You’ll always be more pleased with the results of any woodworking project if you start with proper planning. Below we’ll discuss some of the parts involved with that planning, such as (of course) deciding what exactly you’re trying to accomplish, finding or developing a good set of plans and/or patterns, determining what materials, tools, skills, time, and resources you’ll need, then being honest with yourself as to whether you either have or can get all of those things.
First, I know it may sound obvious, but narrowing down what you’re trying to accomplish is imperative, be it building a shed, a picnic table, a piece of furniture, a birdhouse, a boat, a toy, a lawn ornament, a house, or a tree house. You must get gradually more specific. For example, say you know you want to build an armoire. What kind? How big? With drawers down the side, or maybe at the bottom? Ornate or rustic? Painted or finished? Out of what kind of wood?
Once you’ve done that, then you need to go about either finding ready-made plans that match your goals, or write and draw those plans yourself. Which of these methods you choose, again, depends upon the time you have available and the drawing / writing / visualizing skills you may or may not have to do it yourself. And even if you could do it yourself, do you want to spend that time? Or at least, do you want to start from scratch or do you want to start with some pre-existing plans and modify them to your specific needs?
Ok, so, you know what you want to do, and you’ve got plans. Do those plans include a “bill of materials”, listing everything that you’ll need? This will often include a “cut list”, allowing you to be more efficient by minimizing waste, cutting lumber in such a way as to make the most usable pieces out of the larger stock. Do you have the finances to obtain all of those materials? If you intend to sell the finished product, can you sell it for enough to not only cover the cost of the materials but also to make it worth your time and effort?
Next, what tools do you have to help you complete the project? Which ones do you lack? What tools do you not necessarily need, but would make the process easier, quicker, more precise, or higher quality? What do you have to buy? What can you rent? What can you borrow?
Finally, do you have the skills to complete the project? As I’ve mentioned before, just because you’re missing a couple skills does not mean you should shy away from the project. The only way to grow your skill base is to consistently push yourself slightly beyond your current skill level. For those things that are currently beyond your skill set, where can you learn? Is there someone that could mentor you? Are there books or videos available? There are many good free instructional videos available on YouTube, and many more available for a relatively small cost elsewhere online.
And now that you have planned the project properly, get after it!!! As I’ve heard many times before: “Plan the work, then work the plan”…