19 Surprisingly Easy Woodworking Projects for Beginners
Check out these attractive, useful projects you can build! The best part is that they don’t require a complete workshop and years of woodworking experience, just a few common tools and some old-fashioned elbow grease.
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How to Make a Wooden Chopping Board and Serving Tray
Slice, dice and serve in style on this easy, attractive board. We’ll show you a simple way to dry-fit the parts, scribe the arc and then glue the whole thing together. We used a 4-ft. steel ruler to scribe the arcs, but a yardstick or any thin board would also work. Find complete how-to instructions on this woodworking crafts project here. Also, be sure to use water-resistant wood glue and keep your board out of the dishwasher or it might fall apart. And one more thing: Keep the boards as even as possible during glue-up to minimize sanding later. For great tips on gluing wood, check out this collection.2 / 19
Shoe Storage Booster Stool
Build this handy stool in one hour and park it in your closet. You can also use it as a step to reach the high shelf. All you need is a 4 x 4-ft. sheet of 3/4-in. plywood, wood glue and a handful of 8d finish nails. Cut the plywood pieces according to the illustration. Spread wood glue on the joints, then nail them together with 8d finish nails. First nail through the sides into the back. Then nail through the top into the sides and back. Finally, mark the location of the two shelves and nail through the sides into the shelves. Don’t have floor space to spare? Build these super simple wall-mounted shoe organizers instead!3 / 19
Build a Shoe Organizer
Store shoes up off the floor in clean, natural wood racks. This simple storage system can handle everything from winter boots to summer sandals, with no mud buildup or scuff marks on the wall. Build one to share or one for each member of the family! Find complete how-to instructions here.
For wet shoes and boots, we recommend this attractive, simple-to-make tray.
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Build a Wooden Bench for Less
Need outdoor seating in a hurry? This simple bench, based on author and ecologist Aldo Leopold’s classic design, can be constructed in a couple of hours, even if you are a novice woodworker. All it takes is two boards and 18 screws, for a cost of less than $25. You’ll find the simple how-to instructions here.
Have you ever wondered if you can stain pressure-treated wood? The answer is, yes. Here’s how!5 / 19
How to Build a Small Bench
Give your back and knees a break with this portable, easy-to-build seat/step stool/tool box/work surface. It only takes a couple of hours to build and you’ll find dozens of uses for it. Check out the easy-to-follow instructions here. If you’re looking for a small bench/step stool that’s a little cuter than this one, here’s one for you to consider.6 / 19
How to Make Magazine Storage Containers
Need a good way to archive magazines? Build these simple wood storage bins and have all of your favorites at your fingertips instead of lost in a towering pile. You can build four bins from one 2 x 4-ft. sheet of 1/4-in. plywood and two 6-ft.-long 1x4s. And cutting the wood is easy with a jigsaw or band saw.
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Create a Sleek and Simple Coat Rack and Hat Rack
Clear up entryway clutter with a simple coat and hat rack that you can build in about an hour from a 6 ft. 1×4 and coat hooks. You just cut the boards to fit your space, paint them, outfit them with different kinds of hooks to suit your needs and then screw them to the wall. Check out the detailed how-to instructions here.
You’ll find hooks in a tremendous range of styles, colors and prices at hardware stores and online retailers. For inspiration, check out these clever and unusual coat hooks.8 / 19
Season’s Greetings Spice Rack
This spice rack will keep your favorite 18 seasonings on ready alert. It’s quick and fun to make and, using our dimensions, will fit inside a standard kitchen cabinet. You’ll need:
- an 11-1/2- and a 7-1/4-in.-dia. wood disc
- 9-in. lazy Susan hardware
- four 1-5/8- x 5/8-in. dowels for legs
- one 5-1/4-in. x 5/8-in. dowel handle
- a 1-7/8-in. Forstner drill bit
- a 5/8-in. spade or brad point drill bit
- a 1-1/2-in. wood ball or other knob.
With a pencil and a protractor, divide the larger disc into 30-degree wedges to create 12 center lines for the bottle indents. Center and trace the smaller disc on top of the larger disc. Next, with a drill press, drill 3/8-in.-deep holes on the 12 center lines with the 1-7/8-in. Forstner bit, spacing them between the disc’s outer edge and the traced circle. Next, divide the smaller disc into 60-degree wedges and drill six more 3/8-in.-deep holes with the Forstner bit.
Drill four 5/8-in.-dia. 1/2-in.-deep holes on the large disc?inside the traced circle?then use 5/8-in. dowel centers to transfer the hole locations to the underside of the small disc. Drill four 1/2-in.-deep holes on the underside of the small disc and a 1/2-in.-deep hole in the center of the top for the dowel handle. Glue in the dowels to join the discs, and glue in the handle. We drilled a wood ball for a handle knob, but a screw-on ceramic knob also provides a comfortable, attractive grip.
Apply a finish to match your cabinets, then center and screw the lazy Susan bearing under the large disc and play spin the bottle.9 / 19
If your spices are jammed into a drawer with only the tops visible, this nifty rack that slips neatly into the drawer will solve the pantry storage problem. And it only takes an hour to build. Make it with scraps of 1/4-in. and 1/2-in. plywood. Or build a two-tier drawer spice rack.
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Bring a bit of nature indoors with this simple branch-supported shelf. You’ll have to find two forked branches about 1 in. in diameter, with one relatively straight side that will sit flush to the wall. Find all of the simple how-to instructions for building this shelf here. And for lots of hints and tips on hanging shelves, check out our guide.11 / 19
Easy Knife Block
If your spices are jammed into a drawer with only the tops visible, this nifty rack that slips neatly into the drawer will solve the problem. And it only takes an hour to build. Make it with scraps of 1/4-in. and 1/2-in. plywood. Or build a two-tier drawer spice rack.
To build one, you only need a 3/4-in. x 8-in. x 4-ft. hardwood board and a 6-in. x 6-1/2-in. piece of 1/4-in. hardwood plywood to match.
Begin by cutting off a 10-in. length of the board and setting it aside. Rip the remaining 38-in. board to 6 in. wide and cut five evenly spaced saw kerfs 5/8 in. deep along one face. Crosscut the slotted board into four 9-in. pieces and glue them into a block, being careful not to slop glue into the saw kerfs (you can clean them out with a knife before the glue dries). Saw a 15-degree angle on one end and screw the plywood piece under the angled end of the block.
Cut the 6-1/2-in. x 3-in. lid from the leftover board, and slice the remaining piece into 1/4-in.-thick pieces for the sides and end of the box. Glue them around the plywood floor. Cut a rabbet on three sides of the lid so it fits snugly on the box and drill a 5/8-in. hole for a finger pull. Then just add a finish and you’ve got a beautiful, useful gift. If you don’t have time to make a gift this year, consider offering to do something for the person. You could offer to sharpen their knives! Here’s how.12 / 19
Simple Step Stool
Here’s a great gift idea that will draw raves. The joints are accurately made in seconds with a biscuit joiner! Complete instructions for building this stool are found here. Want to learn about using a biscuit joiner before taking on this project? Watch this video that shows you how to make strong, fast and accurate joints with this useful tool.
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The space behind a door is a storage spot that’s often overlooked. Build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door. The materials are inexpensive. Measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.
Locate the studs. Drill clearance holes and screw the shelves to the studs with 2-1/2-in. wood screws. Put a rubber bumper on the frame to protect the door.14 / 19
Create an Ironing Center
To keep your ironing gear handy but out from underfoot, make this simple ironing center in a couple of hours. All you need is a 10-ft. 1×8, a 2-ft. piece of 1×6 for the shelves and a pair of hooks to hang your ironing board.
Cut the back, sides, shelves and top. Align the sides and measure from the bottom 2 in., 14-3/4 in. and 27-1/2 in. to mark the bottom of the shelves. Before assembling the unit, use a jigsaw to cut a 1 x 1-in. dog ear at the bottom of the sides for a decorative touch.
Working on one side at a time, glue and nail the side to the back. Apply glue and drive three 1-5/8-in. nails into each shelf, attach the other side and nail those shelves into place to secure them. Clamps are helpful to hold the unit together while you’re driving nails. Center the top piece, leaving a 2-in. overhang on both sides, and glue and nail it into place. Paint or stain the unit and then drill pilot holes into the top face of each side of the unit and screw in the hooks to hold your ironing board. Mount the shelf on drywall using screw-in wall anchors.15 / 19
Two-Story Closet Shelves
There’s a lot of space above the shelf in most closets. Even though it’s a little hard to reach, it’s a great place to store seldom-used items. Make use of this wasted space by adding a second shelf above the existing one. Buy enough closet shelving material to match the length of the existing shelf plus enough for two end supports and middle supports over each bracket. Twelve-inch-wide shelving is available in various lengths and finishes at home centers and lumberyards.
We cut the supports 16 in. long, but you can place the second shelf at whatever height you like. Screw the end supports to the walls at each end. Use drywall anchors if you can’t hit a stud. Then mark the position of the middle supports onto the top and bottom shelves with a square and drill 5/32-in. clearance holes through the shelves. Drive 1-5/8-in. screws through the shelf into the supports. You can apply this same concept to garage storage. See how to build double-decker garage storage shelves here.
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Stacked Recycling Tower
Five plastic containers, six 2x2s and screws, and one hour’s work are all it takes to put together this space-saving recycling storage rack. Our frame fits containers that have a top that measures 14-1/2 in. x 10 in. and are 15 in. tall. Our containers were made by Rubbermaid.
If you use different-size containers, adjust the distance between the uprights so the 2x2s will catch the lip of the container. Then adjust the spacing of the horizontal rungs for a snug fit when the container is angled as shown.
Start by cutting the 2x2s to length according to the illustration. Then mark the position of the rungs on the uprights. Drill two 5/32-in. holes through the uprights at each crosspiece position. Drill from the outside to the inside and angle the holes inward slightly to prevent the screws from breaking out the side of the rungs.
Drive 2-1/2-in. screws through the uprights into the rungs. Assemble the front and back frames. Then connect them with the side crosspieces. Want even more space in the garage? Check out these DIY garage storage tips.17 / 19
Swedish Boot Scraper
Here’s a traditional Swedish farm accessory for gunk-laden soles. The dimensions are not critical, but be sure the edges of the slats are fairly sharp?they’re what makes the boot scraper work. Cut slats to length, then cut triangular openings on the side of a pair of 2x2s. A radial arm saw works well for this, but a table saw or band saw will also make the cut. Trim the 2x2s to length, predrill, and use galvanized screws to attach the slats from underneath. If you prefer a boot cleaner that has brushes, check out this clever project.18 / 19
To corral shelf-dwelling books or DVDs that like to wander, cut 3/4-in.-thick hardwood pieces into 6-in. x 6-in. squares. Use a band saw or jigsaw to cut a slot along one edge (with the grain) that’s a smidgen wider than the shelf thickness. Stop the notch 3/4 in. from the other edge. Finish the bookend and slide it on the shelf. Want to build the shelves, too? We’ve got complete plans for great-looking shelves here.
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Turn a single 3-ft.-long, 1×12 hardwood board into some small shelves to organize a desk top or counter.
Cut off a 21-in.-long board for the shelves, rip it in the middle to make two shelves, and cut 45-degree bevels on the two long front edges with a router or table saw. Bevel the ends of the other board, cut dadoes, which are grooves cut into the wood with a router or a table saw with a dado blade, cross- wise (cut a dado on scrap and test-fit the shelves first!) and cut it into four narrower boards, two at 1-3/8 in. wide and two at 4 in.
Finish, then assemble with brass screws and finish washers for one of these easy wood projects. For expert advice on how to finish wood, check out this collection of tips.
Be sure to check out our Saturday Morning Projects for more inspiration, like the coasters in the video below.