Reading the recent Buzz Saw blog post by Barbara Howell got me thinking about how I got started as a woodworker. Having read Barbara’s book ”Splinters”, I knew that she got her start out of necessity, having to learn the craft to take over the family business as her husband fell ill. My start was a bit less dramatic.
My father always had a small workshop as I was growing up, but he was so busy supporting our family, that he rarely got the time he wished to spend in the shop. My brother and I were always getting into trouble, sneaking into the shop for our own ends. A large nail, pounded into the top of a pair of 2 x 4 cutoffs became ”walkie-talkies” for our neighborhood war games, or his wrenches and hammers were drafted to fix and modify our bikes. Invariably, we left tools out, frustrating our father quite a lot.
I took Shop in school, and sometimes worked on fences at nearby farms, but woodworking never held my attention for very long until I had my own family. My wife and I did not have a lot of money when we were younger, and we often wanted nicer things than we could afford. So I bought a few used tools and began making small gifts and things for the house.
As our second child was due, I built my first real furniture project, a hanging cradle. I took the basic dimensions from a magazine, and adapted the design to fit my capabilities. I learned about mortise and tenons and even knock down construction building that crib.
I enjoyed the time spent creating useful objects, and soon began my varied career working as a professional full time in a shop. Woodworking has since provided many rewards for me, not least of which has been a steady income.
I never tire of ”talking shop”, and would love to hear how you came to this rewarding profession or hobby. So don’t be shy, leave a comment below and tell us how you came to work in wood.