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Popular Projects For Woodworkers

Updated on September 16, 2014
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Make Your Outdoor Space More Fun!

Log cabins, garden sheds, gazebos, chicken runs, windmills - I love to make things that add to the quality of our home and our enjoyment of it. In particular I think that the backyard or garden is a fertile place for interesting woodworking projects that will add immensely to the pleasure you and your family will experience there.

With that in mind I have chosen a small collection of popular backyard projects that I hope will stimulate and inform those with a similar do-it-yourself approach to mine. And please feel free to add your own favorites to the list. The more the merrier!

Before We Start ....

Are you ready for some DIY woodworking?

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Build a bench then sit back and enjoy!
Build a bench then sit back and enjoy!

Do You Need Any Special Skills?

You will not need any special skills although, if you want to become an expert carpenter or woodworker, you will probably need a few ‘practice’ projects to get the hang of things first. And some projects, such as building a summerhouse or log cabin, need more effort than others.

All these projects require only basic tools that are most likely in everybody's toolkit or workshop but, if you feel like being adventurous, I will show you where and what machines will make your work easier.

I also believe strongly that DIY projects should be fun as well as practical. Hopefully you will agree.

How's Your DIY Toolbox?

Save time and do the job more easily and accurately with these power tools. Some could be regarded as essential, others are not necessarily needed to do a good job. They will definitely make any woodworking project much more enjoyable.

Makita 5007MGA Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake
Makita 5007MGA Magnesium 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Electric Brake

Powerful but lightweight circular saw with an electric safety brake. Check out the full specification by pressing the button.

 
DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Compact Drill/Driver Kit
DEWALT DC970K-2 18-Volt Compact Drill/Driver Kit

One of the best drill/driver power tools available. Click the button to check out the product details.

 
Bosch MX25EC-21 2.5-Amp Multi-X Oscillating Tool Kit (Discontinued by Manufacturer)
Bosch MX25EC-21 2.5-Amp Multi-X Oscillating Tool Kit (Discontinued by Manufacturer)

Small but powerful multi-tool that's really useful for DIY woodworking in all sorts of ways. Click the button to find out more.

 

Proper Planning Is Important

There are many building projects for woodworkers who want to add useful or attractive features to their garden or backyard. These include the ever-popular garden shed, chicken coop, gazebo, log cabin and many other buildings and structures that people like to have in and around their properties.

What all of these projects have in common is the need for proper and careful planning, otherwise you will make avoidable mistakes and waste your time and money. I make no apologies for stressing this over and over again, because it is so important. This is the voice of experience talking here!

Don't forget that some projects might need knowledge or information about such topics as the right sort of foundations and how to mix concrete, which are outside the scope of this Hub.

Good Working Needs Good Books!

Whether it be carpentry techniques, ways to choose the right wood or what tools to use all skilled woodworkers need some reference manuals from time to time. Here are some good ones that any DIY woodworker should have at his or her elbow.

How To Build A Simple Shed - See How Easy It Can Be!

Everybody has a different approach to building a shed, but you can start with a simple kit that will have done most of the work for you. This will not be the cheapest way, and you will not have the design freedom that building from plans will give you but - if you are in a hurry - this is the easiest way to build your own shed.

Pergola

This might seem like a difficult project but it is in fact something that even an amateur woodworker could build in a weekend – although a helper might be needed to lift and fit the overhead beams. They are usually made from a simple post-and-beam design, although there are hundreds of other designs as well.

These structures are great for providing shade and look good in the garden as well. Make one out of redwood or cedar for maximum life and visual effect.

Chicken Coop

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of designs for the ‘ideal’ hen house but you are only limited by your own imagination when building one. Just make sure that the coop provides adequate ventilation, is clean and draft-free, is dry and can keep predators (and thieves!) out.

This design is a good way to keep your birds happy and laying eggs to their hearts content, without having to worry about Mr. Fox! It is a full-size fixed coop that is easy to keep clean and collect the eggs.

You can read more about the huge subject of keeping chickens and building the right kind of coop and hen run here.

Wooden bench

A wooden bench is a lovely addition for any garden, where you just want to rest and enjoy the sights and sounds around you. This one has simple, clean lines with a gently curved seat and backrest. Place it anywhere that people would like to enjoy the view or soak up the scent of your roses!

You might want to use redwood with a mix of heartwood and sapwood for interesting textures, and to ensure that this lovely piece of outdoor furniture lasts for a good long time.

Build A Log Cabin
Build A Log Cabin

Everyone Loves A Log Cabin

Now for something more ambitious.

My log cabin dream is having a simple, one or two room wooden shack nestled comfortably in a private hideaway miles from anywhere. It would have spectacular views for every season, there would be fishing in the nearby stream, there would be trees to hang hammocks under, the wildlife would be around but not intrusive, the sunsets would be breathtaking, there would be a roaring fire in winter and cool winds for the warmer months. Can't you just picture it?

However most people will have to settle on something more realistic in their backyard!

The next reality is the cost of building one. Reckon on $50,000 to pay for the kit and a further $15,000 to $20,000 to get it assembled.

The cheapest option is to build a log cabin yourself provided your yard or garden is large enough and provided that your local planning rules permit such things. Most local planners will approve temporary structures, and I think it is possible to claim that a log cabin is intended to be only temporary. It was true for the original settlers who built them centuries ago!

There are one or two harsh realities about log cabins, however. The first is that they supposed to be simple to build. This is true for a basic cabin in the sense that there are no complicated construction or woodworking techniques required, but building one still requires a great deal of grit, determination and physical strength. After all, wooden logs of 16 feet or more and 8 to 10 inches in diameter tend to weigh a fair bit. You will be lifting some of these logs 8, maybe 10 feet in the air during construction. Simple? Yes, but not easy unless you are properly prepared.

Then there is the matter of a foundation. Cabins built by the early settlers were often set directly on hard earth, and some of those are still around today. However these were only meant to be interim structures until the settlers got around to building a more permanent house, and many did not last very long.

Fact is, any proper building must have a proper foundation. These should start below the frost line - if there is one - and extend to one or two feet above the surface. At one time stone was the traditional material for foundations but now we tend to use concrete or cinder blocks. I know this adds to the building costs but I believe it is money well spent.

What about plans? There are lots of log cabin designs on the market for you to consider. You may already have your own design sketched out. In spite of the huge number of kits on the market, often with expensive price tags, in my opinion the most enjoyable and satisfying option is to plan and build your own log cabin. It will certainly cost you far less cash.

Make sure your plans are really thorough, work out a complete list of materials in detail, collect all needed components before starting to put them together, and get a good team of willing labor to help build it. A large supply of beer and sandwiches is also a good idea!

By far the easiest and safest way to build a log cabin, and certainly the way for anybody who is not an expert in this area, is to invest in a set of good quality blueprints and step-by-step instructions drawn up by specialists in log cabin construction. The right sort of packages are not too expensive anyway - usually no more than $50 will buy you all the plans and instructions needed - and usually include very helpful bonus items such as professional woodworking tips, how to get the best materials deals, ways to tackle the planning regulators, the sort of things that will save you a lot of time both before and during the project.

Log Cabin of John Oliver, Built in th...

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How To Build A Dog House For Your Pet Pooch

Outdoor dog houses are often quite simple buildings, but need to be strong and able to withstand all kinds of weather. Most people also want their dog houses to reflect the respect and affection which they have for their pets, so the building should look good and be a healthy place for its occupant as well.

Let's examine what makes a well-designed retreat for your dog. The kennel must, first and foremost, be a good shelter from all sorts of weather - rain, wind, hot sun. This will mean proper sealing of joins and seams, insulation from damp, cold and heat. Perhaps provide shade above the doorway (dogs often like to doze just outside their house). Make sure the kennel floor is clear of the ground, to keep damp away from the inside and to stop the wood rotting.

Good ventilation is essential. In hot conditions dogs can overheat very easily so they need suitable ventilation at all times. In cold weather their breath can cause condensation, leading to damp inside the building. This is great for mold, not so great for dogs. Build in some vents to give a good airflow for your dog.

Avoid using pressure or chemically treated wood for making dog houses since it is unhealthy for any animal that might come in contact with it.

The doghouse will need cleaning out occasionally so build in suitable access. Maybe have a hinged back wall or roof panel.

Lastly, choose the right size of house for your particular dog. It must allow your dog to walk in, turn around and stretch out easily. It should be a snug fit so that the dog can use his own body heat at night to keep warm. This will be difficult for the dog if the kennel is too big.

It should only take a couple of days and no more than a hundred dollars to make a really good kennel. A basic doghouse is simply a floor, 4 walls and a roof, but you will probably want to see some designs for making a more professional looking building.

Making a good doghouse can be done cheaply, quickly and easily. Using some simple plans you can also make a really professional kennel for your favorite dog. Why not make one this weekend?

Beware of The Dog

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What's Your Favorite Garden Building?

My list of popular garden projects is just the start. There are literally hundreds of things that you could build to add that extra something to the enjoyment or usefulness of your backyard.

Here are some DIY projects that many people like to do in their spare weekends. Which are your personal favorites?

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A Gazebo Is A Lovely Addition To Any Garden
A Gazebo Is A Lovely Addition To Any Garden
Good Drawings for a Popular DIY Gazebo
Good Drawings for a Popular DIY Gazebo

Build A Gazebo To Add The Wow Factor To Your Garden

A gazebo (or summerhouse) gives any garden a touch of elegance, and is a good place to withdraw from a busy world and enjoy some quiet time. Some people build their gazebos around their hot tubs or spas. It can be great for parties or just quiet chats with friends. Once built you will find endless excuses to be in it and let it bring you happiness and peace.

The key to any gazebo construction is precision - carefully selected wood with no warps, measured and cut accurately. Any blemishes or faults will be glaringly obvious once the gazebo has been completed, and will give the final structure a very homemade look. So, to avoid this, attention to detail and careful woodworking techniques are vital ingredients for building a gazebo properly.

There are many shapes and styles to choose from, but a good choice would be the typical eight-sided gazebo, which is perhaps the simplest and most pleasing building project for both beginners and experts alike to carry out.

Start by laying eight concrete footings at each corner position and one at dead center. Fit anchor bolts to each corner footing and mount the vertical posts on these once the concrete has set.

The support frames and rim joists for the deck are then fitted between the vertical posts and the central footing, checking constantly for correct alignment. After that come the decking boards, again carefully cut and fitted to make sure the cut lines are good and straight.

Frieze panels are connected to the upper parts of the vertical posts, and rafters then mounted to join the tops of the verticals to the center king-post at the top of the gazebo.

Finally make and fit the railings and balustrades which, with the frieze panels, will give the gazebo its own unique character. This is your opportunity to give your creative genius full rein to make your gazebo as beautiful as you want.

This assembly process is often difficult to understand without clear and detailed diagrams, parts lists and assembly instructions. Almost all parts have to be cut and shaped precisely before assembly, and it is very easy to get things round the wrong way. As always a good set of plans and a complete materials list are really important to ensure that your gazebo turns out exactly the way you intended.

Woodworking Tools and Gadgets

All woodworkers have their favorite tools and gadgets to make their projects easier, more accurate and more enjoyable. Here are a few that you might not have - but would like to own!

Would you like to share your ideas and thoughts on these topics? Or suggest corrections or improvements to this lens? All comments would be welcome!

Comments And Ideas

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    • kgracie profile image
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      Kieran Gracie 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      @RCGraphicsDesign: Thanks, RCGraphicsDesign. A log cabin is a dream for many of us, but it can be a reality! Glad you stopped by.

    • RCGraphicsDesign profile image

      RCGraphicsDesign 5 years ago

      A gazebo might be more my speed but have always thought it would be neat to have a log cabin. Thanks for sharing. Love you lens.