How to become a woodworker? There are no formal qualifications required for you to become a woodworker. I would say that the number one requirement is that you have a love and passion for woodworking. Today woodworkers find employment in many different ways, the largest employers being large commercial manufacturing units.
On the other end of the woodworking career spectrum are independent woodworkers who work for themselves and on contractual basis. There is a wide range of employment opportunities in between these 2 options and the choice you make will depend upon your interest, skill sets and experience.
Experience in woodworking is what counts as qualification with most of the jobs. However it's true that you can find work at beginner levels as well. So how do you become a woodworker to begin with? You need training to learn the woodworking craft.
There was a time when every high school in America had a woodworking class for the students. But budget constraints have put a dent in such programs. Now it is rare to find a woodworking learning program as part of a high school curriculum.
High schools were a good place to get familiar with woodcraft and do acquire of beginner's proficiency. However after that the student had to advance his skills by doing internship, or taking more advanced courses in colleges / institutions that offered such courses.
Many choose to further their woodworking skills on their own. However a very strong word of caution here. Woodworking is dangerous. It's potential to physically hurt you is ever present no matter how simple the job on hand. The proof of that are experienced woodworkers who end up with serious injuries, often after years of having been doing the same kind of work.
The most common reason is human error carelessness followed by usage of unsafe, improper or faulty tools. The meaning of this is that you ought to know how dangerous woodworking is because even the seasoned craftsman can end up getting hurt. Therefore, it is important to first learn proper techniques and the proper way to use woodworking tools.
Don't think that it's just the power tools that can cause injury. In fact good power tools come inbuilt with several safety checks and devices. The hand tools can cause serious injury as well. How to become a woodworker? Are you looking for training or are you looking for ways to start making money from your existing skills? If you want to learn woodworking then these are your options.
How To Learn Woodworking
Learning woodworking is a process that is not so cut and dry. Here are some ways to learn woodworking effectively. Most people use not just one but a combination of these learning processes below. Your skill as a woodworker is an ever-growing process so keep yourself updated, learn new skills to keep things productive and enjoyable .
Find out about the local woodworking guild.
Many places have this. There are often classes, programs and courses organised by them. It is also a place for woodworkers to meet and exchange knowledge and information. In this way it serves as a learning point for both the new and the already initiated woodworkers. Finding a woodworking guild in your city can be a very effective way to learn woodworking.
Read woodworking books. Watch DVDs.
There is extensive material available on woodworking in books on various woodworking related subjects. It is a good idea to start with the basics like measuring, cutting, how to choose the right wood, making the basic joints and the tools that you need.
Majority of woodworkers progress in this manner. They learn the techniques that are required for the project in hand.
You cannot learn the ‘whole’ of woodworking. There are hundreds of techniques and different ways to complete a woodworking project. So start by picking up a project you can handle and learn how to make that. Two book recommendations to beginners would be : The Minimalist Woodworker: Essential Tools and Smart Shop Ideas for Building with Less and The Naked Woodworker
Online courses, videos and tutorials.
There is a great deal of information available online. There are proper courses and tutorials, come free and some as paid online classes. These are good option to learn woodworking from some very experienced woodworkers.
Find a mentor.
Finding someone experienced and knowledgeable who can teach you the art of woodworking could be the best thing that happens to you. There is no substitute for learning with real hands on experience. Like almost any other kind of art form woodworking is best learnt by spending time doing the work. You can look around for local woodworkers who might be willing to take on apprentices. As mentioned in point #1, the local woodworking guild might be a good place to find local woodworkers.
Get basic skills right.
Get skilled at using the basic woodworking tools like different kinds of saws and chisels. You can pretty much do all of woodworking with a few hand tools. Learn to make a mortise and tenon joint and a dovetail joint. Learn other forms of joinery. Cutting and joining is what a lot of woodworking is all about.
Start a small project.
As I have been saying, doing the actual work teaches a lot. This is true for any kind of art and craft. So once you have garnished the basic skills, pick up a small woodworking project for the home or garden. Make a small shed, bird house, fix the porch or make a small table.
How To Find A Woodworking Job
Becoming a woodworker is not always about learning the skill but about finding work. So for a lot of people becoming a woodworker will be about finding good woodworking jobs.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of all carpenters as of May 2012 was $44,520 a year, or $21.41 hourly . The hourly income for wood workers is deemed to range from $34.90 per hour or more, to $11.96 or less per hour for the lowest paid ones. It is also estimated that these figures apply to about 10% of all woodworkers in either end of the spectrum.
On both these sites you can enter your keywords for the kind of woodworking job you are looking for and expect to see very many results of available positions. You can further refine your search on the basis of location, experience level, pay grade, permanent or temporary positions and benefits available.
You will notice that many jobs are commercial woodworking jobs for large mills, assembly lines and mass production houses. The job requirements are also varied and have something for beginners to experienced woodworkers.
Other than this go back to the resources we have listed above for learning woodworking in your community. The same resources can help you find woodworking jobs as well. For example, the woodworking guild will have other woodworkers who will have a network. They might be hiring for some project or will be in a position to put you in touch with someone who is.
Similarly, if you find a mentor or do an apprenticeship with someone, you will find that to be a stepping stone towards an employment position in the future when you are ready for it.
Go into business yourself.
Yes, this is an option for many of you looking to get employed with woodworking jobs. Open your own shop and go into business yourself. You will need some sort of a plan of course regarding how you are going to make the sales and a profit for yourself.
If this is the route you want to go, head over to our Woodworking Business page on which we have already posted expensive information on how to go about making a profitable woodworking business for yourself.