I had a realization this morning. For someone who wants to woodwork, I’m rather salty about woodworking.
Now, if you’ve read this blog for a little while–and it hasn’t been around for very long, so it won’t take much–you might have figured out some of it.
But some of it is my own fault, too, just to be fair.
Let’s get into some of the why’s, then I’ll talk about what I, personally, am doing to get past it.
The Cost Of Good New Tools
Woodworking isn’t a hobby for poor people. It hasn’t been for some time.
It’s something done by professionals or hobbyists with a fair amount of disposable income. Professionals can demand high-quality and high-cost tools because it’s a tax deduction for them. Wealthier hobbyists can afford to pay for those same high-cost tools.
But there’s almost no one looking at how to help the more economically disadvantaged get into the craft.
Oh, there’s some of that. While I haven’t watched it (yet), The Naked Woodworker sounds like it does some of that by starting people with looking at vintage tools. I’m intrigued by the idea of this video and will be watching it in the near future (probably not until after Christmas, though).
Yet what else is there?
New high-quality hand tools are expensive. Vintage tools can be intimidating and, unless you can examine them in person, risky even if they are cheap.
So maybe I can help with that. After all, I tend to have enough disposable income that I can probably buy some cheap tools and see if they can be made to work. While I don’t want to make this site heavy with reviews, it might be a worthwhile endeavor to find budget tools that might work for the new woodworker.
I don’t know if I’ll find any, but what the hell.
Snobbishness On JOinery
This one might be more me than woodworking in general. When I started, I was basically told that joinery was done with wood on wood, not metal fasteners. Dovetails, mortise-and-tenons-rabbets, tongue-and-groove, all of that was acceptable. Screws or nails, not so much.
During my time away from the craft, though, attitudes seemed to change. I applaud Christopher Schwarz for that one since it seems that’s refrain he’s beaten for a little while, though Adam Cherubini is the one who changed my mind on it…and I wasn’t even there for his talk on boarded furniture. Schwarz made boarded furniture acceptable, which is a good thing.
Personally, I’m going to look at all joinery as good, so long as it will hold. We all need to.
Oh, sure, if a pocket screw joint tears out, it’s pretty much impossible to fix, but how often does that happen? and honestly, if it does, would a tenon have torn out under the same circumstances? If so, then would it be easier to repair? I’m not sure it would be, at least under some circumstances.
The Table Saw Focus Of Most Woodworkers
When I first looked at getting into woodworking, I was told I needed a table saw. And not a benchtop model I could get at Home Depot, either. No, I needed a contractor saw at a minimum–which, incidentally, I’ve literally never seen a contract own, much less use, despite working with several in various capacities–but a cabinet saw was ideal.
The thing is, I’ve come to understand you don’t really need a table saw at all.
Just look on YouTube, for example. While some woodworkers are married to their table saws and have a thousand jigs to do all kinds of things, others rarely use them. Some don’t even own one.
I know how to make rabbets and dados with hand saws and chisels, at least intellectually. Worst case scenario, I’ve got a router that can do those things too. I have options.
The thing is, though, table saws are scary as hell. They’re terrifying and they’ve claimed countless appendages in this country through the years. I’m ADHD, as well so my attention span can be a little lacking. This is not a good combination.
But the focus on table saws can turn a lot of people off.
So what am I going to do? Well, I’m not really going to mess with mine. Not for a while, anyway, if ever.
Instead, I’m going to focus on joinery with hand tools and use a far more accessible tool–the circular saw–to break down material. I may use a jigsaw from time to time as well. In fact, I think it will be cool if I never use a table saw and still crank out really great stuff.
After all, I can’t find anything a table saw can do that can’t be done by another tool that isn’t a massive spinning blade of death demanding I put my fingers even remotely close to it.
Basically, The Craft Is Inaccessible
There is a certain amount of cost to woodworking that’s not going to change. Wood, for example, will cost what it costs.
But if we can somehow mitigate the costs associated with woodworking, making it better for we working schlubs, then isn’t that a win? Doesn’t that ultimately help the craft?
That’s kind of what I find driving me a bit right now. I want to make it so anyone can woodwork. While there will always be those who want to buy furniture, what if we could convince more people that it’s far better to build lasting furniture rather than spend a few bucks on a piece that will fall apart in a few years? At least on a small scale, it might help push furniture manufacturers to compete by offering better products for the price.
At least in theory, anyway.
I don’t know that I’ll do anything in the grand scheme of things. In order to even start, I need to get building stuff and money is tight. There’s no money for materials, which is something else I need to start working on as well.
Either way, I know what my mission might well be. Let’s see if it’s a fool’s errand or what.