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.
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).
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
On 5 May 2005 08:09:21 -0700, email@example.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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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