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A plan for building from plans

I really want to build the toy excavator from issue 194 (Nov. 2009), but I’m intimidated by all the steps. Can you give me some tips to get over this fear and get started?

Submitted by WOODreader2

Lie back, the doctor is in. The first step to overcoming your fears is to confront them head-on. Read through every step of the instructions. Many plans like the excavator also come with full-size patterns in the WOOD Patterns® insert. Familiarize yourself with them as well. Pay attention to the tools mentioned. Some projects require a full complement of woodworking tools and the skills to use them safely. But we also include in every issue a “Basic Built” project that needs only a minimum of tools. Next flip to the back of the plan. WOOD® magazine project plans include a complete materials list along with any specialty blades and bits you’ll need. Hardware is listed along with sources. Gather all of your materials before you start: You don’t want to find out near the end of construction that you have to alter the plan because your hardware doesn’t match ours. Then, take a second look at the illustrations. Each project plan will contain one illustration that features a complete exploded view of the project. It can sometimes look intimidating, but additional illustrations provide detailed understanding. At last, it’s time to dive in. Don’t be intimidated by all those steps you see. In reality, more steps usually means more simplicity as our designers and editors break down the construction process into easy sub-assemblies. If you’re still stuck, feel free to email us at or pose your question in the forums at

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