For obvious reasons, a special room should be set apart for carpentry. A bench or strong table is necessary, with a ‘lug’ for holding the work. This should be placed against a wall in a good light—preferably beneath a window—and should be firm and steady. If the legs can be strengthened by joining with strips of battening, so much the better. A fire or gas-ring should be provided for heating glue.
The elementary tools required by the beginner are a large hand saw, and a smaller tenon saw, a good serviceable hammer and one of lighter weight for tacks, &c, a strong wooden mallet, and foin chilled steel chisels (£*, £’, J* and 1’), a gimlet and a brace and set of bits. He will also require a strong screw-driver of medium size, pincers and pliers, a straightedge (steel, if possible), a square, vise, gauge, spoke-shave, glue-pot, hand plane, and for the more ambitious, a jack plane. To these should be added an oil-stone for keeping the tools keen, and an assortment of nails, screws, metal hinges, &c, some good glue in cakes, varnish, and a tin or two of ready mixed paint of assorted shades with brushes, and variou degrees of sandpaper. A two-foo rule, and a flat carpenter’s pench should complete the equipment. More ambitious carpenters may desire a lathe, but this is somewhat expensive, and requires some technical skill in the use; furthermore, it takes up rather a lot of room : after all, we are catering for the mere amateur. Some very fine chests of tools can be purchased from the better-class hardware dealers, at prices ranging from £5.
An assortment of suitable woods should be obtained from a timber yard or from one of the dealers specialising in carpenters’ supplies. These should be of good grain, and need not be costly. As a matter of fact, the beginner will do well to start with a few pieces of half-inch yellow pine. This is much cheaper than the more ornamental woods, is more easily worked, and looks very nice when finished and polished. Care should be exercised in the choosing to avoid buying knotty, warped or split timber.
It will be found useful to first practise the use of the various tools—especially the saw and plane —and, for rough practice, parts of packing cases or fruit boxes will serve admirably. It may be re marked in passing, that it is not so easy as it looks for a raw tyro to drive a nail in a business-like manner. The intricacies of grooving, morticing, dove-tailing, &c, should be studied, and to this end a reliable handbook should be kept in a rack above the ench. Only the simplest articles should be attempted at first and the more spectacular efforts left until the elements of woodwork have been thoroughly mastered. We suggest, for a start, a simple wall bracket, a crude dog-kennel or rabbit hutch, or a reading desk. A plan should first be drawn on paper of the various parts, and the wood marked up as required. It may then be cut up and planed, and any preliminary grooving, &c., done, then joined up with glue, screws or nails. It should be smoothed well with sandpaper, and ill nail and screw depressions (or any other unsightly pitting) filled up with putty and scraped level. Staining and varnishing may then be completed.
The following rules might be borne well in mind : All tools should be kept sharp, clean and out of the damp. They should be put away after use and not left about in the sawdust to injure the unwary. Flane blades should always be carefully adjusted, otherwise they cannot be expected to act satisfactorily. Never plain a surface containing nails or hard knots. Always be sure to have a a steady bed on which to saw. Holes should always be bored with a gimlet before driving in nails or screws. Nails which are likely to split the wood should not be used. Nails and screw heads should be buried in the wood, and the depression afterwards filled up level with putty. If a nail bends or doubles up in driving home, don’t attempt to straighten it : withdraw it and substitute another. Use the tools only for the purpose intended. Never throw matches (lighted or otherwise) about the floor, and do not put down lighted cigarettes on the bench.
Beginners cannot do better than obtain Messrs. Foulsham’s Practical Carpentry for Amateurs, published at one shilling net.