View Full Version : Getting started
08-21-2001, 06:00 PM
Well I finally figured it out. For years, I have bought my sig other books on building projects like lawn and patio furniture, birdhouses and things like that. I have bought tool bags and jig saws and last year an expensive table saw last Christmas because he always said "I can't do it, I don't have a table saw". The table saw hasn't made out of the box. Heck, he hasn't been able to figure out how to make a simple frame for a porch swing (and he has been trying to figure it out for weeks now). FINALLY I have realized that I am the one who has the burning desire to work with wood. I ASSUMED that because he was male, HE should be able to do it and want to do it too! How sexist!
The problem is that I do not even know how to use a drill or any other tools for that matter. Now if I can manage to go back to college after being out of high school for years and raise a sickly child at the same time(I am now a biologist and college instructor), why in the world am I so intiminated by these tools? How do I get started?
08-21-2001, 06:17 PM
Welcome to the forum! And to the wonderful world of woodworking.
I've been married far too long to make cracks about sexist women :) but trust me when I tell you that EVERYONE has this intimidation at first. The only real difference is that most guys get some sort of introduction to tools much earlier in life. No need to feel weird about your intimidation. In fact, fear, turned into health respect, will keep all of your body parts where they belong.
To learn the tools and techniques, I have a few suggestions:
I teach classes at the local Woodcraft store. There are also three different local clubs that meet there each month. Your local woodworking store is a good place to ask.
Often, adult education programs or local tech colleges offer woodworking classes.
Check at your local Lowes or Home Depot, they run classes all the time in specific project how to's. You can learn about a lot of tools there.
Don't neglect perusing the woodworking section of your bookstore, and there are several good magazines out there that can help you build your skills. I particularly like Woodworker's Journal and ShopNotes. (OK, I admit to a bias for Woodworker's Journal, :) but it is a great magazine and a sponsor for this forum)
Get a dish for your TV, New Yankee Workshop is on my system THREE times each weekday, and twice on both weekend days! :)
Seriously, a little asking around in your area and I'm sure you'll find several ways to proceed.
And never be shy about asking lots of questions here. There is a huge knowledge base here to tap into.
Hope this helps,
08-21-2001, 06:33 PM
I give you mucho kudos for just making the post. That is your first step. The tools can be intimidating...some of them, just plain scarey...to both men and women, or they should be.
I suggest you start with some simple project that involves the less intimidating tools. When I started back into woodworking, after 20 years hiatus of fast-track-business time, I started by making the 2-step shaker library stool that was subject of the then current New Yankee Workshop. It was so much fun, I made four- great presents and a great startup project. While you can use a lot of power tools to make them, I used what I had at the time, a jig saw, doweling jig (ugh) and a handsaw for hand dovetails...no, I had never done dovetails before.
I am a believer of getting just the tools that you need for the current project; learning these tools as you go. It is amazing how the shop and the skills grow.
Maureen is a young lady who spends time in my shop at times. She is an eager learner of everything woodworking. I have a feeling, you will be the same
08-22-2001, 11:14 AM
Congratulations on your desire to take up woodworking. If you know that's what you want to do, you'll have no problem learning. There are sources of information everywhere, from the internet to the bookstore to your neighbour.
I am self-taught, have never attended a class (too cheap), and have learned all I needed to know by starting small and working my way up. The internet has been a particularly good source of ideas and instruction.
Being self-taught and learning the hard way, I have one recommendation: have someone show you how to use that tablesaw. I don't mean how to cut, but how to avoid injury with proper cutting techniques. There are a few simple rules I wish I'd known before I started to use mine. Chances are you know a woodworker who can take an hour and show you.
Anyway, that's my two cents. Don't be afraid of big projects, you really learn a lot from those, and have fun!
08-22-2001, 12:05 PM
on learning the Table Saw. It is not one to learn by life's experiences, since it may be your life. Too many of us have learned this the hard way. I am lucky, that I escaped serious injury the several times I erred.
I put up a special section on my website just on Table Saw Safety. Read it please, but also find the woodworker who can tutor you on it properly ... one danger here is that a lot of "so-called tutors" have learned and adopted bad practises...including the Norm who we all revere.
Here is the page: www.woodshopdemos.com (http://<a href=)/safe-1.htm">http://www.woodshopdemos.com/safe-1.htm</a>
08-22-2001, 11:50 PM
LAST EDITED ON Aug-23-01 AT 00:54AM (CDT)
Dear Dear Dee: I sympathize with you, I too have a hubby who talks a good game, but he can't saw a piece of wood straight. Don't pay any attention to all the formal gossip you will be given about how to get started, just get to the tools and start. Look around your house and decide what it is you want to make, then go out and make it. Draw a picture, take some measurement, and write down a plan. All of the tools you have, came with instruction manuals so read them and start using them. If your first project isn't show quality, who cares you're the only one who has to see it. Experiment, that's the only way to start. There's only three things you have to remember when working with tools, wear safety glasses at all times, wear a safety mask so you're not sucking all that sawdust into your lungs, and keep your fingers away from all moving objects.
08-23-2001, 03:29 PM
I have always loved working with wood. I have recently started reading and researching and buying some tools. I ask lots of questions in every store I visit. I buy books and read up. I visit this site and Badger Pond routinely. There is so much good advice around and the folks you meet on these forums are great! And I have read the directions that come with the tools. I don't mean to be rude (and no 'male bashing' intended, guys), but none of those instruction books say "requires male private parts" so there is no reason why we women can't use them (power tools). One thing you might consider as you start to purchase tools is that tools with handles are often designed for men, who tend to have larger hands than women. Take everyone's tool recommendations with a grain of salt (or two!) and make part of your purchase decision based on how a tool fits and feels in YOUR hands.
Thank You John! This is one of the best statments that I heard yet. If you learn good work habits they are so hard to break, the same goes for bad work habits. I was very fortunate to have a wonderful tutor "Pinky" . The blade gaurd was always on. If it had to be removed for different reasons you had to explain why. It seemed like a pain when the folks on TV didn't do it. The table saw comes up most often I think its because most of the original blade gaurdes are such a pain in the .... But it also hold true with all the other power tools, and hand tools.
If you have the oppertunity take one of those classes they can really get you headed in the right direction quickly. Take Care of you tools and they take care of you.
Hi, Dee. I'm Mara and happy to find another "rookie" out there. The advice about tools made for larger hands is right on the money.
My Dremel has saved the day (not to mention arm muscles) more than once due to it's light weight and power. Pre-drill holes with a cordless drill? Not anymore.
Good luck & hopefully we'll come out of this with some really cool stuff or in the very least a lot of custom toothpicks.
08-25-2001, 01:45 PM
Probably worth your while checking out a local community college. Ours (Austin (TX) CC) offers a couple of certificate programs in construction and fine furniture, maybe more, most courses are offered for credit and continuing ed, day and night classes. At a minimum you'd have access to all sorts of machinery and instruction in its use. Not very expensive, either.