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When you’ve got a lot of free time on your hands it can be difficult to find the motivation to try something new. But that’s where we need to get creative and look at how we can get started in a new hobby without it feeling like a chore.
The great thing about woodworking is that it is such a versatile pastime that can give you a real sense of satisfaction after you have completed a project or learnt a new skill.
If you have been thinking about getting into woodworking but aren’t really sure where to start then you’re not alone. There are plenty of other people like you but the good news is that getting started isn’t as intimidating as you might first think.
We’ve put together this guide filled with helpful information on everything you need to know to get started in woodworking. From choosing the right tools and creating a workspace through to project ideas and some excellent ways of learning new skills. So, let’s dive in and explore!
Why Do Woodworking As A Hobby?
For many people, the perception of a woodworker is someone who has been through lots of training to develop skills that they use as a professional. This is the case for millions of pro woodworkers around the world but there are also millions of people who do this as a hobby.
When choosing a new hobby, there are endless options so why would you pick woodworking? Well for starters, it is an excellent way to let your creative juices run free. There are so many different projects you can take on and you can design each one to your own specification so you’ll end up with beautiful, unique pieces.
What’s more, woodworking is a practical skill that also requires a lot of mental focus. This is great for keeping your brain active and will leave you with skills that you can use in other areas of your life. Plus, if you’ve been spending a lot of time staring at a screen (haven’t we all), then this is a great way to break away from that habit and try something new.
It’s also incredibly easy to get into woodworking, as you will learn as you work your way through this guide and there are hundreds of online resources and books that can help you on your journey. Moreover, once you’ve really developed your skills, there is no reason why you can’t begin selling your creations and making a profit doing what you love!
How To Get Started In Woodworking
Start By Getting A Basic Set Of Tools
You can’t do woodworking without tools but what a lot of people don’t realise is that you don’t need everything to get started. When you’re in the beginning stages of learning how to work with wood, we would suggest going for a basic set of tools that allows you to practise basic skills.
Now, it is important for us to point out that when we say basic, there are still quite a few pieces of equipment to get your hands on. You’re going to need a good selection of both powered and hand saws.
The cheapest way to start your collection of tools is to buy second-hand tools.
Although for a beginner, you don’t want to go over the top with powered tools and a jigsaw is often considered to be the best choice for newcomers. As you become more adept with this and want to practise more advanced techniques, you can introduce new equipment to your workshop.
When it comes to hand tools, you’ll need things like chisels, planes, files, hammers etc but don’t think that you have to spend a fortune. While we are confident that woodworking is a very enjoyable hobby, it’s not for everyone. There’s very little point in investing your life savings in top of the range tools only to find that this isn’t the activity for you.
Instead, we would suggest purchasing mid-range tools that allow you to get a feel for what you’ll be doing and also have a good level of quality. As your skills improve and you’re sure that woodworking is something you want to pursue, you can sell these tools and invest in some more high-end ones. The most important thing at the beginning is simply to familiarise yourself with the equipment and how to safely use it.
Find Somewhere To Do Your Hobby
If there’s one thing about woodworking that you absolutely need to know, it’s that this is a hobby that requires space. Sure, you could drag your equipment into the kitchen and take over but we’re pretty sure the rest of your family won’t be too impressed. For this reason, you’re going to need to find somewhere suitable to get stuck in.
As well as being convenient, having your own space for woodworking will give you the privacy and peace you need to concentrate and focus which is imperative, especially in the learning stages.
You don’t need to run out into the garden and build an entire new outbuilding, although if you have the time and finances to do this, there’s certainly no reason why you can’t. But for most of us, this isn’t possible so creating a workshop in the shed or garage is the next best thing.
Of course, since you will be using power tools, you’re going to need to make sure that your chosen building is hooked up to electricity. Moreover, you’ll want to make sure that the workshop is heated otherwise you’re going to find yourself very uncomfortable in the winter months.
There are a lot of other things to think about when it comes to setting up your workshop including how you’ll lay everything out to make sure your tools are within easy reach and everything is safe. You’ll also want to consider storage options and many other things. We have a more in-depth guide on how to set up a home workshop, so be sure to check this out before getting started.
Resources For Learning The Basics
When you are starting a new hobby, it can be quite intimidating since there is so much to learn but don’t let that put you off. It’s important to plan out dedicated time each week to learn these new skills otherwise you run the risk of putting your new hobby on the back burner and that’s when it becomes difficult to learn.
The great thing about learning a new skill is that there are many ways to approach it. We all learn in different ways so it’s worth thinking about how you pick things up and which of the following methods, or a combination of methods, would work best for you. And there’s no harm in trying them all out either!
Speak To Someone You Know That Already Does Woodworking
One of the easiest and perhaps most fun ways to learn new woodworking skills is to gain knowledge from a friend or family member who is already pretty adept. Not only will they be able to dedicate quality time to teach you but you’ll also enjoy it more as you’re spending time with someone you care about.
You might even start doing projects together to give as gifts. For example, if your dad has been woodworking for years and you decide to learn from him, when it comes round to your mum’s or sister’s birthday, for example, there would be nothing more beautiful and sentimental than a handmade gift from the two of you!
Join A Woodworking Club
No matter what your level, joining a woodworking club can be hugely beneficial. You will have the opportunity to meet people with similar interests and who may be able to offer you some valuable information.
What’s more, as you progress through your woodworking journey, you will then be able to impart your knowledge and experience to other newcomers to the activity. It’s a great way to get real-life practical tips that can’t be gained from reading books.
Another great reason for doing this is that you may just meet some new friends and even potential business partners if you’re looking to expand your skills to the point of becoming a self-employed woodworker!
There are classes for just about anything these days and woodworking is no exception. One of the best places to check out is your local college. This is a great option for people who have the time to dedicate to regular sessions and if you’re serious about making a living out of woodworking, you might even go for an NVQ or other certificate.
For a lot of people, being able to attend regular classes can be difficult especially when there are so many other responsibilities such as family, work and social events. But there are many places offering distance learning courses and many of these can be done over a period of time that suits you. There are even some companies that allow you to get started for free, giving you an idea as to whether the content of the course is what you’re looking for.
Read Woodworking Magazines
If you learn by reading then there are plenty of woodworking magazines out there. Subscribing to one or more of these is an excellent idea as you’ll be able to focus on a set number of tips and projects for each issue. This can often be helpful for newcomers as you won’t be overwhelmed with information but will have enough to keep you going until the next issue is released.
You might not think it when you first start out, but there are a surprising number of woodworking books out there that are filled with invaluable information. Some books are specifically aimed at beginners and will tell you everything you need to know to get started while others are perfect for when your skills advance a little more and you want to try your hand at more challenging projects.
Not only these but these books will be an investment for the entirety of your time spent woodworking. You’ll often find yourself referring back to them and they’ll take pride of place in your workshop.
YouTube is one of the most amazing online resources nowadays; you can find pretty much anything there. Woodworking videos are ten a penny on YouTube and while there are some that don’t have much to offer, you’ll find that the majority are bursting with excellent tips and tricks to get you started and help boost your woodworking skills to new heights.
You might also take to TikTok which now has more than one billion monthly active users and many of these content creators are churning out bite size woodworking videos.
We Can Help!
You’re here already reading this guide and there’s a lot more where this came from! At Best Workshop, we want to make life easy for anyone who enjoys or is interested in woodworking, regardless of their level.
That’s why we have a blog filled with guides, product reviews, information and much more. So when you’re just getting started, it’s well worth taking a look to pick up some new techniques.
Tips For Success
When you’re learning a new hobby it will take time to get used to the basics and begin to further develop your skills. And this takes patience; it is not going to happen overnight so you need to take everything in your stride and this will ensure success in the long run. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed or unsure, here are some tips for success when you’re just starting out.
It might sound obvious but you do actually need to pick up your tools and make a start on your first project. A lot of people have all the will in the world but keep putting off making a start. This procrastination isn’t going to get you anywhere and even if things feel pretty alien to you on your first day in the workshop, at least you’re on the road to success.
Don’t worry too much about getting it right. You might even spend your first few sessions getting to know your tools and trying them out on scrap or reclaimed wood.
In line with the above point about getting to know your tools, there is nothing wrong with taking it very slowly in the beginning. You don’t need to be producing ornate pieces of furniture from the get-go.
As long as you’re in the workshop, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. It is much better to start slow and get things right than it is to go rushing in, being overly ambitious and then feeling disappointed when you get something wrong.
Learn From Your Mistakes
Speaking of getting things wrong; it’s going to happen in the early days. Even experienced woodworkers will make mistakes from time to time so it’s imperative that you don’t let this get you down.
What’s more important is learning from these mistakes to ensure that they don’t happen again in the future. Used the wrong type of saw and ruined a piece of wood? That’s ok, you’ll know not to do it next time. Just keep a positive attitude and things will gradually start to get easier.
Keep Projects Simple To Start With
It can be tempting to rush in and try to craft something that even an advanced woodworker would struggle to pull together. But in the early days, you’ll want to choose projects that are much simpler. Of course, you want to develop your skills so you absolutely should give yourself something of a challenge but make it one that is doable. Otherwise, you may find yourself throwing in the towel and walking away.
Any project you choose should be easy enough for you to get your head around, should allow you to develop your skills and this balance should give you a sense of satisfaction. A great thing to try is making a featherboard. These are used in woodworking as a way of improving safety and accuracy when making a cut and many woodworkers will make their own. You can often do this using offcuts or materials you already have so there’s no need to invest in more wood while you’re practising.
But Don’t Forget To Push Yourself
We realise that we have just harped on about not trying too much too soon but there is a limit to this. As your skills become better, you may want to try pushing yourself just a little to try new things. This will allow you to learn new techniques and consistently grow your woodworking skill set.
Depending on where you are at, there are several different things you could try in order to push yourself that little bit further. While this is by no means an exhaustive list, here are some things that might take your fancy.
- Master a new joint
- Learn how to properly prepare wood
- Get started with a new tool such as a different type of saw or a wood router
- Rather than sticking to softwoods which are comparably easier to work with, you might try your hand at working with hardwood. It is thought that as much as 80% of all wood used in woodworking is softwood so if you can become a hardwood master then you’ll be in a totally different league. Of course, you’ll need to know a bit about this type of wood and where to source it and for that, we have this helpful guide.
Practise Makes Perfect
As with anything, it’s going to take some time to master the art of woodworking and this is why you need to invest time and effort. It’s thought that learning a creative hobby can take around six weeks to get to grips with so it isn’t going to happen overnight. But the more you practice, the quicker you will improve.
Did you know that it takes around 10,000 hours to be considered a master in something so if you want to be the best woodworker you can be, you’ll need to put in around three hours a day for ten years!
That sounds like a lot, and it is but wherever you get a few spare moments, it’s worth heading to your workshop and spending a little more time practising.
Woodworking is a popular hobby and whether you’re just looking for something to keep you entertained at the weekends or want a passion you can turn into a career, it’s an excellent choice. But owing to the amount of skill and practice this hobby requires, a lot of people are put off but that doesn’t need to be the case.
By ensuring that you have all of the right equipment and dedicating a good amount of time to practising, there is no reason that you can’t become an advanced woodworker. We have a whole host of guides on everything from sourcing wood to finding budget tools as well as ways to make money woodworking. So, gather together your resources and look forward to developing a skill that’ll stay with you for life!