Guide to the best woodworking videos on YouTube

reclaimed wood

Whatever style of woodworking you want to learn, you can find it on YouTube, if you know where to look.

YouTube is a valuable resource for beginners looking for a simple way to learn woodworking for free. But finding the good stuff can require hunting through a lot of bad videos. During my journey as a beginning woodworker, I’ve burned a lot of hours watching woodworking videos on YouTube. In this post, I will point the way to what I believe are the best free woodworking videos. I’ll also let you know which paid woodworking videos are worth investing in.

YouTube is the new master

Most woodworkers I know credit tool makers like Lee Valley and Lie-Nielsen for driving the new woodworking renaissance. Others say it’s because magazines like FIne Woodworking and Popular Woodworking have put a new emphasis on hand tool woodworking.

I think YouTube is a stronger driving force. I know I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for YouTube woodworking pioneers like Marc Spagnuolo, Steve Ramsey, Paul Sellers, Jon Peters, Shannon Rogers and others who regularly turn out excellent woodworking videos. These guys have been my virtual mentors and cheerleaders. They have provided inspiration simply by allowing me to watch them work.

Woodworking is a skill that I believe anyone with interest, patience and discipline can learn. But it’s difficult to learn from a book. You really need to see someone perform the work. YouTube provides a simple way to learn woodworking that is an alternative to expensive seminars, furniture making programs in art-and-design colleges and boutique mastership programs. This education is free, on-demand, and—if you do a little work find the best videos—you can structure a workable curriculum to learn the basics of woodworking.

There are hundreds of woodworking content producers on YouTube, but only some are worth your time. Over the past few months, I have spent many, many hours watching woodworking videos on YouTube, so I feel competent to share my list of what I believe are the best.

Paul Sellers

Paul Sellers is a world-class furniture maker with 50 years of experience. He bills himself as the last of the joiners turned out by the traditional English apprenticeship system before industrialization took over furniture making. He is an excellent craftsman and teacher, and he was one of the first to discover the power of Internet video to increase his educational reach beyond the few people who had the time and means to study with him personally in his U.K. and U.S. schools.

Sellers’ focus is on real skills: not ideal, rarified techniques but the real stuff used by real, working joiners. Following Sellers’ instruction has taught me that the beauty of hand-tool woodworking is not esoteric: It is more efficient, safer, quieter and more enjoyable than machining wood. Watch Sellers with a chisel and you will immediately know why learning to read grain is a fundamental skill that will save you time, energy and frustration in the long run. Watch his videos on sharpening and on using a limited collection of flea-market tools, and you will be convinced that you do not have to spend a lot to begin working wood. He’s no-bullshit, real woodworking.

Sellers teaches through several channels. His website, features several free high-quality videos. He also has an excellent educational site, Here you can view several free instructional project videos. He also offers a paid subscription program for $15 a month. But his free YouTube videos are an excellent place to start learning the basics of tool and timber selection, reading grain, working with a core set of tools, and sharpening.

Steve Ramsey: Wood Working for Mere Mortals

Steve Ramsey is a dude in his garage shop who is a passionate promoter, teacher and cheerleader for beginning woodworkers. Ramsey has released a new video almost every Friday for the past five years on his site and his YouTube channel. And on his MereMinutes channel, he puts out an additional video blog episode every weekend. Ramsey is a power tool guy. His projects are simple and his energy is infectious, and I believe he sincerely wants everyone to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment that comes with learning a new skill and producing things with your own hands. (Here’s an excellent playlist of his beginner’s projects.).

I have never corresponded with the man, but after watching his videos for months, I honestly feel like he is a buddy of mine, and I look forward to his updates every weekend. A lot of other people must feel that way, because he has more than 125,000 subscribers for his YouTube channel. A key aspect of Ramsey’s approach is that he is committed to free woodworking content. He doesn’t charge for anything; and he frequently lambasts those who do. If you want to support his efforts, you can do so through a voluntary donation or subscription or by buying his stuff. (But not his wood working projects: He auctions those on Ebay and donates the money to charity.)

Which brings us to the whole issue of charging money for access to videos. As someone who works in the media industry—and who values education—I have no issue with people charging for high-quality content, and there are several virtual wood working teachers who are worth the investment. At various times I have paid to access content by Paul Sellers and Rob Cossman, and I think I have gotten good value from both (though Cossman’s videos can sometimes seem like infomercials for his tools and other products.) And I will probably pay to join Marc Spagnolo’s Wood Whisperer Guild.

These guys invest a lot of time and money into producing this content. There are hundreds of guys making woodworking videos with their iPhones. The few who invest in the equipment and skills required to produce quality content deserve some form of compensation, whether it comes from selling project plans, promoting their woodworking businesses to gain commissions and sell their work, promoting their tools, receiving sponsorship and advertising money from companies that want to reach their hard-won audiences, or simply charging for access.

Marc Spagnuolo: The Wood Whisperer

Of the paid-subscription producers, Marc Spagnuolo and Rob Cossman produce the best videos I have seen, and they are the best at structuring their videos into true curricula that allow you to build skill upon skill in a natural progression. In the video above, Spagnuolo even shows beginning woodworkers how to buy wood and what to expect on your first visit to a lumberyard. This may seem basic, but it’s the type of instruction I needed as a beginning woodworker.

Spagnuolo is the Wood Whisperer. His site and YouTube channel feature plenty of excellent free content. He and Sellers have been my go-to teachers. He is not only a great woodworker but an engaging host who entertains as he teaches, without being (too) cheesy. His approach (and his book) is hybrid woodworking, meaning he is not an evangelist for power tools or hand tools, but rather a craftsman who recognizes the sense in using the right tool for the job. Sometimes that tool has a cord; sometimes it doesn’t. The Wood Whisperer’s Guild is Spagnuolo’s paid site. Here you can subscribe to specific projects or purchase an annual subscription for around a $125. I would prefer to see a monthly subscription option, but based on his free videos, I am convinced the $125 would be a good investment.

Rob Cossman

Rob Cossman is an excellent teacher but also the most aggressively self-promotional woodworking teacher on YouTube. Paying to access his educational videos was definitely worth it. But even after you’ve paid, you’ll still see pitches to buy his products. It gets tiresome. Most of his YouTube videos are promotions for his tools or his paid site. On his paid site, Cossman teaches power tool skills and hand-tool skills, but in separate tracks. $20 a month gets you access to his hand-tool content; $25 for the power tool track; or $40 for both. Cossman is an excellent teacher with challenging projects that any woodworker would want to build.

Jon Peters

Jon Peters is an artist and cabinet maker who produces excellent YouTube instructional videos on both topics. Video instruction is not a business for him, but it is a good way for him to build his name recognition in both of his areas of expertise. I found Peters when I was looking for my first project: Installing wainscoting. His wainscoting video led me to his cabinet videos, and those convinced me that I could do more than just build utility bookshelves. For this I am grateful, and one of my early projects was making a frame for one of Peters’ prints, which sits on the standing desk I made, which is where I am writing this post.

Shannon Rogers

Shannon Rogers produces videos as The Renaissance Woodworker. He has great blog, and a paid online video program called The Hand Tool School. On YouTube, Rogers presents detailed project videos and he has several long series, including this one on building a Roubo bench. His paid program promises a detailed curriculum approach, but at $200 for the first “semester” and an extensive list of required tools, it’s a little pricey for my budget right now. I’d love to hear from anyone who has gone through this program.

The teachers above are my go-to guys, but there are a few others whose work I enjoy immensely. The Drunken Woodworker is a hip newcomer who produces a weekly video guide to the best woodworking videos and also some way cool project videos. Matthias Wandel is the crazy genius of YouTube woodworking, shooting videos of mind-bending jigs and mechanical contraptions made of wood. Frank Howarth is YouTube woodworking’s resident artiste, producing videos that are lessons in film making and stop-motion animation in addition to beautiful woodworking projects. And Stumpy Nubs is the class clown of woodworking videos. All are entertaining, inspiring and educational. I have a lot of respect for David at The Drunken Worker, Howarth and Stumpy for experimenting with different formats and raising the bar on what a YouTube video can be.

How to learn woodworking from YouTube

Here’s the key to learning woodworking on YouTube: You have to think like an apprentice.

People used to learn woodworking from people who knew how to do it. Boys learned enough from their fathers to build and fix the necessities. Professional joiners learned through apprenticeship, in which the fledgling craftsman performed the drudge work of his master’s shop—sweeping floors, heating animal hide for glue, sharpening and cleaning tools, performing rough milling—practicing each step until the master deemed the apprentice’s skill suitable to begin the work required to start learning the next skill. The apprentice performed this work in exchange for the education that would provide him with his livelihood.

To learn from YouTube teachers, you have to follow the same path. Start with the videos that teach basic skills like sharpening, planing, milling, and how to cut to a line. Practice these skills until you feel confident in them, then move to the next skill. This is how I’ve learned. I spent months making nothing but sawdust and scrap wood as I practiced cutting to a line. Then I spent months practicing dovetails before I got one that worked. It’s taken a level of patience and discipline I never knew I had in me, and I still have a long way to go. But I love the process.

Of course, learning and doing comprise only half of the master/apprentice relationship. The missing piece here is feedback. For that, I recommend joining a local club or getting involved in a woodworking forum like LumberJocks. There you’ll find a community of supportive woodworkers with all levels of experience who can give you feedback and answer your questions.

I hope this gives you a good start. If you begin with the resources listed here, you’ll have hours of quality videos to watch and you’ll save hours of hunting through crap. I’m sure there are many other excellent teachers on YouTube, so if you know someone I’ve missed, please let me know. Leave a comment below so other people can enjoy them too.



Rebuilding Exchange has barn wood in Chicago

Barn wood in Chicago

Gorgeous barn wood at Rebuilding Exchange in Chicago.

If you’re looking for barn wood in Chicago, head over to Rebuilding Exchange now. They have bays full of barn wood from Michigan. I was there last weekend, and I can confirm it is gorgeous, more affordable than anything I’ve seen elsewhere, and the money goes to a good cause: supporting an organization dedicated to keeping old-growth lumber out of landfills and available to local woodworkers and tradesmen.

If you’re not into barn wood, they also have some amazing old growth yellow pine and fir timbers from Detroit demolitions. I picked up some choice 3x10s and 4x6s, some of which I plan to keep the way they are, and others I plan to plane down and refinish.

Primitive, weathered reclaimed furniture and siding may be all the rage right now, but even if it goes out of style, these reclaimed timbers are still far superior to new lumber. Planed, they glow with a mature patina that you just cannot find in modern species.

12-and-a-half warnings for anyone beginning woodworking

CLF - Olmstead ParksIf you’re new to woodworking, or just thinking of starting, then welcome to a world of deep creative satisfaction, personal discovery and the meditative bliss that comes with the sound of a finely tuned hand plane schicking across a piece of finely figured wood. That, and utter frustration, sawdust, splinters, obsession and alienation from polite society.

It’s been just a few months since I set out on the same path. I just wanted to build some bookshelves. And today… well, read on, young traveler, and consider yourself warned.

1: You will never look at trees the same way again.

Who doesn’t love trees? They’re magnificent, life giving monuments to creation. But these days, I can’t pass a tree without wondering what it would look like split open, milled into slabs, planks, crotch cuts, cookies… all waiting for me to shape into objects of beauty and wonder. I have to stop myself from pulling over on the side of the road and trying to hoist fallen limbs into the back of my Jeep. I wonder how long the maple in my yard has to live and what it would cost to have it milled.

2: Wood will become an object of lust.

“Exotic” will take on a whole new meeting. You will find yourself, late at night, hunched over your laptop of tablet, aglow in its light and tingling over the sexy photos in front of your eyes. Photos like this.

bocote lumber

Lust inducing bocote from Exotic Lumber Inc., Maryland.

3: So will tools.

If power tools are your game, then you will find your sense of scale adjusting until $2,500 table saws begin to seem reasonable. But if you fall into the murky world of hand tools then woe to you indeed. You will have started down a road of maddening minutiae and eBay obsession.

4: So will other people’s workshops.

Another new form of porn will capture you… watching videos of other people’s shops.

5: You will begin stealing random household items from your own home.

Whether you’re raiding the pantry for vinegar to make screws look old, borrowing the clothes iron to attach edge banding to plywood, or squirreling away jars and cans to store hardware and paint brushes, you will become a thief in your own home as your shop becomes a ferret’s den of hoarded items that you never touched before.

5.5 You will begin calling whatever unused and uninhabitable area of your house that you work in, your “shop”… to the great amusement of your family.

6: All that time you spent ignoring math, physics and chemistry in high school? Yeah, you’ll regret that.

If you’re one of those people who prides himself on limiting his scientific knowledge to the air-speed velocity of an un-laden swallow, knowing 42 is the answer to life, the universe and everything, and debating the archaeological feasibility of “Ancient Aliens,” then you’re in for a harsh truth. There’s a lot of math in woodworking. And not just plusses and takeaways. There’s a whole lot of geometry and dividing fractions and other hard stuff. You will want to know it, and you will want to understand the chemistry involved in finishing and gluing, the cell biology of trees, the load weights of joints and the metallurgy of edge tools. Laugh now, but you will.

7: Your sense of humor will change.

Butt joint

Butt joint

Speaking of laughing… Butt joint! Crotch cut! Did you laugh? Soon you won’t, and you’ll get annoyed when other people do.

8: You’ll develop man crushes.

Two words: Christopher Schwarz. Or Roy Underhill. Or Norm Abrams. Or Paul Sellers. Or even Steve Ramsey. But not, under any condition, Tommy MacDonald.

9: You will measure the value of time and money solely in terms of tools, timber and shop time.

Shop time is valuable. So are tools. If you are used to spending your “spending money” on clothes or music or just about anything else, you will being thinking things like, “That suit costs as much as a Lie-Nielsen No. 8. I can get this one taken out.” You will also give up things like TV (unless it’s The Woodwright’s Shop) and naps to spend an hour in your shop… even if you’ve got nothing to build. There’s always organizing, and reorganizing, and sharpening, and tool cleaning, and jigs to make…

10: You will hate IKEA even more than you do now.



I have been know to suffer emotional breakdowns in IKEA. Now I can’t even think about it without wanting to hurl my jack plane across the room. I can make anything at IKEA cheaper and faster than busting my knuckles with tiny allen wrenches and going mad staring at senseless inkblot pictograms… all without enduring the sweet stench of Swedish meatballs on the 10-mile death march through art, lamps and housewares.

11: You will, at every conceivable juncture and despite all your arguments that money invested in tools today will pay off in savings on furniture later, spend more money making things that you could have purchased for less. See No. 10

12: You will desperately want Nick Offerman to stop telling jokes and tell you more about his giant router jig and crotch slabs. See No. 4.

Props to Steve Ramsey at and his video “You Might be a Woodworker” for the inspiration for this essay… and my continuing with this whole woodworking thing.

A simple and cheap way to antique screws

I found a simple and cheap way to antique the screws for the Dutch tool chest after discovering how expensive it is to purchase antique or reproduction hardware. I was able to find new-old-stock cut nails on eBay at a good price, but the screws eluded me. Whether purchasing them on eBay or from a restoration supplier like Blacksmith Bolt (an awesome resource) would have run about $20 bucks with shipping for a handful of plain steel screws.

I had read about using lemon juice, but that only works on zinc plated screws. All I could find was stainless steel.

The answer was vinegar. Just soak the screws in vinegar and the shiny stainless screws go back in time in about 6 to 8 hours. It’s important to check them regularly to keep them from turning black. You want a nice gunmetal bluish gray patina.

how to antique screws

A little vinegar is all you need to turn back he clock on stainless steel screws.

After soaking them, I rinsed them in water to stop the reaction, dried them well, then scuffed the heads with 80 grit sandpaper. Here’s the result.

how to antique screws with vinegar

The antiqued screws in place.

Dutch Tool Chest Build

Shortly after I began my journey into working wood, I decided my first hand-tool project would be learning how to build a Dutch Tool Chest. I fell in love with the Dutch Tool Chest after seeing Christopher Schwarz present it on this episode of the Woodwright’s Shop, a show I loved as a kid and rediscovered after searching my cable provider for every woodworking show I could DVR.

How to build a Dutch Tool Chest

Roy Underhill checks out Chris Schwarz’s Dutch Tool Chest on an episode of The Woodwright’s Shop

This project seemed to have it all: Romance, utility, challenge, history. After watching the video a few times and Googling photos of Schwarz’s and others’ Dutch tool chests, I decided there were several reasons it would be the one of the best projects for a beginning woodworker.

  • It’s a perfect balance of simplicity and complexity. Dovetails connect the bottom to the sides, but the remaining joinery is done with fasteners. It would test and develop basic skills of design, measuring, marking, sawing, planing and joining without causing me to over reach my abilities and get frustrated.
  • Other than the 30 degree angle of the top, no dimensions were discussed and, at the time, no plans were available. (Plans were later made available in the Aug. 2013 issue of Popular Woodworking, but I was well into the build by the time I discovered this.) I would need to figure out the dimensions on my own. For me, problem solving is one the main draws of wood working so I avoid plans and either build from my own designs or mentally reverse engineer things that I like.
  • I could customize it to fit my needs.
  • It’s the type of project an apprentice woodworker (as I imagine myself) would tackle early on.
  • I particularly liked the simple yet clever lower compartment and locking cleat system that held on the lower front.
  • I liked the look.
  • It would provide a home for my slowly growing collection of vintage hand tools.

So  after months of trying (and failing) on an almost daily basis to cut dovetails by hand, the day finally came that I slid a pin board and tail board together… and it worked! It was time to start the Dutch.

woodworking hand cut dovetails

My first successful hand cut dovetail

Here’s the sketch I started with.

dimensions for a dutch tool chest

The first rough sketch

For dimensions, I started with the depth. Using 1 x 12 stock, the sides would be 11 1/4 inches, plus 3/4 inch added apiece by the front and back boards, for a total of 12 3/4 inches. I figured out the width by looking at a video of Schwartz hoisting the chest. We’re about the same size, so comparing his arm span to mine, I figured it to be about 30 inches. I then measured my cross cut and rip saws, which would be kept on the inside of the cover. I added a few inches for clearance and came to a final width of 33 inches. For the depth, I simply worked from the tools that would have to fit inside.

I planned to hang my chisels at the back, store my planes at the front and store my saws standing in the center. I came up with roughly 14 inches for the back and 7 inches for the front, then used the one piece of information I did know–the 30 degree angle of the slope from back to front–to determine the actual dimensions.

After several tweaks, here are the final dimensions for the Dutch tool chest that I wound up with:

  • Carcasse:
    • Width: 32 5/8
    • Depth: 12 3/4
    • Front height: 15 1/8
    • Rear height: 22 3/8
  • Top compartment:
    • Front height: 6 3/8
    • Rear height: 12 5/8
  • Lower compartment height: 8 9/16
  • Top: 33 3/8 x 15

Finally, I set a few rules for myself:

  • For historical accuracy and skill development, I would build the chest entirely using hand tools and traditional woodworking techniques… as far as my limited tool collection would allow.
  • For stock, I would use common pine and pull as much as possible from my ever growing scrap pile. I’m not confident enough yet to risk screwing up with expensive hardwoods, so I’d have to build this using home center pine. Not the most durable or romantic wood, but it’s utilitarian, cheap and easy to work. If you’re starting out, I suggest sticking with it for a while…. especially while all you’re making is sawdust and scrap.

Now, for the dovetails.