If you’re new to woodworking you know one of the major challenges you face is finding tips, ideas and plans that can help you get started. They need to be detailed enough that they’ll produce a satisfying product yet easy enough to follow so as not to leave you scratching your head or giving up. If, like us, you’ve spent time searching the Net you probably found websites that say they provide just what you’re looking for. Dig a little deeper though and you discover their plans are either incomprehensible, incomplete or simply dead links. We searched through dozens of such sites ourselves until we came to Teds Woodworking.
Most websites that claim to offer woodworking plans are pretty faceless affairs with a list of links and that’s about it. Who’s behind these websites is anyone’s guess. Some of them are simply link farms with the plans on offer the same ones you’ll find on just about every other woodworking plans website. By contrast there actually is a ‘Ted’ behind Teds Woodworking Plans. His name is Ted McGrath and he’s a lifelong woodworker and current teacher of wood turning.
Ted’s PR goes to great lengths to stress that what you get when you plunk down your $67 for his 16,000+ plans are his plans, accumulated over a lifetime of woodworking and detailed enough that skill level is unimportant: i.e. if you follow the plan you’ll get the desired result. That’s quite a claim and with your hard-earned money on the line it’s important to know if it’s true or not. That’s what we’re here to find out.
Enough With the Niceties. What About the Product?
We’re automatically skeptical when someone uses a term like “secret archives” but that’s exactly what Ted hits you with in the introductory video for his products. The KGB and the Vatican may well have secret archives but a woodworker? What could be in a woodworker’s secret archive? (Maybe a plan to build surveillance satellites from native hardwood!) Nonetheless the deeper we dug into Ted’s woodworking blueprints the sooner we forgot about that PR hyperbole and began to realize there really is a difference between what this guy is offering and what you’ll get just about anywhere else.
If you’re familiar with Monty Python you’ve no doubt heard their prescription for ridding the world of all known diseases: “First, become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something. Then, when the medical world really starts to take notice you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there’ll never be diseases anymore!” A lot of freely available (and even some pay) woodworking plans are like that. “Select the proper wood and cut it just right. Then make sure all the joins are good and solid.” Gee. Thanks.
Ted, on the other hand, provides you with intricate but clearly designed and easy to understand, diagrams along with step by step instructions about HOW to make the joins nice and solid and that sort of woodworkers source material is sorely welcome. Here’s a guy who teaches woodworking and so is familiar with the places students commonly get lost or flustered. He takes pains to ensure nothing is glossed over and that you’re never left to guess about the proper material, proper tool or proper technique.
Are Ted’s Blueprints Really Appropriate for All Levels?
This is maybe the boldest claim Ted makes about his woodworking plan kit and also the hardest to back up. So is it true? For the most part we’d have to say “Yes”. Keep in mind there are more than 16,000 plans included here and so there will necessarily be some that are more intricate, more difficult to execute than others. Ted acknowledges this but claims that his instructions are so clear and comprehensive that it doesn’t matter which project you select. If you’re patient and follow the instructions to the letter you’ll wind up in the promised land.
We reviewed hundreds of his plans, including some that were quite complex on the surface, and concluded that it’s true: if you follow the plans to the letter, have a steady hand and the proper materials and tools, there is enough information here to execute any plan successfully. That’s no small thing. Beware though that if you’re impatient by nature you may find some of the more complex plans a bit vexing. In that case, should you reach a point where you’re becoming flustered, the best thing to do would be to simply walk away, do something else for a while and come back later. With a little persistence you’ll get the desired result.
Are There Really More Than 16,000 Plans?
There are, although they don’t all necessarily come from Ted’s “secret archive”. In 2014 Ted partnered with another woodworker, Jim Hanks and it was this woodworking union that produced the total of 16,450 plans currently available for download through Tedswoodworking. Now with that many plans you can be sure you’re going to get some you’ll never give more than a passing glance to (hello ‘build a chicken coop’) but the fact is the vast majority of the plans provided here actually have some practical application in the real world and many are traditional woodworking projects like different types of furniture, planters and coat racks.
Do You Need Special Technology to View TedsWoodworking?
While Ted’s plans are only available as an Internet download no special software is required to view them. You’ll have full access to them regardless of whether you’re using a PC or Mac and Ted’s plans are also viewable on any mobile device; meaning you can take the plans with you when you go to select materials and tools.
What About Bonus Materials?
Ted’s woodworking plans provide a selection of bonus materials some of which will help you achieve a more well-rounded understanding of woodworking in general. This can only help as you dive into some of the more involved plans in the package. To be sure some of these bonus materials are more useful than others but if you’re buying the package for the bonus materials you’re buying for the wrong reason. That said: bonus materials include:
- Complete Woodworking Guides – This may be the cherry on top of the bonus package as it provides a wealth of useful information regarding tips and tricks of the woodcrafters trade. Some 200 pages worth of detailed drawings, photos and easy to read diagrams make this a worthy compliment to the package of 16,000+ woodworking plans.
- 150 Woodworking Videos – When you purchase Ted’s woodworking plans you get lifetime membership access to more than 150 woodworking videos. Most of these are great, others… not so much. But they’re definitely worth a look and maybe more.
- How to Start a Woodworking Business – Now we’re getting into Ted’s “pad the list” stuff. The fundamentals of business don’t change regardless of the business you choose. However, this ‘how to’ guide may give you the kick in the pants needed to get you up and at it.
- DWG/CAD Plan Viewer Software – In the description of bonus materials they compare this software to AutoCAD, but that’s like comparing Paint to Photoshop. Still, novices may find it interesting as an introduction to CAD software.
Money Back Guarantee
Ted “promises” that if you’re not 100% satisfied with the product you can simply email him within 60 days of purchase, say “Your product stinks!”, and he’ll provide you a full refund, no questions asked. As we were more than satisfied with the product we didn’t bother to test the veracity of this claim and we doubt you’ll need to either. But it’s nice to know it’s there.
Teds woodworking plans are a breath of fresh air in a DIY landscape littered with how-to guides that rarely teach anything other than the meaning of frustration. The folks that put the package together obviously gave it a great deal of thought and if Ted himself actually came up with all the detailed diagrams here, well, kudos to Ted. Here are what we consider to be the most important pros and cons.
- Literally thousands of useful woodworking blueprints.
- Easy to follow directions and clear, well-conceived diagrams.
- Well organized considering the scope of the package.
- Useable across a broad spectrum of devices.
- Very little superfluous information.
- Comprehensive materials and tool lists.
- An attractive price point.
- Decent bonus package.
- 100% 60 day money back guarantee.
- Only available for download through Tedswoodworking.
- Might take a while to download if you have a slow connection.
- The scope may be a bit intimidating for first time woodcrafters.
On the whole there is a lot to like about Teds woodworking and very little to dislike. If you’re serious about getting into the age-old craft of woodworking we’ve never come across a better package of ready-made plans and instructions than you’ll find with Ted’s. Considering there’s enough woodworkers source material here to keep you busy for years the $67 price is more than reasonable.