Finding free woodworking plans on the internet is not always easy, especially when you are looking for a specific type of plan. But never fear, here are ten ways you can find free woodworking plans so you will never run out of things to build.
Google books are a treasure trove of free woodworking plans. Typing “woodworking plans" into the Google books search box results in a preview of books with free woodworking plans, plenty of which can be viewed right online.
You can choose the century from the “List View" on the left menu and many of the 19th century books are completely online - free to read, as opposed to some of the newer books which may only have a few pages of preview. Even those few preview pages though, may have a couple of free woodworking plans.
Also browse Google books by more specific topics, like “chair plans", to find an exact match. A “chair plans" search finds a book by Alvan Crocker Nye from 1907 that is a free Google eBook and contains an amazing amount of information about chair styles, chair legs, chair backs, etc.
Home Improvement Stores
The websites of home improvement stores are great places to find free woodworking plans. Lowe's Home Improvement has a tab entitled “Projects" that is full of great plans like a kid's race car bed or how to build a workbench. Home Depot's Canada site has a DIY section with many free woodworking plans. Just do a search for your hometown home improvement stores to find more ideas and plans.
Magazines like Popular Woodworking have wonderful project areas on their websites. Popular Woodworking also has woodworking technique videos on their site. Popular Mechanics’ website has a woodworking home how-to section with free plans. And at the website of Workbench magazine, there are also many free woodworking plans.
Family Handyman has multiple DIY projects available also, listing both indoor and outdoor free woodworking plans.
Project Gutenberg is a website that freely shares ebooks. They are free because the copyright of the book has expired. And lucky for you, they include older books that contain free woodworking plans. Many of the projects are Mission-style furniture plans, but you can also find birdhouses, shelves, clocks and smaller free woodworking plans.
These ebooks can easily be read on your iPad, Kindle, iPhone or computer. You can read the books online or download them.
On the advanced search page, at the top you will see a link to the “Online Book Catalog", which offers more ways to search Project Gutenberg. Click on that link and at the bottom of that page will be Yahoo and Google search boxes. Enter “woodworking" in a search box to find plenty more books about woodworking, many with plans.
Typing “extension service plans" or “extension service wood plans" in Google's search box will result in a whole slew of free woodworking plans. There are tons of great plans for sheds, work benches, fences and gates, birdhouses, carports, picnic tables and many more.
And of course, since they are extension services, they also have a pile of free plans for farm buildings like poultry houses, rabbit hutches, picnic shelters, barns, crop storage and pole buildings.
The Cooperative Extension Services provide a collection of hundreds of plans that are available on the web. Each state has different offerings, many of which have their own website. The plans provide a way to help people use the educational resources of the Cooperative Extension Service.
Using the search engines to find free woodworking plans is a no-brainer, but be sure to narrow your search. Instead of searching for the generic “free woodworking plans", try searching for a more specific plan, like “free arbor plans". If you don't find what you are looking for, try another search engine. Even the main search engines like Google and Yahoo or Bing will display different results.
Woodworking Accessory and Tool Websites
Besides the home improvement store websites, check out sites that sell woodworking accessories like Ace Hardware. Ace Hardware has a project category on their website with free woodworking plans. Even wood products like Minwax have a website section with project plans.
Skil also has devoted a portion of their website to DIY projects. The section is entitled “Use Your Skil" and features both free woodworking plans and Skil zone videos.
Doing a search for woodworking videos in a search engine will also result in woodworking projects. In searching with Google for woodworking videos, page one search results show a how-to video to build a blanket chest, a video for building a guitar, one showing how to bend wood and other collections of woodworking videos.
The woodworking videos can be a great help in demonstrating specific techniques. They are also like your own private woodworking show geared to exactly what you want, whenever you want to watch it.
The How-To Sites
Some of the how-to and DIY sites only have instructions for building something - no pictures. But some do have pictures, and some actually have free woodworking plans. If you are building something simple and just want to check to be sure you aren't missing any steps or just want to know the procedure, these sites can be of great help.
Searching a site like eHow for “How to Build" returns many results. Looking at their “How to Build a Bookcase", they give dimensions for the lumber and a list of everything you will need along with the instructions for building it. Usually no pictures though, and rarely actual free woodworking plans. The tips and warnings sections are my favorite parts of a site like this. They can definitely bring to your attention something you might not have thought of until too late.
Other how-to sites that have building instructions are ExtremeHowTo and DIY Network.
Television Show Websites
HGTV's website has many how-to free woodworking plans available and a nice assortment of outdoor building plans.
Bob Vila has a website with free woodworking plans as does Ron Hazelton's HouseCalls. Ron Hazelton's site has a huge archive of projects listing just about anything you could think to build, besides listing woodworking techniques and tips.