Just kidding. Today is a great time to get into woodworking. There’s so much great information available about how to do it… and so many super-cool new tools.
I went into a Rockler store today. I was floored by all the shiny cool stuff they had for sale.
I haven’t been in a hobby-oriented woodworking store in several years. I mostly mail-order supplies or deal with cabinet-industry suppliers that run their own trucks. Thus I am not often exposed, in person, to the seduction of new tools… and believe me, I was googley-eyed at some of the stuff I saw.
A lot of this new stuff by all these innovative tool companies is seriously cool. The thing is, you can do some very, very fine work without most of it. All the fancy router table stuff is really unnecessary. When you look at a finished furniture piece nobody will know if you cut the mouldings on a router table made from a formica sink cutout or a $999!!!(I kid you not) cast-iron “Bench Dog” ROUTER TABLE! .
Point is, especially for those of you who want to make money doing this stuff, that you don’t need the fancy new tools to do fine, satisfying and profitable work. Some of the new tools buy upgrades in accuracy or convenience, but they are often tiny, incremental upgrades and none of these fancy accessories will compensate for a lack of clear planning and an understanding of the essentials of craftsmanship.
Without boasting, let me tell you that it is very possible for me and many other people here to do very accomplished woodworking with less than $500 worth of tools. All that stuff from Lie-Nielson and Jessem and all those great companies is great fun to own and fiddle with and show off, but owning it will only marginally increase your effectiveness as a craftsperson.
The best investment in your growth in woodworking is spending time reading books and fooling around with hand tools. From bench work you grow in your understanding of the why and ultimately the how of machine stuff should work. When you get this understanding you will be amazed at what you can make with the tools you already own.