Learning Woodworking

I thought there could be no better way to start a woodworking blog than with a post about how to get started working with wood. I've always had an interest in working with making things, be it model rockets or helping build a playhouse in the sandbox. Ten years ago, I took the plunge and bought a table saw and haven't looked back since. Whatever your reasons or skill level, building something tangible with your hands can be very rewarding.


One of the easiest ways to get started is to take a class. Getting hands-on instruction is one of the best ways to learn woodworking. Books, magazines and videos, while useful, are no substitute for having someone right there to demonstrate and help.In addition, you will learn what kind of tools you need and what features are important when selecting your own set of tools.

Classes can be found in a variety of places:

  • Community Colleges. Many community colleges have a series of woodworking classes. Some are tailored towards those looking to pursue a career in woodworking. Others are designed with the hobbyist in mind as well.
  • Woodworking Stores. Many woodworking stores, such as Woodcraft and Rockler, offer classes on a variety of topics. While these are as much a marketing event as a chance to share knowledge about woodworking, taking classes from woodworking supply store can be a good way to learn about and try out new tools before purchasing.
  • Workshop Co-ops/Clubs. In many cases, it is possible to join a co-op or woodworking club. Membership usually provides access to shared workshop space as well as the chance to take classes and work alongside more experienced woodworkers. This can be a great option if you are limited for space in your current home but want to get started with woodworking.

This list is certainly not exhaustive. Search for "adult education" or "continuing education" for additional resources that may be available in your area.


If you are not able to take a class or no classes are available in your area, there is no shortage of books and magazines on the subject. Want to learn more about sharpening your tools? There's an entire book about that. Want to get the most out of your bandsaw? There's a book devoted to that too.


As with any other subject, there are several magazines that cover all aspects of woodworking. They include everything from tool reviews to specific techniques. From how to set up shop to step-by-step instructions for building a particular project. Some of the more notable magazines include:

  • Fine Woodworking. Considered by many to be one of the best magazines. Early issues going back to the 1970s are considered collectible in some circles. Published bimonthly.
  • WOOD. Provides useful tips and tricks, articles on various techniques and tools, tool reviews, and step-by-step instructions for how to build featured projects. Usually includes a "Basic Built" section for those just getting started or with limited tools.
  • Woodsmith. Mainly contains step-by-step instructions for a few featured projects. However it does provide useful tips for woodworking in general.
  • Shopsmith. Produced by the same publisher as Woodsmith, this magazine emphasizes projects for the shop instead of furniture.
There are certainly many more that I have left out. A visit to your local bookstore should give you a sense of what is available.


For many of us, our interest in woodworking was fueled by watching Norm Abram on the New Yankee Workshop (as well as This Old House). While the show is not on the air anymore, project videos are still available for purchase. In addition, some episodes are now available online.

Videos are a great way to see specific techniques demonstrated or how a project goes together. Be careful, however, that you have realistic expectations when watching videos. A 30-minute video might show the result of several days of work.

As you can see, there are lots of resources out there for learning woodworking (including this blog). In future blog posts, I will delve into some of the more practical matters related to getting started, including selecting tools, how to use them, and where to put them.

I look forward to sharing my interest and knowledge of woodworking with you!

1 comment:

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