Traditionally, crafts and trade skills were either something you found you could do, or your parents apprenticed you to a tradesman to learn whether you were any good or not. Fortunately, things have moved on from there, and more people are taking up woodworking as a pastime. Restoring pieces of furniture for re-use or as an outlet for creative energy can be quite cathartic. Whatever your reasons for wanting to get into it, there are core woodworking techniques that the hobbyist needs to learn if they are to produce work of any quality.
It’s good then, that apprenticing for five years is no longer the only way we learn skills. Now it’s possible to read a book or watch a video to gain skills. While a trade like woodworking needs practical use to develop and perfect, the theory behind it all can easily be gained from books and videos. A decent book with clear illustrations is also a great reference resource for when you’re honing your skills or putting them to use. The technically minded among you will also appreciate CD-ROMs which offer the same thing but on a computer.
If you want to learn woodworking techniques, we certainly wouldn’t advocate doing it purely from a book or video. There is too much to it, and it’s one of those pastimes that ideally needs practical experience. However, reading a book or watching a video is the best way of exploring the trade before you commit to a class or training. It offers a cheap insight into working with wood and might give you an idea of the breadth and scope of the skill. They can then act as reference material for when you’re using your new found skills.
If you’re looking to build a woodworking video and technique resource then we suggest starting at the beginning. A trade overview, beginners or techniques guide is the best place to start. Even if you have some skills already, refining those skills while learning supporting techniques or those around the same skill level will make you a much more rounded woodworker. You’ll be surprised how many projects involve techniques that have nothing to do with the job in hand. Knowing the basics allows you to solve almost any problem you come up against, and gives you the confidence to tackle more challenging projects later on.
Many colleges and adult education centers offer woodworking courses and instructor-led classes that are ideal for the budding woodworker too, and are an excellent way to learn the trade. The combination of experienced instructors and a safe, controlled environment to practice speeds up the learning process no end. Plus, having someone around to guide you in the right direction is invaluable.
Buying woodworking videos or techniques books isn’t all you’ll need to become a competent woodworker, but it’s a great way to start. If you want to take up working with wood as a trade or hobby, make the first tool you buy a good book. It will show you what’s involved, and act as reference material for the rest of your life.
Here are some good resources to get you started: