I like to teach woodworking to small groups on the weekends. These groups tend to have some basic tool knowledge, so we aren't starting from absolute scratch, but sometimes its close.

In the past I have used bandsaw boxes, finger bowls, and pen turning. Does anyone have additional suggestions.

  • I can see that this question may be too broad as well as opinion based. I did think the answers here had value for someone wanting good ideas for teaching basics, but again, maybe off point for WW. I could not think of a way to narrow it down, and in essence, that really is my question. I have done a lot of bandsaw boxes with people, and thats like the gold standard it seems to getting people started. I was looking for things as good.
    – NipFu
    Feb 27 '16 at 6:10
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    Taking "good" out of the title eliminates the opinion based part of the question. The answers that have been received look good and it's only the hold that has stopped the run of additional suggestions. This is an inspired question.
    – Ast Pace
    Feb 28 '16 at 5:13
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    Perhaps just teach the fundamentals by taking a board from rough cut to square and S3S/S4S. That'll teach them how to use most of the equipment, and this is probably the most important fundamental for woodworking. Feb 28 '16 at 6:01
  • @AstPace I agree that it's a good question in that the answers are interesting, but the problem isn't just that it was opinion based, it's that it's too broad: There's no way to really accept an answer for an open ended question like this because there isn't one "right" answer.
    – Daniel B.
    Feb 28 '16 at 6:22

I think the best project is a simple rectangular box. You can teach good tablesaw and hand work practices as well as multiple joining techniques in a project that is completed in a couple classes and like your current suggestions gives them a useful home item or gift. You will also address mortices, dados, and techniques for mounting hinges. A simple finger joint or miters with splines box should do it.

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I like to suggest as early or starter woodworking projects the making of a few of the key jigs or 'workshop aids' as they used to be called. In addition to most being very simple to make to a high standard with almost no experience every one of them can immediately be put to use to help in the making of other things so it's a win-win proposition.

Principal among these is the bench hook, the most useful of all workshop aids (particularly if deliberately made to be multi-use). A previous Answer covers them in some detail.

If planes are available second on the list could be a shooting board, although a suitably built bench hook can be used for basic shooting of both long grain and end grain.

Not a must-have but next perhaps the mitre shooting board, since making your own picture frames is a very common desire with starter woodworkers and this allows the perfecting of mitre joints, so important for good tight corners. This is the type I think is likely to be easiest to build and found most useful:

Basic mitre shooting board

[Source: Wood Magazine]

Marking out is one the the fundamental skills so everyone needs a marking gauge or cutting gauge, or ideally both, to help with that. Although it might seem too ambitious, with instruction simpler versions of either could easily be built by beginners in a single weekend, particularly with the aid of the already-made bench hook :-)

  • 3
    If you own a table saw, a sled is another useful starting project.
    – Jason C
    Feb 23 '16 at 20:09

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