Hi everyone. I've been all over the net looking for something about women woodworkers. I felt all alone in my interest of furniture. Can anyone give me any advice on where to start learning how to work with wood? I live in southern California (Desert area). Every school I have found is in N.California. Also, What tools should I purchase first? I'm mostly interested in furniture design. I've been reading a lot but have yet to practice anything! I'm dying to get my hands dirty. Any info would be nice.
Welcome to the forum! Our own Carol Reed, advisory board member, is in Ramona, CA, near San Diego. When she is home (!) she teaches router classes. I don't know where you are, but Rockler Woodworking, our sponsor, gives classes in San Diego and Orange County. Palomar College in San Marcos has a well thought-of woodworking program. I'd suggest as a valuable resource, for anyone in the Western USA, to subscribe to 'Woodworker West', a newsy little tabloid that lists gallerys, shows, clubs and organizational news all over the 'left half' of the nation. See them at www.woodwest.com Hope that helps a little! Glad you found us. -Barb S.
Welcome. The folks here range from beginners to professionals with interests in all sorts of woodworking.
If you will go back to some of the earlier pages, you will find other messages like yours that got lots of advice on how to start.
The big idea is to decide what you really want to do, then follow that lead. To say "furniture" is pretty broad -- are you interested in cabinetry, heirloom quality tables/chairs/cupboards/etc., easy "country" pieces? The range is vast. Bookstores such as Barnes and Nobles usually have a good selection of books on woodworking. Try looking through them and figuring out just what direction you wish to take (not that you cannot change your mind later, of course!). Find an easy project, such as a simple bench or small table and start with just what you need for that.
If you cannot find any other nearby help, there is a book called The Complete Guide to Woodworking by Chris Simpson that walks you slowly through classical techniques while building 8 projects. You could use that as a "school" and get help on specific techniques from local folks.
The other piece of advice you will get over and over and over from experienced woodworkers is to buy good tools from the very beginning. Woodworking magazines such as Fine Woodworking, American Woodworker, and Wood Magazine have tool reviews in almost every issue. You can also find lots of reviews online. You can ask the people on this board. People will certainly differ in their opinions, but most will agree that there are certain manufacturers who are consistently better than others.
Try not to buy tools you will outgrow quickly. For example, if you know you are going to do many projects with curves, then buy a decent bandsaw from the beginning (decent can be about $500). On the other hand, most of us do not start out with a $2000 tablesaw! In fact, most of us never can afford a $2000 tablesaw, even if we lust for one! (Powermatic 5hp with Biesemayer fence . . .)
Hi, Laura, I am a beginning woodworker in Northern California. I am taking a fantastic beginning furniture making class at my local community college. We have all made some version of a wooden kitchen tool and are ready to move onto our chosen projects. I was on the waiting list for a year, but it was worth the wait. They allow students to repeat the class up to four semesters. The class is about 50% people seeking a career in furniture making and the rest hobbyists. About 1/3 of the students are women. Check out nearby community colleges under the construction trades section of the catalog.
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