How Long Does it Take to Learn Woodworking?

Woodworking is considered to be a lost art to some, and to others it is a great adventure and financial livelihood.

Whether learning cabinetry, furniture building, or ornate design with large or small pieces, mastering the skill of woodworking might seem a bit daunting.  

How long does it take to learn woodworking? While professional woodworkers continue to perfect their craft their entire careers, some professional woodworking programs help you acquire basic knowledge in less than 1 year before starting an apprenticeship. Depending on your natural skill level, you can likely begin on your own in 3-4 years.

There is no set amount of time that it takes to learn woodworking, although acquiring the skills of professional woodworking can take years.

For a hobby, it is going to depend on the individual who is learning, the time they are able to dedicate to woodworking, and the level of difficulty of their projects. Let’s take a closer look.

How to Learn Woodworking

As you stare at the beautiful piece of furniture that has been passed down in your family for generations, you can admire and appreciate the work that went into making this piece come to life.

After all, the ornate detail and precise woodwork are likely what makes this piece so durable and unique.

Fortunately, you, too, can learn how to make incredible types of furniture, cabinetry, and other types of projects depending on the type of woodworking you are aiming to achieve. 

To learn woodworking, consider the following steps:

  1. Select the type of woodworking you would like to learn. Since there are many different types of woodworking, you need to select the basic type that you would like to look more into. Knowing if you would like to work with woodworking machinery, cabinetry, furniture, large or small projects, etc. can help you to determine your next move.
  2. Research various programs. After you select the type of woodworking you would like to learn, it is time to evaluate specific programs relevant to this type of work. Search for cost, timeframe, and locations that are within your reach.
  3. Find a local woodworker you can shadow. As you begin your program (or maybe even before you decide on one), it is important to find someone who knows what they are doing. Woodworking is not a skill you can learn entirely online. Since it is hands-on, you will need someone who is skilled at woodworking to show you the ropes. 
  4. Acquire an apprenticeship. After you begin a woodworking program and learn the basics, it is best to acquire an apprenticeship. Learning hands-on is the best way to elevate your woodworking skills. 
  5. Practice your skills and overcome your fears. Now, for the rest of your woodworking life, continue practicing your skills and overcoming the fears and myths that hold you back. Speaking of which, let’s take a closer look at a few of the myths about getting into woodworking.

6 Myths About Getting Into Woodworking 

Woodworking is a skill that can be very simplistic or it can be incredibly complicated.

What is so great about this craft is that you can choose your level of craftsmanship and still be quite good whether you are working with more basic projects or you are carving a house made of wood.

Your level of knowledge is up to you and thus your options are unlimited!

You will never know it all, but you can spend a lifetime learning so you will never be bored.  

1.Woodworking Takes Eons to Learn 

As mentioned previously, the appeal that is behind woodworking is that you can either be a basic woodworker or you can go all out.

This doesn’t mean you get more or less street credit, it simply means that you can tailor your woodworking knowledge to your own personal goals and needs.

Because of this, woodworking can either be a quick learn or it can be a subject you continue to pursue and expand in for an entire lifetime. 

If you want to make a coffee table, you don’t need to know how to perfect a cut for intricate crown molding.

You need to know how to measure and cut, saw and stain, and piece those parts together so that your coffee remains on the table and not on the floor.

More knowledge outside of that isn’t needed, but that first focus is a fantastic base for any more intricate projects that you plan to pursue. 

2. You Need a Ton of Tools 

When most people think of woodworking, they immediately assume that you need a workspace full of unlimited tools.

Sure, there are few things as aesthetically pleasing as a well-organized, extensively stocked workplace.

We all want one, but we all don’t need one.

Heck, many don’t even have that type of space to allot to their woodworking hobby.

This doesn’t mean you can’t get the job done though. 

If you are doing small jobs, the basics will likely get your goal accomplished.

You likely already have a hammer, screwdrivers, and maybe even a drill.

After that, you of course want to add a few chisels and even a saw if you plan to cut on your own.

What is so great about modern electric tools is that many can accomplish more than one job.

Find a few that are multi-purpose and can diminish how many tools you need to stack up inside your work area. 

3. The Tools are Out to Get You

Have you ever seen a circular saw and immediately pictured yourself with only one hand rather than two?

So many times people look at woodworking tools, especially electric ones, and think “There is no way that is safe.” I’ll give and say, yes, those tools can be intimidating!

However, think of a new tool as you would riding a bike like the first time.

You had no idea what you were doing, but with a little practice you had it down in no time. 

Once you had the skill mastered, fear was completely out of the picture.

Woodworking tools are designed to be safe.

This isn’t “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”- tools that are intended to be used in a way that shouldn’t bring you even an ounce of harm.

When you have an injury, it is likely the operator that is to blame, not the tool. Understand how the tool works, learn how to use it safely, practice using it, and you’ll be riding that bike in no time. 

4. You’ve Got to Have a Shop 

Few woodworkers on this Earth who want anything less than a designated shop for their woodworking endeavors.

After all, what about walking into a spacious shop filled with oak countertops, glistening with sharpened saws, and walls covered in only the best tools sounds bad?

Nothing, it sounds amazing. However, this isn’t possible for everyone.

Just because you don’t have a shop that everyone envies doesn’t mean you can’t woodwork. 

Here’s the deal, if you have a waist-high surface that is flat, you’ve got a shop.

It might be little, but it’ll work just fine.

Now, this of course depends on the size of your project, but if you are working with something small, you don’t need a ton of room.

For bigger projects, even getting them done outside or in a garage will work perfectly.

You simply need a flat surface and a little room and you’ve got your start.

5. Projects Will Never End 

So many people consider woodworking, but when they get to thinking, they shelve the idea because of the belief that the projects will take up way too much time.

It’s true, woodworking projects don’t come with a “How To” guide from IKEA.

Especially if you are new at this, they will take you a bit to take from start to finish, but this doesn’t mean the project is going to require all of your attention for weeks on end. 

Experience will play a part in this, but also the level of difficulty that your project takes.

Some projects can be done in an afternoon and some do take a few weeks, but the time you give the projects also plays a part.

Be sure to see what time you have to allot to a project and if it’s too long, try something else.

Your time is your own and so are your projects, totally in your hands!

6. Failure is Bad

It is totally understandable to be intimidated by the start of this new venture.

I mean come on, you are working with your hands around tools that you haven’t even the slightest clue about with a piece of wood that can be ruined by your own lack of skill.

There is a lot to lose, right? Wrong, there is so much to gain!

The first step in being an out-of-this-world woodworker is having confidence.

Not just confidence in your ability, but also confidence in failure. 

Yep, I said it, confidence in failure.

No matter what the task is, if you are a newbie, you are without a doubt going to fail at one point or another.

With woodworking, there will be times when you put together a side table a bit haphazardly when you forget to keep your workpiece up against the fence of your saw and it comes out chipped to bits, and when you bang up a piece so bad that is no longer even recognizable. 

Failure is part of the process and in order to improve your skill, you are going to have to mess up.

So when (not if) this happens, take the loss and keep moving forward.

These are lessons that are going to carve you into the woodworker you are destined to become (see what I did there?).

Failure is the seed of success and sometimes it is a big part of that success.

Don’t worry, keep working on your craft, and one day you’ll look back laughing at your novelty. 

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