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.
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.
The space behind a door is a storage spot that’s often overlooked. Build a set of shallow shelves and mount it to the wall behind your laundry room door. The materials are inexpensive. Measure the distance between the door hinge and the wall and subtract an inch. This is the maximum depth of the shelves. We used 1x4s for the sides, top and shelves. Screw the sides to the top. Then screw three 1×2 hanging strips to the sides: one top and bottom and one centered. Nail metal shelf standards to the sides. Complete the shelves by nailing a 1×2 trim piece to the sides and top. The 1×2 dresses up the shelf unit and keeps the shelves from falling off the shelf clips.
I consider this my “basic” tool list. Although I do not have a dedicated box for these tools, I assure you that they have a great home in cabinets, on shelves, and laying around on benches. When I do need to take my hand tools somewhere, the larger tools end up in a simple tongue and grooved latch box my grandfather owned. The smaller tools are always in my overall pockets. Overalls work great. They have multiple pockets, they’re comfortable, and they protect your upper body and legs. You only have to deal with small chunks of wood getting into the pockets, which can be dealt with if you or your other half are crafty enough to sew some flaps. It doesn’t bother me though. Thanks for your time.
Using these bookcase plans, I built three of these for my children’s school about five years ago (five years in an elementary school is equivalent to a hundred years in a typical home). They have seen tons of abuse, and have held up beautifully. The school can’t wait to get their hands on more of them to replace the “bargain” bookcases they got from a furniture chain which have needed extensive repairs over the same five year period.
This is that rare two-for-one deal in which two tools have been effectively made one. The stationary belt sander uses a closed loop of paper that travels at speed around a pair of cylindrical drums. One drum is driven by an electric motor, the other is spring-loaded to maintain belt tension. Powered by the same motor, the stationary disk sander uses sanding disks that spin on a backing plate.
The Japanese saw is a favorite. A much smarter, efficient and exact cut can be made using this saw as opposed to a European saw. The difference between the two is simple: tooth direction. European saws cut when pushing the saw as opposed to Japanese saws which cut on the pull. One uses much less energy when pulling - perhaps that is why the horse was put in front of the cart. A Japanese saw is a must have in any shop.
You can create a beautiful coffee table by simple stacking logs together. Line the logs end up and create a circle whatever size you need. Then just tie them all together with rope or twine to keep your coffee table secure. You do need to make sure that the logs are the same height and you may want to sand the tops down just a bit to make them smooth.
Wondering if you are still hanging in there Scott? One thing I notice woodworkers often do when getting started (including myself) is they sell their hand made items way too cheap, it doesn’t help anyone except the customer. You say yourself that they sell as fast as you can make them. Put your prices up! Double or even triple, the amount of orders may slow down but you will be doing yourself a favour. Don’t bother with Etsy or Craigslist or local markets in my opinion. Build it up for yourself to make money not making the giants even richer from all your hard work. I’ve been selling my woodwork online since 2004, before all these giants came along. I feel I have the experience to offer advice if anyone is interested. Trust no one! The internet has become a place for giants to make money off you (Facebook, Etsy, GoogleAds, Amazon…… the list goes on.) Don’t let them take your money, learn how to use them to your advantage instead of being a sucker and paying them money to grow even bigger while you stay the same size. They don’t care about you, they only care about their own business models. Grow your own business brand and ignore anyone who appears to want to help you, especially if their main business is making money online. That’s all they care about! Not you. Invest your time and money in yourself, your own website – not others and you will succeed, providing you are doing what you love and are passionate about.
There are some who also swear by their bandsaw for ripping lumber. A bandsaw can cut faster and is far safer to use than a tablesaw. I personally still prefer to use a tablesaw for ripping for two reasons. First, the bandsaw table and fence are smaller than a typical tablesaw. I find this makes it harder for me to keep a straight edge. Second is the quality of cut. A bandsaw rip will usually be rougher than a tablesaw rip.
Build a model boat. Model boats are a bit tricky to shape and it's best to find individual patterns for these, depending on the type of boat you're after. A very basic one can be made from a rectangular block of wood with a dowel hole drilled in the center, a dowel inserted for the sail pole and a sail (cloth or paper) attached to the dowel pole. It's not the most elegant but it's quick and simple, and from there, you can start building more advanced versions.
So my partners and I opened a Woodcraft store that had an established school as a main part of its business plan. What could be better? Come for a class and buy some tools. But when I first presented the idea of a full-fledged school to the corporate people and told them the dollar amount that I planned to do in school tuition sales, they basically laughed at me. A year after we were opened, they finally started to take notice of this whole "education thing" because I had not only met my projections, I doubled them.
In this age of air-powered nailers, drills, sanders, impact wrenches, grinders, saws, spray guns, washers, and other pneumatic tools, the compressor has become a virtual necessity. The compressor consists of a motorized pump; a tank for storing the compressed air; an on/off control (governor) that tells the pump when to start and stop in order to keep the pressure within preset limits; and a regulator to control the pressure at which the air escapes the tank to suit the needs of the tools being used. There’s a metal frame on which all the parts are mounted, usually with a carrying handle and sometimes wheels.