5 steps to plan an efficient woodworking project (2nd is my favorite)

How To Plan Efficient Woodworking Projects (5 Simple Steps)


Working efficiently on a project means that you achieve your goal with as few resources as possible.
Whether those resources are materials or time, you want to use them as little as possible. That is why one of the most important woodworking tips is to learn how to plan efficient woodworking projects.

Efficiency is intelligent laziness

David Dunham

But how do you do that?

To work more efficiently, you will have to plan your woodworking project well.

In this blog, I explain which woodworking project steps I take when I’m planning a woodworking project to build that project as efficiently as possible.

By investing some time in working out these 5 simple steps, I can significantly reduce the time and costs of a project.

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How do you plan Efficient woodworking projects

To plan a successful woodworking project and to be able to build it as efficient as possible, I divide the project into 5 important steps:

  1. What is the best solution to the problem?
  2. I make a design so I can reduce mistakes.
  3. What materials will I use?
  4. I make a list of all (power) tools and supplies for these tools.
  5. By making a chronological order of the project, I will not be faced with surprises during the project.

Woodworking planning won’t take you any time, it will save you time (and money) in the end.

Ebook part 1 woodworking basics

woodworking project steps to a successful Result

How to plan efficient woodworking projects Step 1 | Find a solution for the problem

If you think about it, you will see that every project starts with a problem.

For example, you have a lot of shoes that are thrown together in a pile, and you want to make a shoe rack for that.
(if so, be sure to check out my blog where I show you how to make a shoe rack from pallet wood)
Another example is your family is expanding, and you need a bigger table.

5 steps to plan an efficient woodworking project (2nd is my favorite)

It is good to dwell on the problem and find a suitable solution for it.

That shoe rack, how many shoes should it fit?
At that table, how many people should be able to sit at it?

So you don’t get started right away, but think about it properly.
It would be a shame to find at the end of your project that you have not been able to find the right solution to the problem.

Grab a pen and paper and write down as many requirements as possible that your project must meet.

The better you can estimate this, the better your project will meet your needs.

Related article: 5 Best tips to a woodworking jump start

How to plan efficient woodworking projects Step 2 | Design your woodworking project

5 steps to plan an efficient woodworking project (2nd is my favorite)

Time is precious and the clock is ticking mercilessly. 
So if you want to make the most of that time, design what you want to build before you start your project.

By designing in advance, you can immediately prevent possible errors.

So no hassle during construction, where you may have to start from scratch and discard valuable materials when you made a mistake.
Starting over also means spending double the time on that part of your project.

An additional advantage is that after this step you also get a perfect overview of the end result of your project. 
If it’s not what you wanted, you can redraw until you find the perfect solution.

I personally pay a lot of attention to design and for about 75% of the projects I filter out any errors in this step.

The time I invest in designing my projects is only a fraction of the time if I had to start all over again.

Designing also has a big impact on the next steps on how to plan a woodworking project that I will discuss below.

It will therefore not surprise you that this is my most valuable tip in planning a woodworking project.

How I Design my woodworking projects

How I make my designs depends on the project.

For complicated woodworking project planning I use a 3D software called Sketchup.

It is free downloadable designing software, but the free version has limitations.
You can download Sketchup here.

The advantage of this software is that you can view your project in 3D from any angle you want. 
You immediately can see where errors occur and what your project will look like once completed.

The disadvantage is that it is not easy to learn how to work with this designing software.

There are many online courses and videos out there, but it is very time-consuming to master this program, especially when creating more complex designs.

For simple projects, I still design with pen and paper. 

There is nothing complicated about that, it is fast and easy, and the more you do this the better you get at it.

So if you plan on doing simpler projects or if you only design something now and then, pen and paper is still the best solution.

You don’t have to be an architect to design with pen and paper.

Anyone can design with a pencil, you just have to learn the basics properly.

Check out this online course because here you discover how to learn to make your own 3D drawings in a very simple but effective way. 

In my opinion, this is the best online course I’ve seen in manual design. 
A Must-have and well worth course at a very low price.

5 steps to plan an efficient woodworking project (2nd is my favorite)

How to plan efficient woodworking projects Step 3 | Make a list of the materials

5 steps to plan an efficient woodworking project (2nd is my favorite)

Nothing is worse than having to stop somewhere halfway through a project because you don’t have enough stock of a certain material, or worse, the material is missing.

Since you designed your project in the previous step, it is very clear which materials you will need and how many.

So make a list and write down everything you need for your project.

Which wood are you going to use? 
How much do you need?
Which adhesives do you need for this? 
Which connections are you going to use? Do you need dowels, screws, or nails?

Try to prepare in as much detail as possible what you will use and avoid having to drive to the store in between because, for example, you have one bolt short.

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How to plan efficient woodworking projects Step 4 | List up the (power)tools you need

Just as you made a list of all the necessities for this project, you can also make a list of the (electrical) tools that you will be using for this woodworking project.

List them and see if you have all the accessories.

Do you have the right blade for the jigsaw? Do you have a suitable router bit for this project?

Again, by thinking about this for a few minutes you can save a lot of time while building your project.

How to plan efficient woodworking projects Step 5 | Plan the chronological order of the steps to be taken

5 steps to plan an efficient woodworking project (2nd is my favorite)

You might think, if you build something, all woodworking project steps automatically follow each other chronologically.

This is not always the case.

Sometimes it is better to work on specific steps of the building process first.
For example, when parts need to be glued with wood glue (check out this blog that I wrote about everything you need to know about wood glue) or when you need to paint parts.

Sometimes it is better to plan to do these steps first. Wood glue or paint can dry while you continue working on other steps.

By the time you need that particular glued or painted part, the drying time is over. So you shouldn’t wait for these parts.

Think about this step properly. 
planning a woodworking project in chronological steps can really make a difference to the efficiency of your project.


Although no two projects are the same, it is good to think about what went well and what went less well in this woodworking project planning.

Take this to plan similar woodworking projects in the future and improve your skills and efficiency.

Another valuable article on this website is about how long it takes to learn woodworking. That article is loaded with great tips if you are new to woodworking. Be sure to check it out right now!

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I hope this information on how to plan an efficient woodworking project was helpful, and that this blog inspires you.

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I’m looking forward to seeing you soon in another blog or video.

Christophe, founder of Christofix.com
Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration

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