You Don’t Want to be a Woodworker

brian forbes westfarthing woodworks author biography about me experience

What? You don’t want to be a woodworker? Stick with me for a while and I promise that you will understand what I mean. Lots of people call themselves woodworkers, myself included, but we are really something more. Woodworking by itself is not an end product, it’s a means of accomplishing something.

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You Don’t Want to Be a Woodworker

you don't want to be a woodworkerIs there something you want to make? Is it made from wood? If you answered yes to those questions, then you need to learn woodworking. The real question what do you want to be.

Woodworking by itself is just the ability to make things from wood. It’s a skill, or a means to an end. I coach new woodworkers to start with the end in mind. This means, start out with what you want to make.

If you want to make tobacco pipes, then you really want to be a pipe maker, not just a woodworker. Woodworking is what will get you to be a pipe maker, which is what you really want to be.

Similarly, if you want to make a guitar, woodworking is what will allow you to call yourself a guitar maker once you complete your instrument. The thing you really want is achieved through woodworking. For that reason, you need to select the tools, materials, disciplines, and study materials based on what you want to make.

If you begin with the end in mind, you will be far more successful at woodworking. The range and scope of all that you can make from wood is too big to comprehend. Almost anything you see in the world around you could be made from wood. The tooling may be similar in some cases, but widely different in others.

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When you decide to use woodworking as a vehicle to your success, make your buying decisions based on what you are building. If you have no idea what you want to make, then figure that out first before you invest in tools that may do nothing for you.

While there are some standards that every shop has, you may end up spending money on something that you hardly use. That is a drain on your budget, and will slow down your progress.

you don't want to be a woodworkerInstead, pick out what you really want to make first. This can be one big thing or a couple things. Once you understand what that is, begin tooling up for those projects. You will save money, and learn the skills necessary to make what you want.

This is a sure fire recipe for success in woodworking, because learning the skill will reward you with the item that you wanted to make. This is far better than just buying tools without direction and hoping that you can make something you like with them.

When I first started making things from wood, I was making magic props as a young kid. I knew how they were made, but they were really expensive from a magic shop. My father helped me, and I was able to make several things including a box that made things appear, and a box that my brother sat in while I shoved a dozen dowel rod “swords” through it. All of these were made on the basement floor in my parent’s house.

This was my first taste of woodworking, and what it could do for me. The props were expensive from the store, but I could make them for a small fraction of the price myself.

One of my next projects was an electric guitar. I asked my dad for a Gibson Explorer, because James Hetfield from Metallica had one, and I was convinced that it would make me a better guitar player. After all, if it was good enough for him, then it was good enough for me. <y dad was not about to get a 15 year old a $1000 guitar, so we made one instead. Again, woodworking helped me achieve my goal of having a high end guitar.

you don't want to be a woodworkerI never once wanted to be a woodworker. When I made those magic props I really wanted to be a magician. I enjoyed magic at the time, and knew I needed to perform good tricks in order to be successful.

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The same thing happened later with the guitar. I wanted a nice guitar, and woodworking got me there.

It wasn’t until several “wants” and even more projects later that I realized woodworking was the only constant thing I was ever interested in. I have made so many different projects over the years that being skilled at making things from wood kind of sneaked up on me. I never even realized it until several years later.

Begin with the end in mind when you are getting into woodworking. One of the biggest tragedies in woodworking is when a beginner buys a bunch of tools with no idea what they want to make. The “want” is what drives you to become a better woodworker. The desire to make something specific is what makes you learn how to use the tools, manipulate the wood, and create something beautiful.

Without the drive from the end goal, woodworking can be a non-starter. A shop full of tools will never get any use of you have nothing to make. Have that end goal. It can be as simple as a picture frame or as elaborate as a book case that covers an entire wall from floor to ceiling. Whatever that end goal is, use it to make you learn about woodworking.

Once you tackle several projects, you will become more rounded. At some point, if you continue making things, you will be able to make almost anything you want. At this point you will know that woodworking has served you well in your goals, and will continue to serve you well for the rest of your life.

If you have any questions on You Don’t Want to be a Woodworker, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building!

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brian forbes westfarthing woodworks llc owner

  • 20 Years Experience in Woodworking
  • 7 Published Books Available on Amazon
  • 750+ Helpful Posts Written
  • 1 Million+ Words Published
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