How/where to learn?


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I've been progressively getting into wood working. I've been watching ALL of Marc's youtube video's and an assortment of dozens of others to learn as much as I can online. I'm a quick learner and so far everything I've seen has pretty much stuck. The only thing is, the web can only teach me so much. The area I live in doesn't have any kind of classes on teaching this craft (Canton, Ohio) and the nearest one is in Maine that I found that seems legit.

 

Now then since I'm completely new to this and need to obviously learn a lot more. Do any of you out there know how I could go about learning more? Any kind of great books out there for a beginner? Any nearby class or such I don't know about?

 

Did everyone here take a class to learn this? How do I get started? I need to start somewhere, I just don't know where. Any help out there?

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First a question to your question. What type of Woodworking are you planning on doing? Woodturning, hand tools, power tools or hybrid woodworking? and what are You planning on making?

 

I have taken classes from Rockler and Woodcraft stores (and have demonstrated woodturning at both) they both have all types of classes. Ohio was a Rockler and 5 Woodcraft stores (just looking online, I see the stores in Ohio are lacking in classes comparison to my local stores)

 

Google for woodturning or woodworking classes (schools, clubs and classes at community colleges) in Ohio.

Here are 5 schools listed at this link

http://www.finewoodworking.com/how-to/article/woodworking-schools-directory.aspx

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To answer the last question, yes I took and continue to take classes to learn woodworking.  I took beginning and intermediate woodworking classes at the Indianapolis Art Center.  I took a woodturning class there, too.  I go to free demos at Rockler and Woodcraft even if the topic is something I don't have plans to do.  I always learn something.  Talk to the other people there both teaching and taking classes. They are good sources for information about where to learn and they are just plain interesting.  Woodcraft also has classes on a variety of subjects. 

 

Join groups.  In my case I joined the Central Indiana Women's Woodworking Guild and the Indiana Chapter of the American Association of Woodturners.  Both groups are all about learning and sharing information with each other.  They each have a wide variety of experience among the members.  And I never feel stupid for asking questions.  I discovered these groups while attending the Woodworking Shows a couple of years ago.  If the show comes in your area I recommend attending it to make connections with local guilds.

 

You can also go to local art fairs and talk to the woodworkers there.  Some may be from your area, many may not be, but if they are local they could point you to education opportunities you may not be aware of.

 

In Indiana is the Marc Adams School of Woodworking.  It is a high quality school and is a lot closer to you than Maine.  Not as pretty here, though.

 

I highly recommend getting training.  Woodworking is a dangerous activity and safe practices are a must.  The best way to learn those are from hands on supervised training.  Safe practices have to become second nature.

 

Cindy

Indianapolis

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Get out in the shop and start building stuff. Nothing makes you learn faster than doing. Build shop furniture, jigs and small, simple furniture projects for a year or two, then worry about classes.

Agreed. I think you need to get hands on experience. My 10 year old grandson is a good example. The kid can use every machine in my shop and his dads shop and is now learning why things are done the way they are. Yesterday he started the fireplace surround for his game room. I gave him a 100 bf of ugly rough cab alder and just let him go at. Granted he has been at it a few years but here is what he got done so far with no help what so ever.

Get out and make some sawdust is the best way to learn.

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Get out in the shop and start building stuff.  Nothing makes you learn faster than doing.  Build shop furniture, jigs and small, simple furniture projects for a year or two, then worry about classes.

I have to say, this is probably the best way, unless there is a specific skill you wish to acquire, and have not had much success with.  There is almost always more than one way, many times dozens of ways, to complete a project.  A class won't teach you the "Right" way, but just one or a few options.  

 

Youtube and other internet sites take a beating from the general public because anyone can post anything.  But there are also many qualified and capable teachers posting things out there for you to absorb.  Don't be afraid to try something new, just be safe, and budget for a few extra boards!

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There is a woodcraft store in Cleveland that looks like has a pretty good list of classes to get started.  Store link below.  The few classes I have taken have been very helpful.  However, to echo what others have said, start building now, no reason to wait for a class.  In fact I think the classes are a bigger benefit with having a little experience going in to them.  For example I took a class on hand cut dovetails.  I had done a few practice pieces before hand.  While those piece turned out horribly I had some experience going in.  From there I was able to figure out what I had done wrong, where I could improve, and discovered what I had done right.  More importantly, I was able to integrate the class more into my own style of woodworking.  The last benefit, I took my own tools, so that I would use my tools for the class.  This way when I went back home and cut more dovetails, it felt the same.

 

 

 

http://www.woodcraft.com/stores/store.aspx?id=517

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Get out in the shop and start building stuff.  Nothing makes you learn faster than doing.  Build shop furniture, jigs and small, simple furniture projects for a year or two, then worry about classes.

 

We can take Eric's advice one step further, even.  Get in the shop to build projects for a year or so and then it will be apparent what (if any) classes you should take.

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I infer from the OP's post he has not joined the guild and watched those videos.  I agree to others have said about 'go build' and use the web when not sure haw to do something.  That said, I strongly urge he join the guild and watch those videos - for me they are the single best source I have found and have I learned a huge amount from them.

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Cindy,

Education is cyclical. Training, practice, assessment, training, practice....ad nauseum. I don't think anyone here is trying to say forget additional training. Merely that before you drive an hour to a class, practice some to refine your choice.

You nay-say building with simple tools but this is not always a bad thing. Practice can be found in simple things. Take good care when morticing strike plates. This process is very similar to inlay. Take good care when morticing dead bolts cavities. This also is a good place to practice chopping mortises. I moved in December. I have not had the opportunity to set up my shop until I sold some large items that are clogging the garage. Without a shop or a build I invested in several relic hand planes. I spent about ten minutes a night every night since late January restoring and then using the planes on both soft pine and hard Massaranduba. I learned from this and then invested in card scrapers. I learned recently that old plane irons make very agressive scrapers. With this experience I have a better idea what classes I might be willing to drive for. I hope this puts you more at ease that no one would say just jump in with zero training and also demonstrates that very little investment can equal shop time.

Carus

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+1 to eric & Cindy.

 

William, if you have a bit of knowledge and have applied it with some success eric's path will help lead you to further success. Embrace the mistakes and move on. 

 

On the other hand if you are really wet behind the ears Cindy's path will get the ball rolling nicely.

 

In addition the term woodworking is sooooooooo generic it hurts :). What kind of stuff floats your boat? 

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Classes are great, but for many of us, they're a long distance drive and can be quite expensive...at least the good ones.  And I'd be willing to contend that TWW Guild is almost as powerful as a "real life" class...the only thing lacking of course is the hands-on experience with the tools.  But on the other hand, you don't have to travel, you learn whenever and wherever you want and at your own pace, and I'd argue you get a whole lot more for your money than traditional meat space classes. It's also my opinion that almost anything you can learn in a class at Woodcraft you could learn as well or better online...for free.

 

The only way through it is through it.  If woodworking is the goal, then tools will have to be bought, mistakes will have to be made, and wood will have to be mangled.  OP said he's watched all of Marc's free videos...I think that's good enough to get an idea of basic safety guidelines and basic techniques.  Time to get out there and start butchering some lumber.

 

That said, I'm all for taking classes...as long as it's practical to do so.  It's certainly not practical for me to fly to CA for a week to attend William Ng's school, or to spend six months at Inside Passage in Canada...as much as I'd love to.  I'll keep learning right here in front of the computer and out in the shop.  It's been good for me so far.  :)

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Thank you all very much. I knew going into this that safety is most important, it's not difficult for me because I grew up around power tools. I have the creatively and drive to do this. I've even been sketching my own unique designs and love them. Believe when I say this, I greatly respect and value your opinions and advice. I bought a kreg master jig for a dollar and knew it was a calling. lol

I guess the next thing to do is look up some reviews for a table saw and other beginner tools and get in the shop. Thank you all very much.

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Cindy,

Education is cyclical. Training, practice, assessment, training, practice....ad nauseum. I don't think anyone here is trying to say forget additional training. Merely that before you drive an hour to a class, practice some to refine your choice.

You nay-say building with simple tools but this is not always a bad thing. Practice can be found in simple things. Take good care when morticing strike plates. This process is very similar to inlay. Take good care when morticing dead bolts cavities. This also is a good place to practice chopping mortises. I moved in December. I have not had the opportunity to set up my shop until I sold some large items that are clogging the garage. Without a shop or a build I invested in several relic hand planes. I spent about ten minutes a night every night since late January restoring and then using the planes on both soft pine and hard Massaranduba. I learned from this and then invested in card scrapers. I learned recently that old plane irons make very agressive scrapers. With this experience I have a better idea what classes I might be willing to drive for. I hope this puts you more at ease that no one would say just jump in with zero training and also demonstrates that very little investment can equal shop time.

Carus

No, I am not naysaying simple tools.  You are making my point.  A regular person has never heard of a card scraper.  And if they get one, good luck sharpening it.  A regular person buys the chisels at the hardware store and has no idea that they need to be sharpened or how to do that.  A regular person has no idea how to sharpen a plane iron, or how deep to set it, or how not to push it straight across the wood but instead to skew it a bit.  What you are describing as simple skills are in fact advanced skills.  And regular person doesn't know where to buy lumber except for the hardware store, or even that anything else is available. 

 

And yes, as I read some of those answers people did indeed say jump in with zero training and perhaps never even need to take a class.  That disappointed me, pretty much the only time I have been disappointed on this forum.

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+1 to eric & Cindy.

 

William, if you have a bit of knowledge and have applied it with some success eric's path will help lead you to further success. Embrace the mistakes and move on. 

 

On the other hand if you are really wet behind the ears Cindy's path will get the ball rolling nicely.

 

In addition the term woodworking is sooooooooo generic it hurts :). What kind of stuff floats your boat? 

 

I love the idea of building bigger piece's that make you think like some type of floating bed sets and such. I look everywhere for inspiration and draw down what I think would be beautiful.  I pretty much want to do exactly what Mark does, he does such a wide variety of skills. I pretty much want to do that. I would love be become just as talented as you pro's.

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That Mark, he's overrated  :D. But seriously he's seems a great lead to follow, his approach seems really accessible to everyone with bucket loads of good stuff for you to get stuck into.

Large scale stuff is good and can actually be quite flattering to your joinery, just expensive if it goes bad (not that it would of course). Keep us updated with your progress.

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And yes, as I read some of those answers people did indeed say jump in with zero training and perhaps never even need to take a class.  That disappointed me, pretty much the only time I have been disappointed on this forum.

 

I think perhaps this is just a different opinion of what learning is, and how it should be done. Some of the most brilliant people I know, didn't get a drop of their knowledge from a classroom (woodworking and otherwise).

 

There are different brains, that learn differently.  I love my wife, and she is hands down the most intelligent person I know.  She needs to be taught to do most things.  She is a classroom learner (and teacher).  At times it frustrated me, until I realized, neither way is right or wrong, just different.  I am the polar opposite of her.  I can spend days in a classroom, and get nothing out of it, but 20 minutes alone with a problem, and some critical thinking, trial & error, and I have it solved. The same applies for me in the workshop.  I have taken a few classes, and other than getting to play with tools I can't afford, I didn't get much out of it.  It was fun, but not anything I would recommend holding off experience waiting for.   

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No, I am not naysaying simple tools.  You are making my point.  A regular person has never heard of a card scraper.  And if they get one, good luck sharpening it.  A regular person buys the chisels at the hardware store and has no idea that they need to be sharpened or how to do that.  A regular person has no idea how to sharpen a plane iron, or how deep to set it, or how not to push it straight across the wood but instead to skew it a bit.  .

Hell I can't do any of those. :)

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Hi, some interesting discussion. I'm a newbie to this forum and to woodworking; based upon the number of projects I've done. Thought my experience might be helpful.

When I decided to start woodworking I took an 8 week course and chose to build my workbench as a first project. I haven't had the opportunity to take further classes since 2007. However I have read a number of good books including Ernest Joyce, Tage Frid, David Charlesworth...I also subscribed to Fine Woodworking for a few years.

So far I have made a simple small bookcase, a pair of bedside tables, a coffee table and a kingsize bed! From this I have learnt a great deal, recently though I've realised that I hold myself back by agonising too much over trying to get a 'perfect' joint when in reality viewing each joint as practice and moving on is much more beneficial.

My skills with both power and hand tools has improved. I'm cautious by nature so I don't use a power tool without reading the manual and checking safety tips.

I've recently discovered the wood whisperer videos and from what I've seen there is some great stuff on Marc's site and on this forum.

I would say a beginners course can be useful; my bench has been indispensable :-) however don't agonise over it start simple and enjoy it!

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Lots of good answers here. For me, I put a tv and DVD player in the shop, as well as an iPad. I follow the DVD/YouTube video a step at a time. I can back it up as much as needed, slow it down, freeze frame, etc. The availability of great video content is amazing. In addition to Marc's stuff and the Guild, FWW, WWGOA, Paul Sellers, Chris Schwartz, Greg Paolini, and so many more have wonderful teaching materials. I love going to classes, but video is about as close to one on one instruction as you can get and is very cost effective. Just my .02 worth.

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As a fellow woodworking newbie, all I can add is what helped me, personally. I started out dinking around with nothing more than drill and a circular saw. I added a Kreg pocket hole jig for $20 and with that I was able to make some basic, functional furniture for around the house. The plans at Ana White's site are good for this level of knowledge/tools.

 

Soon though, after lots of watching  videos and reading websites I realized I wanted to progress. I wanted to learn about different joints and use a router to do all the magic things it can do. As I started researching more and doing more I began to get frustrated with the limitations of a circular saw so I started researching table saws. My wife got me a router for my birthday and I got scared of the 10 pages of warnings so I never even plugged it in. That probably seems silly to the veterans but when you've never used one and don't know anyone that has and everywhere you look are LOTS OF SCARY WARNINGS it can be a real inhibitor.

 

I know some people say just get out there and build, or watch some guy on YouTube, and that may work for some folks. What got me over the hump however was taking a Woodworking 101 class at the local Woodcraft store. It's pretty basic but it covered all the major power tools (table saw, jointer, planer, router) with hands-on and a lot of safety talk and do's and don'ts which I found invaluable. Shortly afterwards I got a table saw and have been going to town with both it and my router since then. Experience definitely is the best teacher, but if you find yourself in a bit of bind getting started due to lack of basic knowledge, I recommend a hands-on class if there is one nearby.

 

Hope that helps.

Awesome post BDY33  ;)

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Ummm yeah, i received no instruction at all besides how to use power tools an a knife, no woodworking related things at all.

I just started building things with basic tools. Most were crap for a long time and i made a ton of mistakes, thats how i learned..... And i love it.

I didnt even realize woodworking had such a large online or otherwise community available for me to tune into and learn from. In other words with absolutely no instruction, advice or even decent research let alone formal training iv made it pretty far and learned a whole heck of a lot on my own.

Im not goin to get started on my opinions about formal training or "rules" that someone tells you. All i want to say is if you feel you can operate all the tools you wish to use safely- use them, the ones you dont- figure out, ask for advice and research how to operate them safely and go build something... Yes you will make mistakes, your first few things might turn out like poop but you will learn through experience and have fun doing it.

So basically im saying, be safe, have fun, build something (anything at all). When you hit a wall where your lacking in skill or experience, thats when you know to ask for help, research, take a class etc.

And

Cindy? Really? Disappointed in people suggesting to do woodworking? This hobby can be dangerous with certain tools or practices but its nothing you cant overcome without a little common sense and thinking about what's going on/what your doing. I survived this far without a single significant accident with no help from anyone, i think he is going to be alright.

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I got into this industry while never using a single power tool in my life. I can remember my first day on the job. They had me ripping 36" stiles on an 18" northfield table saw. The shop forskin cut one board and said there ya go. I cut the stack down and the fork lift showed up with another stack. These are all precut to length 3" wide 4ft x 4ft x 4ft tall stacks. They had me ripping them to 2 3/4. I did this for three days thinking this sucks as the other guys walked by and just laughed. I was to stupid to realize the giant machine right next to me was an automated rip saw and I wasnt doing a job I was being schooled on how to use a table saw.

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