By the time you’re 40–50 years old, most of your adult lives’ worth of professional knowledge already rests with you: You’ve built a career and you’ve been around and at one time or another in the woodworking world. The problem is, you’re still looking to the woodworking world for new ideas and new skills.
Fortunately, the best thing about the craft is that there’s a lot of stuff out there to discover. If you look a little, you’ll find a wide variety of good, useful resources out there, from instruction manuals to web pages and newsletters. These can provide the necessary information and techniques you need for any workshop.
If there are no good materials, a lot of good people will have good ideas for what might work for you. So, there should be a wide range of possible projects, from small projects to larger projects. You can be a craftsman and a woodworker at the same time, so it’s great to have as many practical ideas as possible.
If you start a small shop, be sure you find the right one:
Don’t buy stuff just because it’s available online. You can build a shop with what you have, but it will take extra time and dedication to find equipment and other materials.
Look at your needs first. When you’re 40, the wood you need most is hardwood. But if you’re looking at building a woodworking workshop in the 60s or 70s, you probably need some maple, as well as other hardwoods that you don’t often cut your own. There might be some small sawmills that are willing to accept wood if you can cut it, and you can send your saws to one you like.
If you’ve built a workshop before, start from scratch. This doesn’t mean building a replica like the ones pictured on the Internet, but starting from an idea. There’s nothing you’ve done to get an idea that can’t be replicated, even down to the details of the sawmill, which will be your final boss. You’ll end up with something that works!
Try to get some tools before you buy them. A good tool is just as important as the thing you’re working with. That’s especially true for your tools, because you may never need or want something. Some other pieces also cost money to buy—they’re less valuable. If you can find something you love and it costs a tenth of the cost of the things in the
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