Thursday, February 09, 2012

Get Woodworking...Again

It's "Get Woodworking Week", the brainchild of Tom Iovino over at Tom's Workbench which is one of the most consistently updated woodworking blogs on the internet.  Tom came up with the idea at the Woodworking in America conference in 2011, and bloggers from around the country have responded to the challenge of getting folks interested in woodworking.  Tom is herding the cats and providing links over on his site, so be sure to check out all the great content being posted this week.

Once again I've been away from this blog and the workshop for too long.  With a new baby in the house, shop time has been very scarce.  I was able to get into the shop a few weeks ago and it was such a big deal that I took a picture of my newest project.  Behold, a stick that I made.  Out of walnut, of course.

Only took me an hour to make that stick.  Felt good!
Even this very quick session got me excited again, and I've been trying to get into the shop every day even if it's just for a few minutes.  During my day job, I don’t get any opportunity to get “hands on”.  Like many other woodworkers, I spend my day clicking and typing at my PC.  I find that some time in the shop is very therapeutic and gives me something to look forward to.  Frankly, I like to use my hands and I just get a little antsy if it’s been too long since I picked up a tool.  You can bet that I'll keep it up now that I'm back in the shop.

I could get all philosophical about the value of work and the connection between physical labor and societal value in the modern world, but I am never able to find the words and others do it much better than me.  If you are interested in this sort of thing, try reading Matthew Crawford’s book Shop Class as Soulcraft or Christopher Schwarz’s recent instant classic The Anarchist’s Tool Chest.

Back to woodworking, you might be thinking to yourself “I don’t know how.” Hey, me either.  Nobody taught me this stuff when I was a kid, and quite frankly I’m still not a very experienced woodworker.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m still a beginner.  I’ve cut dovetails exactly once, and I had someone talking me through it the whole time.  But woodworking isn’t some mysterious black art that can only be learned in secret back rooms under hardware stores.  All you need is some curiosity and the willingness to make a few mistakes along the way.

You won't be alone, trust me. Somehow you found this blog post, so you’ve already discovered that there is a very active online woodworking community.  I’ve had the good fortune to meet many woodworkers online and in person over the past few years.  It may sound corny, but I know that every single one of them would be willing to answer a question from a new woodworker.  Many would even show up in person and help out if they were close enough.  If you don’t have a woodworking mentor in your offline life, try visiting a forum or comment on a few blogs and test the waters.  My “home” forum is and I’ve found it to be very welcoming to newcomers, and all ranges of experience.  Another new resource is the Modern Woodworkers Association which has local chapters springing up across the country.  The Atlanta chapter meets once a month, so come and say howdy.

You don't need a bunch of fancy tools to get started either.  A pretty simple kit will get you a long way down the road to woodworking.  In fact, I'd recommend that you should wait to buy tools only as you need them.  Many of the "must have" tools that I bought early on are now collecting dust in the shop...Um, but not in the way that a dust collector would collect dust, you know?  Because it's a dust collector?  Anyway, I now buy tools only as I need them.  Except for that chisel Chris Adkins talked me into in November.

So if you've ever thought about giving woodworking a try, this is the week for you.  Get Woodworking!


David Scott said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I know exactly how you feel and find the few hours I spend in the shop becomes fuel for the soul.

Unknown said...

I work at a computer all day also and your are right, about how time in the shop can make a huge difference in how you feel.

Jeff Branch said...

I love getting in my basement shop on the weekends with my coffee and these days a space heater warming the place up. It is very therapeutic.

I enjoyed meeting you this past Sunday and enjoyed your SketchUp class. A lot of fun.