Hi. I’m Tom.
I’m the self-proclaimed Barbarian Woodworker.
What is a barbarian woodworker?
Woodworking sounds like a great way to save money on furniture or other items, but it’s not. Not the way it’s portrayed on a lot of internet sites and in the magazines, anyway.
Instead, it’s a pastime for the wealthy, a way for the white-collar world to feel like they’re rubbing elbows with the blue-collar universe.
Wood is expensive, but so are tools. Very expensive, especially if you buy quality tools new. Cheaper tools are often just not that great, either.
But I’m the barbarian at the gates. I’m the one looking to kick in the door and try my damnedest to find a way that woodworking can be affordable for anyone who wants to build.
How Are You Going To Manage That?
To start with, I’m into vintage tools, which can often be purchased for a fraction of the price of a new, quality tool. I think I bought my first smoothing plane for about $5, for example, as opposed to about $300 for a Lie-Nielson plane.
That’s the easiest way to skip the rat-race of high-priced tools.
But not everyone wants to fix up a vintage tool, and I understand that. That’s why I’ll also take a look at some newer tools you can get for little money on Amazon to see if they can be made into acceptable tools.
Sometimes they can, sometimes they can’t.
(Quick tip: In the case of a plane, if the problem is the blade and/or chip breaker, you can get replacements for these from good quality companies and completely change your plane.)
If they can’t, I’ll take the hit so you won’t have to.
So You’re The Expert?
Hardly. I’m a neophyte myself. I’ve built a couple of projects to varying degrees of success, but nothing spectacular.
But this isn’t my first exploration into woodworking, and I encountered what I call the elitism of the craft. The last time, I walked away, disgusted that I’d never be able to make the kind of stuff I wanted to make.
When I returned years later, I started to see the cracks. Furniture made with nails was no longer derided outright, for example.
I realized that it was time for the barbarians to reach the gates, and I was just that barbarian.
So What’s the approach?
I’m still trying to find my own way in a lot of ways, so things are always subject to change. However, there are a few hard and fast ways to make this easier to get started.
1. Skip The Table SAw
There’s nothing on the planet you absolutely need a table saw for. Not only that, but the good ones are expensive. You can accomplish a lot of the same stuff with a circular saw, a hand saw, and some chisels.
2. Buy Wood From The Homecenter
While the wood may be a bit more expensive in the long run, it does allow you to skip a few expensive tools for dimensioning lumber in the short term. Rather than make wood a certain thickness, you can focus on making it smooth.
3. Building An assortment Of Things
You may want to focus on building boxes, humidores, or furniture, but there’s something to be said about honing skills on small projects before you ever try to tackle big ones. But that also means you’ll need to do an odd assortment of projects to start with.
Regardless, though, I’m still not an expert. I’m just trying to kick the door in for myself, so why not document the whole thing, take hits for the team, and push forward?
It’s the only decent thing a barbarian can do.