Industry News - 10 Awesome Woodworking Projects for Every Skill Level
10 Awesome Woodworking Projects for Every Skill Level
Industry News - 10 Awesome Woodworking Projects for Every Skill Level

Woodworking is an incredibly rewarding hobby that can last a lifetime, and be passed down through generations of sons and daughters. And, it requires little more than basic woodworking skills, a battery of power and hand tools, some free time, and a little inspiration.

Here, are 10 woodworking projects taken straight from the pages of Popular Mechanics, and they’re accessible to woodworkers of all skill levels whether you’re a novice DIYer or seasoned pro. All of these projects include full plans, and a materials and tools list, so you have everything you need to get started!

Build a Backyard Lounger

The backyard is an ideal place for relaxation and reflection, and for that you need a good, comfortable chair. But why buy one when you can build one with little more than a circular saw and cordless drill? This backyard lounger isn’t just easy and affordable to build; it’s also both rustic looking and super comfy.

This lazy-boy lawn lounger is loosely based on a traditional 1903 Westport plank chair, which was the predecessor to the classic Adirondack chair. Our version, however, is much quicker and simpler to build. Plus, you can construct this chair from just two 10-foot-long pine 1x10s, and it shouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours.

Build a Wood Wagon

The most-treasured children’s gifts are handmade wood toys. And when they’re as sharp looking as this red wagon, they’ll be cherished for generations.

A hand-built toy wagon is the quintessential child’s gift, even in this digital age. It doesn’t require an app or batteries, it’ll never become obsolete, and it’s nearly indestructible. Your kids or grandkids will love hauling around their toys, siblings, or the dog!

Build a Chess and Checkers Board

This game board is as much fun to build as it is to play with afterward. And it’ll last for years, so your family can pass it down through generations of chess and checker players. All you have to really go out of your way for is getting the pieces to play.

Of all the woodworking projects I’ve done, building a chess and checker board is the one that has gotten me the most “ooohs” and “aaahs” for the least amount of work. You may think that it involves a tedious process of cutting and gluing together 64 small squares of wood, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. This is a simple project that requires only a few hours, spread over a couple days. You might even have everything you need right in your shop.

Build a Workbench

This stout and sturdy—and beautiful—workbench is the perfect workshop companion for building projects of all sizes.

When Popular Mechanics asked to design and build a workbench as a project and as a centerpiece of its New York workshop and studio, I knew the bench had to reflect the brand and its no-nonsense heritage. I wanted it to have crisp lines and pleasing proportions, but most importantly it had to be functional.

The bench is built out of construction lumber: clear Douglas Fir, LVL (laminated veneer lumber) joists sawed into narrow strips then glued into a slab, and MDO (medium density overlay), a form of plywood with a laminate surface.

This is an ambitious project, no doubt. But, any experienced woodworker who owns a table saw and planer can build it. Here's how to build one for yourself.

Build an A-Frame Toolbox

Traditional A-frame toolboxes have been used by generations of tradespeople, including carpenters, plumbers, electricians and mechanics. So, we decided to show you how to build, not one, but five different versions of A-frame toolboxes, each customized for a particular type of work and worker.

The open-top designs of A-frame toolboxes are preferred to boxes with hinged lids because they provide quick access to the tools. Sure they may look a little rough and ready, but these boxes are workhorses, not works of art.

Build a Box

Box making is an essential skill for woodworkers of all skill levels. And while many wooden boxes have been used in and around the shop and home, there’s just something beautiful and enduring about a handcrafted wood box. Here, we’ll show three different ways to build a box: with box joints, spline joints, and rabbet joints.

Once you hone your skills for making wooden boxes with tight joints and perfect proportions, you can create far greater things. We asked three expert woodworkers to build a simple box to see how each would approach the task. Very differently, it turns out—despite giving them similar design guidelines.

The outside dimensions had to be 8 inches high x 12 inches wide x 16 inches long, and they could only use tools and materials found at their local home center. We ended up with three boxes with three distinctive joints—all equally awesome.

Build Stackable Sawhorses

Every workshop needs a pair of sturdy sawhorses. And this thoroughbred pair is built from a few 2x4s. And these sawhorses strong, easy to build, and they conveniently stack for easy storage and transportation.

Sawhorses are indispensable for use as a cutting and drilling station, for holding lumber or painting a door. And when topped with plywood, they become an instant worktable. We’ve highlighted a few popular sawhorse designs including our own, but this particular sawhorse pair might be our favorite so far.

Built entirely out of 2x4s, this style of sawhorse is popular on construction sites and can be fastened together with nails or screws. We first saw this design used by Mark Clement of My Fix It Up Life and we like the updated version from Jay Bates, which allows for clamps to be used on the ends.

Build a Pergola

Create an inviting outdoor living space with this easy-to-build backyard pergola. Its unique architectural design places you both inside and out at the same time.

Pergola plans are an enduring favorite in Popular Mechanics (we’ve been publishing them since the 1920s), and it’s easy to see why. The finished product is a blissful addition to any yard, a shady place to sit and read, eat and drink with friends, or zone out on a summer’s day. From a DIY point of view, the return on investment is high: a small pergola can be built in a weekend and requires reasonably inexpensive materials, ad only basic carpentry skills and tools.

A simple pergola consists of four posts layout into a square or rectangle, and then topped with crossbeams, rafters, and lattice. Here, we present eight essential building steps, as well as DIY plans for building your own pergola. Either way, you win, because a pergola is as enjoyable to build as it is to share with family and friends.

Build a Table for Two

Although this uniquely designed furniture piece looks as if it came from a contemporary art museum, it’s actually an updated version of a project that first appeared in Popular Mechanics
back in 1939! Talk about an instant classic. And you can build it in a single weekend from just four 8-foot-long 2x4s, a sheet of plywood, and some hardwood scraps.

Build a Motorboat

Ready to tackle the ultimate DIY woodworking project? Well, here you go: This most-ambitious project comes straight from our 1965 archives. It’s plans for building a three-point hydroplane motorboat. It’ll cost a bit more to build today than it did in 1965, when the total cost was just $25. But, it’s still much cheaper than buying a boat.

Article provided by, 10 Awesome Woodworking Projects for Every Skill Level, September 25, 2020


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