General thoughts #1: My type of hobby woodworking

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Blog entry by Ottacat posted 01-12-2014 04:14 PM 1337 reads 1 time favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of General thoughts series Part 2: My furniture style preference »

This is the second time in my life I’ve taken up woodworking.

The first time is when I was married and had a fairly young family. I used our single car garage and accumulated many of my tools doing a trade of time for tools with a local dealer that needed their website redone. I squeezed my time in a couple of rushed hours a night and a few rushed hours hours over the weekend.

By the time I started woodworking as a hobby, our home was already fully furnished with a style of furniture picked out by my wife and myself. Now when I say I was part of the selection of process I’m being generous. It was more of agreeing with my wife’s selection. A friend of mine once remarked ‘men live in their wives houses’ and I think their is a lot of insight in that remark. The result was that between my very limited woodworking skills, a tight budget for wood and an already fully furnished house, my options for building furniture were quite limited. The idea of building a coffee table or a set of end tables just wasn’t going to happen. My taste was not the same as my wife’s and we already had a set. Thus my woodworking was limited basically to the following:

  • craft projects (small boxes, cutting boards, shelves)
  • small furniture to be given to other people
  • shop projects

I honestly find that many guys pour their efforts into major shop projects (tool cupboards, big drawer units, etc) largely because they want to take on larger and more complex project but can’t really make anything for inside their houses.

Anyway, I’m now middle-aged, single, and have a university age daughter living with me and have taken up woodworking again. However it is now my house and I’m free to build and use whatever furniture in it I please. I can make a new coffee table and toss my existing one if I so choose. I can make an entire bedroom set and toss my existing one. I can make other cool pieces and find room for them.

This has dramatically changed my approach to the craft right now. I have tons of things I want to make – a project list of list of fairly ambitious projects that is at least a few years long. My main goals are producing really nice looking furniture in a style that pleases me. The process is still important of course but I’m definitely more motivated by the results. This puts me on the Mark Spagnoulo end of the ‘hybrid’ woodworking spectrum.

This affects my woodworking on many levels – my shop, my tool and technique selection, my sourcing and use of materials. These will be the topics of future blog posts along with the other defining topic of my current approach to woodworking which is my taste in furniture.

6 comments so far

View CL810's profile


4072 posts in 3905 days

#1 posted 01-12-2014 05:22 PM

I think your observations are pretty spot on. I am working to develop the skills to make furniture. But it’s a challenge to come up with something I want to make, and something that will have a place.

-- "The only limits to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today." - FDR

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 4022 days

#2 posted 01-13-2014 12:50 AM

Not planning on being single, but retiring from a busy job and having a new house and shop puts me in a similar situation. I am ready to get back to making furniture, as well as what I do now. Just the tie and chance to explore woodworking, making whatever!

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4225 days

#3 posted 01-13-2014 05:13 AM

UP until a little over 8 years ago I had a house full of furniture that I had built over many years of woodworking fun. A hurricane and a flood took care of that back in August of 2005 and provided me with a clean slate… after buying another house that was totally empty…No furniture and no tools were salvageable (with a couple of minor exceptions)I didn’t even own a screwdriver after the flood. My wife and I moved into our house with only 2 air mattresses, 2 plastic lawn chairs and our cats.
Now, a little over 8 years later I have my dream shop full of my dream tools and have done a lot of renovations in the house and built a lot of furniture that has filled it up…
Things always work out if you work hard plan your path in life…

View Ottacat's profile


532 posts in 2769 days

#4 posted 01-13-2014 03:35 PM

Wow Greg, that must have been a very difficult experience to go through. I’m glad you found something positive from it and have moved forward with such strength.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


16979 posts in 3535 days

#5 posted 01-13-2014 03:51 PM

Great post, lots of truth in it. Clayton also addressed my challenge in a nutshell: ”’s a challenge to come up with something I want to make, and something that will have a place.” Much that makes is past the first hallf of that sentence, very little makes it past the second half. Alas…

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. - OldTools Archive -

View LeftHandedWorker's profile


2 posts in 1971 days

#6 posted 07-07-2015 06:45 PM

I enjoyed reading your guys insights.

I myself am a first time woodworker just getting started. My first project will to make a workbench.

When I was young, I use to make bird houses out of pieces of left over wood from my Uncles Lumber Yard.

-- Theo the Left Handed Worker

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