The Five Things You Must Know About Being a Beginner Woodworker

1 You are not perfect and never will be.

Neither is anyone else who works with wood, despite what they say about themselves or others. You just get better at it, and the only way to do that is to practice, screw up, and learn from your mistakes. You will screw up and have to start over. But remember, it’s only wood.

2 Tools don’t make the woodworker.

Practice and patience do. You may be made to feel inferior because you don’t have a $3,000 cabinet saw, but your benchtop or contractors saw can rip a board just fine. Oh, and guess what? Those skilled craftsmen centuries ago didn’t have electric-driven gizmos to create. And on that note, you don’t have to be a master with hand tools either.

3 The size of your shop does not define you.

Got half a garage, or half of a half of a garage (yeah, that’s a quarter)? Then you can get started. Move out into your driveway or backyard when the weather permits. You don’t need a monster of a shop to make amazing things.

4 Don’t underestimate the importance of safety.

Take the time to learn about your tools and what not to do. You have no excuse, especially with blogs like mine and the multitude of books and magazines available. Be sure to look at more than one source as well to learn different techniques.

5 Ask ten woodworkers how to do something and you’ll get ten different answers, and they’re all right.

Methods for skinning a cat have nothing on ways to build a bench. Explore different joinery methods and work with those that you are able to complete the best. Don’t overcomplicate something when it doesn’t need to be. There’s a reason tools have improved, glue has gotten better, fasteners stronger, and new joinery methods have been introduced. A lot of the time the focus in woodworking is on finding shortcuts to get the same or better results. Don’t let joinery snobs influence you.

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. thanks for letting me hold my head up

  2. Thank you Chris, emails like this are sometimes more helpful than how to tips.

  3. Chris,
    Great advise.

  4. Short, simple and to the point! Great advice to live by.

  5. I have to disagree mildly with 2 things: First is table saw. I agree that you don’t need a monster cabinet saw, but a pretty quick path to frustration is using a $99 Ryobi. Second is shop size. Again I agree that you don’t need 2000 sq ft, but working out of a small shop can also be frustrating. I very nearly quit woodworking last winter because I did not have room in my garage to keep a project I was working on. Still, good post. Don’t take my minor disagreements too seriously.

  6. Nice. Excellent perspective.

  7. Thanks for that insight. I’m just starting outta age 55. Looking forward to the learning curve

  8. I have just gotton in touch with my inner woodworker. The one I have found is my grandfathers tools from the 1930’s do just as good as a job as my new tools from the box store.

  9. Thanks, Sir. I needed that. 🙂 Cheers from the P.I.!


  10. I agree with you. it gets easier with time. The thing I have to keep telling myself to slow down.

    • Scott,
      Very well put.

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