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Blog entry by Archer72 posted 10-04-2017 12:28 PM 901 reads 0 times favorited 9 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So after nearly 20 years in the military and enjoying that life, I have been retired and decided to get back into wood working. I have forgotten most of what I learned as a young man, I had some talent for working with wood, but had a very lot to learn as well. Never had my own little shop I could work in, always had to borrow my Dad’s equipment and shop. So now I have decided to get back into it, and since I never do anything slowly or start out small, I have built my own shop in my garage. It is a small shop as I share space with a Harley, storage items, and of course all the kids’ bikes.

The issue I am having is not so much in building something, that I can usually figure out with the help of some very instructional videos and wood workers I have found on line. The issue I am having is in the design of my own projects, I have tried to use the sketchup tool, but even with a back ground in information technology I have been having a problem getting the design to work, or flow as I want it to in sketchup. Which Usually means I save the design and then put it off to the side and try to work out things out on paper, or just try to build it as I go.

This as most know usually doesn’t work for the beginner, which I am still, and will be for a while. So of course I have burned through some wood, and only have a few projects to show for it, and have not been overly happy with any of them. Mostly due to mistakes during the build that I made, like mis-measurement of a piece and doesn’t fit correctly or snuggly enough with another piece. Bad cuts that aren’t straight, or when using the band saw staying to close to the line and digging a little too deep and then trying to sand out the mistake, and only managing to make a little worse then it was.

Which is what brought me to LumberJocks, I am hoping to network with others who enjoy wood working, and are willing to part with experience and knowledge to improve my skills. Also to make friends with like minded interests, and just have good conversation and bounce ideas and thoughts around with.

-- Archer

9 comments so far

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3445 days

#1 posted 10-04-2017 12:44 PM

Archer….my hats off to you for giving it twenty years !

As for online videos….A very, VERY large percentage of those are produced by rookies

And sketchup will not show you how to build anything

In your post…... you mention a couple of mistakes you made….Thats how you learn !

Enjoy the journey !

View Archer72's profile


49 posts in 876 days

#2 posted 10-04-2017 01:57 PM

Yes I watch for what looks to be a rookie or like me a beginner, but if I can verify them. Like Steve Ramsey from Wood Working for Mere Mortals, or Drew from Rock N H, and Jay Bates. These are the people I watch the videos on and see what they do and suggest to do or not to do.

Again though that is why I joined LumberJocks, to meet others in the wood working community and make connections and learn from them. I do learn from my mistakes and do my best not to repeat them.

I always enjoy the journey or at least try, and if and when I am not, I take a break, walk away, and come back after a period to prevent making bigger mistakes.

-- Archer

View a1Jim's profile


117954 posts in 4213 days

#3 posted 10-04-2017 02:12 PM

Hi Archer Welcome to Ljs and thank you for your service to our country.
We are all glad to help with any questions.


View sras's profile


5310 posts in 3765 days

#4 posted 10-04-2017 04:32 PM

I tell people one of the skills a woodworker needs is the ability to adapt from the mistakes. That can mean start over, hide it or show it off. But everyone makes mistakes.

Taking breaks is excellent!

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View EarlS's profile


3485 posts in 2984 days

#5 posted 10-04-2017 04:54 PM

Archer – when I was starting, and even now, I will find a set of plans and adapt them to what I want. Pre-drawn plans are a good resource for appropriate dimensions, cut lists, and connections. That way I can focus on the fine details, edge profiles, or whatever I really want to personalize while keeping out of trouble on the overall scale of the piece.

LJ also has an enormous trove of projects to draw from as well as contributors that are more than willing to help answer questions.

-- Earl "I'm a pessamist - generally that increases the chance that things will turn out better than expected"

View BigAl98's profile


210 posts in 3675 days

#6 posted 10-04-2017 11:32 PM

Perhaps the reason nothing is coming to you when at Sketchup, is that you don’t have enough experience with the material to even form a drawing? Ie. How can you paint a water color without understanding how the water color itself flows onto the brush and from the brush….or even how to use the brush. If paper and pencil is what you’ve used before, then use that…don’t let the transcription process get in the way….use what you know. Build a book case or hanging cabinet…a lot of wood working uses a carcass as the base of the piece….that’s assuming you want to build furniture. Perhaps you want to do carving…then I would imagine that making a slab is the thing to do. Or make a picnic table? Where do you want to go? Most of my wood working was using a plan done by someone else ( a wood working magazine or a plan purchase)....after doing so many I began tweaking what I was building to suit my own needs…perhaps by merely changing the dimensions. Even doing that gives you experience in figuring out what repercussions a changed dimension will have on other pieces in the project….something you’ll have to know if you want to design you own anyway.

Also, you don’t have to get caught up in building it by hand, or only with hand tools. Marking dovetails might seem the height of craftsmanship, but a Kreg pocket screw makes figuring out a box nothing more than butting the wood together, and its pretty strong.

But I have to admit, that I do go in the shop and just plane a piece of wood, just to hear the swoosh and feel the shaving and play with the plane’s adjustments.

I don’t know what to tell you really. The experience I had and journey I took will not be yours…you’ll find your own way. But I do know, that the pieces you make for your friends and family, will amazingly become treasured items by them….much to my surprise!

Good luck ol man…

-- Al,New Jersey -To thine own self be true

View Chris Cook's profile

Chris Cook

329 posts in 2917 days

#7 posted 10-05-2017 02:03 AM

Welcome to lumberjocks!

Cheap wood and small projects is a great way to start. Try things and see how they work out. I’ve made piles of scrap by making test joints and experimental projects.

Get a good woodworking book. I know there are a ton of free videos and stuff, but you can’t beat a good book that locks down the basics. (See below).

You don’t have to be a hand tool or power tool guy. You don’t have to have a $5000 table saw.

The only rules in woodworking are the safety rules. Good luck.

Old woodworking magazines

Wood talk podcast

Woodworking Basics – Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship – An Integrated Approach With Hand and Power tools

-- Chris, "all we are is sawdust in the dust collector""

View Archer72's profile


49 posts in 876 days

#8 posted 10-05-2017 07:36 AM

I thank everyone for their advise and being welcomed to LumberJocks. I have read magazine articles and even have a e subscription to wood workers journal, As well as joining wwgoa, helpful articles and videos there as well.

I think for me one of the biggest hurdles I will have to overcome at first and in the future is I have a bit of OCD when it comes to a project, so any small mistake seems to be compounded when I make it even if I can still make the project work and turn out half decent. I will post a few of my small projects that I have done for people to see. Even tell where I made my mistakes at in them

Again thank you all and I look forward to talking and getting to know people better.

-- Archer

View finns's profile


169 posts in 3752 days

#9 posted 10-06-2017 09:21 PM

Hey Archer. Welcome aboard and thank you for your service. This is a great forum to learn and share. Best to you!

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