For anyone starting to learn woodworking, you can’t go far wrong with Steve Ramsey’s Woodworking Basics playlist, a collection of 17 (and counting) free videos, providing useful information on some of the tools and techniques you’re going to need. These are an excellent resource for learning specific things in isolation, but if you’re anything like us, you learn better by getting your hands dirty with a project, which is where Steve’s premium course, The Weekend Woodworker, comes into its own.
The course, delivered weekly via the website, consists of six projects, each designed to be built in a weekend. Each project consists of two videos (one for the Saturday, one for the Sunday), plans in PDF format for both metric and imperial measurements, along with SketchUp files for each, and a full list of tools, equipment, and materials required.
The videos follow Steve as he builds each project, showing in great detail exactly what you need to do to follow along. Each new project builds upon what you learn in the previous one, slowly but deliberately introducing new techniques, showing how to get the most out of the tools, and letting you gain skills and knowledge gradually.
From the top
The first two projects, a patio table and a garden bench, introduce the mitre saw, drill, impact driver, and random orbit sander. The third project, an office paper tray, introduces the table saw and jigsaw, and by the fourth, a coffee table, you’ll find yourself using a circular saw. The final two, a bookshelf and wall cabinet, then hone your previously learned skills, and enhance them further. Each project concludes with applying a suitable finish.
The only outlier to this gradual build-up is the bonus project, the Basic Mobile Workbench. This is because the only tool from the above list that isn’t required for its construction is the table saw. But, even being thrown in the deep end like this isn’t all that daunting, as Steve is a fantastic teacher – and it helps that, being a workshop tool, aesthetics are less of a concern, meaning less pressure. This is the first project your reviewer built – his first ever woodworking project – and we recommend you do the same, as it’s a good introduction and becomes a key tool in the building of the projects going forward.
Talking of mistakes, Steve makes a few of them during the videos (it’s evident he plans each project beforehand off-camera, then records as he builds them for the first time). But, this is honestly one of our favourite parts of any of his videos, because he always addresses the mistakes and uses them as an opportunity to teach. This is all part of his presentation style, which is heavily influenced by his personality, his sense of humour, and his ten years of making videos for YouTube – which clearly shows in his amazing production value. Even if you weren’t all that interested in woodworking, you’d find any of his videos entertaining in their own right.
His approach to woodworking is pragmatic, and designed to solve a problem. He doesn’t teach you dovetail joints, for example, when there are easier ways of joining two pieces of wood. But that’s not to say his projects are ugly. In fact, the very second project, the garden bench, was designed to be a thing of beauty to encourage you to think of aesthetics and overall design from the outset of a project, rather than something you’ll hopefully stumble onto later.
In addition to the main projects, there are a number of auxiliary resources also supplied via the website. These consist of safety tips and videos on how to avoid accidents, information on how to obtain the tools required for the course (more on this in a moment), advice on buying lumber and setting up a workspace (even if you don’t have a lot of room to work in), advice on selling your projects, and a selection of plans for other projects. You’ll also be invited to a private Facebook group to talk with other members.
Building a workshop
One thing to be aware of is the costs – not to buy the course itself, which we think is great value, but the cost of the equipment and materials required to complete it. Woodworking isn’t the cheapest hobby, and Steve tries to keep the costs down as much as possible by supplying a shopping list of cheap (mostly Ryobi) tools – the same tools he actually uses in the videos. While we’re sure the ‘Under $1000’ tool shopping list is good value, especially when offset against the many, many projects they can help you make, it’s still a lot to spend in one go, and this doesn’t include the cost of the other equipment, materials, and lumber.
This isn’t just a course to teach you how to build the six projects contained within: it uses these as a vehicle to teach woodworking – and at the end of it you’ll walk away with a fully stocked workshop, six weekends’ worth of guided experience, and knowledge needed to confidently start building your own projects.
The weekend woodworker $147 theweekendwoodworker.com
Provides everything that someone starting their journey into the world of woodworking needs.