We recently wrote a brief introduction to blacksmithing. What to expect, the common tools, that kind of thing. When it comes to productive trades, the yin to smithing’s yang would be woodworking. From making tables to trinkets, crafting with wood is a worthwhile craft that might be right for you.
What Carpentry is Good For
Most people think of decorative tables and wooden horse figurines when they think about wood working. While this is a perfectly fine idea, there is far more than just that. Skills learned in the craft can extend to home repair, toys, bows and arrows, even gun parts (stocks) and musical instruments.
When you can make items from wood, you no longer rely on the skills of someone else for something you need. If you’re living off the grid and you broke your chair, you can fix it! You could even make it into a nice side profit. People will pay well for a quality wooden guitar, especially if it’s hand made.
What You Will Need
The most important item of any carpenter is… the wood! There are many types of woods, each better for one thing than another. Some are stronger, others have a richer, more appealing color. If it’s strong but ugly, it’s a good construction resource, but dyed cherrywood would be better for decorative ideas like knife handles.
Then there are the tools. Oh boy, the tools. There’s saws, planes, drills, routers, clamps, sanders and jigs. There’s such a wide variety of tools, each with its own specific purpose, that trying to summarize them in an introductory post like this would be impossible. These tools all perform one major function, however: they alter the form of the wood you are working to fit your needs. Saws cut the wood, planes will flatten and smoothen the wood, clamps hold them in place, etc. We recommend reading FundamentalsOfWoodworking’s beginners guide to woodworking tools if you want a clear and easy to understand description of them all.
Lastly, consider woodworking classes. These don’t have to be in-person seminars or sessions. If you’re an independent learner, then simply finding woodworking tutorials of exercises and repeating them for yourself can be an effective way to learn. We recommend The Complete Book of Woodworking by Mark Johanson and Tom Carpenter (of all the names, right?) It’s a great offline resource for learning and has tons of project tutorials inside.