Becoming a Master Woodworker #1: First Steps

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Blog entry by SleepingFox posted 01-02-2019 10:26 PM 562 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Becoming a Master Woodworker series Part 2: Saftey First »

Happy New Years Everyone.

For about the past year I’ve been attempting to start a woodworking shop out of my garage. Since then I have totally fell in love with the craft and could easily spend all my time working in the garage on projects. I am almost at the point where I feel like I am skilled enough to put some products on the market and will hopefully be able to build an inventory to take to trade shows soon. However my main goal is to become as skilled as possible in creating beautiful wooden furniture. I want to become a master woodworker.

Largely thanks to my wife I am fortunate enough to be in a situation where I believe I can make this a reality and for the foreseeable future I will be working full time on all aspects of this goal. For the next little while this means that I will be working mainly on ensuring my garage is adequately equipped to allow me to practice my skills at a level where I can produce projects that I would be proud to sell or have in my home. So far I have the equipment to produce small pieces. However some of the equipment is quite old or unreliable and there is still some equipment that would be extremely helpful. Unfortunately some woodworking equipment is quite expensive and so, for now, I will be building what I absolutely need and trying to get by with what I don’t. I will largely rely on hand tools to do a lot of my work because they are less expensive, mostly able to be self made and, in the hands of a skilled user, sometimes more accurate than their powered counterparts. I also have a few pro-bono practice projects that I have planned before I start producing things that I would be looking to sell.

The next few blog posts will be on these projects.

Handmade Veritas Handplane This is being made mainly to have a dedicated smoothing plane but also to see how well I can make and calibrate a hand plane. I use two restored hand planes quite frequently in the shop and need to decide how to expand my hand plane collection. Should I look to continue buying restored hand planes, count on being able to build my own hand planes or try to justify buying a quite expensive set of hand planes? Since I have experience with good hand planes and have a set of my own restored hand planes I just have to build one to see be able to determine which option or set of options is going to be best for me.

Outfeed Table My current outfeed table is an old picnic table-top that is sitting on top of two very old sawhorses. The table is not level with my table saw and recently one of the sawhorses became even more rickety than it used to be making it less than safe. I will need to construct a new outfeed table to replace the old one. I have not planned this project out yet so the blogs posts on this should include some of my design considerations. Hopefully the new table will also double as some workplace storage. Jointer I purchased an old cast iron 4” jointer off of Kijiji a while ago but haven’t put it together yet because I’ve been torn between building that and building a great big 13” jointer. I have decided that the 13” jointer can wait a little while since I don’t think I will need it for that many projects in the near future. The 4” Jointer will only need a simple box type construction to hold both it and the motor and allow it to sit on my outfeed table.

Workbench This project is not in the immediate future but I will eventually need to upgrade the “bench” that I’m working off of.

Kumiko Window Hanging My in-laws recently had a pathway put in behind their house and are now feeling a little self conscious in a washroom that has a large window. They asked if I would build them something to put in the window. I said I would.

Necklace Cabinet for My Wife For Christmas I made my brother and in-laws each a nice woodworking piece. I had planned on building my wife something as well but got injured and the project can no longer be a Christmas present. It can be a a blog entry though.

I hope you guys and gals enjoy the posts to come.

1 comment so far

View Rich's profile


4950 posts in 1094 days

#1 posted 01-03-2019 04:51 AM

It sounds to me like you have a good plan for the future. I like that you are looking at trade shows. They not only are good for income if you have products that people want, but they help you make connections that can lead to bigger, very lucrative jobs.

I like building furniture and cabinetry. My pieces I build for sale are all made from mesquite. It’s very popular here in the southwest. The thing is, at those price levels, you have to wait for the right buyer and during that wait, you won’t have any income unless you find other sources.

Trade shows make a lot of money. No, it’s not as fun and rewarding to build a dozen tea trays as it is to design and build a beautiful piece of furniture, but at $120 to $150 a pop, it makes for a good source of income combined with other similar pieces. Add a few dozen other pieces in the $20 to $60 range and you can pull in several thousand dollars during a three day show.

What I always do is have high-end pieces of furniture on display and for sale. A pair of side tables, night stands, hall table.. whatever. Go all out and make it flawless. Even though browsers aren’t often there to buy a $700 or $800 piece of furniture, they will ooh and ahh and it makes the rest of your goods look more attractive. Sure, they can’t afford the high end piece, but they’ll be thrilled to walk away with a $50 one and feel good about it. And during it all, you’re getting attention and making contacts.

Spend a few bucks on a good logo. I recommend PM me if you go that direction for tips on getting the best result. Once you have a logo, order business cards, get a few shirts with logo, and whatever else you think might work. Branding is everything.

I could go on and on, but I think you have the right idea and will do well. Always feel free to PM me with questions.

-- Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to sound smarter the faster they come at you.

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