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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin


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Want To Be A Woodworker? – Learn To Keep The Peace!


In keeping with the spirit of "Get Woodworking Week" there are a few basic rules that have not been covered but that are vitally important to new-to-the-hobby woodworkers.

Aspiring woodworkers will eventually need a dedicated place to work, more tools, and more time for their hobby. But all of that will mean little unless new woodworkers maintain healthy personal relationships and détente in their households. Here are a few critical hints you won't see anywhere else:

  • The kitchen sink is not for washing paintbrushes.
  • Bowls and glasses from the cupboard are not for mixing finishes.
  • The washing machine is "verboten" when it comes to shop rags.
  • Cleaning saw blades in the dishwasher is not cool.
  • A squeaky hinge or sticky door is not enough reason to rip out all the kitchen cupboards and build new ones.
  • The "inside" vacuum cleaner stays inside – no using it in the shop.
  • If you promise to build something for your mother-in-law, do it...no procrastination. There is no more important "client."
  • Shop clothes are not to be confused with "going out to dinner" clothes.
  • All couples have two sets of friends. Do not assume your spouse's friends are as interested in your shop as your friends.
  • Copious arguments start with one person saying, "I love that table, I want to buy it," and the other person saying, "I can build that better and cheaper." Don't tread there...you can't, and you won't, and it will take forever.
  • Never bring a project into the house unfinished. You won't.
  • Hair dryers are for drying hair, not drying a finish or disassembling a glue joint. Buy a heat gun.
  • When your spouse makes an extravagant purchase, keep the receipt...it may come in handy the next tool you buy.
  • And perhaps the most important tip of all - try not to look like you are having as much fun in the shop as you really are.

Call me old fashioned, but I really care about preserving relationships and the sanctity of woodworking households.

Next month in the Down To Earth Woodworker, Steve will explain Full Immersion Learning, highlight a truly inspiring woodworker, and compare his treatment at a local woodworking store to a wine sommelier at a fine restaurant (this should be interesting!). Stay tuned!

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Steven Johnson is retired from an almost 30-year career selling medical equipment and supplies, and now enjoys improving his shop, his skills, and his designs on a full time basis (although he says home improvement projects and furniture building have been hobbies for most of his adult life).

Steven can be reached directly via email at downtoearthwoodworks@me.com.

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