There’s no doubt about it—woodworking is awesome. You can craft anything from a bed frame, to a birdhouse, to a beautiful piece of wood burning. The sky’s the limit. But the question is, how hard is it, and is it worth it to learn?
As a general rule, woodworking is not that hard when you start out with easier beginner-type projects and gradually work into something more complex. Understanding basic math skills, a mechanical mindset, patient and having the right tools for the right project will make woodworking easier to learn.
Enthusiasm and wanting to learn a new craft make learning woodworking fun and easier too.
But, how can you learn woodworking? And how can you gain other skills that will make it easier to pick up this craft? Don’t worry; throughout this article, we’ll answer all your questions.
Before you spend almost $1,000 on setting up a woodworking studio, it would be good to see if you are more naturally inclined to the skill. You can learn it no matter what, but it will be easier for some people than others.
Naturally good woodworkers usually have these skills:
Kinesthetic/tactile learning is learning with your hands. If you prefer to learn by sitting down and tinkering with something, then you’ll do well woodworking—the whole hobby revolves around working with your hands.
Understanding of Math
No, you can never escape math. Don’t even try. Math is necessary for woodworking—you have to make sure that your measurements are precise in order to put together something that will actually stand on its own. Woodworking is like high school geometry but in real life. If you understood most of your high school geometry and algebra classes, then you’ll be golden. If not, it might be time to hit up Khan Academy for a review.
Attention to Detail
Having a good head for details is necessary…unless you want to be endlessly frustrated when nothing you build fits together. Paying attention to details spells the difference between an ornate table and a useless pile of wood slabs.
Physical Stamina and Endurance
Woodworking can take hours upon hours upon hours, so it’s important to have enough energy to be standing and squatting and sweating for that long. If you’ve got very little stamina, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start doing some small workouts every day. Even less intense workouts, like long walks, will do wonders for your stamina. Then, you will be ready to put in the physical effort to create something out of wood.
Mental Rotation, Mechanical Mindset
Mental rotation is not something many people know about. It’s the ability to look at an image and be able to rotate the object in your head—turning a 2D snapshot into something very real in your mind. This helps you visualize the different angles and surfaces you’ll be working with. If you find yourself easily able to look at objects and imagine how they would look from different angles, then you’ll probably do well in woodworking.
Working with your hands means being able to coordinate hand movements. Obviously, right? You might be hand-eye coordinated if you’re good at video games. If you’re not hand-eye coordinated, then a good way to practice is by playing some video games, especially platformers, like Super Mario.
If video games aren’t your forte, you can also improve by swimming or juggling. But it’s not like you’ll be juggling wood chips in your workspace. You just have to have enough hand-eye coordination to keep from accidentally hurting yourself.
If you don’t have all these skills, don’t worry. This list was just to show you the level of difficulty you might face. You can still definitely learn how to woodwork, and these skills will develop on their own the more time you spend in the studio.
How to Learn Woodworking
If you have your heart set on learning woodworking and carpentry, nothing can stop you. If you have absolutely no experience woodworking, don’t worry. You can become really good at something after only 20 hours of diligent practice, according to Josh Kaufman, bestselling author of The First 20 Hours: Mastering the Toughest Part of Learning Anything.
But you don’t have to buy his book to learn his secret. His Ted Talk explains how to use those 20 hours effectively to learn any skill, whether it’s learning to speak Korean or fencing. Or, in this case, woodworking.
To get started woodworking, there are plenty of resources available online. Woodworkers Guild of America has a slew of ridiculously specific tutorial videos. And yes, you have to pay $6.00 a month for access (or $55.00-$130.00 annually depending on your membership level), but what’s more worth it? Access to Netflix, or the ability to build any furniture you could ever want?
There are other subscription services that have woodworking tutorials, such as Skillshare, but you can also go to YouTube and learn how to woodwork for free. Steve Ramsey has a YouTube channel dedicated to teaching woodworking, and we recommend checking out his introduction of woodworking for beginners:
On his channel, he also goes over different projects you can try and different techniques for beginners. He also answers some common questions about woodworking. He even provides a list of necessary tools that will cost under $1000, but only if you’re willing to send him your name and email.
But, luckily for you, you don’t have to give up your personal information if you don’t want to. Finewoodworking.com provides a guide on how to set up your first woodworking studio, along with what tools you will need to start out.
Woodworking Projects for Beginners
There are a million beginner projects out there, and most of them are pretty small-scale. You might not be able to build an intricate dollhouse or your very own workbench your first time around. But that’s okay—you can build up to that.
Here are some awesome things that you can still make as a beginner:
If none of these tickle your fancy, you can still search online for a beginner project that you’re interested in. Instructables.com has a bunch of options. It will be hard, but after you’ve practiced a bit (enough to replace all your kitchen supplies), you will be advanced enough to build something amazing. You’ve got this!