Hi guys, I've been coming on AOM for about a year or so and only recently starting coming on the forum more often, so I thought now might be a good time to ask for some advice.

I'll be 22 years old this summer, I've worked a lot of different jobs over the years, been working since I was 15 and I've done it all, customer service, landscaping, plumbing, construction, etc. I FINALLY decided that for a career I really think I'd like to get into wood-working, it was a course I really enjoyed in High School, and is really one of the only things I could see myself doing for the next 40 years of my life. 

There are a few obstacles standing in my way however. The most obvious option would be to go to a trade school and take the course, however the only school in my province that offers the course is 4 hours away from where I'm currently living, moving that far away isn't really an option for me, so that's obstacle number 1. My other option would be to find a local wood-shop and try to get hired on as an apprentice and obtain my certificate that way, unfortunately there's only 1 wood-shop locally. 

So I guess my question is, given my current situation what would be the best way to get into wood-working? Are there any alternative ways other than what I have listed.

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Speaking as someone who failed at this, I wish you luck.  I can give you a few observations based on my own mstakes:

1: Job number one is sales.  You may become an excellent craftsman, but if you have no sales you will be dead.  Don't think hanging out your shingle is enough.  "If you build it, they will come" is a fantasy.  Work hard to build a clinetele, and then work even harder to keep them.


 2. Depending on what type of woodworking you get in, no matter how good you get, you will be in competition with Nordic Surprise and a dozen other factories based in some distant Crapistan. If you compete with them, you will need to find ways to keep your prices as low as them. To survive you will have to find your own niche.  Beware: niches are shrinking.  It used to be that a man could do things the machines never could, but as machines keep improving, that is becoming less and less true.  For example, it used to be that machines could not competently replicate complicated carvings, but with 3d printers, that is not quite true anymore.


3. It seems that, today, the real money for woodworkers lies less in the work and more in the teaching of it.  Many of the better workers out there make as much if not more money by running classes.  Something to think about for the future.  Plus, you may wish to look around and see if you can take a few of these classes. 


4.  Contemplate a move.  If you need to study, you need to go where there are masters who can teach you.  Irion.  Frank Klausz. Someone.  They won't come to you.  You need to go to them. 


5. Failing that, get some books on the subject.  A book is far from a living breathing master, but it is better than nothing.


Lastly, if you want to get into woodworking, then get some tools and wood and get into woodworking. It has been done before.   This guy, for instance, one day saw a carving that blew him away, and decided to become a carver.  In his book, he doesn't record any master guiding him. Trial and error.


Good luck.

My first thought was, "Jump in!"

But, to flesh it out, I would say that the best way to learn it to do it.  I would not suggest quitting a job right away, but start a few projects that will challenge you, and, if you do it well, could serve as a portfolio of sorts.  A class isn't like doing it all day, day in and day out.  

Some thoughts to try out... Whatever you do, document it.

  • search through the local Craigslist or Kijiji or whatever for free broken furniture.  Fix/refinish and resell.
  • Build some speakers.  There are lots of good DIY designs on the Internet.  Add your own personal touches.  This would also teach soldering and a little bit of wiring.  Plus there are people who want to build speakers, but don't have a table saw or router.  Offer flat packs of speaker cabinets (all the boards cut, roundovers, holes for drivers, etc.)

Alternative places to sell

  • Craft fairs
  • Craigslist/classifieds
  • eBay
  • etsy

Thanks for the replies & advice guys. Definitely some stuff to take into account and keep in mind. The best thing I do I s'pose is just go for it, give it my all, and hope for the best. Thanks again.


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