I still have all my fingers - notes written in sawdust

hey gang,
I've been lurking about the wreck for just over a year now and I'd like to tell you all about my woodworking experiences this past year. Actually, I hesitate to call myself a woodworker..yet.. Anyway...
In a year's time I've learned: 1) Sawdust is no longer a novelty. 2) Each new project requires the purchase of, at least, one new power tool. 3) My primary task this Spring is to build a shed so I can get rid of all those useless gardening things that do not belong in, what is now, my shop. 4) The agony over tool purchases doesn't get any easier over time. (should I get a benchtop or floor model) 5) I NEVER have enough clamps regardless how many I buy. 6) Craftsman power tools suck. 7) Anything other than pine, oak or birch still intimidates me. 8) I am extremely embarrassed by my very early questions posted on the wreck. 9) Planning out a project is nine tenths the battle. 10) Each completed project continues to show woodworking improvements. (I even reached a personal plateau this year. That being having someone say with, what I believe was, awe in thier voice, "You made that?" Yes, I'm getting better - boo-freakin-yah!) 11) Chicks dig guys with large tools.
I'm sure I've left out some key observations as I just wrote this on the fly but that's essentially my experiences as of late. How does that compare with everyone else's early experiences. Can you guys even remember your first few years as woodworkers? What should I be looking forward to? Tell me what it was like when you guys first started out, I'd really like to know.
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JR9er wrote:

You sound like a woodworker to me. :)

You'll get over that pretty quick because of #3.

Good luck. I finally got all the crap out of my shop this past spring myself, but now the new shed is overflowing with stuff, and the shop is none too big even with all the gardening crap removed.
Now I have my sights set on building a new shop.
(I used to fancy myself a gardener, but woodworking is more rewarding. Gardening is *never* finished. Especially weeding. So I planted perennials out the wazoo, and everything is established, and I have "meadow features" throughout the yard. Good enough.)

Should I buy what I can afford now, or wait six months? A year? Two years? Until I win the lottery?

Amazingly, I'm getting to the point where I can't really say that anymore. I usually have enough clamps now that I've turned my workbench into one honking big one. I can still use more, but the need is less urgent.
That simulated joiner's bench is damn handy!

I won't go quite that far, since I still have a number of them.

Get some walnut. Prepare for a religious experience.

Feh. Join the club.

Planning? Getting SWMBO's signature on the requisition order is 9/10 of the battle. Planning is easy. :)

Me too. :) "You... MADE that? THAT?" It's pretty cool, isn't it? :)

I guess. Tell that to SWMBO. She doesn't seem to like playing with my large tool nearly as much as she used to. :(

Yeah, I'm in'em. I've been at it for maybe five or six years, and I can still relate intimately to everything you just said. I'm reaching a point where I'm starting to turn out stuff that I'm really proud of, but every project is so much better than the last one that I'm almost ashamed to keep the old stuff around.

Once upon a time, there was a cheap Wal-Mart back saw/miter box combo, a kitchen, a jigsaw, a hunk of plywood, some quarter round and a bunch of 1x2s...
I found my notes from that first real project not too long ago. I wasn't dating things back then, so I have only a general idea when it was. '97 maybe. Changed jobs in '97, so it was before that.
I guess I started in '96 or so, and I've been at it off an on for going on eight years now. Wow. That project was the first big thing I ever did from paper to reality. A huge plant stand 7' wide and 5' tall or thereabouts. It came out within 1/4" of the target dimension and used I think 285 screws.
Mostly off though. I kept going through a depression spiral where I'd try to do something, be unhappy with it, and then get discouraged for a long time. I had some people over to the shop about this time last year, and I couldn't even walk in there for all the junk. All my tools were covered with random storage stuff.
Then this spring I got some free wood.
Some of the free wood got turned into a series of increasingly insane contraptions that ultimately lead to my building a trebuchet. That kick started me.
Tom Watson did some flowery post about a clean shop, and that kick started me some more. I cleaned house, organized, set up work areas that were a pleasure to use instead of tripping over things constantly.
From the rest of the wood sprang a bunch of jigs.
From the jigs sprang a dramatic improvement in what I could do. Reasonably accurate crosscuts, 99.9% perfect miters, finger joints.
Then I bought a hand plane, then a second one, and learned how to surface my own lumber, which opened up the door to the wonderful world of walnut and lesser species. No more recycled pallets unless I just *want* to use them. No more exhorbitantly expensive S4S stuff from the BORGs unless I'm lazy, have money to burn, and *want* to make something out of red oak or poplar.
I haven't kept at it this intently for this long ever in my history. I think it stuck this time, and I've finally found the one hobby I want to pour my resources into. (Well, I'm not selling off my model railroading stuff. *That* actually is what opened the door to woodworking, but model railroading is a hobby for a man who has kids who have moved out, so he can build a really exciting layout in their rooms... I have a few years to go yet on that, and a 4x8 layout isn't worth having IMHO.)
Thinking back, I'd have to say what I have now that I didn't have eight years ago, or at any of the other flirtations along the way, is the magic juice that makes the whole wood wrecking experience yield gratifying results:
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < snipped-for-privacy@users.sourceforge.net>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
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