Another way to demolish a project is to use wood that is not seasoned. When freshly cut, wood has a large amount of water in the fibers. Over time, or through kiln drying, the water escapes, and the wood dries. Dry wood does not change in size as much as wet wood, and is safer to work with.
Most wood stores sell pieces that are fully dried and stable in the environment. There are some notable exceptions though. Wood that is covered in wax is typically wet inside. The wax is designed to keep the wood stable for transport and sale. This barrier prevents the moisture from escaping like it would normally. When cut, these pieces can crack and split very quickly.
Ask the seller how the wood was dried, and when. They can tell you all of these things, as well as how long the wood has been in stock in the store. A good wood store will guide you in the right direction, and they will show you how to select stable pieces for your project.
Next, not being selective when buying wood can have frustrating results in the shop. When digging through wood bins, make sure that you are looking closely. Select pieces that are free of defects and other structural issues. Knots, splits, twists, and bends are all things to avoid. Especially as a beginner, you want to have as good of a board as you can find.