It’s the new year, and everyone is busy making resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, and get into better shape. This year, how about making a resolution that will actually be fun to keep?
The Book Store is Now Open! Happy Building!
This is your guide to making a woodworking resolution.
There are many easy things that you can do to increase your woodworking knowledge and skill. Implement some or all of the following techniques, and this will be your most productive woodworking year ever!
You don’t have to do all of these, but make sure to pick up at least a few and give them a try.
Woodworking Resolution Ideas:
- Try Something New
- Take More and Better Pictures
- Keep a Woodworking Notebook
- Become a Student of Woodworking
- Build a Woodworking Library
- Take a Class – Learn a New Technique
- Set Aside a Little Money Weekly for Tools
- Start A Project You Have Been Avoiding
- Make Yourself Some Hand Tools/Jigs
Try Something New This Year
Free Woodworking Tips Delivered Every Monday! Add Me to the List!
Building a different project than you normally make causes you to learn new techniques, use unfamiliar tools, and solve different problems. This is a great way to make a huge leap in your woodworking ability.
I wrote a whole post about trying something new, but the main point is to make sure that it’s different than what you normally make. If you are a guitar maker, try a different instrument. If you make cabinets, maybe try making a table or a piece of wall art. It doesn’t matter if the project is easy or complex, it just has to be different.
If you normally make red tables and then decide to make a blue table, all you are going to learn is where they stock the blue paint at the store. Look around and find something that you would really like to make, and then make sure it’s different than your normal projects. It will make you a better woodworker.
Take Better Pictures of Your Projects
Every woodworker should be taking pictures of their projects from start to finish. Not only do you preserve the memories, but you also build a woodworking portfolio that can be referred to when needed. With digital cameras and computers being so common now, the cost of taking pictures is close to nothing.
I have been taking pictures of my projects from start to finish for years, and even wrote about picture taking in one of my woodworking tips. The pictures are a great reference, and they help me remember how certain projects were made. In the event that I don’t remember something about a build, I have pictures to look through.
You should be taking pictures frequently, even if they are just on your phone. If you do have a digital camera, take your pictures and save them in folders on your computer. If you are not printing out every picture, digital makes photography almost free. So, take lots of pictures as part of your woodworking resolution.
Keep a Woodworking Notebook
Another great woodworking resolution is to keep a notebook. This is actually a two step process. One notebook is very small and stays with you at all times to capture ideas.
The other stays at home or in the shop. This one records the ideas, plus any other useful information from your projects.
Free Woodworking Tips Delivered Every Monday! Add Me to the List!
Ideas come all the time…and they also go all the time. Unless you write down your woodworking ideas, you are bound to forget the majority of them. When I started this process, I couldn’t believe the results. Just reading through the notebook after a week proved to me that I had forgotten the majority of what I had written down. Thankfully I still had them on paper, because a few of them were pretty good.
Once a week, go through the notebook and transfer the best stuff to your in-house notebook in a special ideas section. The rest of the notebook is for project measurements, drawings, finish recipes, and anything else that you need to get on paper. Getting ideas out of your head and onto paper is the easiest way to remember them.
To see my woodworking notebook, take a look at my post.
Become a Student of Woodworking
Becoming a lifelong student of woodworking will always ensure that you keep a fresh edge about the craft. Continually learning is the only way to keep moving forward, and it takes surprisingly little time per day.
If you read, watched videos online, or worked on a new technique for just one hour a day, and maybe a couple couple on the weekend, it would be 400 hours of learning by the end of the year. Four hundred hours of learning is like working a full time job for ten weeks, and it only took you a small amount of time per day. I don’t care what you study. After 400 hours you will be much better than when you started.
Pick a subject, buy a book, or watch videos. As long as you are spending the time learning about woodworking, you will be moving in the right direction. This is a great way to increase your knowledge over time, and a huge part of your woodworking resolution.
The Book Store is Now Open! Happy Building!
Build a Woodworking Library For A Low Price
It’s no secret that I love books. Having written four of them myself, I really enjoy books and hold them in high esteem for anyone wanting to learn something. If you are collecting books on woodworking to increase your education, there is no better place than discount book stores and markets.
I wrote a whole article on building a woodworking library, and the main focus is to have you not break the bank doing it. I have dozens and dozens of books. Most of them came from used book stores. Even in a second hand store they have a clearance area, and I have been able to find many books for $1-$3 each. Some of these were $20-$30 new.
When you build up a library as part of your woodworking resolution, it provides you a resource that covers many aspects of woodworking. Buy books that interest you, especially when you find them really cheap. Even if you don’t use it right away, it may become something you try in the future.
Take A Class – Learn A New Technique
There are many woodworking stores that offer classes. Maybe there is a new technique or tool that you want to learn? Taking a woodworking class is a great way to get hands on information from a real live person.
Books are great, and I use them all the time. However, there is something to be said about having a real person teaching you something. Not only do you have the benefit of their expert instruction, but you also have the ability to ask questions. This alone is worth the price of admission. Most good books will answer the majority of your questions, but a person can answer all of them.
Look for woodworking stores and woodworking clubs in your area. Most of these places offer classes, and sometimes they are pretty inexpensive. Some classes are going to be more than others depending on the subject matter, and a few may require that you purchase some materials as well. Either way you go, a class is a great way to jump start your woodworking skills for the new year, and a great woodworking resolution.
Start Setting Aside Money For New Tools
If you are looking for an easy way to alleviate that pain, then saving money in a tool fund is a great woodworking resolution to adopt.
The power of small things over long time periods is amazing. Even if you only saved a dollar each day in a jar, you would have $365 at the end of the year for tools. That could be a nice bench top power tool, or several other tools.
If you can set aside $20 a week, you will have over $1000 at the end of the year, and that can mean a huge start to next year’s resolution. Yes, it’s going to take you a whole year to make this resolution work. However, next year is coming anyway, whether you save money for tools or not. You might as well start saving now and in a year you will be very happy that you did.
Start a Project You Have Been Avoiding
People love to procrastinate. Inaction is safer than action, and you can never fail at a project that you never start. While that’s a true statement, you still end up failing by default, which is worse than giving it your best try and coming up short.
Today is always the best day to do something. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow may never come. You can only really count on today.
If you have something that you have always wanted to try, or have been worried about starting, make this the year you start it. You can start small, and that’s ok. A large scale build like an acoustic guitar can be daunting. I can tell you from experience that the hardest part of the build is just committing to it and starting.
If you break down the project into smaller chunks, it will be easier. Most projects have logical sections or stopping points. Look for those in the build and break up the project. All you need to do is start the first segment, and finish it. Then, start the second. Before you know it, a long and difficult project can be completed step by step, and it wont feel nearly as hard as you thought.
Make Yourself Some Hand Tools/Jigs
This should be part of every woodworker’s diet. Make your own tools. Once you have a few tools that you made yourself, you will instantly have a higher level connections with the tools that you use for your projects. It can’t be explained, but when you use a tool that you made yourself, you end up working better.
I have several tools that I have made in my shop. I use my 1/8 sheet sanding block all the time, and my hand plane a little less often. When I put that hand plane to work, I feel more connected to what I am doing than at any other time. I understand everything about that hand plane, because I made it. At the time I am using it, I am taking something I made and using it to make something else. It’s a powerful experience.
Start out easy and make yourself a nice sanding block. Then, move on to a hand plane, or an awl, or some sanding sticks. These are commonly needed tools, and you will really enjoy using the tools that you made with your own hands. I wrote about this in my article called Chop Your Own Wood. It explains how making your own tools can warm you twice.
I really hope this is your best woodworking year ever. Spend time learning, and then take that learning out into the shop. Apply the knowledge, and next year you will be an even better woodworker.
If you have any questions on making a woodworking resolution, please leave a comment and I will be glad to answer them. Also, please share my work with your friends on Pinterest! Happy building!
More From Westfarthing Woodworks
I give away the majority of my woodworking, wood finishing, and guitar making tips, but I also have several books if you want to take the next step.
You can see them in my Book Store, and they are all on Amazon.
Also, if you want to Join the Facebook Group, you can do that as well. We are just starting to grow a fantastic community and I would love for you to be part of it.