I suggest that the aspiring woodworker learn all the skills he or she can acquire, from traditional skills such as carving, wood turning, and traditional joinery, to modern skills such as CAD and CNC. The more versatile you are, the more valuable you can be to more people. Never stop trying to learn new things, and always keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth closed. Never oversell your skills to a prospective employer. If you don’t know how to do something, admit it, and get to work learning how to do it. Don’t be afraid to take on something you’ve never done. A skilled custom woodworker draws on experience and skill to accomplish things he’s never done before. Custom work often requires you to reinvent the wheel on a daily basis. Always remember that no matter how much experience you have, you never know everything, and there’s always something else to learn. Along with the actual skills involved with the trade, you also need to educate yourself about wood. You need to be able to recognize a myriad of wood species and be familiar with their individual characteristics and uses.
Since money and space are usually in high demand, you want your purchases to make sense and work for you as far into the future as possible. To do this, the focus should be how to expand your capabilities rather than getting one project done quickly. With this in mind, and based on what I've learned over the past three decades, here's how I would proceed if I were starting over now.
I learned the basics from J. Arthur Johnson when I was in 7th grade shop class . . . and I’ve been self-taught ever since. I do read Fine Woodworking (I have EVERY issue) and some books that my wife and friends have given me; and of COURSE Marc’s fine blog and a few other on-line sources but I don’t feel like I have really learned how to do anything until I’ve tried and failed and then re- and re-re-tried until I’ve made it work MY way.
We have a small dining room area in our farmhouse that is separate from the living room and kitchen. The area is much smaller in space than our last house. I was little confused that our typical rectangular farmhouse table was not going to cut it. So, I walked in I came to know that we needed to build a round dining table. So, I searched for a plan design idea and build a very own round farmhouse dining table. I was an amazing DIY plan, I just love it!
I built my first bookcase in middle school. A multitiered assemblage of wooden planks laid across stacks of bricks, it was reminiscent of pieces from the early Flintstone Period--and I was proud to have made it myself. Since that masterpiece, I've built 50 or 60 more, most while working as a cabinetmaker for an interior design firm, where I learned the carpentry skills, design guidelines and construction techniques used in the bookcase shown here. Basically consisting of three plywood boxes fitted with a hardwood face frame, this piece looks built-in because it spans from wall to wall, and is trimmed with molding at the ceiling and floor. I used 3/4-in. birch plywood for the cases, 4/4 sustainably harvested African mahogany for the face frames and 3/4-in. mahogany plywood for the sides surrounding the doorway. With moderate skills and some patience, it wouldn't be hard to make this project fit any space.
And with many homes falling into the “contemporary but traditional’ style that has taken over the decade, these wine racks are in high demand and can fetch a pretty penny for even a more simplistic design.Feel free to get creative with the design for some more bargaining power. And for a design to hold a small number of bottles, you can expect up to $50 per unit sold.
The table saw is the center of most workshops; it is the largest and most imposing tool in the shop. While it is an important tool, one could claim that table saw need not be on this list. However, it is an important tool and shows that creating a shop is not a matter of just collecting hand tools. There are jobs that hand tools cannot do as well as tools like the table saw, especially when there is such a wide variety of blades which can be set up and changed for so many different applications. Table saws create straight and consistent cuts. When setting up a table saw for a cut, one needs to set the depth of the blade and adjust the fence according to the width desired.
I’ve got a three other bits of advice: First of all, get really, really good at woodworking. There are lots of people who enjoy it as a hobby. To sell your services, you’ve got to be able to do far superior work or do it much faster than everyone else (preferably both). Failure to do so means competing against hundreds of amateurs who make things for the pleasure of it, then sell their work at cost to fund the hobby. Second, develop great people skills. Most professionals do custom work and few focus on selling a product. Most of them sell a service, and a big part of that is getting customers to enjoy the experience of collaborating with a woodworker to create their dream products. If your customers don’t like you, they can usually save time and money by getting something from an online catalog. People who buy handcrafted items from woodworkers are often attracted to the idea of supporting artisans. The face behind the work is important to them. Last, develop an iron-clad work ethic. In this field you’re directly trading time for money, and that time is very limited. It’s important to be productive, so try to get 40 hours of actual productivity (as in making things) every week. Accounting, phone conversations and social media marketing may be important, but none of them provide an actual paycheck, so they don’t count as productive work.