DIY projects are a great way to innovatively renovate your living areas. Upcycling existing wood furniture is a favorite for many homeowners because it is cost-efficient, good for the environment, and allows for creativity.

But as fun as DIY projects can be, upcycling wooden furniture can be frustrating if you don’t have experience with woodworking. If you’re struggling to cut a straight line, here are some tips on how you can avoid some common woodworking mistakes.

Use the right blade

Most saws come with a standard 18-tooth or 24-tooth blade. But just because it came with the saw doesn’t mean it is the right blade for the job. Blades that aren’t the right size can burn the wood or can get stuck within the wood (which makes cutting through the wood harder). The 18-tooth or 24-tooth blade will do just fine if you’re working with thick framing lumber, but if you’re working with thinner woods, such as plywood, you’re going to need a blade with finer teeth.

Don’t forget the kerf

Have you ever thought your wood was measured perfectly, only to realize that it was 1/16” too short? Chances are, you forget to take the kerf into consideration. A kerf is the slot that the blade makes when it cuts through the wood. It is the same thickness as the blade that you’re using. Forgetting to take the kerf into consideration is a common mistake amongst beginners. Consider using carpenter pencils to help you measure out kerfs.

Understand the tools you need

Most beginners don’t realize that there are specialty woodworking tools that can help make their job easier. And if you don’t have the right tool, you end up improvising. While improvising is okay, sometimes it can lead to mistakes or can add unnecessary time to your projects. For example, few people realize using a drill press is actually more precise than using a hand drill. This comparison goes over some of the best drill presses for DIYers. If you’re not sure if a particular tool would be useful for your projects, consider renting the tool before buying it.

Sharpen your blades

Dull blades burn wood and are prone to tearout. If you want the smoothest cuts possible, you’re going to need to find a way to sharpen your blades. While you could buy new blades, sharpening your blades is often more cost-efficient. While it is possible to sharpen your own blades at home, there are also professionals that will do it for you. A quick online search will point you in the direction of a professional.

Give wood time to acclimate

New wood often expands and contracts due to temperature and moisture. Every time you start a new project, you should give any wood that you purchase at least 48-hours to adjust to its new environment. If you don’t allow for this adjustment period, sometimes wood will crack after its already being used within a project.

Measure precisely

Sometimes when beginner woodworkers are excited to get started on a new project, they quickly rush their measurements in order to get started. This often leads to mistakes that could have been prevented if they had taken the time to measure correctly. Taking your time with your measurements ensures that your project will be successful. Even the most seasoned woodworkers often need to double-check their measurements.

Clean up your workshop

Workshops are meant to be dirty, so why should you take the time to clean up after your projects? Well, a dirty workshop makes it harder to work on future projects. If you have piles of sawdust or rags lying around, who knows what tools could be hiding within them! A dirty workshop can also make finishing projects more challenging. For example, pieces of sawdust might get stuck within wet paint, which can make your finished project look ugly.

Finish the job

Speaking of finished projects, make sure to take the time to actually finish your project! Wooden projects need a special liquid coating. This helps to highlight the color of the wood and can prevent the wood from being damaged by dirt and moisture. Staining and painting your project is optional, but finishing it is not! Unfinished wood will crack and deteriorate.

Concluding thoughts

Mastering woodworking takes time, but everyone has to start somewhere! But even beginner woodworkers can have fun with renovating their own furniture. If you’re a beginner, start with a simple woodworking project, such as finishing a table. The more you practice, the better you will get!