When I lived somewhere else, I ended up having a few really good friends whom I am still close to 16 years after I moved away. One of them was like a father figure to me. The age gap was about right. He was a master woodworker and has had a successful business doing so. We hadn't talked for a while so I wrote him a letter. It sums up a lot of what I have thought about the five years so far. Here is what I wrote:
" …. I've been steadily woodworking for the past 4 or 5 years now. I really enjoy it. The desk we (well mostly you) built back in 2000 was so enjoyable that I wanted to do more. About 6 years ago I remodeled the garage (similar to what you did for my home in Everett). I was all set to go with machine tools. I needed to save up for a year after the remodel before I could afford the tools. I decided I was gong to spend that time researching brands and tools I should get. I really didn't know much about any of machine tools. Well, during that time, I discovered hand tools and the way folks used to woodwork before machine tools became common. It was hard to describe but I felt this huge pull to want to go this direction. I didn't understand it at the time but I do now. I missed working with my hands in the lab. From about age 19 to 36, I was doing wet chemistry in the lab between schooling and work. I really enjoyed it, more so than I realized. In 2004, I took a job as a project manger in the biotech industry and haven't worked in the lab since. The hand tools were a way of filling the void and it requires some level of attention to detail.
Please keep in mind I'm not trying to live in a different century. I have done some projects (nightstand and clocks) for rough sawn boards but getting wood S4S by hand is not fun. As such, I've found a local place in Livermore, where I live, that will mill up S4S wood to the widths and thicknesses I need. As for lengths, they want to prepare the stock in 1o to 12 foot lengths. That is fine. Their prices are comparable to what I would pay at a proper lumber store for S4S. It costs more than rough sawn wood but it takes care of the donkey work.
I've learned a lot and am "enrolled" in an online Master Class series by Paul Sellers. Sellers has a lot of videos on YouTube. I am not fast (couldn't do hand tools for a living) but then again it is a hobby so I don't need it to be fast. I am at best average from a skill perspective but I find if I am patient, I can make things look pretty good. It's been a lot of fun. I mostly work in cherry and have done a little with walnut and often will use some maple as a contrast. Garnet shellac (sometimes called ruby shellac) is my favorite finish for cherry.
The one perk of hand tools is that I don't really need a lot of space. I am working against one wall in the garage and have almost all my tools hanging on pegboard in front of me, under the bench, or on the side. I have some storage shelfs in another part of the garage that I use to hold my wood. The cabinets, though nice, weren't really necessary in retrospect. Such is life.
Attached are some images of various things I've made as well as my shop. Next time I call (soon) we can chat more about woodworking. I would love to see some of your recent projects. …."