New student and need some information - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 11:22 AM Thread Starter
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New student and need some information

Hey all! I'm beginning a woodworking course next month and part of my orientation process involves getting some information from current woodworkers. I really appreciate any help you can offer. Here are the two questions.

1. If your shop hires entry-level woodworkers, what skills do they look for?

2. What are the best and worst things about woodworking?

I didn't choose these questions but they are required. If you have any additional advice for someone starting a new career please pass it along. They also ask for your first name and the name of your shop. Thanks again! I Look forward to many conversations on this site and I'll keep everyone updated on my progress.
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post #2 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 11:42 AM
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1- We do not hire. We are family run.

2- Good- The process and seeing the finished item. Turning something plain into something beautiful. I also enjoy learning new ways to do things.

Bad- Complacency is dangerous. Shop tools, even hand tools, can cause serious injury. Life changes when a person is down some fingers or an eye.
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post #3 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 11:42 AM
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Sorry: Darren at Cedar Draw Wood Works
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post #4 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 11:50 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks! I imagined one of the main drawbacks being the dangers involved. Not so easy to use many tools if you're missing fingers.
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post #5 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 11:56 AM
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not an actual businesses yet and when I eventually turn into one I probably won't hire anyone...
GOOD- Almost everything! Creating something from nothing. The feel of wood, and smell of sawdust cough cough... sorry had to hack up a lung lol. Seeing the finished product, and making my fiance happy and seeing her smile when I have made something for her.
BAD- SANDING...I absolutely hate it not sure why that is the only part of it I don't like and it is one of the most integral parts to wood working.

Have fun at your class! I wish there was something like that around here.

EDIT: My bad, Tommie Hockett and "Tommie's hand crafted furnishings"... It was going to be Tommie's handcrafted home furnishings but that wouldn't fit on the business card lol

"Courage is not knowing about when to take a life, but knowing when to spare it."

Last edited by Tommie Hockett; 02-07-2013 at 01:45 PM.
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post #6 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 12:04 PM
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the good -

creative process
beauty of finished piece
the compliments from others
the feeling of accomplishment

the bad -
breathing dust
danger of losing your fingers or worse
the back ache of lifting heavy wood
sweating like a dog as you work

the ugly -
wasted wood from not staying 'in the zone' as you work

build it right or not at all
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post #7 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 02:46 PM
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Sorry, I'm a hobbyist with a desk job.

But for the pros who are answering, question #1 is a hypothetical. *IF* you were going to hire, what skills would you look for?

I only say this because I'm sort of curious how you pros would answer, because it will clue us hobbyists into what skills will help us (me) be able to make things as nice as you all without 20 years of being in a shop 10 hours a day.

The biggest skill I wish I had, which I don't think can be learned, is creativity to come up with designs. I'm great at problem solving, but I suck at thinking up creative designs. The best I can do is steal ideas from things I see.
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post #8 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 03:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bob sacamano View Post
the good -

creative process
beauty of finished piece
the compliments from others
the feeling of accomplishment

the bad -
breathing dust
danger of losing your fingers or worse
the back ache of lifting heavy wood
sweating like a dog as you work

the ugly -
wasted wood from not staying 'in the zone' as you work
What Bob said.

I am retired and woodworking is my hobby.
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post #9 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 03:40 PM Thread Starter
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MT... One of the application questions asked if going to this program was for professional or personal development. I answered that it was both. I do intend to do plenty of work on my own on top of hopefully finding a job to support myself and the hobby. And yes, hypothetical answers about *if* you were to hire a beginner would be great. I think they just want me to have some idea of where to really focus in the program in order to land a job. If anyone wants to look the program up it is called Brooklyn Woods and is in partnership with Workforce Brooklyn.
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post #10 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 04:43 PM
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@BKMark - I learned some basic skills in 8th grade wood shop in junior high. Later on when I was about 20, I worked with dad building pole style horse barns. Later on I learned how to use his table saw. I didn't have one. As the years went by I bought a radial arm saw (mid 1980's). Woodworking has been a hobby to me all along. Up until this past year or so, I have been mostly a 2x4 kind of guy. Mostly rough stuff with a little cabinetry thrown in.

These days, since retiring, I have been adding tools to my workshop, which is just a single car garage. Now I have the tools and some skills to build most anything, if I can figure out the plans. :-(

I have been fortunate to never had an injury. I always make sure I focus on the task at hand and where the blade is regardless if it is the band saw, router, table saw or drill press.
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post #11 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 05:10 PM
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I have been trying to hire someone for quite a while now, Some basic understanding of power tools would be nice but mainly I want someone willing and able to learn (not as easy as you might think), and someone who will never utter the phrase "good enough". The goal is perfection, and I've learned that people have very different ideas of what that is, some of it can be learned in time but not all. Any experience with hand tools or sharpening(correctly) would be a huge plus.

Best things: The finished product, the fact that no matter how much money I make, when I die there will be hundreds of items out in the world made by my hands that will outlast me.

Worst: You're still running a business, I don't have any complaints about the actual woodworking, but billing, taxes, tight deadlines, taxes, unexpected complications and taxes are mainly what get me down.

Tyler
Tyler Jones Furniture Makers
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post #12 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 05:58 PM
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I am a hobbyist, not a professional. Having said that, once upon a time (in my previous life) I hired people. Here's what I looked for: Attitude and aptitude. If the attitude is positive and demonstrates a desire to learn the job, love customers, and demonstrate ethical conduct, that's the first hurdle. At this point let me add that using good grammar and demonstrating good manners are, frankly, proof of having been willing to learn. If the aptitude demonstrates the capability to learn the job, then that's the second hurdle. Aptitude can actually be tested relatively quickly. If a job requires communicating complex instructions, the challenge is to write a set of instructions. If a job requires "a mechanical brain", there are tests for determining that. The long and short of it is, the right Attitude means the interview goes forward. The right Aptitude means it goes forward a little further. Skills can be learned. While I'm at it, I was almost always more inclined to hire inexperienced people rather than experienced. It's so much easier to teach people who haven't been taught any bad habit yet.
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post #13 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 08:57 PM
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First and foremost, a person must know math and how to read a tape measure. Know your geometry, fractions like the back of your hand. Know how to convert fractions to decimals etc..
I can't tell you how many guys I've seen that don't understand basic math, and can't read a tape.
Be honest. Just because you helped your dad run a sheet of ply through the tablesaw does not mean you can call yourself a sawyer. Whatever you say your skills are, you are, or should be held accountable for.

Now, on to the fun part! Realize that with your skills as a woodworker can lead to other great and exciting opportunities. I became involved in building commericial exhibitry and interactive science displays.
These endevors lead me to learn welding, composites, lighting and so on. I became a fabricator, not just a woodworker.
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post #14 of 18 Old 02-07-2013, 10:13 PM
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Best : The enjoyment that can be derived from the hobby.
Worse: The expense of outfitting a shop with good quality tools.
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post #15 of 18 Old 02-27-2013, 10:57 AM Thread Starter
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Just an update. It looks like I will not get into the program I had hoped for. I can't say I'm happy about it but I can understand the reasons why. My test scores came back very high, near a grade 14 level, and I am simply under-employed rather than unemployed. I also have no criminal background. This program focuses on people in much more difficult situations than myself (which I was not aware of previously). The administrator was very respectful about all of this. He suggested I self train and just look for work in the field considering I am already perfectly hirable. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Any books you recommend? Tools a beginner should have? Good approaches to getting a job in woodworking?
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post #16 of 18 Old 02-27-2013, 12:46 PM
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This is generic job seeking advice since I'm not a professional woodworker, but you should try to network with people nearby in the fields your interested in. Even if they aren't hiring they may know someone who is, and getting a job tangential to what you want will help you meet people that do what you want. Once you know some people you can get advice on what skills are desired locally and any tangential jobs you have in the interim will be useful for broadening your view when you get to what you want.
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post #17 of 18 Old 02-27-2013, 10:59 PM
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Hi bkmark,
First, congratulations, you are not as bad as some in your community, and that is a good thing. Also, congrats for being ambitious enough to seek out advancement. That is a lot right there. These are some of the attributes I look at when working with young folks.
From what I see of your posts you have the drive and ambition to make it work. Perhaps find a woodworkers club or informal group of woodworkers and express your interest. They are always looking for a new partner and probably would be happy to teach you a few things.
I might suggest trying to pick up some tools and begin working on your own to learn. You don't "need" the biggest and best. When I was young, I learned from my Dad and great uncles and almost everything was done by hand. It used to amaze me they would pick up a hand saw when there was a perfectly good circular saw not far away.
Another thing is to focus in on your interest. One tool which is a pretty good stand-alone tool is the lathe. In the 1700's, the lathe was a gentleman's tool and would have a corner in a room in the home. It doesn't take up much space either. My first lathe was a loaner from a fellow down the street. I had a couple chisels and a gouge, and off I went. you can probably make a few things and sell them at a craft fair.
What's your niche?
Best of luck!
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post #18 of 18 Old 02-27-2013, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bkmark View Post
Hey all! I'm beginning a woodworking course next month and part of my orientation process involves getting some information from current woodworkers. I really appreciate any help you can offer. Here are the two questions.

1. If your shop hires entry-level woodworkers, what skills do they look for?

2. What are the best and worst things about woodworking?

I didn't choose these questions but they are required. If you have any additional advice for someone starting a new career please pass it along. They also ask for your first name and the name of your shop. Thanks again! I Look forward to many conversations on this site and I'll keep everyone updated on my progress.
I've had a few apprentices. I don't look for or evaluate skills right off. I look for character and enthusiasm. I'll take willingness and eagerness to learn over skills any day of the week and twice on Sunday. The work and process itself is easy to learn, a monkey can use a hand saw and a chisel. What sets the excellent woodworkers apart from the mediocre is the passion, creative process and inspiration.

The good - well, a big one for many is the sense of accomplishment, keeping food on the table and shoes on their kid's feet doesn't hurt either. For me I'd have to admit it's the journey - this is what drives me to use only hand tools and study traditional woodworking and the traditional woodworker him/herself.

The bad - The economy. Finding a way to turn experience and creativity into income is many times a challenge. It's not a lack of skill which impedes most but a lack of customers. Woodworkers not only must be skilled but they must also be educators to teach customers what furniture is - and what is not furniture ie painted and veneered MDF and cardboard.

Jean Becnel
L'ébénisterie Créole
South Louisiana
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