When you first started working with wood, you likely realized woodworking’s potential when it comes to making gifts. Chances are good that at least someone you know has received one or more hand-crafted items from you. Much of the time, woodworkers rule the holiday season when it comes to one-of-a-kind gifts that will be treasured for years to come.
As you considered ways to use your skills to make gifts for others, though, you may have overlooked one potential gift that could have an even greater impact. You can give the gift of woodworking itself, teaching someone else to work with woods and create their own masterpieces. It may take time to teach someone everything you’ve learned, but the potential for long-term benefit makes the effort very much worth it.
Woodworking as a Gift
When we think of gifts, we usually think of physical objects that we can give to someone else. At the very least, we usually focus on things with a physical analog, allowing for digital goods that don’t have a physical presence but are easy to see as their own “thing”. Passing on a set of skills usually isn’t seen as a gift because it doesn’t have a distinct thing-ness to it; skills are much more abstract, so we don’t usually think about them when trying to decide what to give someone.
It’s odd that we don’t consider the sharing of skills as gifts more often, though. We even have an adage about this very thing, talking about giving a man a fish vs. teaching him to fish. There’s a definite value in teaching someone a skill and woodworking would not only allow the person you teach to create their own work but could also open them up to moneymaking opportunities in the long run.
Sharing Your Skills
When it comes to passing on the gift of woodworking, it’s not so much a question of whether you should as it is a question of who you should teach. You can pass your skills on to anyone who’s interested, be it your children, nieces and nephews, neighbors or anyone else who might show an interest in the craft. Be sure to explain that learning woodworking can take time, especially if trying to teach younger students; if they can make it through the early lessons, you may end up hooking them on woodworking for life.
You may not know how to go about teaching woodworking to others, but you don’t have to give professional-quality lessons. Instead, start with the basics and take things from there. Ideally, you’ll start teaching with a few specific projects in mind, letting your student not only learn but also have something to show for it as each project ends. This will not only impart important skills and a pride in their work but will give them a way to compare their skill progression over time. As they learn more and improve their woodworking abilities, the projects they complete will grow more complex.
A New Tradition
Once upon a time, skills like woodworking were passed down from generation to generation. It’s not impossible to still find people claiming to be a third or fourth-generation woodworker or other tradesman, although they’re less common than they used to be. That doesn’t mean you can’t revive the tradition in your own family.
Did you learn woodworking from a parent or someone else in your family? If so, you can continue the tradition by teaching your own children. They, in turn, may teach your grandchildren and so on down the line. By sharing the gift of woodworking with those you love, you might establish a tradition that will live on for generations to come.