These 15 Woodworking Projects Are Awesome 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 skillsa battery of power and hand tools, some free time, and a little inspiration (that’s where we come in).

Here are 15 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, plus materials and tools lists, so you’ll have everything you need to get started.

1Magazine Rack
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

Two or three evenings puttering around the workshop is all it takes to build this magazine rack, and it’s a great way to relax. It also produces a means of keeping magazines off your living room coffee table or the nightstand in your bedroom. It consists of a pair of identical 3-piece frames that are joined together with a self-locking half-lap.

🛠 How to Build a Magazine Rack

Practically any wood can be used for this piece, but we chose yellow poplar. It works easily, and when finished with a clear topcoat, it takes on a cream color tinged with green. Poplar is widely available, and it is more reasonably priced than other cabinet-grade woods.

2Floating Shelves
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

Small homes need to take advantage of every inch possible—and that includes those precious inches behind your drywall.

🛠 How to Build a Floating Shelf

Following these plans will create great storage and also an architectural statement for any room. And the best part? It’ll only take a few tools, a little bit of lumber, and an afternoon.

3Ice Cream Maker
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

It’s as easy as pie—er, ice cream.

Hand-crank mixers connect you to the task, says Brian Smith, owner and instructor at Ample Hills Creamery. “That’s what we use in our ice-cream-making classes. I love the community aspect of making it the old-fashioned way, taking turns churning.”

🛠 How to Build an Ice Cream Maker

To make ice cream, layer a cup of rock salt and ice between the coffee can and the paint can. Pour the cream into the coffee can and crank for about ten minutes (or until the cream thickens to soft-serve consistency).

4Backyard Lounger
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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.

🛠 How to Build a Backyard Lounger

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

5Wood Wagon
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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.

🛠 How to Build a Wood Wagon

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!

6Bocce Court
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

Let the games begin!

Building a basic bocce court is pretty simple. It’s mostly fun to build, although not every step is fun. But it’s always fun to use, bocce being an ancient recreation played on sun-dappled afternoons by weathered Italian men wearing panama hats and drinking jug wine.

🛠 How to Build a Backyard Bocce Court

The construction requires not much more than marking out a big rectangle, some digging, and spreading and compacting granular materials. It’s a little work, but a court gives your game the predictability that rolling a ball on a lawn never will.

15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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

🛠 How to Build a Workbench

“When Popular Mechanics asked me 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,” Richard Romanski, a Pop Mech contributor, says.

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.

8Redwood Planter Box
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

One of the quickest and least expensive ways to upgrade the looks of your home—indoors and out—is by adding a handsome planter box or two. The three designs shown in this project are built from redwood. California redwood is an excellent choice for planters. It boasts the unbeatable combination of natural beauty and superb durability. Redwood is resistant to decay and to attack by insects.

🛠 How to Build a Redwood Planter Box

To determine durability against such attack, redwood is graded by its color and other factors. The reddish-brown heartwood from the inner portion of the tree contains extractives, which render it durable. The cream-colored sapwood that develops in the outer growth-layer of the tree, like most whitewoods, doesn’t have the same degree of resistance to decay and insects as the heartwood does.

When building a planter, choose one of the all-heartwood grades. There are also grades available containing some sapwood, which will be a bit cheaper.

9Stackable Sawhorses
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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

🛠 How to Build Stackable Sawhorses

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

10A-Frame Toolbox
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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.

🛠 Make an A-Frame Toolbox

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.

11Simple Box
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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 wooden box. Here, we’ll show three different ways to build a box: with box joints, spline joints, and rabbet joints.

🛠 How to Build a Simple Box

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.

12Wine Rack
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

It’s safe to say that many people who buy wine by the case like to display their stock as part of their home decor, but not any wine rack will do.

🛠 How to Build a Wine Rack

Whether you’re looking for a mediterranean feel, a rack that can withstand the outdoors, or if you need to store a lot of wine, these three wine racks—created in the Popular Mechanics workshop—are just what you’re looking for.

13Kitchen Table
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

It often seems that things aren’t what they used to be, and this feeling holds true for furniture as it does for other aspects of our lives. Some contemporary designs force us to think of furniture as art—or, at the very least, as decorative embellishment—and in the process, seem willing to leave the comfort and function of furniture behind. This is why we thought it might be refreshing to hearken back to the days when a table was a table, simple and functional, yet beautiful.

🛠 How to Build a Kitchen Table

Our kitchen table’s straightforward construction and clean lines are reminiscent of Shaker furniture. And, in the Shaker tradition, the table was also designed to serve both as a utilitarian workstation, for preparing a meal, and as a dining table. It’s dimensioned to seat four diners or, in a pinch, accommodates up to six.

15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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.

🛠 How to Build a Pergola

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, and only basic carpentry skills and tools.

A simple pergola consists of a four-post layout in 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.

15Table for Two
15 awesome woodworking projects for every skill level

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!

🛠 How to Build This Table for Two

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.

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