Is this a solo hobby?

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Forum topic by pete79 posted 04-14-2011 02:38 PM 2758 views 0 times favorited 60 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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154 posts in 4196 days

04-14-2011 02:38 PM

While I greatly enjoy the solitude of this hobby, I occasionally wish that I had someone else to share it with beyond telling them about whatever “thingy” I made that day/week/month.

I have one friend that shares this hobby, and a couple others that are interested, but I’m not sure how you would go about a “woodworking session” with a friend. I look at the activities performed in the shop and wonder how two people could participate beyone one just being a spectator. With a hobby shop, having one of each tool, you’re required to share tools and most importantly have enough space to be safe.

I struggle to think through how this would work. Is this really more of a solo hobby that is shared with others only in discussion? I’m just curious what others do.

-- Life is a one lap race.

60 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5273 days

#1 posted 04-14-2011 02:53 PM

Good subject, Pete.

I know a lot of guys have mentioned that shop time with their wives is great. My love has no interest in the shop, and I’m perfectly happy with that.

Since I’ve never shared my woodworking with anyone, the closest thing I can compare it to is cooking. She and I both like to cook, but when we try to do something in the kitchen at the same time, we both find it frustrating, and are constantly getting in each other’s way. I can envision the same thing happening in the shop, unless you are lucky enough to have tons of square footage.

But there is more to it than the physical logistics. For me, woodworking is an escape from the pressures of the outside world. It’s just me, the tools, the wood, and my thoughts. And that’s just the way I like it.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

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Gene Howe

12314 posts in 4484 days

#2 posted 04-14-2011 03:03 PM

Being retired, I feel no pressures from the outside world. But, woodworking is still an escape for me, as well as a left and right brain activity. It’s not the solitude that I like, it’s the opportunity to totally screw up, where no one else can see it. Happens all too frequently.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View superstretch's profile


1531 posts in 3748 days

#3 posted 04-14-2011 03:47 PM

I’ve often worked with my dad on projects.. Sometimes two extra hands and eyes are better than clamps. I think there’s a big difference between two people working on the same project and two people working on separate projects. In the latter case, I imagine most people would trip over each other. Its nice to be able to chat with someone in between machines winding down and then back up again. Sometimes its nice to be alone.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4130 days

#4 posted 04-14-2011 03:48 PM

I cherish my solitude in the shop. 99% of the time it is just me and a baseball game or NPR on the radio.

My wife is invited into the shop every once in a while when I really need a second set of hands to help hold something, but I even try to minimize those situations.

One note – I like my wife to be in the house when I work in the shop. She rushed me to the emergency room once. Hopefully, I never return to the ER, but I like knowing the my wife is at hand if the need ever arises again.

FYI – the trip to the ER was due to a large piece of walnut jumping off my lathe and hitting me in the head. Needed 9 stitches.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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1531 posts in 3748 days

#5 posted 04-14-2011 03:54 PM

Ouch! After reading a blog post a couple weeks back, I made sure to tell my wife that if she comes out to the shop, to announce her presence when I’m not using a machine. Last night she waited about 10 minutes for me to finish resawing a long piece of oak.. I felt awful afterwards that she had to wait for me, but it beats getting startled and losing a digit.

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View BoxBuilder's profile


130 posts in 4185 days

#6 posted 04-14-2011 04:00 PM

My wife has no interest in the hobby & I am glad she never ventures into the shop. She could not resist the temptation to “clean it up” which would mean I would have trouble finding things again.

-- Richard, Pennsylvania

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5349 posts in 5015 days

#7 posted 04-14-2011 04:00 PM

I prefer to work alone. Gives me better thought time. Now, when it comes to BS time, come on in. I’ll always make room for that. Just don’t want somebody lookin’ over my shoulder unless I’m tryin’ to teach ‘em something.

-- [email protected]

View dbhost's profile


5777 posts in 4287 days

#8 posted 04-14-2011 04:08 PM

I have built projects with friends. Typically woodworker A is doing something like ripping, crosscutting or whatnot, while woodworker B is routing a profile, or making miter cuts or whatever on a completely different machine / area of the shop.

Those occasions are rare these days. Mostly when I have friends in the shop, the doors are open, and we are sitting in camp chairs in front of the open doors drinking a beer…

-- Please like and subscribe to my YouTube Channel

View woodcrafter47's profile


353 posts in 4160 days

#9 posted 04-14-2011 04:12 PM

I too prefer to work alone,just don’t want somebody lookin’ over my shoulder and saying i’m not doing it therefore being retired, I feel no pressures from the outside world . Just me and the tools and sawdust . If I just want to make sawdust ,thats what I am going to do , Called Sawdust Therapy. Happy that way ,but, also know I do take time also to BS with anyone who comes in ,and wants to share a pot of coffee.

-- In His service ,Richard

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5273 days

#10 posted 04-14-2011 04:28 PM

Yeah, I forgot to mention that I work with the garage door open, and neighbors often stop by to chat. I’m always happy to shoot the bull and show them what I’m up to. But that is completely different from working with someone else.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Pdub's profile


926 posts in 4235 days

#11 posted 04-14-2011 04:29 PM

I prefer to be alone when I am working on almost everything. It doesn’t matter if its in the work shop or remodeling/ repairing something in the house. My wife gets mad at me because I won’t ask for help, even when I really need it. I do enjoy the times that I am in my shop building something with my kids. It doesn’t happen very often so you gotta enjoy it when you can.

-- Paul, North Dakota, USAF Ret.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2877 posts in 3977 days

#12 posted 04-14-2011 04:42 PM

I have a small shop (10’x 25’) and make small items like boxes , toys and trunks. I have a two friends from our woodworking club that occasionaly work with me in the shop. ( One at a time.) They act as an outfeed table at times and do some of the finsh work required and sanding also. It is nice to have two brains to come up with solutions to small problems in the shop. I get visits from these guys about twice a week , so I get plenty of “alone time” inbetween their visits.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4097 days

#13 posted 04-14-2011 04:47 PM

I only have one friend interested in woodworking but he lives 250 miles away. On the rare occasion he comes over we enjoy working in the shop together. We both have our own ways of doing things so we typically work on different projects. We both enjoy the time BSing and reminiscing about war stories. I enjoy our time together but most of the time I enjoy the time to myself. If my friend lived closer we would probably spend more time in the shop together. So I am all for having another person in the shop just not all the time.

View chrisstef's profile


18129 posts in 4061 days

#14 posted 04-14-2011 05:03 PM

For the most part its a solo hobby for me as well.. All though i do have some friends that ask could you make me ….. I have rules, if you want me to make you something you have to help and but materials of course, but the tools you can use. None of my friends are serious woodworkers but most of them enjoy tinkering around with this and that so being able to show them things around the shop is fun for me and maybe one day they will build a shop and buy tools that i can use too. The wife stays out of the shop for the most part but i do like to refer to her for design and colors and ask for the occasional hand moving something or the like. My time spent in the shop is my quiet time for my thoughts and to escape the world and work for a while.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 4341 days

#15 posted 04-14-2011 05:34 PM

Having run a production shop for longer than I care to remember, I prefer the solitude when I’m working in my shop at home. I do enjoy being around people, just not when I’m working on a project. I get really focused and don’t want the distractions. Having had to keep track of what 6 or 8 others are doing every minute makes being alone very nice.

One of our ministers at church kept after me to “help” him with a project. He has no experience in woodworking or construction, yet he wanted to do it himself. All I needed to do was furnish my shop, design the project, get a materials list, tell him where to buy everything and teach him woodworking. Wow!!!!!!!!! See why I like to work alone? “Helping” him would take a 4 hour project and make it an 8 hour project. By the way, I do lots of church projects with others, but not those that require a furniture building skill level. Occasionally my wife will do a project, which I don’t mind. However, I count on not getting much done myself when she is there.

All that said, I do enjoy teaching others who are serious about woodworking, but not when I am doing my own projects. I do believe if I were retired, spending much more time in my shop, I might enjoy others being there. Now my time is so limited, it difficult to accomplish much as it is.


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