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Blog entry by Shawn posted 01-11-2007 09:42 PM 796 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My biggest regret…not taking highschool woodworking class seriously enough…my Jr High and Sr. High were both outfitted with GORGOUS tools, great wook selections, and amazing teachers who could have taught me so much…ode to the squandered time of my youth. A year and a half ago I bought a used table saw…it’s not very good…takes so long to set up square for a cut that I struggle with if I shoudn’t just buy a new one…then I remember I have a wife…cant make those decisions on my own anymore. ANyways I’ve started wood working again, built a coffee table, end table, and have a TV stand in the works. I’ve read more WOOD magazine I think in that time span then anything else. LEarning slowly, doing well I think…projects to be posted as soon as I get my camera working again…in the mean time great projects guys, it’s nice to see so many tips from the “Old Guard” for young guys like me. Thanks for stopping by to read this.

-- Cheers



11 comments so far

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

765 posts in 2925 days


#1 posted 01-11-2007 09:57 PM

Shawn,

Welcome to the lumberjocks! There are a few of us younger guys here, as well, but I think we can all learn from each other just as equally.

Quality tools certainly don’t guarantee quality end results, but boy it sure makes the road to getting there a lot easier. One way to get a better table saw might be to find a woodworker who is upgrading to a larger saw or higher quality saw, but has nothing wrong with the one they are currently using.

In addition to the on-line community, try making contacts in real life. Look for local woodworking guilds through the internet and the yellow pages and any local woodworking stores. You can sometimes find good deals at garage sales and estate sales and even on Craig’s List (but I’ve never really had much luck w/Craig’s List, personally)... Don’t turn your back on a machine because it is old, either – one of my best tool purchases was a 1954 Delta Drill Press. I bought it from the original owner who was hanging up his toolbelt for about $150, but that included all of his drill bits and a drill press vise, too.

Anyway… welcome!

-- Ethan, http://thekiltedwoodworker.com

View Shawn's profile

Shawn

225 posts in 2905 days


#2 posted 01-11-2007 10:28 PM

Thanks Ethan, that is some great advice…I have my eyes on a nice Delta Cabinate saw…but alas it’s only a dream…really what I need is a house with a garage so I can set up my place permanently.

-- Cheers

View frank's profile

frank

1492 posts in 2957 days


#3 posted 01-11-2007 10:58 PM

Hi Shawn;
—-good to see your blogging! Keep those blogs rolling and I’ll be stopping by often and if nothing else, well just to say hi!

One thing I learned some years back is, its not about having all the right and name brand tools as it is much more important to know how to ‘just do’ the right thing when the situation calls for it. I’ve sat at my kitchen table and completed some awesome works of furniture and then there’s always the stories of guys who build airframe fuselage and wing assemblies in there living rooms with hand tools.

Woodworking I think is about loving the wood and in the process I get to make wood art. Looking forward to those picture postings when you can and in the meantime just keep believing in yourself for the the great worker of wood that you are. By the way, along this woodworking way you will achieve those tools you figure out you need and want.

Have a very good day!!!
Frank

-- --frank, NH, http://rusticwoodart.tumblr.com/

View Don's profile

Don

2603 posts in 2928 days


#4 posted 01-11-2007 11:45 PM

Shawn, my advice is as follows.

Buy the best tools you can afford. I have wasted money on purchasing inferior tools that simply made the learning process more difficult, sometimes impossible.

Learn to use hand tools. A good plane – Stanley #5 is a reasonable place to begi. It will teach you a lot about the characteristics of wood. There is something almost ‘spiritual’ about handling wood and shaping it with hand tools. Lee Valley Tools has some great hand tools, and there is an outlet not far from where you live.

Take a few courses. This is a good way to learn, and also try out some tools before you buy them. It’s also a good way to get connected with woodies in your area. As Ethan suggested, there are many benefits to be gained by getting together with fellow woodworkers.

Avoid gimmicky tools. Most woodworkers have more gadgets that they are willing to admit. Those slick, ‘must-have’ devices that will short-cut the otherwise steep learning curve of traditional tools. The trouble is, they usually don’t deliver. I purchased a brand name Mortise and Tenon Jig that wood make a good boat anchor. At first I thought it was me just being my normal ham-fisted self, but later learned ($500 later) of a number of other woodworkers that had the same experience. You know the old adage – if it sounds too good to be true – it probably is.

Be patient. Expect it to take time to gain the skills you want. One of the things that has surprised me is that every new project gets a little easier and with each, I realize that I’m actually making progress. What had once been a challenge, was becoming easier to do.

Make prototypes when undertaking complex projects. This is something that I resisted for a long time, in spite of many people giving me this advice. It was only after ruining about $700 worth of Walnut that it dawned on me it would have been wiser to try out my design in more affordable material.

Ask questions. There are no dumb questions – just dumb answerers. (Note I did not say dumb answers.) You will find that most woodworkers are honored to be asked and willing to provide insights and advice. The woodworking community (LumberJocks) is no exception.

Finally, there are three essentials to becoming a proficient woodworker; PRACTICE – PRACTICE - PRACTICE!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!" http://www.dpb-photos.com/

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

1999 posts in 3157 days


#5 posted 01-12-2007 01:28 AM

welcome aboard Shawn. My dad was a woodshop teacher, so that class I took very seriously. He wasn’t my teacher as he taught in a different district. However, typing was the class that I did not take seriously. I mean, I wasn’t planning to be a secretary, why did I need to know how to type? I thought it would just be an easy “A”. It wasn’t, and it kept me from honors graduating. The final ironic nail in the proverbial coffin is that if I am not woodworking nowadays, I am typing. Ol’ Mrs. Lundsted got the last laugh on me!

glad you have joined up,
Mark

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan - www.decoustudio.com

View darryl's profile

darryl

1795 posts in 3078 days


#6 posted 01-12-2007 02:07 AM

sounds like we are riding in the same boat. I’m slowly building up my tool collection while building projects with what I’ve got. I’ll agree with Don that if you are going to buy a tool, do buy the best you can afford. the only regret I have right now is the low end table saw that I’ve got.

but then again I was sure if this was going to be a hobby that I would stick with and didn’t want to spend to much to simply test the waters. and now I’ve got the woodworking bug and I’ve got it BAD!

Welcome to the Lumberjocks. You will like it here. There are a great group of people here with many different talents, so I can’t imagine that you’ll have a question that someone can’t help answer.

View Obi's profile

Obi

2213 posts in 2988 days


#7 posted 01-12-2007 03:08 AM

Welcome aboard Shawn.
I got really blessed in January when a friend of mine wanted me to build his kitchen cabinets. I tried excuses … I don’t have the tools. He replied “I’ll buy you what you need to get started.” (God must really really like me). I looked for the best tools for the best price like it was my money I was spending. In so doing I’ve accumulated most of the sites needed to do a thourough investigation of what i could offord. Check out my website and just go looking at what is out there. I think you’ll be amazed at the tools you can get at a really affordable price.

And by-the-way, my current shop is the size of a single car garage. I have to roll a couple of the larger tools out of the way just to cut a board sometimes, but at least it’s a place to make the projects. So if you have to start small, it’s better than not starting at all.

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3078 days


#8 posted 01-12-2007 05:09 AM

That’s funny about the typing Mark.

The first (and only) semester I actually made honor roll was the semester I took typing (fall of my senior year in High School). Incidentally Typing was the one class that threatened to keep me off of the Honor Roll! You’d think Psychology or English would have done me in, but no. The one semester I didn’t have to take math (which would have done me in for sure) I had to put all my attention into typing of all subjects!

Points off for looking at your hands!

but alas, the skill has served me well through college (Where I stayed on the Deans List most semesters, and graduated with college honors, thank you very much), and now even moreso in my woodworking! Ha!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3078 days


#9 posted 01-12-2007 05:15 AM

Yes, to second what Obi said about starting small… I’m stuck working in my basement – old stone foundation – so I can’t put anything on the wall (as I’ll need to repoint the mortar every so often and I have to minimize the places spiders can live! I hate spiders.) The floor joists overhead are literally a hair over my head. I’ve scalped myself, and had a ballcap spontaneously pop off more than once!

Turning a board around is a tricky exercise (like a cross between jump rope, and not knocking everything over. No prob, everythings on wheels and I’m almost at the point where everything is up off the floor. So things can be rearranged as needed.

Lets consider ourselves lucky that we didn’t wait until retirement to discover our love of woodworking!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

View Shawn's profile

Shawn

225 posts in 2905 days


#10 posted 01-12-2007 09:33 AM

Very well put scott, Darryl I hear you man about the table saw…$10 for mine at a garage sale…it’s servicable, but only just

-- Cheers

View scottb's profile

scottb

3648 posts in 3078 days


#11 posted 01-12-2007 05:49 PM

Yeah, me too on the tablesaw front – $70 – great as a hobby tool, but i’m sure I’m giving it a workout beyond its means. Still servicable for know, but it’s already acting “weird” .

Fortunately my Shopsmith (from the 50s) is available, and my father in law has a descent tablesaw. But alas, when mine needs I new blade, I’ll be getting a new saw.

Not looking forward to lugging is down into the basement though… Did I mention the stairs seem to be staying up out of habit? And I have to do a “duck and turn” maneuver on the bottom step, lest I get a gooseegg on my forehead!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- http://blanchardcreative.etsy.com -- http://snbcreative.wordpress.com/

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