My 'Why I got started' Story

Page 1 of 2  
Well, I have some time on my hands here and I thought I'd see if this sounds familiar to anyone else:
I suck. I'm 32 and just getting into the woodworking thing. I've never really done any 'cabinetmaking' type woodworking before and have recently taking a strong interest in it. I've collected a few tools from the eBay, Japan WW and such, I've sharpened with both Scarey and waterstones, and I'm just beginning my workbench proper (of the Good, Fast, Cheap variety). I'm using hand tools. No power.
You see, I'm a programmer (or more appropriately, a code-monkey). But I'm an ISTP, which labels me as an artisan/tool user (see keirsey.com or google myers-briggs for an explanation). So even though coding is my 'tool' and software engineering my profession, it leaves much to be desired, IMO. The reason, I suspect, is b/c anything I craft in my profession is inevitably re-written, replaced, or made obsolete by new technolgy within 3 to 5 years. How depressing is that? The things I do, while commanding a good price per hour, have no lasting value.
So I've taken up woodworking, specifically building hand crafted furniture. At least that's my lofty goal. I have no illusions about my lack of ability. What's frustrating is the fact that unless you're willing to just drop everything and go enroll in a school or apprenticeship somewhere, you're pretty much left to your own devices to learn and improve. A long, slow, painful path.
I'm taking a couple of classes in the next few weeks, so maybe that will help alleviate this 'helpless' feeling I have. Maybe it's just my personality type which causes this impatience. I vaguely recall feeling this way when I started programming. Actually, I guess I did drop everything and enrolled in grad school to get a CS degree, so go figure.
I don't want to get too long-winded here, so let me ask this: Is anyone else in the same boat? Had a similar experience? Care to 'set me straight' with a bitch-slap? I'm just testing the waters of the group here to see if anyone else out there is 'like me'. No one wants to feel alone, right?
doug.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 27 Aug 2003 12:43:49 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@colorprocess.com (Doug) Crawled out of the shop and said. . .:

snip you are not alone. i know several "IT pros" who have turned to WWing as a hobby, i also know a few lawyers that have carpe lignum after hours also. ever since His Normness, His Royness, and His Davidness have come to power, WWing has been a rapidly growing hobby. there is one caveat to the growing popularity of our fine habbit^H^H^H^H^H obby about 50% of those who start this journey called woodworking actually stick it out past the first project. of the 50% who last that long, 50% are killed by their SWMBO, and never seen again due to tool purchases. (i am danger close to this percentile sometimes) i have made purchases of tools from this latter group, and witnessed first hand the tears and battle scars as he cowers in the corner as i handed his SWMBO a hand full of shekels to remove his still shinny BLURFL... its a sad thing to witness...
on the other hand, you may be one of the chosen 25%, and if so, welcome to the club of "buy and hide"
Traves
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Your not alone Doug. My story is not too far from yours. I too am a programmer also a electrical engineer. My job is boring. My work quickly becomes obsolete. There is no satisifaction. While at work, I look forward to getting home to my basement shop to make sawdust. I enjoy making furniture and turning vessels.
I have been into woodworking on and off since I was a kid when my father taught me how to drive a nail with a hammer. If I didn't have the woodworking, I would probably be sitting in a bar somewhere getting silly. Now I work hard, don't complain much and wait for retirement, or winning the lottery so I can do my woodworking full time.
Ms. Leslie Gossett

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yep. My official Code-Monkey ID is #19230932. I have about 95 hobbies. The wood working hobbie is a by product of my aquarium hobby (I've been building fish tank stands). Though I also have a "construction" hobby where I build creek crossing bridges, picnic tables, etc that aren't "fine furniture."
Sam

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@colorprocess.com (Doug) wrote in

Sounds VERY familiar... started "seriously" getting into woodworking about 1 1/2 years ago @ 26. I'd been interested since the childhood days of Grandpa showing us how to build things out in his converted barn, but never had (or took) the time/money to get into it. I'm also a programmer (ATM software development -- and no, unfortunately, I can't make 'em spit money out via a secret code, not if I want to stay gainfully employed :-), and needed something more fulfulling to do w/ my spare time than watching TV in the apt. Ended up renting a one-car garage, initially to put a freezer chest in, but I quickly convinced SWMBO to let me turn it into a workshop. I think the coffee table & endtables she'd been pining for & finally got hubby-custom-made convinced her to let it stay that way ;-)
As for the learning process -- for me, it's been reading and trial-by- error, plus a few stops at the Woodcraft store. Thankfully all dangerous errors have been eliminated by reading & common sense, but good ol' fashion stupidity still leaves plenty of room for "design alterations". Sometimes frustrating pace, perhaps, but I've seen steady improvement, and one day when I hit my midlife crisis I plan on quitting my software career & mauling wood for a living -- even SWMBO seems convinced of that ;-) Don't let it frustrate you, and after you've done the first few projects, you'll start to get a better feel for it, along with that burning hole in your pocket whenever you walk by a tool display. That, or you'll know it's not for you -- but enjoy it while it lasts either way.
-Richard
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

About a decade older - give or take.

I'm just the opposite. If it ain't destroying some natural resource somewhere, I'm not using it...

Ditto. 20+ years in the code. Don't get to do as much as I should, but I can still code - unlike many of my peers.

Ditto. ISTP too.

That's not what I find dismaying about our industry. What depresses me is that nothing has *fundamentally* changed in the 25 years I've been slinging code. Syntax - mainly. Sure my J2EE apps are more grandiose than my FORTRAN IV ones were, but fundamentally, it's all still "if-then-else". Hell, my loop counters are still "I" (albeit lowercase).
Dust off Grace Hopper, God-Rest-Her-Soul, hand her a Java book and she'd be up and on familiar ground in short order.

Me neither. I'm clearly now in the "More Tools Than Talent" category - the kissin' cousin to "More Money Than Brains" bucket.

It ain't about the destination for me. It's the journey I always enjoy.

Lower your expectations. ***ENJOY*** you're new hobby. Thank the Lord, you're able to afford your indulgence. Consider it like Golf or Guitar Playing - I'll never earn a living at it, so enjoy it! Marvel at each new experience, no matter how trivial, how apparently banal.
It's a road-trip. Relax, enjoy the scenery. Cut, learn, cut s'more.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
After you accumulate 4 - 6 inches of sawdust in your workshop, you will trulluy know if you are meant to be a woodbutcher....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Go for it Doug and welcome to the deep end !!
Rob (who spent yesterday afternoon looking at a small wooden cedar/mahogany row-boat one-man-shop that may be "available" soon)
http://www.robswoodworking.com

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@colorprocess.com (Doug) wrote in

I'm 11 years older, a lab-geek. Been doing some level of woodworking, off, and on for, oh, 15 years or so. Haven't kept track. I've really only had a legitimate "playroom" for about 6 years.
I still suck. A lot.
But it's a pleasant diversion from work, and sometimes useful things come out of "the little shop of horrors". No significant projects yet, just stuff for around the house. A new wooden framed window screen. A small picture frame. Stuff like that.
I, too, lean heavily to the hand tool thing, I discovered planes a couple of years ago, when refinishing a workbench. Fortunately SWMBO's very understanding.
My best advice: learn to enjoy the journey. It's the better part of getting there. And if you find you don't really like it after all ... recoup your your investment on ebay.
Regards, JT
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My two cents -
Am currently a techno-management consultant, after 30+ years in the IT industry. Still code, although no assembler anymore. Woodworking and photography have been my sanity for almost as long. My dad always said -- don't be afraid of it, do background research, think the process through more than once and take your time. For me that meant magazines, books, and a lot of time planning projects and rehearsing the construction process in my mind before the first sawdust flew. There is something very satisfying about the tangible nature of woodworking -- the sensual pleasures of a sharp plane on ancient pine, that feeling of satisfaction when it is all done. Enjoy! Don't beat yourself up over your lack of skill -- that is what practice is all about. Think of test pieces as stubs, done to verify the concept. And if it helps, do a technical post-mortem after every project -- what went well, what messed up, etc to facilitate learning from any mistakes (an endless supply, enough for everyone). Then apply this to the next project <and repeat>.
greg
--
Greg Latiak
snipped-for-privacy@tekstrat.com
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, I'd have to say by now that its obvious that you're not alone. But I thought I'd jump in too.
I've been a router (of the Cisco variety) and server jockey for many years now. As most of what I do at work goes absolutely unnoticed (unless of course I choose to wield the delete key unwisely) I looked for a hobby that would give me something tangible to see and appreciate. At first it was collecting vintage video games and pinball machines (and you think this hobby is expensive?!?!) but grew rapidly tired of the teenage mentality that went with a majority of the folks who shared the same interest. You think there are some flame wars here, you should check out the arcade newsgroups...although nothing will compare to the mailbox baseball thread...but I digress.
What rekindled my childhood interest in wood butchering actually began while I was doing my imitation of that pseudo-home improvement guy who does Sears commercials that I won't name here. SWMBO and I were putting down some hardwood flooring. Was pretty easy at first as we started in a fairly square room. My el-cheapo circular saw did most of the work just fine. But soon I realized that trying to rip a piece of hardwood flooring with a circular saw or make a corner cut was nearly impossible. First it was a jig saw, then came the table saw...all downhill from there. As one of the previous posters replied "more tools than talent"...I had to laugh out loud at that one!
After the floor was done I realized that I could do a lot with a table saw, given enough wood, glue and nails...and caulk...and spackle...you get the drift. Its just sorta taken off from there. But I'm definitely in the Normite crowd...if it doesn't weigh at least 200lbs and have a tail, I'm not interested (and boy I hope nobody takes that the wrong way!).
I'll have to agree with everyone else...for me, it's an escape. A period of time where I can push ABENDs and spoofed IP packets out of my head for a while and concentrate on something that I enjoy. Even if what comes out at the end of the day looks like the creation of a 8-year-old overly-sugared child building a bird house at Home Depot, I still had fun with it. I make mistakes, and more often than not, after I flush the expletive cache, I laugh at myself and continue on. I strive for perfection at work, as do many people, but at home in the comfort of my shop, I allow myself to screw up. And its often a lot more enjoyable that way :)
Rob
http://www.amateurtermite.com
(here's the old arcade website, if anyone's interested: http://www.arcadeobsession.com )
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My skills are limited also. I don't let that stop me from enjoying myself though. Nothing I'll ever make will be in a museum, but I enjoy what I do and my audience (wife) likes everything I've made for her. Otherw will looka nd say "wow, tha't fantastic", but I know whee the miter is not perfect, the joint could be a little tighter fit, etc.

The classes will help a lot. I've taken one so far and it made a difference. In my head, I know how to do a lot of things, but getting the hads to cooperate is not so easy.
I had an interest in trying woodworking for many years. I either never had the space, the time, the money or all the other things that seem more important at the time. Then while we were on vacation, my wife had a heart problem. She spent 5 days in a hospital and with CHF, there is never full recovery. Things like this change your life, or more precisely, your outlook on life.
A few years before this episode, she started to collect dolls. She bought some unfinished doll furniture and asked that I stain or paint it for her. It was pretty crappy stuff and I figured I can do better. And I finally did. For a few months, she was very limited in what she could do and even making lunch was a chore. I thought I'd try making a bench that she wanted. I bought a table saw, a few pine boards and I was on my way. The weather was still good and while I tinkered in the shop, she would sit in the sun and watch me, appreciating how each little step of the project went. I just appreciated the fact she was alive and could be near to watch. There was a lot of stress at the time, and my time in the shop was very relaxing.
Some months later she had a cardio-version (they stop the heart and re-start it) and that helped quite a bit, but life is different now. I still make whatever she wants and enjoy doing it for her. She still likes everything I make, warts and all so to speak. Making her happy makes me happy and it has worked that way for 37 years so far. And I can buy any damned tool I want! Ed snipped-for-privacy@snet.net http://pages.cthome.net/edhome
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Yep, similar story here.
I'm a scientist at a semiconductor company (mostly doing device physics). Woodworking gives me an outlet to do work with my hands, and I don't get that in my regular job. When I was a teenager and getting through college I worked various jobs including labor in construction, machine shops, etc. I love the feel of building something practical, seeing it come out of the wood and into a finished piece.
I suck bad too, but a lot less than I did 6-9 months ago. I've built about half a dozen projects including a couple of really nice rocking horses for nephews/nieces, a highchair for my daughter, and a small buffet for the house. I'm currently working on a cherry frame and panel bookcase for my SWMBO. I have many friends that are into woodworking and they give me advice, and I read a lot of books. I'm new enough that every time I do a project it is usually a big improvement over the last one -- the upside of sucking is that it is easy to improve!
My advice is to do the class if it is convenient, but otherwise just start your first projects with cheap wood (red oak is cheap here, a little over $2 a bf), and when you make a goof just chalk it up to learning. As long as you are careful with safety, it's just a few bucks on wood.
My daughter's highchair (my second project) had tapered and canted legs that were joined to a skirt using sliding dovetails -- it took me six legs to make that four-legged highchair.
Have fun!
snipped-for-privacy@colorprocess.com (Doug) wrote in message

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I see a lot of similar careers here!
When I was young (under 10) I always remembered my uncle in Oregon was a fantastic wood worker (of the artistic type) and his entire basement was full of large gray machinery. He passed away a long time ago but last I heard the equipment is all still there (and undoubtedly very rusty!). My other uncle in Minnesota is a great carpenter, I like to think a lot like Norm in that he is into construction of houses and cabins, but very skilled at the finish work. I was always a tinkerer and did stuff like take Dad's lawnmower apart for a "rebuild" while he was at work. He had a small assortment of hand tools and a small 8" bench type table saw (all of which I still have) Not the best for making quality stuff but it did make me more "inventive" in the ways of tool usage! As a teen I was into cars then got into electronics and went to school to come out as a EE, now doing real time programming for the last 20+ years. The car habit has faded and I just recently finished selling my first car (1970 Mach 1 Mustang) on Ebay piece by piece. With a "new" old house the WW bug has bitten again and I'm slowly building up the equipment and supplies to do some "real" work finishing up the interior of the house. Where I used to hoard tiny scraps of metal "just in case", I now hoard tiny scraps of wood.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@colorprocess.com (Doug) wrote in

I wonder what it is in our makeup that leads IT people to woodworking? I would be willing to bet that most, if not all of you also do your own home repair/remodeling and car maintenance. All of the IT people I've worked with also have the same leanings as I do towards DIY-type stuff. I'm a server/router/telecom engineer and can't imagine paying somebody to change my oil or put up some shelves, etc.
--
remove nospam to use email

Casey Stamper
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I don't know about you, but for me it boils down to the simple fact that we are likely born problem solvers. The same itch that drove me to strive for the most elegant of algorithms in my coding days is scratched by the logical processes of woodworking. From planning/designing, to generating shop drawings and cutlists, to the laying out of joinery, to solving the myriad of problems that always arise during the actual cutting, fitting and finishing.
In some respects, it's akin to a curse ...
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 8/24/03
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

For me it was always the act of creation that led me. Both web design and programming are, when you boil it down, acts of creation. Woodworking is the same act, just through a different method.
Some IT jobs doing boil down to creation-from-scratch, but they almost always boil down to some act of construction. I think woodworking is the same thing in a different medium.
Back in high school we all had to take some kind of apptitude test that told us what kind of career we were best suited for. Since this was before the big IT explosion (and I think that stupid test must have been written before the personal computer explosion, too...) the job I actually ended up with wasn't even on the list of possibilities. It said I would be a mechanic. But in retrospect (hindsight being 20/20 and all) I can appreciate that it was the same forces that drove me to web/programming that could have taken me down the path of a mechanic, and that have recently driven me to woodworking.
david
--
It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have
learned English -- up to 50 words used in correct context -- no human being
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

My memory is not as good as it used to be but I seem to recall that those same kinds of tests predicted a life of working on cars for me as well. I actually started out pumping gas and gravitated towards the mechanic job (those were the days of Sohio and other full-service "gas stations.") I was a mechanic (and a damn good one) for several years until the lean 80s. I ended up spending 12 years in the Army (still in the USAR) and was considered the "expert" in all things computer/adp-related in each of my positions.
--
remove nospam to use email

Casey Stamper
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Thu, 28 Aug 2003 08:41:02 -0500, Casey Stamper

I believe it's the need to balance head work with hand work which leads many of us into it. Mind and body, work and play, seriousity and fun all have to be balanced or we go crazy. Or is that "stay crazy"?
- - Let Exxon send their own troops - ------------------------------------------------------- http://diversify.com Comprehensive Website Programming
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
the answer is probably that the only sad lot of woodworkers that posts and reads usenet groups is probably a sorry bunch of keyboard tappers!
irax - also a code monkey...

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Site Timeline

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.