Get Woodworking, Together

One of the best way to get started in the craft, learn a great deal, and meet other like minded individuals of all skill levels is to take a class or get invloved in a local woodworking club. Classes are great because you get hands on instruction. They can be expensive though. Local clubs on the other hand are an absolute bargain, and often you can attend a meeting or two for free to see if the club is for you. The benefit of local clubs is that you can meet local people who usually are more than eager to help out newcommers and get them started right. Most clubs have lectures and demonstrations fairly regularly, and many have special seminars, group wood buys, and mentor led group builds to help you get your feet wet.

My own club, the Central Jersey Woodworker’s Association, has recently started doing mentor led group builds as a way for us to get together in small groups, work out project details and learn from each other. Participant experience levels run the gamut from rank beginner to seasoned professional, and skill sets are equally as diverse, from CNC to hatchet and drawknife. Group projects like these are a fantastic way to see other woodworker’s shops, learn new skills, build new projects, and make new friendships for nothing more than the cost of a club membership.

So seek out classes, but especially get involved in your local guilds and clubs. The cost of annual membership to one of these organizations typically pays for itself the very first meeting. If you’re around the New Jersey area, feel free to stop in to the CJWA meetings. New members are always welcome. We meet the second Wednesday of the month (except for July and August) and are centrally located to many areas. Click the link above for more information and directions to the meetings.

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4 thoughts on “Get Woodworking, Together

  1. Bob,

    You are definitely right about this. My issue is that the local guild is completely oriented to professionals marketing their work/services. The only class they offer is a paid series of shop tours, all power-centric. At their annual show, I have people coming up to me asking where to take classes. I tell them what I do. The Oregon Woodworkers Guild is a fantastic organization that offers an extensive series of classes appropriate for all skill levels. The problem is it’s 250 miles away. I do it anyway, but it’s expensive and time consuming. It probably makes more sense to take a weeklong course at one of the schools.

    It’s a real shame about the local guild. I’ve hinted that I would help organize beginner classes, but they just aren’t interested. Their priority is making a living, which is understandable.

    • My issue is that the local guild is completely oriented to professionals marketing their work/services. [snip]I’ve hinted that I would help organize beginner classes, but they just aren’t interested. Their priority is making a living, which is understandable.

      It’s absolutely understandable that they would want to focus on making a living. In my club, we have professionals and amateurs alike. Many of the professionals also belong to a professional guild, similar to the one you describe, made up of professionals, and designed to help their businesses. There are many in the professional guild that have no interest in a club like mine. The professionals that are part of my club are there because they simply love the craft. So, if there is enough interest locally in your area, then why not start a new club? You may be surprised that some of the professionals just might be interested in the “amateur” club as well. All it takes is a few like minded individuals. Perhaps you could even propose a local branch of the Oregon Woodworkers Guild. Kind of like SAPFM but on a more local level. If there’s enough local interest, it may not be such a far fetched idea. It just takes a few folks with the willingness to take on the job of organizing everything. Just a thought.

  2. xlnt podcast. You explain things so clearly!!

    Are you ever in Calif. You would be an incredable speaker for our WW club. We are in Sacramento, Ca. Please let me know if you are ever coming this way.

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