You've got some time to work on that next DIY project. Your excitement starts to grow as you think of the woodworking projects that you can complete.
But when you start searching, you get so frustrated trying to find that 'perfect' set of woodworking plans. This one is just not right, or that one is too simple or complex.
You're not alone, we get frustrated too! ;)
Wouldn't it be nice if you could go to one place that has all the styles or types of projects broken down in an easy to find order? No more spending hours searching for what you're looking for.
Here's the deal...
We put everything in one place. Think how easy it'll be to find exactly what you're looking for in one consistent spot.
In this article, we provide you a rough idea of different categories of woodworking plans and what they require. Then we give you a brief rundown of some of the most popular woodworking projects and how they can add value to your life.
We've even added a great quick navigation feature to make it easy for you due to the massive size of this ultimate guide to woodworking projects and plans! :)
4 Purposes to Fit Your Needs
Small Woodworking Projects
Anything can comfortably be held or weld with one or two hands fits into this category. While most of your beginning projects will generally be small, smaller woodworking projects can be used to develop your skills all the way to the advanced levels.
Mastery often implies the ability to construct furniture. However, there are plenty of master woodworkers who have neither the time nor the desire to work on large projects like furniture.
Another highlight of small woodworking projects is that they are often some of the more profitable projects.
First, they require far less natural resources than larger projects. This is relevant on two fronts. Both the total amount of resources needed and the maximum dimensions of the resources.
When you are calculating the investment costs of resources for an expensive type of wood like Purple Heart or Dalbergia, not to even mention Sandalwood or Heartwoods, the fewer resources you need, the better.
Moreover, it's often much cheaper to purchase smaller rips than larger ones. As such, you can often spend far less money making numerous birdhouses out of the same amount of wood that you would need to construct a chair.
However, you must be far more careful with small woodworking projects as the the pieces will generally be more fragile. This is especially relevant if you use power tools.
Aside from the fact that your skill level should be well-developed and at least intermediate before you attempt a serious project, your tools need to be precise.
Of course, if you're working on smaller woodworkings projects with serious intentions, you should've already begun the development of your skills with hand tools. Keep in mind, this process begins at the middle or later stages of of the beginner level of skills.
And it truly comes to the forefront when you can competently be considered an intermediately skilled woodworker.
Regardless, small projects with any degree of delicacy and fine craftsmanship will require both a healthy set of fundamental woodworking skill and a broader range of tools on which those skills apply. The set of chisels and your coping saw will see a great of work on these projects.
Planes may see some action, depending on the project, but sanders will show up more prevalently. Hammers are far less common, depending on the level of work.
For instance, an intermediate level small woodworking project will still likely see the hammer used often enough.
However, a more advanced woodworker will likely eschew the hammer and nails in favor of other fastening techniques, perhaps relying on a rubber mallet at most.
Though, if the woodworking plans are drawn up and executed ideally, that may not even be necessary.
Other tools that are likely to make frequent appearances include drills and clamps.
Due to the sensitive nature of more delicate pieces often involved in small woodworking projects, jointing and adhesives can serve as a superior substitute to other types of fastening techniques.
Should your skills be developed enough, it actually makes little sense to use a foreign fastening technique which will generally not work as well nor stand the test of time as well either.
Regardless, this type of woodworking is very different from both beginner, though there is some overlap, and furniture projects. If you're not careful, it is easy to ruin expensive materials due to a minor error.
In this regard, if you plan on using expensive materials, it can actually be a good idea to purchase cheaper materials that exhibit similar qualities as the truly desired material.
This allows you practice the project and ensure that the plans, and you skill level, are refined enough to ensure completion without unexpected errors cropping up along the way. Often when it's too late to do anything about it. 😉
Wood Projects for Beginners
These projects are more for practice than anything else. They should be relatively straight-forward and simple in design.
There is little or no need to add ornate carvings or additional ornamentation to these projects. At this point, you're simply trying to master the basic, fundamental skills of woodworking.
While you may have seen a picture frame with breathtaking carving and inlays, if you're working at the beginner level, simply getting all of the lines to be straight and even should be your goal.
Once you reach an intermediate stage of skill, it's your ability to perform these introductory skills at such a high level that a layperson is completely unaware of how fine of work they are looking at that you really begin to get to the advanced stages of woodworking.
For example, that picture frame without carving or inlay may seem boring. But if you can construct it so precisely that the joints and seams are nearly imperceptible, that's a sign of a higher degree of woodworking skill than carving a simple geometric design.
As such, you should pick projects which have few pieces, little carving, and few or no moving parts.
Granted, as you begin to advance to the later beginner stage of woodworking skills, you will begin to experiment with some of these techniques. However, in the beginning, straight lines, even edges is your goal.
This challenge should be made all the more difficult by your choice of tools. Specifically, there's no need to rush out and get a full repertoire of woodworking tools when you're still practicing the craft at the beginner stage.
More often than not, you should be using power tools. It is advised to have a basic set of hand tools on standby.
Hand tools require a greater degree of skill than beginners often demonstrate.
While there is nothing wrong with experimenting for fun, your focus should be on figuring out how the power tools work the wood. This is because power tools are often used for the rough stages of woodworking. Even at more advanced levels.
The advanced levels of woodworking will require an intimate understanding of how power tools affect the wood itself. Because of this, there's no need to purchase the most expensive or highest quality power tools either.
This isn't to suggest that you should go budget and pick up a consumer grade tool. However, a beginner is unlikely to recognize why a superior power tool is in fact superior just from picking it up and using it.
It's the process of trial and error that often teaches the woodworker most.
An good place to begin your woodworking career is with the aforementioned picture frame. However, in this case, you will want to avoid mitered edges.
This allows you to focus exclusively on straight lines and even edges.
Once you can competently construct that without fail, moving on to a frame with mitered edges or even a birdhouse. Perhaps the most iconic beginning woodworker’s project, can help hone your skills while developing new ones.
Once you have mastered the straight cuts and even edges portion of skill development, you can move on to simple carvings, curving forms, jointed sides, and even basic lathing.
Keep in mind that if you move on from the basic skills too quickly without properly formalizing them within your intuition and muscle memory, every more advanced skill you develop thereafter will ultimately carry the imprint of poor technique.
It will either place a low ceiling on your ultimate talent or have to be retrained.
Woodworking Projects that Sell
This isn't nearly as cut and dry as beginner, small, and furniture woodworking projects.
Whereas all of those other projects are strictly a test of your skill, selling the finished product will involve a host of factors that have nothing to do with the quality of your project.
Granted, the project’s quality will generally impact your ability to sell it and can generate increased demand. And value where there otherwise may be little.
But selling your woodworking projects are ultimately affected and occasionally held captive by market forces.
However, since you'll rarely be in a position to command market forces, a better tactic is to adapt to them. In this regard, you'll likely need to conduct a bit of research.
For example, while some products sell reasonably well over online markets, getting your name or face out there can be a challenging and time-consuming process.
Even then, if you do everything right, it can still be a matter of luck, chance, or an intimate understanding of your market and how to properly market to them.
A more reliable method would be to visit your local flea markets and see what people are selling there. By observing which projects consumers are drawn to and speaking with some of the vendors, you can get a better idea of which projects are more likely to make money in your area.
Keep in mind, you need not “go for the gusto” to turn a healthy profit off of your hobby.
Plenty of regions are drawn to simpler styles. And if constructed with a high degree of skill, are both relatively quick and easy to make and turn a top profit margin.
However, one thing to keep in mind is that small woodworking projects have a tendency to sell better than large ones. People are far more comfortable paying top dollar for a smaller item that might only cost them $200 or less than they are a large piece of furniture that can run well over $1000 and having to be moved.
If the furniture is made from a heavy wood, that can make the moving fee add a couple hundred dollars or more to the project’s base cost.
If you do decide to make and sell furniture, it is better to go with outdoor seating. Especially chairs and the like. These projects are often less refined and require less time to construct.
Beyond a treatment to project them from the elements, these projects generally aren't expected to have expensive lacquers or veneers.
Still, if you're looking to make money in woodworking, your best bet is to go with fine small projects that can either be shown off as mantle pieces or passed down as family heirlooms.
One of the best selling projects that can also command a high price while requiring a minimal amount of financial investment are jewelry boxes. These projects often require fewer materials and the designs are relatively standard.
Granted, if you truly want to stand out, you will find ways to add your own touches that are either unique or demonstrate a high degree of craftsmanship.
Regardless, these projects are often purchased with the intent that they will one day be passed from mother to daughter or grandmother to granddaughter.
As such, if you create a jewelry box made out of high quality materials and utilize sound, timeless technique, you can sell it for a premium price at minimal personal cost.
DIY Wood Furniture Projects
Furniture projects are an entirely different beast than every other type of project we have discussed thus far. Pretty much most of the defining characteristics and points of caution for the previous three categories do not apply to furniture.
It's likely more appropriate to say that furniture will include many of the same consideration as the previous categories, but it will include many more and place higher degrees of limitation on them.
For example, while there are plenty of furniture projects that a beginner can hone their skills on, the most common and reliable will be the bookshelf.
This project can be standing or mounted, but it is often simple enough that a beginner who has developed beyond the novice stage can comfortably try their hand at it.
There are numerous other “simplified” projects which technically fall under the furniture category that a beginner can try, like a headboard, simple table, or side table.
However, if you get the itch to make more advanced tables, couches, or chairs, expect the climb to be steep. First, all of these projects will demand a mucher higher investment of resources.
Not only do you need more resources for these projects, you often need larger dimensions which can increase the cost. Second, unless you are attempting to make an incredibly rudimentary piece of furniture, the skill level required to satisfactorily complete this kind of project begins at the advanced level.
In fact, furniture is often a good starting point to develop the advanced skillset. There are plenty of woodworking skills that can be developed and refined on smaller projects.
Still, the most impressive pieces and the most respected masters are generally able to produce fine pieces of furniture.
However, furniture places another limitation on many woodworkers: space. Unlike small woodworking projects which can often be accomplished with a minimal amount of space, furniture will demand a much larger workshop.
Many of the tools used to construct furniture, like the lathe, are themselves fairly large. Keep in mind, there are ways of getting around this as lathes are becoming more and more compact.
But there is only so small the tool can get before it simply cannot hold wood large enough to be used for certain pieces of furniture.
Speaking of workshops and lathes, the tools used in making furniture will also differ from those that are used in smaller projects.
A more appropriate way of looking at it is that making furniture will generally require many of the tools that you use for smaller products as well as additional tools that are used for larger products exclusively.
Plenty of sanders and planers will be unsuitable for small projects but absolutely necessary for furniture. In fact, power tools in generally will find a great deal of use. Especially in the rough stages.
However, you'll still often fall back to the same hand tools used for small projects depending on the ornamentation and joining techniques used.
Finally, furniture requires far more complicated plans. Now, if you are advanced enough in the skills required to make furniture, you'll have no difficulty reading the plans.
However, it can be more difficult to actually obtain those plans than it is to follow through with them at that stage. Keep in mind, the internet is a wonderful resource for finding furniture plans.
But it may not be as easy or plentiful when supplying the highest quality plans for the most masterful skillsets. In this regard, there are numerous clubs, guilds, and organizations that you can join.
Of course, the more exclusive of these organizations will require a demonstration of your skillset and often minimum amount of experience as well as an entry fee.
Conversely, specialized magazines will often feature plans with a high entry skillset.
12 Distinct Categories
Pallet projects are some of the hottest projects in woodworking right now. They offer exceptionally cheap resources that can be used for a wide variety of projects.
Due to the comeback of rustic and found material woodworking items, they can quickly be turned into relatively easy projects that will turn a high profit.
These projects aren't necessarily the best for heirlooms as the wood used in pallets isn't necessarily intended to stand up to decades of use.
Bedroom Furniture Plans
Bedroom furniture, on the other hand, can easily be turned into family heirlooms.
In fact, due to the size and required skill to produce many of the pieces of furniture commonly found in a bedroom, this type of project almost lends itself to heirlooms more than others.
However, it is important to keep in mind that unless you are constructing a nightstand or a bookshelf, you will likely need a larger workshop.
These projects are a bit hit or miss in terms of being able to reliably sell them.
Dining Room Table Plans
This is the first type of project on our list that can both be used to make family heirlooms and still be sold for a solid profit with a relatively regular demand.
Depending on the style you choose, you may not need that large of a workspace.
However, few styles of furniture made for dining room use are all that simple or easy to make. As such, you will generally need a higher skill level for these projects. Though there are exceptions.
Wood Projects for Kids
Projects for children generally fit into two overlapping categories, beginner projects and small woodworking projects.
Because of the limitations of size and functional strength, children are unlikely to be suited for making furniture.
Furthermore, it can be dangerous for children to use power tools if they aren't supervised and instructed on proper safety measures.
Birdhouses are one of the most common woodworking projects for children and can provide a great opportunity to spend quality time with your children.
Outdoor Furniture Plans
Outdoor furniture is another type of project that's better suited for being sold than passed down through the generations.
Though, with a high-quality, high-skill design and regular maintenance, there is no reason this furniture could not be passed down to future generations.
Still, the inherent strain of enduring the elements makes this unlikely.
However, the relative ease and low investment cost make outdoor furniture a reasonably profitable type of woodworking project.
This is another project that can often serve either as an heirloom or a product to sell. Keep in mind, desks are more difficult to sell than dining room furniture.
Aside from the fact that they often require a higher degree of skill, they're also not found in every home. Dining rooms furniture, on the other hand, will generally be found everywhere.
Still, a masterfully crafted desk can fetch a high price.
This type of project is somewhat unique in that it's generally not sold nor is it passed down from generation to generation.
Instead, this is a project to pursue only if you are a homeowner.
Considering everyone’s storage needs are different, there really is no “standard” closet, though you will know your own needs well enough to make the perfect space for your clothing.
Family Room Plans
These types of projects are arguably the most expansive in terms of their purpose. Pretty much every family room project can be made as a future heirloom.
Moreover, most of these projects can also be made for profit. Though couches and chairs may carry some restriction.
However, tables of various sizes are also excellent sales pieces or heirlooms.
While not as popular as they once were, wooden toys are making a comeback. In fairness, the market for wooden toys are generally adult collectors and not children.
Regardless, the small resource and space requirements, not to mention the lower sales price and time consumption, make these projects excellent for selling.
Of course, they can also be made for a child or grandchild. Just don't expect them to last long enough to be passed down. 😉
This is a bit meta, but many of the spaces and containers within your own workshop can be made within your own workshop.
Though it may seem a bit like a snake eating its own tail, saw horses, work benches, and various containers are excellent beginner projects.
They that can also pay huge dividends towards your future projects with a convenient and custom arrangement.
Holiday projects are similar to toy projects, except they have the additional value of being more likely to survive long enough to be passed down through the generations.
If well-made, these projects can yield exceptionally high profit margins, or they can serve as exquisite centerpieces for holiday displays.
Even better, they don't necessarily require a high degree of skill, large workspace, or significant financial investment.
These projects are the jack-of-all trades. They can go in any room, be made at any skill level, and serve any purpose. A smaller bookshelf that's well made and beautiful can be sold quickly for a high profit margin.
Moreover, you can put a bit more time into it and create an heirloom that will stand the test of time throughout multiple generations. Finally, these are an ideal beginner project once straight lines and even edges are mastered.
Wrapping It Up
Additional Reading Too!
As on of the oldest hobbies and first professions of the civilized world, woodworking has evolved throughout the ages to encompass a surprising number of projects, outlets, and purposes.
Whether you are a beginner picking up your first chisel or a master carving and inlaying a fine filigree, woodworking is a pursuit that can serve you well at every stage of your life.
With woodworking skills, you can construct magnificent furniture for yourself, friends, and family, or you can make projects which more than pay for the investment of time and resources.
Furthermore, woodworking is an activity that will develop your motor control as well as enlighten you to the ways that many basic things work. Should something in your house break, so long as it is not electronic, there is generally some application of woodworking that can fix the problem.
There is a reason that man first used wood as a way to hunt and never turned back. To this day, wood serves as a durable, versatile material that can be used for a dizzying array of tasks.
In fact, inventive woodworkers are even finding ways to adapt their projects to our increasingly technological world by making cellphone stands and other electronic accessories.
Furthermore, there really is no “end” to woodworking. If you find you have mastered a skillset, there are so many styles, each with their own philosophies, principles, and techniques, that you would be hard pressed to ever run dry the nearly infinite well that is woodworking.