Can a woodworking hobby bring you joy?

The Joy of a Woodworking Hobby

image two woodworking hobby men smiling

Those with a woodworking hobby enjoy so much about their craft – that experience of creating using wood.  From mastering the techniques and processes to selecting and properly utilizing tools, to the appearance of the grains and feel of a fine finish there is so much to be had.  Even the smell of the shop after the wood has been cut can bring a smile to your face.  Ever leave your shop surprised how much time had gone by while you were there?

However, like any other pursuit, situations exist where incomplete joy springs up.  Mistakes are made, tools misbehave, materials decide to bend and twist, or an idea fails to meet its full potential.  It is a good idea to remove the sources of frustration or impediments to your joy of the pursuit.

I remember one email and one comment that made me think seriously about peoples’ feelings wrapped around their woodworking.

The email was born of frustration and asked simply “Where is the joy?”.  This guy couldn’t exactly figure out how to do a layout using SketchList 3D.   We got through it – but someone having that reaction was a bit of an eye-opener.   Joy?  Yep.

One comment made during one of our  Tuesday night meetings was paraphrasing,  “When you stress how fast you can design, you forget we’re having fun doing these designs. ”  Fun?  Yep.

Fun and joy.  What stands in the way?

Several things add to the fun but a crucial factor, most overlooked, is great design software.

I became more serious about the design aspects of my woodworking about 15 years ago.  It began with a cupboard I made that, to my eye,  really did not work out well at all.

I resolved to learn CAD – yikes!  Spending most of that summer self-learning AutoCAD, Turbocad, and yes even SketchUp.  Less than successful I asked myself “where is the joy?”.  Putting it bluntly that did contribute nothing to my joy of woodworking.   Pretty much the opposite.

Back to pencil and paper, I ran.  After that, I wrote the specifications for woodworking design software that became SketchList 3D.     It sounds arrogant but I feel by providing simple to use design software for woodworkers, I made a small contribution to the joy of woodworking.

But as you know there are many sources of creating a good woodworking experience.  Here are a few ideas.

Woodworking hobby – Design is the key in every respect

Good design is critical to providing a pleasurable experience.   It is what best helps transform your ideas and helps make them a reality.  The design is a road map, a quality assurance tool, and a picture of what is possible.  It is the foundation without which your project will, if not fail, become much harder to get right.

To reach your destination or goal, you need a plan.  In the shop, that plan is in the form of renderings, drawings, materials, and reports.

Master the Woodworking Tools You choose

As a woodworker or someone who does much of their design or fabrication in the woodshop, your tools are essential to your success.  That makes so much sense to an experienced craftsperson.  Still, there are those who economize on equipment and tools, and others who economize on the time and effort it takes to master their use.  Let’s not even mention proper maintenance.

  • Selection – pick the tool the matches the tasks.  Very seldom is a “bargain” tool ever a bargain.
  • Mastery – learn and adjust
  • Maintenance – upkeep and continued investment

Your Shop

The biggest and maybe most important ‘tool’ in your woodworking hobby toolset is your shop.   Driveway, garage, basement, barn, or outbuilding – we all need a place to work and store our stuff.

There are workshop plans available online, but I would caution against buying one, at least without first considering your needs.

This is where planning ahead can save you some frustration. If you want to build your own workshop, plan accordingly so that you will know how much time and money it will take before you buy any materials or commit to a design. Even if you decide not to go through with the construction yourself, at least be aware of what it entails so that you can make an informed decision about which plan will work best for you!

It is curious to non-woodworking people how much time and energy is spent making storage and working units along with various jigs and fixtures for the shop.   But that’s the foundation to a good and safe working environment.  And good dust collection or proper lighting are not luxuries.

Consider Wood

I took a woodworking class at vocational school years and years ago.  The first few hours focused on wood, types, grain, movement.  “In your work wood lives  and moves.”  Or something like that.  I just wanted to start using all those cool machines.  Oh boy, I had lots to learn.

You can find tons of things written about wood.  My current favorite is the book “Understanding Wood” by R. Bruce Hoadley.  {Amazon}

Learn the Techniques

From Joshua Klein:

“Although this universal admiration of hand skill is appreciated, the truth is, woodworking provides no mystery. And fortunately, even if you missed out on taking a thorough shop class in high school and feel ill-equipped to tackle a simple woodworking project, it’s definitely not too late to learn. Here’s a list of some basic skills you would do well to develop.”

7 Skills You Should Have Learned in High School Wood Shop

 

Control Your Environment

This is the most important. I’m reminded of a workshop I attended where the instructor’s statement was “We’re all here to work, not play”. A great environment is one that inspires creativity and joy.

To create this requires some attention to ergonomics, the layout of equipment and space, lighting, noise levels (or no noise), air filtration, and mess control.

My personal woodworking hobby experience of this finds that I am most productive when my workshop has everything laid out in a clear fashion with room for me to move around. My shop has an open area with a table for assembling projects, a tool bench at the center facing the door, and lots of “out-of-the-way” storage.  But make sure you study your environment to see if you can tweak things so it suits your needs better.

Conclusion on the woodworking hobby

There are many sources of joy in woodworking. The key to enjoying your woodworking hobby is to remove the sources of frustration, stress, and other impediments.  It is my opinion, without a doubt, that a good design and plan contributes greatly to the joy and fun of woodworking activities.

For more information on design software for woodworking see this.

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