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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all.

How did you learn woodworking? Did someone teach you? Take classes? Books? Internet? Lots and lots of trial and error?

Can reading books, magazines and the internet teach me what I need to know to become a decent woodworker? By “decent”, I mean just really basic projects. Boxes, display cases and maybe some small tables or something like that. I have no delusions of grandeur about becoming Norm or David Marks. But I would like to produce quality projects that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to display or maybe give as gifts.

Thanks,
Bill M.
 

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Hey Bill.
Well the internet, books, magazines, people can all help you learn tricks and techniqes.I believe that trial and error is truly the best way to learn. That is how I have learned everything I know about woodworking. I never really had anyone around that did it, so when I got the interest I just started playing with stuff until I figured it out. With alot of help from research, books or anywhere else I could soak up info from. This site has been a great help in clearing up several issues for me.
 

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Well I've learned a lot from books, magazines, TV programs and the internet but I think I've learned most from my dad. Trial and error is a big part too, but when you've got a mentor there's a lot more trial and a lot less error.
 

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Cabinet Maker
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Yeah I would say just lots of practice will do it at least that's how I learned:smile: and don't limit yourself... work on bigger projects and you will get better and better.
 

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My dad was always tinkering. "Jack of all trades..." He was a union carpenter so his knowledge of wood was pretty much limited to building concrete forms out of 2x6's and plywood. He was/is a pretty decent framer but his finish work was limited. Point is, he was good with fabricating with his hands and I guess I inherited the gene. However his desire to teach me anything was nonexistent.

I'm an artist by birth (a double edged sword) and began my career as a graphic designer for a large company. When money got tight I started helping a friend trim new houses at night. My knowledge was very limited but the repetitive motions of cutting accurately and joining accurately taught me the key elements of later becoming a pretty decent woodworker.

Honestly I loved the smell, the dust, the tools, pretty much how my attitude changed as soon as I'd get into those houses. I used to pull up on the site driving a flashy new Grand Prix and get changed out of the shirt and tie and into my real work clothes while sitting in the driveway with the engine running.

The last night of finishing a house I used to ask Mike if I could keep the scraps of 1x4 1x6 primed pine and whatever molding lengths were laying around to play around with at home. One night while we were working Mike gave me his old Stanley block plane and said "here, you're getting better and it's probably about time you kept one of these on you"

Getting that plane was like a rite of passage to me, because before that I'd always see him whip that thing out and run it along a piece of wood like it was on rails. I'd try and usually just chunk out a bunch of splinters that would clog the throat of it. It didn't take long to get the hang of that plane and I still carry the same one in my apron.

Shortly after, I digested every book, web-site and magazine that I could get my hands on trying to learn as much as I could as fast as I could. Living in an apt. at the time I talked my mother into letting me build a "small shed" on her property so that I'd have a place to keep my tools :shifty:

I spent every free hour I had in that shop building and destroying boxes, book cases and coat racks of every color and size. I pretty much didn't care to do much else and set my sights on doing this full time which meant a lot of catching up seeing as I was already 28 years old and knew I'd have to cut my teeth as an apprentice with somebody before setting out on my own. I did both in time and still love the same things that got me into it.

I can't learn from a book or plan what I don't already have a feeling for in the first place. You can have good hand skills but little design ability or vice-versa. Trying to develop them both takes time and a little soul searching I guess.

Sorry about the long post. I'm re assessing my path these days and I guess this topic kind of helped me lay things out better.
 

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My father like to work with wood and had a few hand tools. I watched, but wasn't interested. The big thing that influenced me was shop class at school. (back in the good old times) I learned that those LOUD,dangerous machines can be made safe and they produce wonderful things made of wood. After I retired, I finally had all the time to tinker that I wanted.

Good results, I showed to my family.

Bad results, well only God and I knew about them and neither of us will tell you about them. Mistakes and ugly things always ended up helping to heat my shop. :laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks to everyone for the great posts. I guess my first order of business is to get my shop (garage) in shape. Then dig right in with some simple projects. And when I have problems or concerns, check in here with you guys (and gals). Of course, I will be reading all the different posts here in the meantime.

Thanks again.
Bill M.
 

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Decided to get into it when I retired. Uesed books, magazines, internet and friends. I was a welder by trade, did alot of fabricating working with pipefitters and ironworkers, so these same skills can apply to wood Used to work with my father, who was a sheetmetal worker, again skills learned. Like the others have said, trial and error and good tools.
 

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My father was a master carpenter, and if he was out in the shop doing something, I was there a lot. When I graduated from HS, I worked with him laying hardwood floors in new homes. He taught me how to use the small tablesaw he had to cut the flooring, and how to nail it down,( this was before the nailing machines they use today.) and finish the last piece against the opposite wall. So he was my Mentor.
After spending 22 years in the Air Force, I had a house built, but, the inside was unfinished, meaning, all that was inside were studs and wiring with a finished ceiling. At that time I was married, and she and I finished the inside, my dad came up from Florida, and built the kitchen cabs, and hung the inner doors. I did all the finish work in the house. Later I built a covered rear deck, and covered front porch.

Built a 20 X 30 shop in the back, and started collecting tools. I have since sold that place and got divorced, moved twice, since then and now have a nice home here in Prattville, with a 28 X 28 shop in the rear that has most all the tools I need now to complete most anything I need or want to make.

During the time I was doing the house, there was a lot of OJT.(read: trial and error). I have some books on cabinet making and other projects, read those and do my best to stay within the lines.

If it were not for my Father, I don't know what I would be doing. He got me started and I am very thankful that he did.

Wayne
 

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I think a mentor in life is good for all things. :thumbsup: Having a person to talk to and get advice from really helps you achieve your desired goal. In the case of woodworking I believe you have mentioned two already who you can aspire to emulate. Reading is always good as you have material to fall back on and reference. It would be nice to have a dad who has the experience of making all the mistakes and having been there done that as a lot of us have. Information is information, if you have the ability then you will become better with practice.:icon_smile:
 

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Established in Uk that lack of a father means that boys emulate the local drug dealer. we are beginning to suffer knife and gun deaths of teenagers in our cities. however, 40% of births are to unmarried mothers and one in three marriages end in divorce.

I learnt woodwork at school and my father taught me some metal work and mechanical skills.

wood and metal work classes for boys could help.
johnep
 

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I agree johnep. Our schools as well have taken almost all trades training out and replaced it with computer training. Don't take me wrong computer training is important, but so are hands on trades.
What will we do when we eventually run out of folks who love to use their hands to hand craft the things that make our world beautiful.
 

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I actually went to college for Wood Products Technology. It's a 2 year AAS degress that gave a very good practical knowlege from the point a log comes into a sawmill through the point a piece of furniture is about to be packaged for shippment "All hands on".

After getting out I realized none of that made me much cash so I jumped fields to computers.

Mike
 

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I actually went to college for Wood Products Technology. It's a 2 year AAS degress that gave a very good practical knowlege from the point a log comes into a sawmill through the point a piece of furniture is about to be packaged for shippment "All hands on".

After getting out I realized none of that made me much cash so I jumped fields to computers.

Mike
This type of program is what will guarantee huge starting salries in about 10 years. Nobody at an age to work will know how to use tools. I'm seeing it now in the metal working industry, welders used to be a dime a dozen, now they are finding good, well paying jobs and staying there. The indsutrial arts are going to see a high demand as the craftsmen retire over the next several years.
 

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I grew up watching my Grandfather in his woodshop, and he owned a sawmill, so I got experience at both ends. Watching him craft the grandfather clocks he was noted for was a wonder...the patience it took, and he didn't use a lot of the power tools we have today. Now, I feel like a spoiled kid...I have tools my Grandfather could have only imagined.
 

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I agree johnep. Our schools as well have taken almost all trades training out and replaced it with computer training. Don't take me wrong computer training is important, but so are hands on trades.
What will we do when we eventually run out of folks who love to use their hands to hand craft the things that make our world beautiful.
We have been going to a service only country for quite sometime now. Soon there will be no-one to make things, and all you will get in stores is junk that has a life cycle of 10 years or less, depending on how it is used. I call our society a "throw-away society", we buy and it lasts a few years and out it goes, then we buy more junk and so on.. The big Blue and the big Orange, sell ply that was made in who-knows-where, that has voids all thru the inner layers. Sold as quality ply. BAH HUMBUG.

Off my soap box...

Wayne.
 

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Me I took 6 years of wood shop in Junior and Senior HS. My Dad and I worked together after that and I learned allot from him. Been tinkering with wood since before junior high and have always loved working with it. I have done a small amount of boat work and learned from the friend that owned the marina. If you like wood and making things, you will get a grip. Just be careful and respect the tools and they will lead the way.
 

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Established in Uk that lack of a father means that boys emulate the local drug dealer. we are beginning to suffer knife and gun deaths of teenagers in our cities. however, 40% of births are to unmarried mothers and one in three marriages end in divorce.

I learnt woodwork at school and my father taught me some metal work and mechanical skills.

wood and metal work classes for boys could help.
johnep
Johnep you have the stats, do you have the calling.....some of us need to step up to the plate and and do a little mentoring on the slide.....:glare: woodworking may not help.
I think self control needs to be taught. Instant gratification seems to be the theme, with that kind of statistic. This type of behavior should be documented as a Paris Hilton behavior. The UK has become very liberal, time to take up the strap and most would agree...action and reaction rather then action and can I get you a cookie....
 
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