I have heard some of you saying that if you want to be an expert woodworker you have to spend a large amount of time on it. I disagree with those views, and I do think it is important to be good with, and understanding of, tools that are common in an average workshop, like bandsaw, router table, circular saw, etc… I will say that I think the average woodworker needs to spend about 5-7 years of his/her life learning the basics of woodworking, and then gradually increase their level as they gain experience. It is also important to take into account the number of woodworking tools and tools to use – it’s the same in any profession. It can take many years to reach the “professional” level, or at the very least the basics of the trade (in the case of carpentry). I have had 2 different trades schools over those years – one was based in a small town in Minnesota, the other was based in Washington DC. I have noticed that many students have different ideas about their craft, they have different training in different trades, and that’s why you can be an expert with, say, a bandsaw and a pair of plywood circular planters… but be poor with a hand saw – that is a typical trade. So there is only one right way to learn woodworking. The other is to learn the trade – in this case it is the way of being an expert in carpentry – the way to becoming a woodworker.
How do you maintain your carpentry skills when you are travelling across the country (especially in the summer)?
As long as I have had the carpentry education I have always lived in home where I could take it with me all the time. I live in a small town and commute everyday around 2 hours to work or live. When I was in Seattle recently some one in my family, who is a furniture contractor, hired me as his electrician and I spent a week and a half working on a home and making all the needed adjustments to it. I did this for free because I wasn’t going to ask my wife for a raise. And because I have the money to do that. But when I was in Seattle I got stuck without my car keys back in my house a few times, which is a pity because it would help me a lot there I guess.
What’s your advice to someone considering a career in carpentry?
You need to start by taking a carpentry class. Then you
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