I think the 3 biggest factors that keep people out of the woodworking craft are time, space, and money. I am not talking about professionals, but those of us that want to do it for a hobby. These have held me back for a number of years, but I am hoping to address all of these and start getting into the craft.
By far, the biggest factor for me over the past years have been time. There were just too many other thing taking priority. First there was work. I do not make a living with tools – actually far from it. I work in IT, which over the years has been very demanding. However, I am at the point in my career where I find I can step away and not spend the crazy hours that I once did. Next there was family. Still very important to me, but my daughter is reaching the age where she would rather spend time with her friends than with her Dad. That does free up some of my time. Finally there were all of the other projects – the honey do list type projects. Those don’t go away, however, we did buy a newer house about a year ago, and after this past year, I have tackled most of the items that needed to be done.
I feel that time is not only the biggest factor for me, but a lot of other people, that get into woodworking, but then the tools just collect dust. This is a craft that you need to invest the time in. There are many gifted people and this site is filled with fantastic work, but most of these projects have come from patience, practice, and refining the skills which is not done overnight, but by hours and hours of time.
It can take a lot of space to set up even a basic workshop. Sure you can try to get creative, as I have over the years, but nothing beats an area dedicated to your shop. Over the years I have had 3 homes. The first one was a townhouse, where I had a simple 3 1/2 ft workbench that was basically in a closet under the steps. Very few projects where done here, it was mostly a place to put my tools. The next house was a raised ranch/bi-level. We had a two car garage, but I am one of those that have the garage primary for the cars. I did have a work bench that I had set up, and another work bench with a small bench top table saw, drill press, and miter saw. It was OK, and I did a lot of the handy man projects here, but it still wasn’t the same as a “shop”. In our house now, I have a dedicated area for my shop in the basement. We did finish the basement, so I only have a portion of it. I kind of wish I had set aside more area, but it is by far the best space I have had.
Woodworking as a hobby is expensive. I have been able to build up a collection of basic tools over the years, but this year, trying to set myself up for being able to work on better projects, I have had to purchase a number of items. I first upgraded my table saw from an older small bench top one to a contractor saw. Then I upgraded my miter saw. This wasn’t necessary, but I had been wanting a sliding miter for sometime and I was building a new miter station, so it just seemed like the right time. Then it was onto Craig’s List where I found a new in-box bandsaw, and another deal for a jointer and a planer. When you start adding all of this up, it costs a lot more than a nice set of golf clubs and several rounds of golf. And this doesn’t even count all of the small tools and accessories – let alone the cost of the actual wood. I know you don’t need all of these items to get going but they are items that I have been wanting. I find myself lucky that I can now afford these things that I couldn’t in the past – but I still had to shop on a fixed budget and did make some sacrifices.
So now that I have addressed the time, space, and money – what will I accomplish? Stay tune as I will post my projects as I work on them.
-- Jay in Pennsylvania, http://hobby4charity.org/