I never took woodshop – wasn’t offered at my middle school, didn’t seem like straight track to college/one more honors course in high school. My parents’ tools pretty much fit in a toolbox, with a saw hanging on the wall for cutting down a Christmas tree. We are not handy.
I know that some of this is a middle class luxury, one of omission more than actual disdain, like not knowing how to change your oil or being blissfully unaware of coupons or something. But, unlike canning or knitting or other semi-forgotten generational knowledge that one can learn, be relatively sure one is doing correctly, and not risk losing any limbs, there’s something a little intimidating about power tools. It’s hard to teach yourself, to my way of thinking. Maybe that just shows the extent of my ignorance.
At the local home resource center, they’ll not only let you use their woodshop for as little as two bucks an hour, depending on your household income, they’ll also teach you how to use their tools. Safely. And so with a fair amount of excitement and a healthy dose of trepidation, I enrolled in a four hour Intro to Power Tools course. Figured, if nothing else, it totally counts as a creative activity worthy of a blog post!
It was actually pretty bad ass, to my way of thinking. I was the least experienced by far (one guy was “building a small house” while another came with a sketchbook full of furniture drawings….) but I walked away feeling pretty OK about operating a jointer, a planer, a drill press, a chop saw, a belt saw, and even the dreaded table saw. When I walked in this evening after work, I didn’t even know half of those things existed, what their names were, let alone how to use them and keep all of my limbs. And already I’m thinking of projects, which is pretty empowering. I’d like to build a small bench for my back patio. I think I could cut mitered corners to frame a basic mirror. And now I’m going to look at all of those Before & After projects with a whole new set of eyes.
Do you know your way around a shop, or do you hammer nails in crooked (um, guilty as charged)? Any projects you’d like to tackle, either with tools you have or if only you knew how to use the tools you need? Any advice on where to begin building a basic toolbox with more than hammer/screwdriver/wrench/drill?