Today is the first day of a new month.  I’m beginning this month with a target of 3 posts per week on this blog.

And on the topics of beginnings, I thought it would be a good day to talk about getting started in woodworking.  As members of the Atlantic Woodworkers’ Association, we are often asked what you need to get started in woodworking.  The answer to that question depends mainly on the type of work that you would like to do.  Your starting point will be very different if you want to build furniture  than if you want to turn bowls, carve animals or design toys.

We have built our woodshop gradually, typically picking up new tools according to needs for a specific project.  OK, sometimes, we are unable to resist a new toy that we know will come in handy one day but for the most part we try to have our project drive our acquisitions.  Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself if you are setting up a workshop:

  • What type of projects do you want to make first (or next)?
  • Who is your target audience?  Are you planning to make things mainly for yourself, as gifts for family or friends, to sell at craft shows, or to submit for juried shows?
  • What is your budget?  How much do you have to spend on setting up shop?   Limits on spending – and space – might help determine your priorities.

Of course, these questions can have more than one answer, and your priorities and interests will most certainly change over time but consideration to them at the onset will help you start with the right basics.

Looking for more specific direction?  Here are some recommendations:

  • Talk to woodworkers.  Ask friends with a shop or join a local guild or an online forum.  Ask people what tools that they couldn’t live without – or what they wish they had bought when they started.
  • Try your local library or book store for resources on any project or woodworking style, for woodworkers of all ages.
  • Take a class at the local college or woodworking store.  For example, in Halifax we are lucky to have classes at the Nova Scotia Community College Extended Studies and the Nova Scotia Centre for Craft and Design.  There are also regular seminars at Lee Valley in Bayer’s Lake.  Ask local artisans for other suggestions.
  • Seek resources online.  There are tips and techniques for all levels and interests.  These are just a few – and each one will offer links to others.

If you have other favourite woodworking resources, please share them in comments.