesaver (or at least a finger saver).

Ceramic Blade Guides–  The ceramic guides that come with the saw do an excellent job at keeping the blade running straight and true and most of all, cool. I do a considerable amount of resawing and stock preparation.  I haven’t found that overheating of the blade is a problem.  With my smaller saw, the blade will overheat and lose temper quickly when I try to max out the cut (it’s just a small 10” saw with limited capacity)

These, of course, are just my top picks for the best features of this saw.  There isn’t a whole lot wrong with this saw.

The Bad:

Dust Collection– I have a dedicated dust collector connected to this saw when I use it (I move it around as needed) but don’t have a whole shop dust collector.  Perhaps it is due to the volume of my dust collector but I find that a lot of dust escapes around the cut and the bottom of the saw collects a huge volume of dust inside the lower wheel cover.  Overall, there is a lot of dust that gets collected but I can’t just ignore a frequent episode with the shop vac to the inside of the saw.

Power–  There is no way around this one.  This saw requires 220VAC and a 20 amp circuit.  For me, this wasn’t/isn’t a problem as I planned for a dedicated circuit when I outfitted the shop but if you don’t have 220 available where you need it, adding a circuit can be a considerable expense.

The Laguna 14bx Bandsaw with the 1.75 Hp motor will run on 110VAC so if you need some capacity to resaw but don’t have the resources to install a 220VAC circuit this saw has most of the capabilities without the need for a dedicated circuit. It does draw a healthy 14 amps though so a 30 amp breaker is recommended.

Who is Laguna 18bx For?

The 18bx bandsaw from Laguna tools is mainly for people that require a resaw bandsaw.  I find that it is also very handy for prepping tall turnings for the lathe. This machine can handle up to a 1 ¼” wide blade.  I’ve installed a 1 inch Wood Slicer Blade and so far, I’ve used this sawblade for over a full year without issue.  I can cut thin slices for veneer down to under a 16th inch up to a 16-inch wide log.  

The specifications for the 18bx say that this saw can handle a blade down to 1/8” wide but the blade length is 145 inches so I would suspect that a blade of this size might be hard to tension correctly.  I would not use a blade less than ¼” wide.  It excels for wide blades and straight cuts but can be used for curves as needed.

In my shop, if a workpiece is shorter than 4 inches, I’ll use the smaller 10-inch saw.  If it is taller, or if I have a difficult piece that needs the power, I’ll change out the blade and use the larger saw.

Last Fall I created a Carved Cherry Serving Bowl for my sister. The Serving bowl was not as large as the Pelican Carving that I did a few years ago so I used this Laguna Bandsaw to rough out the shape of the bowl.  Since the bowl was long and oval-shaped, the wide 1-inch blade was able to make the gentle curves necessary through this 10-inch thick piece of Cherry.Carved Cherry Serving Bowl

I also used the wide blade on this saw to slice a short piece of Spalted Live Oak.  One of these slices has been integrated into an Epoxy Table that I created, two others became Charcuterie boards for Christmas presents.

Whale Charcuterie Board
Charcuterie Board

Laguna 18bx Accessories 

There are 3 accessories available for the Laguna 18bx.

Mobility Package

The Mobility Package is essentially a set of wheels with a pedal that raises the saw on the back wheel to allow it to roll around your shop.  This is well worth the cost of the mobility pack.  Sometimes you just need the saw to be in a different orientation or allow for infeeds or outfeeds to be moved near the saw and have additional clearance around the saw.

220 VAC Halogen Light

There is a High Power Spotlight that can be added.  A 220 VAC plug is available at the top of the saw to plug in this accessory.  I opted for a magnetic spotlight on an adjustable arm.  This one is battery powered but provides a nice focused light right where it is needed.

Driftmaster Universal Band Saw Fence

The Driftmaster Micro-Adjust Universal Band Saw Fence provides a fence system that can be adjusted for blade drift.  This will allow you to cut precise veneers by canceling out blade drift with the fence.  Precise thickness can be attained with this adjustment.

Laguna 18bx Support

Laguna Tools prides themselves on their customer support.  They do require that you register your machine with them before you place a service call.

The Laguna Customer Service can be accessed here

Laguna 18bx Price

The price for the Laguna 18bx is right around $2000 in the US.  Additional costs for shipping and accessories can add between $150 and $500 depending on your choices.

My Final Opinion of Laguna 18bx

I absolutely love this saw.  I have set up a long fence that runs in the miter slot and used it to straighten curved boards for door stiles. I have cut a bowl blank for a power carving and centered some 16-inch long stock for large turnings.  I often use it to cut small pieces of stock that are destined for the woodstove.  Often these start as logs and are cut lengthwise into slices then the leftovers go into the Woodburner.

I’ve found that it excels at cutting large tenons when I am mortising doors. It even provides a great way to resaw the exotics that my partner uses in her scrollsaw work.

The versatility of this saw is amazing!  It is my go to workhorse for prepping material.

Laguna 18bx Bandsaw at a Glance…

Product: Laguna 18bx Bandsaw


Price: $1999 to $2200

Overall Rank: 95 out of 100

VERDICT: Highly Recommended

If I needed to purchase another bandsaw, I would buy the Laguna 18bx again!

Building the Ultimate Adjustable Sawhorse

Sawhorses are one of the first things that most people will build when setting up a workspace for woodworking.  They can serve to raise things up to a nice working height or even to provide a place to store boards in your shop so that they are off the floor. Where they really shine is as a temporary work table or used as an assembly table or temporary workbench. As I mentioned in the article on Woodworking Work Tables my first workbench was a set of saw horses with a piece of three-quarter-inch plywood sitting on top.

I’ve built many different types of sawhorses over the years.  The one thing that always gets stuck in my craw is that they get in the way when you aren’t using them.  Lots of people will make folding sawhorses that can be tucked out of the way when not in use.  The problem with folding sawhorses is that they aren’t very strong.

I’ve found that a trestle style sawhorse works well when it needs to be tucked out of the way as well as when it is in use. To make a sawhorse that is the ultimate adjustable sawhorse, a trestle style is the initial building block.

No matter how hard I tried, I could not get all of the equipment in my shop to be at the same height. My table saw and my radial arm saw are both set at 35 in. The bandsaw, however, is just over 38 in. Since I’m handling large boards I’m constantly in need of an in-feed and an outfeed to the various machines. I decided that a set of saw horses that could be adjusted up and down and have the top replaced with a roller would make a wonderful solution to my problem.

The Ultimate Adjustable Sawhorse Design


My solution was to design a set of trestle style saw horses with sliding sides. I considered a sliding dovetail but realized that that would be much more difficult than I was ready to take on. Instead, I just created a groove in one 2×4 and a recess in another 2×4, this seems to be a good enough guide to keep everything aligned during adjustment. For the adjustment, one of the two-by-fours gets a line of holes 1 inch apart, the other 2 by 4 gets a line of slots 3 in Long. This arrangement allows for adjustment in the height that is very versatile.

The Ultimate Adjustable Sawhorse Design

I decided to use my new router table and the height adjustment gauge that I created to lay out all the slots and mortise and tenons as well as the grooves.  I used standard construction grade lumber to build the sawhorses.

Building the Interior Frame

I started with the two uprights for the inside of the frame. This piece needs to have a raised center section and recesses on either edge of the lengths of the two by four. I set up a 3/4 inch router bit and cut a ⅝” deep groove along each edge.

On the backside, I laid out mortises for the cross pieces. I cut these mortises with 1/2 inch router bit and made them three-quarters of an inch deep. On the lower end of this piece, I created a tenon that will fit into the foot of the trestle.

The last step for this piece was to lay out a series of 3/8 inch holes spaced 1 inch apart. I made sure to skip the area where the tenons for the cross pieces were cut. 

Adjustable Sawhorse Interior Upright

I, of course, made four pieces at the same time. I needed two sawhorses and each one has two uprights. To minimize the change of setups, I created all the pieces at once.

Making the Cross Pieces and Feet

For the cross pieces, I started by ripping 2- two by fours  in 1/2 lengthwise. This created the four cross pieces that I needed for the two sawhorses. I cut a tenon on each end that fit the mortise that I had already cut in the uprights.

Adjustable Sawhorse Interior Assembly

For the feet, I took another two by four for each foot and cut a centered mortise in the top to accept the tenon from the upright. I also cut a recess in the bottom of the foot leaving a 3in foot at either end and cutting a recess from the bottom of the two by four with a straight center. Basically, I just wanted to raise the bottom of the two-by-four off the ground except for two 3 inch feet at either end.

Adjustable Sawhorse Uprights and Feet

Building the External Uprights

The external uprights need to have a groove cut into the center. This groove needs to be exactly the same depth (or just a touch shallower) as the grooves cut into the internal uprights. The width also needs to be precise with just a little bit of play so the groove will fit over the inner upright.  The groove can be just slightly shallower so that when they go together the meeting pieces have lots of friction to hold them in place.

I set up the router in the table with a three-quarter inch straight cutting router bit again. I used the depth gauge to center the groove and made several passes with the router bit to cut out an inch and a half wide groove in the two by four.

When I had this groove fitting nicely on the inner uprights, I changed over to a half-inch straight cutting router bit to cut the slots. I laid out a series of slots in this piece that were 3 in Long and separated by 3 in. This allows me to be able to slide the outer upright along the inner upright and have a slot always lined up with one of the holes of the inner upright.

When the slots were all cut, I cut a two and a half-inch deep by inch and a half wide slot at the top end of the outer upright. This will receive the crosspiece for the top of the sawhorse.

Adjustable Sawhorse Exterior Upright

Assembling the Sawhorses

Now that all the pieces are cut, we can start fitting the pieces together. Start with the cross pieces and the inside upright pieces, fit the tenons from the cross pieces into the mortises. With the router, you create square tenons so they need to be rounded at the corners to fit into the mortises. Alternatively, you can square up the mortises with a chisel to fit the square tenons.

Once you have everything assembled just check for square and you can hold them together with some pipe clamps temporarily or wrap a couple of bungee cords around them to hold them together. 

Do the same thing for the feet fit the interior upright tennons into the mortises. 

Check to see if everything is square and parallel if so, you can apply glue and put everything together and clamp it with some pipe clamps. You may find it it’s easier to clamp the feet on with a ratcheting tie-down.

When the glue is dry, place the exterior uprights on to the interior uprights and clamp them so that the tops are about even. Install a couple of ⅜” machine bolts with washers through the slots and then the holes on the interior uprights and snug them up with your fingers.

Cut a cross piece for the top of the sawhorse out of 2 x 4 material and place it in the slots at the top of the external uprights. I cut mine 36 in Long. Drill and countersink for washers a couple of quarter-inch holes to accept a quarter 20 bolt to hold the top of the sawhorse in place.

Once you tighten the four bolts that hold the inner uprights to the external uprights you should have a nice solid sawhorse that’s ready for use.

Adjustable Sawhorse Complete Assembly

Alternate Top for the Sawhorse

I needed a roller stand to help feed a jig that I made into the Bandsaw.  I created a roller from a 1 1/2 inch PVC pipe and a couple of plugs that I turned on the lathe to fit the ends of the PVC pipe.  This roller needed to have a recess to fit a guide for the miter slot on the  Bandsaw.  I used a 1/2 inch threaded rod to hold everything together and fastened it in place on top of the sawhorse.
Adjustable Sawhorse Roller Stand

I used several tools to create this project:

Table Saw

Small Bandsaw

Drill Press

Drill Bits


Router Bits

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As a long-time Woodworker, I've built a variety of large and small projects.  I've learned to use the tools available to me to get the job done.

I'm currently building out my shop and starting to create again.  I need to work with wood or I'll go crazy.

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Creating a Simple Router Depth Gauge

Creating a Simple Router Depth Gauge

With my Router Table complete,I needed a quick way to set up the router depth.  In my travels, I have run across several designs for a quick little Router Depth Gauge that will make adjusting the fence and the height of the router bit quick and easy.   Wood Work Web created a similar project to set-up a Tablesaw.   I’ve included the video here to show you what the capabilities are for this simple gauge.


This is a pretty simple project and is one that will provide benefits for many years to come. I hope you’ll follow along and perhaps create your own. 

Designing the Router Depth Gauge

This Router Depth Gauge can be used for a handheld Router or in a Router Table.  I decided for this one to use a 6-inch rule and make the piece 6 1/2 inches high and 6 1/2 inches wide.  This is not a hard and fast rule. If you want to make it versatile, you can make it a bit larger (around 8 inches) and it will fit around a saw blade to set the blade height and fence for your table saw as well as use it with the Router to set up the depth of cut and the fence position. Since I just completed the Router Table, I made a depth gauge for this piece of equipment.  I can still use it to set the blade depth on the Table saw but the fence position can only be used when the blade doesn’t stick up too high. For this gauge, I chose a piece of nice straight grained Poplar ¾” thick that I had left from another project.  The top of the gauge that holds the ruler is 2 ½ inches wide and the two radiuses at the bottom of the gauge are 3 ¼ and 2 ¼ inches.  This Depth Gauge is designed around a 6-inch ruler that is ¾ inch wide. Here is a drawing of the setup gauge. Router Depth Gauge Design

Layout the Curves and the Recess for the Ruler

To layout the shape of the Router setup gauge, I first located the centerline of the piece. I measured ⅜ inch on either side of the center (my ruler is ¾ inch wide) and marked two lines so that I can set my Router Table Fence to the correct distance from the edge. Next, I set my compass to the large radius (3 ¼ “) and drew an arc from the centerline.  I followed this with the small radius (2 ¼”) to lay out the smaller arc. When you do this layout make sure that the grain is running up and down the part and not across.  This will make a much stronger gauge.  Of course, if you are using plywood for this gauge, then grain direction isn’t a factor for strength, it just makes the gauge look better.

 Make a Groove for the Ruler

There are several ways that you can create a groove to fit the ruler for your depth gauge.  My first choice would be to use a Router Table and a fence.  The same thing can be done with a Table Saw or even cut by hand with a layout knife and a chisel. I chose to use a router.  I installed a ¾ inch Straight bit in my Porter Cable Router measured from the edge of the bit to my layout lines on the part and set the depth of the bit to ⅛ inch.  The ruler measured just under 1/8 “ thick so this seemed like a good depth to start with. If I had completed the gauge that I’m currently working on, I would just set the gauge and move the fence to the correct location.  Since I haven’t completed it yet, I used my combination square to make the adjustment and double-checked the measurement several times to verify. One side of the bit was at 5 ⅞“ the other was 6 ⅝”. I verified that the fence was set correctly from both the infeed and outfeed side of the bit. Then it was just a matter of running the piece through the router and checking the fit to the ruler.  Since my bit was ¾  inch and the ruler was also ¾ inch, I found that the ruler fit was good but there was no way to adjust the ruler. The fit was just too tight.  I could have corrected this with some sanding but I decided to make a second pass with a slight modification. One way to get a slightly larger slot would be to just bump the fence a touch.  I decided to wrap a sheet of paper around the side of the part that runs on the fence.  A standard sheet of notebook paper is about 1/10 of a millimeter so this should give me the slip fit that I need.  If it isn’t quite enough, I’ll repeat the process with the other edge. One single pass was sufficient to get the ruler sliding easily in the groove.

Cut the Shape

Next, I turned my attention to the half-circle that needed to be cut to shape the legs.  I chose to cut these on a bandsaw but you could use a scroll saw, a jigsaw, or even cut it by hand with a coping saw. I started with the inside bottom of the piece. when I cut the groove for the ruler I eliminated part of the line so I touched that up first and then I cut the half-circle.  Then I got the straight lines for the top part and finished with the outside half circle coming in from either side. When I’d finished cutting it out I touched up the saw marks with some 80 grit sandpaper and finished the job with some 100 Grit.  I eased the edges a little as I was sanding.

Add the Magnet

If you are using a steel ruler, and have a loose fit for the ruler, you might want to add a small button magnet to your Depth Gauge.  This should be inserted under the ruler to keep it in place during use.   I happened to have a package of ¼ inch Neodymium magnets in my store of things so I drilled a hole under where the ruler slides and glued it in place in the recess.  I placed this 2 inches up from the end of the ruler recess.

Create a Hairline Indicator

To make an indicator for your ruler, you will need a piece of Plexiglass.  I used a ¼ inch thick piece because I had some laying around but ⅛ inch thick is fine.  I cut mine to 2 inches wide and 4 ½ inches long.   Set the Depth Gauge on something. Place the ruler into the groove and slide it down until it touches the tabletop under the gauge.  This will give you a reliable location for the zero point. Place the Plexiglass over the ruler and temporarily clamp it in place.  Using a combination square, line up the edge of the square with the zero point of the ruler.  Scratch a line across the Plexiglass with a sharp knife.  One single score line across the Plexiglass. Grab a sharpie marker.  I used a red one as the red line shows up well.  If you are color blind, a black marker will work as well.  Make a mark along the line.  The marker will leave a thick line. Using a bit of isopropyl alcohol and a paper towel, wipe off the line you just created.  The ink will stay in the scored line and clean off the flat area of the Plexiglass.

Install the Indicator

Insert the ruler into its slot and position it so that it sits flat on a surface. Align the indicator mark with the zero point on the ruler and clamp the plexiglass into place.  Drill four holes for small screws into the plexiglass. Fasten the plexiglass into place and the assembly is complete.

Trim and Finish the Router Depth Gauge

Anywhere that the Router depth gauge has sharp edges, run some 220 grit sandpaper over the edge. the edges and corners of the plexiglass need to be smoothed a little bit in most cases. Your tool doesn’t need much finish, in general, I’ll run some tung oil over it just to give it a little protection. Router Depth Gauge I hope you enjoyed this short project.  I know that I’ll use it often. It will come in handy for my next project.  I’m going to be creating some adjustable sawhorses. Feel free to comment below on this project or any other that you see on this site.

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