Novice woodworker advice tools, book, getting started, running a business


I would like to try making some things in wood. Has anyone any suggestions what I should do (a good book to read, where to buy tools 2nd hand ).
If I like the woodworking I may then decide to try to be self employed making wooden items and selling them. Anyone with advice on this I would be grateful.
sincerely ajs
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Start with something functional, for example a workbench or shop table. As for secondhand tools, I would never go there. Why trust a tool that someone could have beat up, broken, or "modded". All my tools are neither the most expensive nor the least expensive tools, yet with a little knowledge, you can get them at bargain rates. For example, take chisels. If you go to Home Depot, chances you will find a chisel being sold under the name of Buck Bros. It will probably retail around 10 dollars. If you go to Walmart, you will find a chisel under the name of Master Mechanic. It will retail for around five dollars. The secret: Buck Bros. and Master Mechanic chisels are the same chisels. They are both manufactured at the same plant, on the same assembly line. As is Great Neck, another line of tools by the same company. You get the idea. Look in catalogs such as Woodcraft Supply or Garret Wade, then find the same tool in Home Depot or buy it from Harbor Freight (an import line of tools from Taiwan). Good Luck
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I spent several years as QC tech in a General Foods plant where 7 blends of coffee were blended/roasted/ground/packed and NONE were the same!
wrote:

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Your a little light on the details, AJS. I'd spend some time at the library and get some basic tools.
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woodworkers. Jim
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There is a long way before being able to live on woodworking by yourself. A lot of tools to buy, a lot of experience to gain and more important again, marketing yourself and find clients who will pay you on a regular basis.
It's not impossible but if you start from scratch, good luck and don't quit your day job!
Ben
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Hi AJS,
First buy 10 thousand dollars worth of tools that you nothing about. Then get a free pamphet from the borg on fine woodworking. then sell your things at retails stores around the world. Ok maybe I was a little snide, first get 25 thousand dollars worth of tools.............................................................................................
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You are getting the proverbial cart before the horse. The first thing you need to do is ENGAGE in the hobby of woodworking for a while and see how adept you are at and then think about the ramifications of taking a fun endeavor and turning into a business, which is a whole 'nother critter. How do you know you'll be good enough at woodworking to compete with others who've been at it much longer than yourself?
You need tools, tools, tools, practice, practice, practice, planning, space, time, time, and MORE time to devote to your new hobby. In a year or two come back and tell us what you think of woodworking, IF you are still doing it then.
Dave
snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

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Now if you aren't tied to being satisfied with the trash they sell in stores, you can buy a random surplus two-speed motor with two shafts and have both: a slow speed with fine, good wheel for tool grinding, as well as a fast speed with trashy cheap wheel for fabrication, rough grinding, etc. Also: think about whether all you want to do is grinding. My grinder has a wheel on one side and a wire brush on the other and I use the wire brush more than the grinder.
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How did this end up in this topic? My computer must be truly going crazy!
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All of this is great advice. In short... -Years as a hobby. Lots of little tricks that come with experience. -Good tools, (Jointer,biscuit jointer,tablesaw,planer,miter saw to startwith) that are not bottom end. I'm about $5000 into my tools, and figure I'm about 1/2 way there. -Lots of money for wood. Working with scraps only lasts so long, and you will make mistakes and have to throw away some stuff. you will also have to have lots of room and spend time making all kinds of jigs.
If you develope a love of it, there is no reward like it! Good luck!
--
wesf66

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On 5 May 2005 08:09:21 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

If you go to just about any large bookstore, they usually have a couple of books outlining woodworking basics on the clearance rack. While they may not be the best books about the subject on the market, they usually include descriptions of the various types of woods, joinery, tools and finishes, and generally have a plan or two to get you started.
As far as tools go, get yourself the basics at first- and you may as well just get them new. You can get all sorts of tools very cheap, and then upgrade them as your skills and projects improve. You can make plenty of stuff with a hand saw and sanding block if you're patient enough.

My advice- don't get ahead of yourself. Lots of guys that are amazingly skilled can't make a living at it, and you're asking about the basics. I'm not saying you won't get there, but if I were you I'd just forget about self-employment for now and try it out as a hobby first. If you really want to be self-employed and work with wood, try being a carpenter- there's a lot more money in it, and you can get right to work.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

First of all, you don't state if you plan to do mostly handtool work, or if you want to have a shop stocked with power tools. If the former, get Aldren Watson's _Handtools : Their Ways and Workings_, and read it from cover to cover ... several times. Then get Mike Dunbar's _Restoring, Tuning and Using Classic Woodworking Tools_, and read that from cover to cover ... several times.
Once you've read those books, you'll have a bit better idea of what to expect. I'd also look for a local woodworking club, and if there's a local Woodcraft, check to see what sorts of classes they offer.

My advice on this is if you don't even know if you'll like woodworking, you certainly shouldn't be making plans to be self-employed at woodworking. Even if you *do* like woodworking, doing it as a hobby is a far-cry from making a living at it.
FWIW, I consider myself a pretty decent woodworker, and I know that I can turn out a product that's at least as good as much of what I see for sale. However, my longterm goal for retirement is to *hope* that I can sell enough stuff to support my woodworking hobby. (I.e., to be able to buy wood and an occasional tool.) Anything more is wishful thinking, IMHO.
Chuck Vance
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Welcome to woodworking!

I started woodworking a few years ago. After reviewing a bunch of books at Barnes & Noble, I picked up a book called "The Complete Manual of Woodworking" by Albert Jackson, David Day, and Simon Jennings (Knopf Press) (ISBN 0-679-76611-1) for $25. It has been a wonderful book to teach the basics -- characteristics of various species of woods, terminology, hand tools, power tools, finishes, jigs, etc. It's a wonderful starting point and very well illustrated, so you know exactly what they mean when they describe different techniques and tools. Great book -- well worth the $25!
As for tools, you should start by buying a few more affordable basics -- tools that are essential, but not very expensive. I would probably get a good combination square, a handsaw, a sanding block, and a good measuring tape. Once you get into it a bit more, if you decide it's something you want to keep doing, you can start investing in a few power tools. Some of the most useful basic power tools I can think of are a cordless drill, a miter saw, belt sander, table saw, jigsaw, and router. I would consider these the more essential power tools. As your woodworking skill progresses, you will develop 'needs' for bigger and better tools. Avoid spending a lot of money on a mediocre tool if you think you're going to get into woodworking -- you get what you pay for in most cases.

I agree with other posters... try it as a hobby first. If you're enjoying it as a hobby and have developed enough skill to sell a few pieces, you may consider it a career down the road. I wouldn't want to discourage you from trying it -- that's how artisans are formed! Artisans have such a passion for something and get so good at it that despite the warnings and risk of failure, they charge ahead towards their dreams. However, after weighing the pro's and con's of woodworking for a profession, most people opt to keep it as a hobby. You can still sell your work and make a few bucks off of it, but you'll find that it will be hard to make a living off of it.
A few years ago, I considered giving up my office job and starting a career in woodworking. So, I started paying attention to how long it actually took me to build a project start-to-finish, and how much it truely cost me (raw material, electricity, gas, glue, nails, screws, wear and tear on my tools, etc.). It really took a lot longer that I imagined to build each project (planning, selecting materials, preping materials, building, and finishing). Then I started thinking about how much I would actually be able to sell my work for, keeping in mind that I don't exactly have a showroom and store to present my work. It turns out that I'd have to spend quite a bit of money just to be able to sell my work. In the end, woodworking was not a very lucrative business.
The other side is that while woodworking for a hobby is pure enjoyment, if you try to do it for a living, it can be very different. I like to take my time building a piece of furniture or whatever I'm working on. If I did it for a living, I would probably want to focus more on being able to mass-produce my projects. All of a sudden, it's not enjoyment so much, it's just physical labor.
I've been woodworking as a hobby for about five or six years (yes, I'm a rookie!). I have just recently started building projects for others (family, friends, etc.). I will probably start selling some of my work in the near future, but more just to sponsor my woodworking hobby and to satisfy my ego -- that my work is good enough to sell. =-)
So for now, GO! Get that book and a few tools -- woodworking is a wonderful journey! There's an incredible sense of satisfaction and pride when you finish a project and say "wow! I did that!!!" And when every project is a bit better than the last.
X_HOBBES
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Very important to know that. I like my job, I like my hobby. I don't want my hobby to be my job.
My wife turned her hobby into a lucrative business. She eventually sold the business and had no hobby left. It was just not fun any more.
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By the way... If you don't have a room you can claim as a woodshop yet, get one (a garage, basement, etc.). Woodworking will consume a reasonably sized space. My woodshop is just about as small as you can have and still be functional. I have a one-car garage (222 sq-ft.). I've learned to maximize space, but there are still many limitations, such as how do you rip a 10-foot board in an 18-foot long shop? (You need room for in-feed and out-feed)
Also, once you have your shop, a very nice starter project is to build yourself an assembly table. My assembly table has become one of my shop's greatest assets. It consists of a plywood cart with retractable wheels and a sturdy trued top, and then it has a sheet of MDF screwed to the top of it. The sheet of MDF is about 6" longer than the base all around so I can clamp things down. Once the MDF top gets banged up pretty bad, I can simply replace just the top. It is very important that the top is perfectly straight in every direction (true). My table also has a shelf underneath with a beveled lip, so I can quickly toss tools down there if I need to clear the top.
You'll find that initially, most of your time will go towards making jigs and aids to help you in your shop. Design your jigs and aids properly so that they can be used repeatedly on numerous projects.
Once you get into the swing of things and develop your rythm, woodworking is a wonderful hobby.
Enjoy! X_HOBBES
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