How did you get started in woodworking?
posted on February 10, 2010 by Ralph Bagnall

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.

posted on February 10, 2010 by Ralph Bagnall
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11 thoughts on “How did you get started in woodworking?”

  • Russ

    I'm a pretty new convert. I've always wanted to pickup wood working but had only basic skills. I made a dog house once and that was a disaster. Then I came across the Wood Whisperer podcast and I was hooked. Soon I was watching anything and everything on wood working. Reading books and such. I'm still very much in the learning part of my woodworking journey. My 2 year old is curious about everything I do. I involve him where I can and I hope as he gets older we can share this hobby as a way to bond with one another.

  • Armchair DIY

    I started by stealing (borrowing) my grandfathers tools to build tree houses, and forts with every scrap of lumber I could get my hands on.
    One year for Christmas he made me my own workbench and everyone bought me basic hand tools.
    That was almost 30 years ago, and I still have not collected enough tool.
    I have been a professional carpenter and wood worker for over twenty years now.
    Get your kids involved young. They don't have to become professionals, but everyone should learn a little bit. That way they can do their own work or they will have more appreciation for the work that others do.

  • ray

    I became disabled in 2004. Enjoy reading about the joints and cuts needed before I pick up any tool to begin.

  • Danny K

    Best Summer School Class I ever had. :-)

  • Gregg

    I started woodworking at the age of 12. I am now 45 and have my own construction company. I enjoy finish carpentry the most but in order to pay the bills I build additions and home remodels. My great grandpa started woodworking in 1942. The family has been building ever since.

  • dave wesson

    I worked with my folks when I was younger. my career took me far from it in the US military. I found myself making things for different needs on bases I was stationed at. When I got out, I slowly started collecting tools. When I came back to Japan as a civilian I began building both projects as well as starting my own carpentry business. been 8 years strong over here in Osaka. Wes

  • Carl Denison

    I actually started in woodworking after collecting, buying and selling <a HREF="http://www.mycountrystuff.com" rel="nofollow">Amish furniture</A>. After so many years of dabbling in the commerce end of handmade furniture, I decided to take a shot at woodworking. It's still early on, but I'm enjoying it and making progress with every project

  • Allen

    I started as a freshman in high school and continued until I graduated 4yr.. One of my first major projects was a camel back cedar chest I made for my mom... I had to design it as part of my drafting class....

    After a long hiatus from woodworking... I took it up again right after my dad passed away, for some reason there was this urge to just start doing it again and have been doing it for the last 6 years....

  • Todd MacFarland

    I grew up around my dad who did woodworking as a hobby then made it a full time thing once he retired. I learned a lot just hanging around him in the basement woodworking shop. He taught me quit a bit on how to use a router and the basic tools growing up. I've picked it up and learned how to create my own DIY furniture which has saved us a lot of $.

  • Jim Gonzalez

    My father was a carpenter, so Ive always been around wood.

  • Don R

    My dad was a carpenter/cabinet maker with a shop in the basement of our house. I started out with him in the basement at a very early age. I was on the bandsaw at 4 years old. My mother came downstairs to do soome laundry and was not pleasently supprised. I started woodturning at around 8 years old with homemade tools that my dad made out of old files.

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