1. Go to the public library and read the woodworking books. All of
them. Read first to get you exposed to the tools and different
methods of doing things.
2. Best/only way to learn a hands on craft such as woodworking is to
do it. With some basic knowledge and ideas gained from reading the
books. Think of something you want to do, then read up on the
specific task you want to do.
3. Decide if you have the tools to do the job. Buy, borrow the right
tools to do the job. Or figure out an alternative way to do the job
with the tools you have. May have to reread up on the topic.
4. Do the job. Only way to learn a craft such as woodworking is by
I've taken several classes. A few hands on where I used the tools and
a few where I sat in the audience and watched a slide show or the
woodworker do the task in front of the group. Hands on were the
best. But even then you have to immediately follow up at home with
the same task to really learn the task or you forget it too quickly
after the teacher shows you how. Watching others do it is enjoyable,
but without hands on experience or an immediate job to apply the
technique to, there really isn't any learning.
Learn woodworking by doing. After you learn some stuff on your own
then maybe take a hands on class for something specific. Maybe
reinforce what you learned on your own or to correct something you are
not doing right now. But the class will really just build on what you
already know. It won't get you started.
I like to write on the margins and highlight passages in books so I'll
probably end of buying most books. Well, if I did get library books, I
guess I could photocopy the interesting pages and then write on those.
Oh...I do that. I tend to research topics before doing them and one of
the reasons I decided to subscribe to this newsgroup.
Is woodworking an expensive hobby in order to have a "complete" set of
tools needed? What would be a good budget? $1000, $2000, $5000, other?
Yes. I imagine so. I just wanted some direction first from a teacher so
that I don't make a mistake I can't fix (like losing a finger).
Sort of like learning a little first so that you can then ask an expert
more insightful questions.
Read the books first to see if they are worth buying and
highlighting. Most books repeat the same things. There are only so
many ways to make mortises and tenons or rip boards or crosscut
boards. After reading 3-4 books you will likely get tired of reading
anymore. But press on anyway.
I don't even want to suggest a budget. There is sort of a Catch 22
involved. The more skill you have, the fewer tools, the cheaper tools
you need. Your skill compensates. Less skill, the more tools you
need to insure your lines are cut straight. And the more you use the
tools, the more skill you acquire so you don't really need as many
I think a table saw is very important. It will allow you to complete
projects easier and faster than figuring out ways to do the job
without a table saw. And completing projects is important when
starting out because it gives you a sense of accomplishment. Table
saws range from $100 to thousands and thousands and thousands of
dollars. Hard to say which is right for you.
Read the various books that are aimed at the person starting in
woodworking for a hobby. They suggest tools. Usually OK but
affordable tools. You can look them up online to see what the budget
suggested by the books is.
If you use common sense when working with tools, and proper safety
gear, you usually have to work at injuring yourself. Not saying you
can't easily cut your fingers off. But if you think about what you
are doing, and use safety devices where appropriate, the chances are
less. The books cover the basics of using tools correctly to minimize
I caught the bug only a year or so ago. Up until then I'd only ever
done the usual basic fix-ups/repairs around the house kind of thing.
I started with some small projects and worked my way up until I made
built-in bookcases for my study. In addition to several key
woodworking books as well as this newsgroup, I found the woodworking
magazines to be extremely helpful - WOOD, Popular Woodworking, Fine
Woodworking, Shop Notes, etc. Get a subscription to one, then buy the
others in between as needed. I have a stack over a foot thick
As others mentioned, the various TV woodworking shows (Woodworks, New
Yankee Workshop) and your local library are good resources. Besides
WW books, mine has several excellent tapes and DVDs on using the
various power tools, finishing, etc. I'll second the opinion that
this is really a solitary hobby - I doubt most experienced woodworkers
would feel comfortable having someone hang around watching asking
questions, and by the same token I think I'd find it awfully boring to
be the one stuck sitting and just watching someone else.
My grandfather was a cabinet maker, but he died soon after I was born;
I have his toolbox and a few of his old tools. My dad is not at all a
handyman, so I never had the benefit of early mentoring. I can't
really say what got me interested - it just sort of hit me one day. I
think I like the fact that you are forced to take your time. It's a
very relaxing hobby in that sense - the one thing you get to do that
you don't have to rush through (well, maybe one of two things!)
my bad - should've stuck with the YMMV rule instead of projecting
others opinions. So far, for me at least, shop time is a nice break
for some solitude, and that way nobody sees the pondering, head-
scratching, and mistakes. Certainly if the OP finds someone
experienced who would enjoy showing him the ropes, that would be very
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