My Journey So Far

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Blog entry by Eric posted 01-16-2008 12:07 PM 860 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

[Taken from my Adventures in Woodworking blog, August 2007]

A few years ago, I came to the realization that I didn’t have any significant hobbies or leisure that did not involve the computer. This is not good. So one day, I brainstormed with my wife as to what hobby I should take up, and ended up choosing woodworking. I think the main reason was that I did not consider myself a handyman, and wanted to be able to build or fix things with my own two hands.

I began my hobby while still living in SE Asia. At first it was quite difficult. My first project was, as it should be, a workbench. I didn’t know anything about how to flatten a bench top, and in the end had to glue a piece of plywood over my crooked boards (and even then, a corner of the plywood would never stay down). I installed a regular vise on the right side of the bench, but after realizing that it was hard to work that way (I’m a righty), I moved it over to the left side.

After my bench was complete, I wasn’t very productive. As a result, my bench turned into just another flat surface in a storage room, with all sorts of stuff getting piled on it. I did clear it off a couple of times to make a picture frame and a bed for my son (made from one sheet of plywood and a few 2×4s).

My main frustration was that even though I had the book Woodworking for Dummies, I still felt like I didn’t know the basics of how to work wood. I bought a wooden plane from the local hardware store, but didn’t realize that plane irons (especially one as cheap as this one was) do not usually come that sharp. I just thought I had a crappy plane – but it was probably just my own lack of knowledge. Ditto that with a spokeshave I bought.

We returned to the States in the summer of 2006, and I got more interested in working with hand tools. I took the “Hand Tool Basics and Sharpening” course at the Dallas Woodcraft store, and that really built my confidence. I started following hand tool websites, joined the Old Tools mailing list, and started to consider myself a Galoot. I then attended a one-day workshop at Homestead Heritage that touched on sharpening before moving on to joinery (mortise and tenon, dado and dovetail) – all with hand tools. I was sold.

My last few months in the States have found me scouring the web (eBay, mostly) for the best deals on the remaining hand tools I needed to feel I could do pretty much everything. In fact, when I return to SE Asia, I think I’m going to go ahead and sell that electric router I bought a few years ago.

So that’s my story so far. I plan on using this blog to talk about my struggles and victories as I progress in my woodworking journey.

-- Eric at

4 comments so far

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3825 days

#1 posted 01-16-2008 12:57 PM

I can relate to the frustration of dull tools when you don’t know any better. Mine was a kids tool set that cut like a spoon…and that’s maybe being to kind!

I recall seeing a black and white pic of that bench on Chris Schwarz’s blog. Now I’m trying to figure out how to build an English bench with my son’s legos ;)

Welcome to LumberJocks. I think you’ll like it here!

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View Karson's profile (online now)


35126 posts in 4430 days

#2 posted 01-17-2008 02:10 AM

Nice looking workbench. Welcome. We do welcome people who don’t want to make noise. But some of need the “Tim Allen’ Approach. The biggest baddest V8 powered tools.

But, we all have fun. Welcome.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3904 days

#3 posted 01-17-2008 11:14 AM

I think most of us have suffered some of the same frustrations. Keep positive and move forward. Welcome to LJ.

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4190 days

#4 posted 01-17-2008 02:47 PM

an exciting journey! And to think it stared out with “what hobby should I try”.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

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