Can You Be Too Old to Start Learning WoodWorking?

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Forum topic by Pete posted 06-26-2014 08:44 PM 3011 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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21 posts in 1455 days

06-26-2014 08:44 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question lathe

Hello all, I’m Noel or “Gnomey” as some call me because I love my gardening. Always had a passion for working with wood and using my hands to build and create things.

I would love to be fully skilled in woodworking and have the knowledge and experience under my belt that some do giving them a fighting chance out of making a career out of it.

But at what age is too old to start learning the trade properly? I’ve seen some BSc’s in woodwork engineering cost around £4k every year and can last for 4 years. If I was a millionaire or back in college again that would be no object, so guess the only other route is to learn the trade in other ways.

For someone like me that would probably involve looking for some apprentice work in a woodworking shop or factory to learning diagrams, plans and blueprints etc. Learning the actual different wood skill types like carving, milling, turning, joining etc. Plus I would need my own tools and progress with them throughout time until I was a self certified carpenter or wood worker of some kind.

But that could take a few years to achieve a status like that. To reach a point where I could build you a quality chest of drawers or table and chairs in a matter of days by myself.

But something else tells me, it’s not just about that when it comes to working with wood. Anyone at any age, race or stature can take it up and create something from it whether novel or practical. What do you think?

Give a man a wooden bowl and he’ll eat from it. Give him the tools to chop, saw, drill, chisel, sand and lathe that wood and he’ll create you a full 16 piece dinner set.

15 replies so far

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3766 days

#1 posted 06-26-2014 08:57 PM

Too old is about ability to move and do the activities you want.

There are workarounds for everything… I would say if you are 90 and cannot stand… then a cabinet shop may be out of reach.

Depends what you want to do, and your own motivation and drive. Don’t know about UK requirements for trade certification in woodwork. Here in the States there is none… whereas you have to do apprenticeship/journeyman in Electrical or Plumbing… no such certification exists in woodworking.

There are college majors in furniture design, and cabinetry as programs, but those are not requirements to get hired to be a woodworker.

Throw in innate skill and a little luck… and off you go!

Short answer to your question is NO, you cannot be too old to learn.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View TheFridge's profile (online now)


9607 posts in 1510 days

#2 posted 06-26-2014 09:04 PM

Never too old to learn. The internet has helped out a lot with the wide variety of information.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2511 days

#3 posted 06-26-2014 09:59 PM

Pete, you can’t be too old to learn.

I have a heart problem that will probably kill me before I reach the level of even a journeyman woodworker, but that doesn’t stop my incessant thirst for knowledge or learning or my constant quest to gain the skills I need.

I have worked with wood on and off all my life but only in the past five years have I gotten serious about doing fine wood working.

I don’t know how old you are, but, I am only 59 and probably won’t see 65. I WILL NOT let that stop me from doing what I love to do.

The enjoyment isn’t just in having and using the skills, but in the journey while learning them.

Good luck to you!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2714 days

#4 posted 06-27-2014 01:04 AM

I was almost 60 when I first got interested in woodworking and I totally agree with Dallas, it’s all about enjoying the journey.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Pete's profile


21 posts in 1455 days

#5 posted 06-30-2014 02:49 PM

Thanks for the feedback guys. I started a site where I have been putting some cool wood project on it that I would like to make myself

I do have a bunch of old tools, some old, some new to work with wood with. And I have a huge garage with a workspace area that I can use so hopefully I can clear it out, clean it up and start making some things.

I can hardly wait. :)

View Dabcan's profile


255 posts in 2695 days

#6 posted 06-30-2014 06:05 PM

My Uncle started taking woodworking lessons at 70, he’s always wanted to but has always had to much on his plate. He’s now 75 and still takes lessons from a local woodworker. It’s been great seeing him progress his skills.

-- @craftcollectif ,,

View Michigander's profile


220 posts in 2443 days

#7 posted 07-06-2014 03:03 PM

Pete, you are way overthinking this. Go buy some good magazines like Fine Woodworking and hang out here for awhile and soak in some free knowledge. Then decide what “system” you want to use
1. all hand tools
2. all power tools
3 hybrid of 1 and 2
ask here for advice on what brand of tools to buy and go get some and make a project.
I started in woodworking at 60 and my second project was a cherry TV console. It’s not perfect but most people are amazed how well it turned out; only a cabinetmaker can spot my mistakes. I recently redesigned and built our kitchen island cabinets and am now finishing a solid cherry 3 drawer side table.
The more you get into it the more you want to learn and your projects will help tell you what education you need.
Remember The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, the second best day is today!
Good Luck,

View MT_Stringer's profile


3172 posts in 3255 days

#8 posted 07-06-2014 04:06 PM

Choose simple projects that don’t require a lot of tools. It never fails that each new project will require a skill you haven’t learned before or a tool you don’t have. So, that is an opportunity to practice a new skill or buy a new (or used) tool to help build you project.

Practice, practice, practice. Search the internet for projects. Just about anything you can dream up has been built by someone already. You Tube has a wealth of info you can watch from your easy chair. Some videos are really good, some not so much.

Anna White seems to have a lot of projects that most folks can build.

Good luck

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3267 days

#9 posted 07-06-2014 07:44 PM

You are never too old to learn, but it depends on the individual. Some can learn quickly and easily; others don’t learn very well. Going into it as a business takes a lot more effort than just skill alone. Doing woodworking for a living is a lot different than doing it for personal enjoyment.I don’t know how old you are. I will be 80 in a few more months and I am definitely slowing down even though I am still in good health. I spend more time on the computer designing and analyzing new projects that I may or may not get around to building. If I complete one project a year, I’m lucky. Cost is also a factor for me. That is why I spend a lot of time on the computer, trying to get the cost down as much as possible. I don’t want to discourage you. Only you know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Best of luck.

The real question here, is; you may be too old for an apprenticeship program from the master’s perspective. He may not want to “teach” someone who has a finite number of years to be productive. My guess would be; if you are over 35, an apprenticeship is not in the cards.

View Loren's profile


10476 posts in 3672 days

#10 posted 07-06-2014 08:08 PM

There may be some question of whether you can make yourself
fit and nimble enough to do cabinetmaking and installation
professionally. There’s lifting, twisting, and crawling around involved.

If you want to make chairs however, that’s something you
can teach yourself and it does not require a lot of machinery.

A chest of drawers in solid wood is a hassle to build without
milling machinery just because of the amount of dimensioning
to be done.

Timber framing is an option. If you can do the work, you might
find a job as an apprentice and then as an itinerant assistant
timber framer. You would absolutely have to travel.

If you become skilled at carving you may be able to secure
a position at a high end shop specializing in reproductions
and restorations.

I dunno… pick a specialized area of woodworking that really
turns you on and figure that out. I build guitars and
furniture but there is really not much crossover skill between
the two. You’d have to study each as a separate craft.

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 1444 days

#11 posted 07-07-2014 03:01 AM

I’m 49, & a disabled OTR truckdriver of 35 yrs. I wasn’t raised with any carpentry or wood experience of any kind. My Grandfather had OTR trucks, My Father had OTR trucks, that’s what I learned. About 10 years ago, my Sawbones told me if I didn’t figure out a way to quit eatin’, sleepin, & thinkin’ trucks & diesel smoke, they were going to put me in an early grave. Now, this brings me to an interesting point to this story, Sir. When you are NEVER home, there is no time for a hobby. I was on the road 10 days to 4 weeks at a time. So, my loving Mrs. sat me down, gave me the “you ain’t goin’ to an early grave sermon.” She proceeded to tell me I needed to get myself a hobby of some kind. Yea Right!!!!!!!! I went to my neighbor, had a talk with him. Talked to my Mom. Of course she agreed with my wife! So, I bought myself a used scroll saw, a used radial arm saw, a router & a few bits, & a used circular saw. I proceeded to find myself a “hobby.” I found different patterns that looked like they might be suitable for a beginner. I read up on the scroll saw, blades, etc. yep!!! HOURS of FRUSTRATION!!!!! But, I have it down to a science now! There is not much I can’t do with a scroll saw, except intarsia! But I just kept going. I would tie into different projects that would require more knowledge than I had, more tools than I had, what have ya, but bein’ on the road, & havin’ to take an O’bama break after 14 hrs on duty, I had 10 hours to get online & read up, study, look at different tools, ideas, etc., & catch an 8 hour nap. By the time I got home the next time, I was ready to go at again! The knowledge I have gained from these fellow woodworkers is unlimited, my friend!!! My Father had a saying he used often. Especially if i screwed up! “too soon old, too late smart!” You are NEVER to old to learn new things! Ya just gotta figure out what tickles your fancy, so to speak. So, now, being disabled from health issues, a truck accident, & back surgery, I’m kinda limited physically to what I can handle weight wise. But, I will never give up woodworking! It has become a habit to me, if you will. I try & learn something new all the time. I ask questions. I build toy boxes, shelves, picture frames, all kinds of scroll work, whatever intrigues me that day! Just stay with it, figure out where your interests are, & pursue it. Before long, like they said, you’ll be needin more new, or used tools, and MORE knowledge!!!! Good luck, & be safe!!

-- Sawdust703

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3267 days

#12 posted 07-07-2014 03:22 PM

Sawdus703, “I’m 49, & a disabled OTR truckdriver of 35 yrs.” You were OTR at age 14?

View Pete's profile


21 posts in 1455 days

#13 posted 07-07-2014 08:55 PM

Very inspiring I have to say. I’ve been looking into getting a job at a wood mill but it does involve a lot of travelling and I have several applications to submit but I feel they would inevitably looking for someone younger in years but I think I could make up for that in passion and dedication.

I have successfully cleared out my garage and have created a very cosy workspace. Not sure the spiders appreciated it but am sure they will move back in soon.

I am currently trying to source an old wine barrel to repurpose. My partner has insisted that if I am to make something then I have to make something practical we can both use.

Here is the picture of something that I want to do with it.


Where I will put the finished project once completed as well.

Thanks for all the replies guys. Love to hear from you and have your support. :)

View Texcaster's profile


1285 posts in 1698 days

#14 posted 07-07-2014 10:40 PM

I started sawing away on the fiddle at 53. I’m 66 now and I’m starting to get it. I did tuition for two years, big help! Not an uncommon story.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2985 days

#15 posted 07-08-2014 11:36 PM

One grandfather said you are never too old to learn. My other grandfather went to Ohio State for 6 weeks for certification as a milk tester for a local dairy. He was 70 when he started. Old isn’t an issue unless you have serious health problems, which can occur at any age. Pete, go for it.

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