Are there many of you out there that didn't start your woodworking hobby
until you retired? How long did it take you to really become effective at
it once you started?
Is woodworking a hobby that a healthy retiree can safely pursue into the
twilight years, say into your late 80's or 90's? Any woodworkers out there
in their 80's and 90's? If there are some of you out there, what if any
limitations are placed on your hobby as a result of your advanced age?
Well, I'm not in my 80's, but I've found that the most frustrating
experience is my loss of close up vision as I age. I've been
woodworking for over 40 years. I'm not sure what you mean by
"effective." It doesn't really matter how long it takes to complete a
project when it is a hobby. It's really never too late to start
This is where near-sightedness becomes an advantage. :)
My understanding of it is that the myopic eye is arranged such that
focusing on the close stuff is "enhanced" and loss of near vision is
less or non-existent as the eyes lose their flexibility. Don't get that
er (looking forward to his old-age, but it's still too far to focus on!)
I hear that. At first I was beginning to worry... then I found out
that it was normal. The little muscles that make our eyes focus become
a little less "stretchy". The result is difficulty focusing close up.
The cure, as many I'm sure are aware, are the magnifying reader
glasses you see at the store. They are a godsend when doing ANYTHING
close up. I've found however that with these glasses, more is not
better. Use the weakest power that will enable you to comfortably read
small print in average light. Some store displays even have a chart
with recommended magnification for your age group.
I was fortunate to find a store in my area (Marc's in NE Ohio) that
sells decent quality glasses for 88 cents each and I have them
littered around the house. At first I was a little self-concious about
them, but I soon came to the realization that squinting like dope and
holding things at arms length and STILL not being able to see it was
no fun at all. So now I just slip on the nearest pair of old man
reading glasses and that's that.
Joe.. next time you can't quite read something, try reaching for a light instead
of a magnifier... helps a lot!
I've found that as I get older, my eye exams stay about the same (glasses for
distance, non for reading) but my night vision sucks and I need more light for
When I'm working on something inside the computer, I find that a focused beam of
light on the print or whatever helps much more that magnification.. YMWV
Please remove splinters before emailing
I'm not retired but started at about 55. Plan to keep going as long as I'm
"Effective" is a relative term.
I've made many pieces that I'm proud of, but they pale in comparison to
others right from the start. So what? I like what I'm doing and satisfied
with the results. I'm always trying to go to a higher level and I'm
gaining on most every project. If you don't think you are up to making a
full set of cabinets for the kitchen, make a bird feeder to start. Useful,
fun, not stressful from a quality POV. The important thing is to get
started. I started with doll furniture for my wife and granddaughters. Not
real fancy, but far better than the stuff in the stores. You can see some
on my web page.
If you think you are interested, just get going. Take a class. I attended
one at Woodcrafts a couple of years ago and at my age, I was about the
Have fun. get going.
I started when I was 49. After about five years, I'm pretty sure I'll
want to keep doing this after I retire. I agree with Phish about the
eyes part. I need LOTS of light and the workbench keeps getting
shorter. I remember reading something by Frank Klausz, saying he was
building himself a taller workbench so he could see the work better.
Other than that, the big trick will be finding the kind of stuff you
like to do. I'm not sure yet if I like building small stuff like boxes
and puzzles or larger stuff like tables and nightstands. SWMBO wants a
set of matched dressers/laundry hamper/TV stand in the bedroom. She
loves the nightstand with the door that opens on the side she wanted
with the shelf right where she wanted and the drawer at exactly the
right height. Making stuff to her specs and having her satisfied with
the results is a reward I don't get from anything else. It's not
perfect but she's always happy with it.
Frank Klaus now has a workbench he can raise and lower but I think its more
for the benefit of his back than his eyes. I've found after I hit the big
60 mark, standing on a concrete floor bending over my workbench all day
really gets to my back. Yes I have anti-fatigue mats and I'm working on how
to raise my bench without loosing stability.
Sam Maloof is in his 90s. Some older people like Sam Maloof look and
act 20 years younger than they are. Others seem to fall apart in their
60s. I have good genes for longevity assuming I take care of myself,
which I have so far. It's weird. I'm 35 and can already feel the
affects of getting older. I need more light to see. I have more aches
and pains. My hearing is deteriorating (right on schedule). My vision
started getting worse again. On the up side, I seem to need a lot less
sleep than before. I'd say whether or not you're able to woodwork into
your 80s and 90s depends greatly on the person. I think the main goal
should be to keep moving. Exercise for strength and range of motion is
critical at those ages.
I think it all depends on particular person and his specific health. I'm 70,
had to give up one hobby several years ago due to arthritis in hands of
building fishing rods (rod wrapping). I also like to build radio electronic
projects but eye sight makes this difficult when trying to solder in a
cramped circuit board.
I do still enjoy an occasional session of making saw dust with my wood
working gear which I have done since I was about 12 years old and my parents
gave me a craftsman 36 inch jig saw for Christmas.
It's not the age, it's the specific health of the person. I have a brother
in-law that rode dirt bikes until he was 74 then continued riding his
Harley, making trips from Okla. to both the east and west coasts until he
76. He would still be going but cancer stopped him. RM~
On 6 Feb 2006 09:07:02 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
===============I have been retired since 1998 but I sure am not in my 80's yet...and
I started woodworking as a hobby in my 20's...
Only brand new hobby I picked up since retiring is Astronomy .. and it
is much harder to persue then woodworking..(its always cloudy..and
damn it gets cold in the winter sitting on your ass, eye glued to a
350 dollar eyepiece with the wind blowing at 1 AM trying to focus
good enough with frozen fingers to see one of the moons of Saturn...
Bad eyes however can be corrected ..just switch to different
Woodworking is a snap compared to that...walk out to the shop turn on
the furnace .stay nice an warm... relax and go to it.. when the wife
calls you to lunch you can wrap up what you are doing in under an hour
and walk up to the house and get yelled at (nothing really changes
does it) .
Seriously the only limitations That I have encoundered are minor..
I am noticing I have more trouble handeling rough cut lumber, need a
little bit more light, and have to take more frequent rest periods or
else my work gets sloppy... AND I get real grouchy when I have to
replenish my lumber rack,.,,just not used to blowing the entire SS
check on lumber....ouch...!
I too am retired and started to get active in the woodworking hobby. My
only complaint with the hobby is that it took me 30 years to collect all my
woodworking equipment, and now I can't afford to buy the wood to make
I get a lot of wood for "free." Fallen trees, pallet wood, old
furniture people do not want. Home improvement centers have higher
cost per board-foot than most hardwood dealers. Granted, making a
bed from cherry is going to cost a lot more than making a bedside
table. If I were making a bed I'd select a less-in-demand wood such
as walnut, maple or oak rather than cherry. Wood prices jump around
depending on local supplies so take advantage of the what is currently
plentiful. Also to keep costs down, think about more smaller projects
and fewer larger projects.
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