Don’t be afraid to ask if there are internship or apprenticeship opportunities. Even if you’re declined, people will know you’re looking, and if you continue to hang out in their circles and demonstrate that you’d be a model employee, someone will take notice. There’s no shortage of woodworkers, but there is a severe shortage of enthusiastic and phenomenal woodworkers.
I really like building difficult cabinets, laying them out, and assembling them. It really gives me a challenge to build something better each time, but the sanding and clean up are not my favorite aspects of this work; you better get used to it. And I wish I would have taken some business classes because the part of running a business is another element added to cabinet making.
Whether you really need your privacy or you just want to add a bit of rustic charm to your home, this tree branch privacy screen is a great DIY project. It sort of looks like a bamboo shade and is really easy to make. You just need a few strips of thin wood and as many sticks or branches as you want to add. Hang it wherever you feel you need a bit of extra privacy.
The most common bench tools in the woodshop are routers and sanders. We have already talked about routers to some extent. Orbital sanders have come a long way from the jitterbug style of old. New sanders leave a better finish, are quieter and last longer. At some point, probably right away, you will want a sander . No one likes to sand. It is tempting to buy multiple sanders to address an unpleasant task. Here again, I point to the hand tools. Learning to use a smoothing plane and a cabinet scraper will reduce your sanding to little or nothing and cut down your overall time to finish a project.
Woodworking knowledge is something we are all constantly in pursuit of. Thankfully, there are a LOT of options available to us. We no longer have to rely on taking expensive classes when so much information can be found online and in books. And as many Guild members know, even online classes can be quite effective thanks to the additional interactivity. In my situation, most of my learning is through podcasts, books, and blogs. I punctuate my learning each year by taking a class or two. And whenever possible, I do try to learn directly from other woodworkers in person. So if you’re like me, you probably want to select more than one thing in this list. Let’s just say you should pick the one that you get the MOST information from. And if you are thinking about podcasts, just select the Woodworking Blogs option, since most podcasts are presented on blogs.
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Plywood is an essential material for bookcases. It’s strong, affordable and good looking. There’s just one problem: those ugly edges. You can hide edges behind solid wood or moldings, but the quickest, easiest edge solution is a thin strip of wood veneer called “edge banding” ($6 for 25 ft. at home centers). The process couldn’t be simpler: You just iron on the adhesive-backed veneer and trim off the excess.
After investing a number of weekends building a nice table or chest, how are you going to finish it? Finishes beautify and protect the piece you’ve worked so hard to build so don’t cop out and do the “rub it with oil” thing. There are so many beautiful finishes that become second nature to work with. I use shellac 99% of the time. Once you get the feel down, it’s really quick to apply, very forgiving, easily repairable, and you never have to clean a brush (because it re-softens in alcohol)! There are other varnishes that provide good protection for outdoor use as well. I recommend picking up a good starter book, like Jeff Jewitt’s Hand Applied Finishes. It is simple and straightforward, without getting too far into minutiae.
Hi Eva – Lots of folks rent space in upscale flea markets/craft stores to sell their projects. I have not had to do that yet since I have had good luck selling on Craigslist. BUT< BEWARE that scam artists work Craigslist. When they email you and ask about the "ITEM" rather than the project by name, that's a scam artist, delete them. Do not open them. I have a full time business and my shop time for projects is limited so I don't make a bunch of things. One more tip, lumber is much cheaper at a local saw mill, rather than lumber yards. Check them out in your area.
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As projects increase in size and scale, there is usually a desire to get a larger table saw, a miter saw, add a small jointer, a router and maybe a belt sander. Eventually, things get out of hand and you are seen at every tool sale, and spend more time online looking at the few remaining tools for which you have not yet found a project that will justify their purchase.
1: Table saw in place of a jointer. Any number of tips in previous issues address straightening edges of boards without a jointer. A jointer serves one purpose, but a tablesaw can serve many (just watch your local Craigslist for a decent one to come up.) The thickness planer is unavoidable, but until you can afford one, buy stock in the thickness you need.
At the same time, in order to improve your skills, you have to first use those skills and will make mistakes as a novice. How quickly those are overcome and improved on varies from person to person. Some craftsmen grasp a skill quickly and progress to higher levels, others, for several reasons, take more time. Those that do this quickly thrive as self-taught artisans.
A small jointer is better than no jointer, but a small jointer is not a great addition to a shop. A jointer needs table length. I would skip buying a small to medium size jointer. Once again, rely on your hand tools. They can perform as well or better than a machine that costs hundreds more, they require a great deal of room, and they should be run in conjunction with a dust collector. You can flatten boards with a jack plane and straighten edges with a jointer. With a little experience it becomes a quick task.