For as long as I can remember, I’ve always enjoyed making things out of wood. I’m talking about small things here – not large ones like sheds or houses or barns. More along the lines of tables, bed frames, small area fences, etc…The thing is, for as long as I can remember, I’ve never really been very good at what I attempted to make. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been proud of what I managed to cut up and put together and to this day I still own some of my finer “pieces,” but looking back, I can still recall an error here and an error there. I have yet to use the proper wood for the job and I’ve never – ever had the proper tools (for once in my life, I’d really enjoy owning a table saw). And probably most annoyingly remembered is that fact that I always felt like I was in a rush. I used to have a nasty tendency to, instead of measuring twice and cutting once, measure half of once and keep cutting until things felt right. It’s challenging to shake those kinds of memories because they, in my mind, sort of define who I am when it comes to making things out of wood. Obviously, nobody knows this about me besides me. I generally don’t tend to talk about my deficiencies much. Well, except to Laura whose ears are probably ready to bleed from trying to make sense of my ups and downs.
Since I’ve moved to Maine, I have made a true and focused effort to slow down and take my time during each woodworking project I endeavor. I’m attempting to train myself to value the quality of each experience over the outcome of whatever it was that I created, since it’s mostly the experiences of creating I can remember most and it’s those experiences that get me down when I think back to my rushed days; the mismatched lumber I used to use, the warped and twisted wood, the measurements that really were never spot on and so forth.
Since I enjoy woodworking so much and truly believe that I’ll enjoy it still well into my old age, I decided that I need to start over – back at the beginning. I need to unlearn what I may have taught myself and unravel all the bad memories of projects gone awry. And since I’m in Maine, the wood capital of the world (besides Siberia), there really is no better place to pick up on what I’m searching for. As a matter of fact, just the other night in Jiu-Jitsu class, I asked if anyone knew any woodworkers. Strikingly, two of my fellow classmates knew six woodworkers between them. And I think those two were the only ones who heard me ask the question. Around these parts, there’s no shortage of talent.
Instead of dashing out to some store and filling a room in the house with power tools, I thought it might be better to slowly and over time gain an understanding of where wood comes from, what woodworking is, what woodworkers can create and what tools they use to make things. It was in this train of thought that I decided to pick up a woodworking book. One that can start me off on the right foot. If I’m going to do this, I want to make sure it’s being done correctly.
As you can see, I bought the “Complete Manual of Woodworking – A Detailed Guide to Design, Techniques and Tools For the Beginner and Expert.” I’m currently reading page 15 with only just under 300 to go.
The book I purchased is good. It’s actually better than I imagined and is just what I was looking for. It talks about how and where certain types of trees grow and about each type’s characteristics:
It also discusses the major species of softwoods and hardwood and their characteristics:
The book covers so much. From the hand tools you’ll need to the power tools that’ll make your life easier and so much more fun. And it talks about design and what types of creations you can bring to life:
It’s exciting and I think it’s something that I can and will consider a hobby, a craft and a way of making a few bucks all the while. That is, if I can manage to take my time and measure twice and cut once.
I’ve given a good amount of thought to how I’d like to go about this whole thing. After (or during) reading the book, I’m going to begin collecting woodworking tools. I’ll look for used hand tools and new power tools. Small things to start, like the woodworking clamps Laura and I shuffled through last week while shopping in Madison. Apparently, Campbell’s Hardware has a nice selection of tools I never saw before. All sorts of stuff. Tape measures, t-squares, clamps, vices, etc…I’ll get small items here and there, so I don’t notice the expense. I’ll also find good sources of wood. And once I have enough to complete a specific project, I’ll make what I want and keep on collecting so I can move on to bigger and better things. What I don’t want to do is to go on a binge. I don’t want to buy things I don’t need and I certainly don’t want to rush through anything. I think my biggest fear is that I’ll over indulge for a few weeks and then get bored with the whole thing. A month and a half later, I’ll be stuck looking for the next best hobby to keep myself busy into my elder years. I’ve fallen for that trick before – unfortunately, it’s part of being a male. Get an idea, go bonkers and then sit there wondering what in the hell just happened. Now that I’ve reached a certain level of maturity, I think the goal is to enjoy, consider, build, collect, enjoy, think, create and then to finally enjoy.
Are you a beginner woodworker or someone who might be interested in joining the woodworking community? If so, I’ve got some great resources below. Please feel free to click the links – you might just learn something new.
Get Woodworking! – An excellent resource for new woodworkers. Tom lists tons of nice links for those of us you need to learn.
The Renaissance Woodworker – I haven’t even begun to go this this blog yet, but what I have seen so far looks very, very thorough. As of this post, I see 73 pages of woodworking tip, so I think I’ve got my hands full. definitely something to bookmark.
She Works Wood – What an interesting website! I have already browsed through a few posts and found the photography post and the post about wood twisting to be my favorites. Both of those posts hit home because the first one is basically what I do – take pictures and write posts about them and the second is something I just read about in the book I mentioned above. They discussed the types of wood and how it’s milled and what happens to it after it dried. Good stuff!