If you’ve ever perused online woodworking forums and comment sections, you’ve come across some strong opinions.
Let it be noted: There’s nothing wrong with opinions.
Everyone’s got their own preferences and experiences when it comes to tools and techniques. That’s great.
The problem is when people start rallying behind a supposed “rule” or “fact” of woodworking that’s not actually true.
And if you believe them, you end up wasting time and energy worrying about things that don’t matter (or don’t matter as much as they say).
Today, I’m busting 5 common woodworking myths I come across again and again.
You may have heard some of these before yourself. And you’ll probably continue to hear them until the end of time.
But that’s ok… as long as YOU know the truth (and avoid being a jerk online).
1. UN-GROUNDED DUST COLLECTORS CAN EXPLODE
This is a classic woodworking myth that’s been going around for years. Here’s the gist:
When you use a dust collector with PVC ducting, static electricity gets generated. That static electricity can then cause a spark in the ducting, igniting the sawdust moving through and leading to a massive fireball explosion.
Sounds pretty scary. But here’s the problem.
There isn’t a single recorded case of this ever happening.
Maybe it did happen to your uncle’s neighbor’s ex-lover’s cat — but anecdotal cases are the only ones you’ll find.
In fact, a guy named Rod Cole took a deep dive into this question years back.
He found that while this static-generated dust explosion is theoretically possible, it’s nearly impossible for it to happen in a real-world shop.
Something about CFM volumes and static discharge make the likelihood super low — especially in a home shop. I’m not a scientist, but you can read Cole’s paper here.
The only real reason to ground your dust collector is to avoid static shocks when you touch the ducting.
But unless that’s a deal breaker for you, there’s no real reason to do it.
2. WOOD MOVEMENT WILL MAKE YOUR PROJECTS EXPLODE
A lot of potential explosions, aren’t there?
Years back, I posted a video showing how I cut the houndstooth dovetails below. And a ton of people responded saying wood movement would eventually cause them to explode.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Wood movement is caused by the seasonal changes in a board’s moisture content. It IS real — just not as bad as people think.
Boards expand and contract mostly across the grain. Meaning the dovetails above will expand and contract together.
The only time you really need to consider wood movement is when attaching a tabletop to a base or when attaching end grain edges to long grain edges.
But even then, the amount of movement is minimal (as in 1/16” for a 18” wide board).
Consider wood movement with table tops and box bottoms. Other than that, you’ll probably be fine.
Check out our wood movement calculator (that even tells you the best month to build for average expansion
3. SETTING A HAND PLANE ON THE SOLE DULLS THE BLADE
Anytime I use a hand plane in a video, people scold me in the comments for how I set it down on my workbench.
Their reasoning is that by setting the plane on its sole (the bottom), the blade hits the workbench and gets dull.
Instead, they say it’s better to lay the hand plane down on its side.
I totally disagree (but I won’t die on a hill over it).
Sure, slamming a hand plane down on your workbench can dull the blade. But setting it down gently? Forget about it!
The blade cuts wood. You’re setting it on wood. End of story.
On top of that, setting a hand plane on its side can actually throw your setup out of alignment.
The angle of the blade can change, meaning you’ll have to tweak the lateral adjust lever to get it cutting evenly again.
Just set your hand plane down toe-first, then lay the sole on your bench.
If it really bothers you, place the toe of the plane on a piece of scrap to elevate it and keep the blade from touching the bench.
4. IT’S CHEAPER TO BUILD IT YOURSELF
Raise your hand if believing this myth is what motivated you to start woodworking.
The slow realization most woodworkers come to over time is that this is not a cheap hobby.
Sure, there are ways to do it on the cheap.
But if you think you can build furniture for less than it would cost you to buy at IKEA, you’re kidding yourself.
Mass-manufactured furniture can be sold for less than it costs you to buy just the materials. Let alone the tools needed.
Of course, this is a false equivalent.
Most mass-produced furniture is made with cheap wood, MDF, or particle board — and is not built to last.
YOU can build furniture that’ll last for generations, and with woods that are as strong as they are beautiful.
The value of woodworking as a hobby isn’t the economics. It’s the joy of creating something with your own hands.
And if you get good enough… you can even turn it into a business. Then the math changes.
5. THERE’S ONE RIGHT WAY TO DO THINGS
The internet is full of woodworking gatekeepers telling you there’s only one right way to do something…
And if you take a different approach, you either don’t know what you’re doing — or aren’t a “real” woodworker.
Let those trolls be miserable under their bridge. Woodworking is whatever you want it to be.
2x4 furniture joined with pocket screws. Hand-cut joinery assembled with hide glue. CNC-cut components attached with Dominos.
It’s all woodworking, and it’s all equally valid.
The important thing is knowing how to use your tools safely and building things with basic structural integrity.
Once you’ve got those two aspects covered, you can do whatever you damn well please.
LEAVE THE MYTHS TO OVID
Learning from others online is fantastic. But just remember that some of the woodworking “facts” you hear might not hold water.
The best thing to do is try things out for yourself and learn from your own experiences…
And also, don’t be a jerk online. Those people suck.
Want to learn more about wood movement? Read this.