Phil Capezio, known as @boneshaker_woodworks on Instagram, is currently building brand new kitchen cabinet doors-19 doors in total! He is crafting these 19 shaker style doors using Forest 2 Home Hard Maple rails and stiles. When we saw Phil's project, we knew we needed to get some expert tips of his process. While Phil is renovating his kitchen, these tips apply to any woodworking projects - both small and large!
Starting a new woodworking project
Every new project starts with a little planning and some design work, which will require you to choose the materials you want to use. Unless its a small project that you can make from the scrap bin, you'll likely need to source materials. When choosing dimensional lumber, its always necessary to account for all of the cuts you will need to make to leave room for jointing, planing and sanding. Keep in mind most saw blades are 1/8" thick (also known as kerf) so with each rip or cross-cut, you will lose that amount of material. If you're just getting started, it's never a bad idea to get a little extra material beyond what you think you'll need.
Moisture in the woodshop
Once you’ve got what you need on hand, be aware that the moisture content in the wood may still fluctuate once it gets into your shop. I’ve found it’s best to let the wood sit in my space for at least a few days before I begin to work with it. It’s also a good idea to give the wood some time to adjust after you’ve made your cuts, and before any final planing or dimensioning.
Before you get started cutting, it's a good idea to do some basic layout to make sure your math is correct and you know exactly where you will be cutting. I like to make light pencil marks as much as possible just to remind myself where to cut, and where not to. It's easy to get in a rhythm when you're working on a project and make a mistake (that's when the extra material comes in handy!).
Planing for thickness
When I’m ready to get my projects to final dimensions, I prefer to use the thickness planer on all four sides. I generally like to leave all of my pieces at least an 1/8” wider than the final dimension so that I can remove 1/16” or more from each side with the thickness planer.
There are several things to keep in mind when using the planer, starting with identifying the grain direction on each piece to see which way it slopes. You want to make sure the knives on the planer are cutting "downhill" with the grain as much as possible. This is important to reduce the chip out and tear out that the planer can leave behind. Sometimes it's difficult to tell but if you get chip out on the first pass, try sending the piece through the other way the next time around.
Take very, very light passes! This is generally always true, but I try to take 1/64" - 1/32" at most in a single pass. This obviously takes more time than removing more material in one pass, but it produces cleaner, more predictable results, and can also reduce the wear on the knives.
If you need to plane something too short to safely pass through, gluing longer strips to either side to make a sled works great. This obviously takes more time, but produces good results-just be sure to plan for trimming off the strips when you're done.
Lastly, planers are often notorious for producing snipe. I've found that making sure the infeed/outfeed tables are properly adjusted is necessary more often than you'd think. I also prefer to use a sacrificial board that leads in first and trails my work pieces. I try use scrap wood whenever possible, but its worth it to sacrifice another "good" piece to get acceptable results on the rest of the project.
Some other generally helpful woodworking 101 tips:
When cross-cutting and reduce the amount of steps needed later to clean up your work. For most small to medium size projects, I prefer to use a cross-cut sled on my table saw instead of the miter saw. I find that it's faster, easier, and with a stop block you can make repeatable cuts with no problem. When ripping stock, using a featherboard in your miter slot (or magnetic) will also improve the quality of the cut you get and reduce the amount of cleanup work needed after.
What do you think of Phil's woodshop tips? Leave a comment letting us know which one's you will be trying with your upcoming woodworking projects! Have anymore shop tips you want to share?! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org! Happy Woodworking!