In Over My Head

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Blog entry by amateur posted 02-20-2011 10:38 PM 1376 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

During my first few months as an amateur woodworker, I was plagued by a severe case of “bitoffmorethanicanchew-itis”. Looking at the work of great masters and artists, reading articles in Fine Woodworking Magazine, and walking through exquisite furniture stores got me so excited. All I could think was, “I would love to make one of those!” Unfortunately, inspiration eclipsed my ability, talent, and equipment.

I recall walking into the local woodworking supply store one evening with my hat in my hands hoping that someone there could rescue me. After introducing myself to the men standing at the front counter,I began mumbling some sorry story about how I had started building a table, ran into a ridiculous compound angle, and was now afraid I had wasted a lot of time and material and had dug myself into a hole so deep there was no way out.

Ron looked over the counter at me and asked,”Do you know what we call people like you around here?”

“No sir.”

“We call ‘em woodworkers!” He laughed and said, “I’ve been doing this all of my life and I always overextend myself. It’s the agony that goes with the ecstasy.” The other guys were grinning and nodding.

The three men gathered around the sketches I had made and helped me to plot a solution to my dilemma, one that was within my grasp (though quite a stretch). My table turned out a little bit different, but still very mice.

Memo to self: Don’t be afraid to try something beyond you. If I dig myself in too deep, someone will usually throw me a rope if I call out for help. When no one is around, I always learn a ton from clawing and climbing my way out.

10 comments so far

View freidasdad's profile


144 posts in 2987 days

#1 posted 02-20-2011 10:54 PM

that is one of the great things about the woodworking community…here on LJ’s and elsewhere…..there will always be someone willing to give you a hand or an opinion…..sometimes even access to a tool you need but don’t own…a good friend of mine has helped me with his drum sander, a tool that isn’t in my budget right now….
and don’t forget….if you think you can or you think you can’t——you’re right…
welcome and good luck

-- My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am---author unknown

View chrisstef's profile


17386 posts in 3006 days

#2 posted 02-21-2011 01:50 AM

Its the only way to learn i tell myself. I like to attempt somethin new on each project to expand my abilities. Im still stuck on glue joints lol. Good luck and dont be afraid to ask questions around here there is always someone thats willing to help out.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3354 days

#3 posted 02-21-2011 01:50 AM

I am continually over reaching… I recently held a one day seminar [ my first ] and thought oh oh… and in your words…
I was suffering from “bitoffmorethanicanchew-itis” …
but at the end of the day I got through … everyone was happy … had a great time and I actually learned a few things too..I have learned much from others…
On the other hand I have had several woodworkers come over for some much needed advice and use of some of the tools they do not have as yet.
Woodworkers seem to want to help where ever and whom ever they can… just part of being a woodworker…
And there will come a time when you will be able to help someone else who is just learning…
Sorry for waffling on…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View amateur's profile


91 posts in 2657 days

#4 posted 02-21-2011 02:31 AM

Thanks for the encouragement. It goes a long way.

View daltxguy's profile


1373 posts in 3914 days

#5 posted 02-21-2011 02:37 AM

Not much has changed in woodworking ( or for woodworkers) for 1000’s of years. There’s always a way, always an answer and always someone who has waked before you to help.

Welcome to woodworking!

-- If you can't joint it, bead it!

View Howie's profile


2656 posts in 2923 days

#6 posted 02-21-2011 02:40 AM

It happens to all of us and it is part of the learning process. Where the real satisfaction comes in is when you finally produce a top notch piece and you look at it and can say with pride “I made this and it sure looks good”.
hint: not every project will turn out that way even if you do it for the next 50 years.

-- Life is good.

View blackcherry's profile


3338 posts in 3823 days

#7 posted 02-21-2011 02:51 AM

Welcome to the world of woodworking my friend. If your just starting out then you found a great place to hone your skills. So many talented woodworker eager to help with any question or procedures. I believe that if your starting a project it being done here many times . With plenty of blogs and forums to review you should have little problem getting started. Just take your time, never get in a hurry if that little alarm goes off in your head step back and rethink before proceeding. These tools we play with can achieve plenty of beautiful project, with that said they can also be very dangerous as well. Stay safe and welcome to LJ’s…BC

View Shawn K.'s profile

Shawn K.

56 posts in 2666 days

#8 posted 02-21-2011 03:06 AM

That is the wonderful thing about the woodworking community. Hobbies/obsessions like this always have those willing to help and mentor. In ham radio we called them ‘Elmers.’ Not sure what we call them in woodworking, but I think god-sends is a start.

-- -- Never entrust power to those who desire it.

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20488 posts in 3105 days

#9 posted 02-21-2011 04:32 AM

When you get stuck in a project, you stop, look at how you could make a work around with the tools you have and change the design a bit or ask a friend who had a machine you need and do that part of it in his/her shop.Sometimes, all you need to do is make a holding fixture to run it through you existing tools.
Now that you are an LJ, you have all of us to ask for help!!!!!!!!

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View jerrells's profile


918 posts in 2884 days

#10 posted 02-21-2011 10:52 PM

When you look at any project, almost without exception, it is not the first itme that that person made. Many trial and errors goes into most woodworkers lifes. The plan of action should be, 1. don’t give up, 2. loearn from every mis-stake, 3. read, learn, study your craft, 4. take classes if available, 4 and most of all – don’t give up. I am in the middle of this process and most likely in all four stages at once. Keeo cutting chips and we will see you great wook very soon. I look forward to it.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

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