A few months ago, after Woodworking In America was over, Tom Iovino of Tomsworkbench.com (The man, the myth, the monkey) came up with this great idea that quickly evolved into Get Woodworking Week. The concept is simple-use our own experiences in this great hobby to encourage others to try and take the plunge themselves. You don’t need much to get started, and the rewards are infinite. My contribution to this effort is part personal back-story and part super simple project.
I, like a lot of other people, was originally bitten by the bug as far back as college, when as an Advertising Design major, made my own supply cart out of particle board that I thought was pretty darn clever at the time. It had a few drawers, vertical dividers to hold works-in-progress, and a flip-open top that gave me two usable areas when I needed it. Fast forward to married life. By that time I was already a fanatical viewer of This Old House and the New Yankee Workshop, but my budget rarely allowed me to do much more than some home improvement projects. Actual furniture making was out of the question, even though the fire was still smoldering to do so. Every once in a while, I was able to save up enough to buy a tool to add to my collection in hopes that it would eventually lead me back here. A nine-inch long piece of cherry.
Around Christmas time, my Mom was looking for a way to hang some cordial glasses she has underneath the cabinets in her kitchen, accessible but out of the way. Normal cup hooks from the big box stores were way too small for what she wanted, so I volunteered to make her something using what I had at home-except I didn’t have hooks big enough at home, so those came from Lee Valley. I laid the 4 hooks across a cherry board that I’ve had laying around for close to 10 years now, and came up with a length of 9″. I used my table saw to cut it both to length and to rip the width, although a jig saw would have done just as well. I then used both a #4 smoothing plane and a low-angle block plane to true up and smooth the board for finishing. Yes, I consider myself a hybrid woodworker (there’s a term you’ll hear a lot) and use the hand tools mostly for finish work at this point. None of my hand planes are Lie-Nielsen or Veritas, they are either WoodRiver or vintage Stanleys I got from eBay. I’ve learned to get the best that I can afford, and to only buy a tool when I actually need to.
After I got the board flat and square (no sanding involved-hand planing leaves a surface as smooth as glass and is well worth the effort), I applied 2 coats of boiled linseed oil over 2 nights, which makes the grain really pop. Then it was 2 coats of Arm-R-Seal to complete the finish and seal it against things that happen in a kitchen. Last night I attached the hooks and think it looks pretty good for a short stick of wood.
The point is, woodworking can be enormously gratifying even when doing the smallest of projects, and it doesn’t take that much to get started. The online community has a wealth of information-much of it free-and is extremely helpful and supportive to newcomers. I’ve made a lot of great friends here over the past few years, and hope to meet and make more in the future. Now get off your butt and Get Woodworking!