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.
A very very interesting woodworking project you can undertake is to make spoons and ladles of all sizes out of wood. These items are really coming back in a big way. I sincerely feel you can attract a lot of attention and sell these items very well. People are beginning to use more wholesome utensils in the kitchens. Wooden spoons and ladles are going to be raging popular products. Getting a lathe will go a long way in making any kind of wood bowls, spoons and ladles.
I think it depends on the type of woodworker you would like to become. Are you more interested in traditional “electric free” carpentry or are you drawn to the ease and convenience of modern machinery? Also, I think you should take into consideration what kind and how much shop space you have available. I have worked with all the modern machines for years now, and are just presently finding personal satisfaction in traditional woodworking. In fact, last night I built my very first bookcase with just a few “powerless” hand tools. So in all, I would suggest some personal reflection…What type of woodworker do you want to become?…and from there garnish your shop appropriately.
Dividers (or compass) are used for taking and repeating a measurement over and over again on a work piece. Traditional woodworkers rarely take measurements with a tape measure when doing fine joinery work, but rather take a measurement with dividers then transfer that arbitrary (yet accurate) measurement to another work piece. This removes a degree of inaccuracy.
But what if you want to make a box? The revered (and overly-mystified) dovetail joint is a very strong way to join corners of boards. Of all features that non-woodworkers admire today, the dovetail joint is the one that creates the most awe. It is composed of one side cut into wedge-shaped “tails” that mate into corresponding “pins.” When fitted together, the wedge shape prevents the boards from sliding apart in one direction. This joint has been very standard construction since the 1700s. Never meant to impress, it was usually intentionally hidden behind veneer, molding, or paint so that no one would have to look at that “ugly” joinery. It wasn’t until the arts and crafts movement that visible joinery was considered an aesthetic asset. Today, making dovetail joints has become a litmus test for serious woodworkers, but don’t let this scare you away from trying it. Check out a few of the four million “How to Cut Dovetails” videos online and then get into the shop. It’s much more straightforward than people think: Cut tails. Trace the tails on the other board. Then cut out the waste you traced. That’s pretty much it. All the fine tuning is just practice.
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.
In recent years, this versatile and accurate tool has become a fixture in the work shop and at the work site. Also called a “chop box,” the miter saw consists of a powerful circular saw mounted on an arm that hinges at the rear of the tool. When the blade is lowered in a chopping motion, it cuts through the workpiece, passing through a slot in the base. The motor and blade can be pivoted with respect to the base for miter cuts. Another adjustment makes it possible to tilt the blade, too, allowing for compound miter cuts, handy for jobs like cutting crown moldings, which are set at a pitched angle and that must also turn around corners. The diameter of the blade determines the maximum cut width, with standard sizes ranging from 8-inch blades up to 15 inches. A 10- or 12-inch saw is sufficient for most jobs.
Table saws, band saws, and radial-arm saws are examples of woodworking machines that are most often used exclusively in a wood shop because they are far too large and cumbersome to be portable. Even though they're confined to the shop, these workhorses are so useful that it makes sense to complete a woodworking project in the shop and carry the finished piece to the location or job site where it will be used or installed.
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.