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How Did You Learn Woodworking?

How did you learn woodworking?

I’ve asked a few members this question and have learned each of us took slightly different routes.   As for me, it was a combination of things.

Credit goes to my father for most of my early learning.   In my early teens he insisted that I sit in his shop most of the day on Saturday watching him build something.   At first, I wasn’t much interested, and it was particularly hard in the summer when I wanted to be doing something else.  But eventually my interest began to build as he let me help with some of the actual building and even suggest projects of my own; usually cabinets for radios that I had built.

When I got married and moved out of my parents’ house into an apartment, I had a sudden need for some furniture.  With only a few tools, and an immediate need, I turned to furniture kits.  I had developed an interest in period furniture in my early 20’s having admired the many antiques my grandparents had.   Kits were instrumental in helping me understand the anatomy and joinery techniques of period furniture, well beyond the simpler ones employed by my father.  I used what I learned from kit building to build many original pieces of my own.

Years later I relocated to Columbus, OH for a job opportunity.  I soon started taking classes at the local Woodcraft store.  The owner got to know me and suggested that I get involved with a relatively new group (at the time) called Society of American Period Furniture Makers (SAPFM).    These folks were in a whole different league than what I was accustomed to.   I tried to make every meeting and workshop that I could despite traveling for work nearly 100% of the time.  I had been building Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture up to this point, but the member of the Ohio River Valley chapter introduced me to the Federal Period furniture style.   Meetings were both inspiring and humbling at the same time.  I realized I had to ratchet up my skills in order pursue this new interest.

It was April 14, 2016 when I joined CFWG and gave my first presentation that very same night.  I had never been to a meeting and didn’t know a soul.  Having retired 3 months earlier, I was ready to become a contributor, not just a spectator.   I wouldn’t recommend that you wait as long as I did, but being a ‘road warrior’ has a way of putting a damper on community involvement.   Between giving numerous presentations for three different woodworking clubs that I’m involved with, visiting shops, and collaborating with our members on projects (mentoring), I’ve continued to learn.

So back to the question “How did you learn woodworking?”   I’d like you to share your story on our blog.   It doesn’t need to be as long as mine (unless you need the practice writing monthly President’s Messages).  A short comment would be appreciated.   Logged in members will find this article in the blog section of our web-site.   Simply write a reply, then click the “Post Comment” button.

Joe Kunzman

Joe is a retired CPA and Sr. IT Data Storage Architect. He resides in Lake Helen, FL with his wife Marie. His woodworking interests include cabinetry and building 18th century reproduction furniture. He is also the Florida Chapter President of Society of American Period Furniture Makers. When not making sawdust, he also spends his time building embedded systems with microprocessors, such as Arduino.

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