Long story short, I’m one of those folks who’s been “hit hard” by the recession. For the last few years, I haven’t been able to find work through the winters. But I’m not writing about that—it just sorta sets the scene. In my better moments, I can convince myself that I’m keeping up the Vermonter tradition of “making do,” but it can be stressful, and frustrating. One of the better ways that I’ve found to cope is to think of my time as a resource that I can “spend,” (a good example here is fixing something rather than buying a new one) and one of the best “returns on investment,” when it comes to spending time, is to learn something new. And not only can there be a payoff or a saving in learning something new, once you remind yourself that you’re not in school learning is usually pretty fun.
This winter, it’s something long overdue: learning to build, and to build well.
Pretty much all my life I’ve been around tools, done a bit of construction here, drywall there, made some picnic tables, a few shelves, even made a few antiques back in my auction days ;) (Take it from a former auction worker: never trust an auction worker. They’re like carnies, but worse.) I can cut a reasonably straight line–but not a perfectly straight one. And I really don’t know how to make what I can see in my head–not even something as simple as a cutting board.
I know, I know: most of you guys could make a cutting board while on the toilet, using only a utility knife, clamps improvised from toilet paper tubes, and a glue made from a combination of shampoo, Bon Ami, and toilet paper… what can I say?
So basic fine woodworking is the goal, novice-level rough carpentry is the starting point, there’s just about zero budget, and all I have to work with is a few old tools that I picked up back in my auction days, all of which are in disrepair. Today, it’s just too darn cold outside to even think about going out, coldest day of the year so far according to the radio. So I’m inside, taking stock–no pun intended.
It’s really nice to find a forum where beginners are encouraged, rather than mocked (a big problem, in my opinion, with a lot of online forums). This morning I’ve been reading about other amateur woodworkers taking their first steps, and it’s both cheered me up quite a bit, and given me a lot of good ideas. So in the spirit of giving back, I thought I’d write a bit about my experiences so far, paying attention to the few good ideas I’ve come up with, and to the many, many mistakes I’ve made. So as not to carry on and on, I’ve decided to make a series of it. Up Next: Setting Up Shop on a Shoestring. After that: my experiences with rehabbing a radial arm saw. Nothing to do today, other than make dinner–so I might just get around to both.