Learning woodworking isn't easy. We make so many mistakes when we first start, from minor ones to some that can ruin a piece you've slaved over. We read magazines and watch videos and get lost a lot in between. We hear a ton of contradicting advice from every magazine and blog. What tools should I buy? What magazine should I read? What kind of joint do I use?
I had done a lot of woodworking growing up, from building skateboard ramps as a kid to working for a cabinet company and doing basic woodworking, but nothing that would rate me as anything other than a beginning woodworker. I could cut the heck out of plywood, I knew basic cabinetry and trim work, and I had made a few pieces of furniture. I also knew that there was no way I was doing that for a living. I took a little detour on my woodworking career path to become an EMT. Somehow though, I had surrounded myself with friends who did woodworking. I couldn't escape the pull and soon found myself woodturning as a hobby and then slowly learning to make good furniture and hand cut joints. I decided I needed to get back into woodworking and give a career a go.
I wanted to do an apprenticeship with someone and my friends suggested a local woodworking teacher who ran a small furniture business. I was blessed to find a guy who I instantly hit it off with and who was very giving with his information. He loved to teach and show how to do woodworking. Even after my apprenticeship ended with him, he has always been there to be supportive and to offer advice. He taught me how to sharpen chisels and planes and to hand cut dovetails. He's the guy who made me the hand tool lover I am, yet understand that power tools are important parts of woodworking. To this day, I will call or email him and ask for advice. He has been the most helpful person to my woodworking career and a very big reason I have been able to make it in this profession.
So my advice for any woodworker starting out is to find a mentor. Ask local furniture makers or go to your local guilds. Most woodworkers I know love to share information with you and can help you get started. With the advent of the internet, there are some very helpful forums and websites, but none of them quite live up to the personal aspect of having someone whose shop you can go into. Ask questions of people who have done it before you, it will help save you from mistakes.
As for experienced woodworkers, please be sharing and giving with your information. Take beginners under your wing and take some time out of your schedule to teach. You will make a difference in someones life and help create passion in the past-time you love so much.
Here is a link to a list of some of the woodworking guilds around the country.
I love the fact that I constantly learn new things about woodworking from teachers and mentors and friends. Woodworking is the greatest job or hobby I can think of and woodworkers are some of the best people I have ever met. Get Woodworking.
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