There are two primary ways to learning about woodworking – from exposure and practice. Exposure comes mostly from reading, listening, and watching. Practice involves applying that knowledge.
When I first got interested in woodworking, I read every woodworking book and magazine available at the public library. I attended the annual woodworking show, studied tool catalogs, examined tools at stores, joined a woodworking forum where I started posting questions and reading about others’ experiences.
With all this information bouncing around my head, what did I really know? What did I have to show for it? Nothing.
Then I started putting all this newly-gained knowledge to use. Although I did not have the experience to back up my knowledge, what I did know gave me the confidence to try new techniques.
“You won’t know anything until you try it. Then you’ll learn pretty quickly.”
– Wharton Esherick
When I built Relationship Study, I faced many new challenges. There was a lot of experimenting and I was constantly testing my abilities. Along the way, I learned what worked and what didn’t. When things didn’t work, I examined why. Was it just a bad idea? Would a different approach have been more successful?
“If I don’t ask myself what the hell I’m doing at least once a day, I’m not pushing myself hard enough.”
– Chris Wong
As I progressed, I gained experience and confidence. Of course, there were always barriers to progress. Sometimes conquering those barriers required new skills, tools or materials but most often, I found it was mental, requiring me to let go of what I thought I knew or find another approach.
“Recognize and accept your limitations, so you can move beyond them.”
– Vic Hubbard
Reading, watching, and talking about woodworking has been extremely useful to open my eyes to what is possible, but I have learned the most from hands-on experience. There is no equal or substitute.
“Years teach us more than books.”
– Berthold Aeurbach