Becoming a Woodworker

How does one ‘get into’ woodworking? It’s a discipline that requires training and experience to be proficient. Plus you need access to tools before you can even get started.

I was always intrigued by woodworking although I was never exposed to it growing up and never had an opportunity to take shop classes in school. So immediately after graduating from college I treated myself to evening woodworking classes through a local community college. It was great – for several years I had weekly access to a complete woodworking shop and an instructor. I built several pieces of furniture and ignited a life-long passion for woodworking.

But despite that class thirty years ago, most of my woodworking skills are self-taught. I get new project ideas and enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to make them. That means lots of reading and even more time spent experimenting in my shop.

There’s no substitute for experience, but that doesn’t mean trial and error is the only way to improve. If you are attracted to woodworking, here are some thoughts on how to get started:

  • Check with your local high school adult education department, Community College, woodworking supplier or building center for woodworking classes. Whether it’s a beginning class or skill
    training for experienced woodworkers, it will typically give you insight into different techniques, tools and woodworking safety.
  • Do you have a relative or neighbor who is a woodworker? If you know someone with woodworking skills, ask if they would let you assist them with a project, or even just let you observe. Most woodworkers love to talk about what they do and will be glad to help you get started.
  • Check out local woodworkers’ clubs. Most areas have a club or guild where woodworkers get together to learn, share information and show off their work. Often they will have programs and training in their meetings which is a great way to learn new skills.
  • Books, magazines, Internet, television and DVDs are all terrific sources of information. As you run into problems creating a project, head to the bookstore, go online, or subscribe to a magazine. Chances are someone has faced that problem before and written about it.

One added advantage of taking classes is that you get to try before you buy. Whether you are just starting or want to expand your repertoire, taking a class is a safe, low cost way to find out if you like it before you invest in equipment.

So when do you get to claim the title of woodworker? Personally, I think you’re in the club as soon as you complete your first project. Even if it’s not perfect, you’ve invested your energy and creativity into transforming wood. I think that is the definition of a woodworker. And should you sell one of your creations, you will lose your amateur standing and can call yourself a ‘Professional Woodworker.’

What are you waiting for? Get started today. Become a woodworker!

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