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Blog entry by JamesRyan posted 04-07-2008 05:13 PM 1422 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A Novice’s Odyssey:

Hello All
Thank you much for the warm welcome you sent. As a way of introduction I though I would give you my Top Ten.

10 – My name is James Ryan and I have been “working with wood” (not quite a woodworker yet!) for less than a year.

9 – My wife thinks I am insane and believes I will cut my fingers off – I am truly hoping she is wrong.

8 – I have the sum total of 3 tools of which 2 share the same battery – Sad I know.

7 – To date I have completed 1 project (more to come latter)

6 – In the past couple of months I have been reading tons of books and magazines. The biggest lesson I learnt, there is always, a simpler solution. Hence the reason I joined the forum. I need help. Simple things like “What is a climb cut”, “How the heck do you install draw slides”, “How do you heat the garage so you don’t freeze to death” are all on my list of problems.

5 – I hate (yes I do say this passionately) Home Depot. The shop where the only sale assistant you can find has no idea where wood is kept. Note – I have since learnt that Home Depot has no wood to speak of so I have since forgiven him. Remind my one day to tell you the story of how I went in to buy 1 gallon of sky blue paint and was given 38 gallons of pink instead – The events while hysterically funny are also sadly true.

4 – I was given a #41/2 Lie-Nielsen hand plane for Christmas but I am too afraid to use it. See #3.

3 I buy a lot of chisels. Cheap ones but I do buy a bunch. Why you may ask – simple, I have no idea how to sharpen. Allow me to embellish Water stones, Oil stones, Dry grind, Glass, Paper, Concave, Convex, Jigs – any idea how difficult it is for a beginner to figure out how to sharpen a tool and what to buy. If anybody would like to know, stop by and see my chisel collection – Smile.

2 – I can’t wait to come home and build something. I would love to build a piece of fine furniture, Turn a bowl, Build a jewelry box …… Etc

1 – I love the smell of freshly sawn wood.

11 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


5317 posts in 3849 days

#1 posted 04-07-2008 05:24 PM

Welcome Sir. Anyone with your sense of humor will make it fine here. Probably the best thing to do is pick a project and ask around about how to do it. There is a lot of help available, just ask away.


-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View HallTree's profile


5664 posts in 3734 days

#2 posted 04-07-2008 05:29 PM

Welcome James Ryan. You have found the right place for woodworking. A great group of people willing to help. ‘Reading tons of books and magazines’ on woodworking is a good way to start. Of course learning and reading about the safe way to use hand and power tools is most important. Looking forward to see your projects and comments. Have fun and work safe in the shop.

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3789 days

#3 posted 04-07-2008 05:34 PM

Hi James,

If you love wood you are definately in the right place. The best way to learn how to use a tool is to put it into use.

As far as sharpening goes I struggled years with sharpening my chisels and plane irons. I used guides, stones, my grinder and sandpaper and never was able to get a truly sharp edge on my tools. (In fact I butchered some of my chisels trying to get an edge on them) I bought a Worksharp 3000 and out of the box produced a mirror finish on my chisels with which I could shave. For more info do a Worksharp search in the top right hand side of this page. A number of LJs have posted reviews about this system.

Hope this helps and welcome again.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 3955 days

#4 posted 04-07-2008 06:12 PM

Quite a list you got there. I’m sure you can find all the help you need here.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Damian Penney's profile

Damian Penney

1141 posts in 3958 days

#5 posted 04-07-2008 06:41 PM

Seconding the Worksharp 3000, super easy, super sharp.

-- I am always doing that which I can not do, in order that I may learn how to do it. - Pablo Picasso

View Paul D's profile

Paul D

2131 posts in 3715 days

#6 posted 04-07-2008 07:06 PM

James, welcome and glad to see another real newbie here. Keep reading and keep asking lots of questions and try to have as much fun with it as possible.

-- Paul D - Lawrenceville, Georgia

View Thuan's profile


203 posts in 3785 days

#7 posted 04-07-2008 08:02 PM

Do we have the same wife? Good to have you on board, love that sense of humor.

-- Thuan

View againstthegrain's profile


117 posts in 3719 days

#8 posted 04-08-2008 01:36 AM


Welcome my new friend. I was once in your shoes. Reading is great. When I first started out, I desire to read and learn was unquenchable. Then, I came to a point, that I had all sorts of head knowledge but it wasn’t in the hands. I was very afraid to start cutting something. I used to say that the same term that could be used for my expertise in computers, cold also be used for my lack of expertise in woodworking. I was a “hacker”. I sat around and hacked away at expensive wood. Hence, lesson one, start on inexpensive wood. Poplars and pines. Then you don’t feel so bad, or your wallet doesn’t, when they hit the burn bin:)

Being a tool junkie, yes I admit it. I know, no one else is . . . I went out one day, many years ago, and bought all sorts of sharpening stones and jigs. They then sat on my shelf and collected dust for another year. One day, I needed a sharp chisel for something, so out came the stones and the jigs, AND the instructions, and away I went. A few hours latter I was frustrated. The stones went back into the draw, and I gave up. Fast forward a few months, I am at my local woodcraft store. There are lots of people gathered around this guy. As I pushed my way through to see what was happening, I’m not very tall, he was demonstrating the Tormek sharpening system. The gentlemen had a duffle bag of very bad ugly chisels. He selected one, and passed it around the group that was watching. He then sharpened it, explaining the simple, dummy proof process. Once done, just a few minutes, he passed the razor sharp chisel around for everyone to very. When it got to me, I tried shaving with it (my arm) and it worked. Well, the cash went down and the rest is history. I love the Tormek. I have since learned to use the stones, but I love the Tormek for chisels, planes, and turning tools. Food for thought . . . and a need for another tool :)

Welcome again!! Blessings as you continue on this awesome journey.

-- Anchul - Warrensburg, MO: As a Pastor, I am just trying to get closer to Jesus. He was a woodworker too.

View David Hagan's profile

David Hagan

11 posts in 3673 days

#9 posted 04-08-2008 01:56 AM

Why do so many wives doubt our ability to have our hands near very sharp, fast moving blades and retain all of our appendages? Besides, its not like we can’t have them sewn back on.

As for the scent of freshly sawn wood, who can resist that? Reminds me of a great site I once found. . It was a joke site with a great video describing manly scented candles such as Sawdust, Meat, Grillin’ Out, and Chuck Norris Sweat. Let’s face it. When the guys come over, do you really want the house smelling like a flower garden.

Welcome to the site.


View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14171 posts in 3950 days

#10 posted 04-08-2008 02:02 AM

good luck !

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 3690 days

#11 posted 04-08-2008 02:14 AM


As long as your #1 reason for being a woodworker is your #1 reason: “I love the smell of freshly sawn wood,” you can learn anything. Welcome!

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

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