This is the second episode of the BudDIY podcast, and I want to talk to about Woodworking. Not necessarily fine woodworking where you make super intricate chairs or buffets.
I want to talk to you about going beyond the basics, and learning to make nicer things so people can enjoy them with you.
I will walk you through my journey to finally starting to get into woodworking, and I wrap it up with on of my failures along the way.
Or if you prefer to watch
Hello and welcome to the second episode of the BudDIY podcast. If you’re watching on the website, feel free to jump on over to YouTube and subscribe to the channel and hit that notification bell to know when new episodes come out.
If you’re listening to the audio version on the website at buddiy.net, feel free to open up your podcasting software and subscribe to the podcast. It should hopefully be approved by iTunes soon, which means it’ll distribute out to all major podcasting software out there.
So let’s just jump on in to talking about today’s topic and then get into a failure that revolves around the topic. And I want to make a case of doing woodworking as a DIYer learning how to do woodworking beyond like slapping two 2 x 4s together because there’s benefits to it. There’s cons as well, but there’s benefits short term and long term to being able to learn how to do woodworking.
I want to dive into a little bit of the history of me doing woodworking and some of my evolution and progress through there. And then, I want to tell you about a failure along those lines, what I’m doing to remedy that failure. So with that, let’s jump into a little bit of the history of me and woodworking.
So I think I’ve talked in the past, in the first episode, that my dad was into woodworking. He was very much a practical woodworker and just got things done. I think one of the best pieces he ever did was a floor-to-ceiling cabinet that he built with his dad who ironically was a shop teacher here in Oklahoma and man, looking back on it, it just hit me while I was prepping for the show that I wish I was into woodworking more when I was younger because my grandpa was a shop teacher for some ridiculous amount of time. And, he died many years ago and there would have been a wealth of knowledge that I could have gained from him.
Fortunately, he passed some of that knowledge onto my dad and he’s been able to pass some of it onto me as well, but neither one of us really, I think, got the knowledge that we really could have from my grandpa. So, there’s a little regret from that. But anyway, so one of the things that my dad made was a cabinet. And so I know he knows how to do cabinetry, but if we jump back a little more since I was a teenager, early teens, I’ve always looked at woodworking projects because most of the woodworking projects that my dad would do, he just … it’s like get stuff done. And it never looked all that great.
I saw the piece that my dad made that looked great and I’m like, I know it’s possible, but I know my grandpa had tools that I thought were magic. I mean, I thought they were magical tools that made things look great. And so I always felt like there was a divide between what somebody like me could do and what professional furniture maker could do. And I felt like that chasm was so large that it was unpassable.
So if we fast forward a couple of years, at one point I wanted a desk. It’s funny, I guess as a software developer, desks are important to me. So I’ve made multiple projects that are desks. The two main that stand out is one is when I was younger, teenager, I can’t remember if I was still in high school or not, I made a desk and I was like, I can’t do woodworking, but my dad taught me how to weld a little bit. And so I took some of his scraps of angle iron and I welded up the base of a desk and I was like, “Huh, that’s cool. Maybe I can get glass and put on it.”
And so started researching, getting glass and it was going to be expensive for what I wanted to do. And some of the pressures I wanted to be able to resolve. So I’m like, “Well, I don’t have any money so let’s go get some plywood.” So I got some 3/4″ plywood, cut it in half, sanded it down, stained it and threw it on the stand. And now I had a desk. I had some specific goals with that desk, it accomplished those goals and I was like, “Cool,” but it looked like crap in all honesty.
I mean functional beyond all get out, but it looked like crap. And so again, that reinforced my thinking that Mickey good-looking stuff is just out of the reach of a normal person. Fast forward a decade and I was married and moved into my wife’s house and we’re looking in what’s going to be my office and trying to arrange things. And there’s something about me, I don’t like to look at walls, it’s not something I enjoy when I was sitting at a desk. And so how I wanted to situate my desk in there, the desk would have taken up a very annoying spot in a sense. Like it would’ve wasted some space right in the middle of the room.
So I wanted to build a desk that was L-shaped with a specific arch to open up an area of the office. Well, so I got some wood. My dad and I figured out how to do the arch. I don’t remember exactly how we did it, but I remember it was comical how we finally figured it out and got it done. But it ain’t stupid if it works. Anyway, and so we got that. My wife actually likes to finish furniture and so, as I get deeper I think we’re going to be a great team. She got it home, she sanded it and stained it and figured out some legs and everything. When we got it all working, we got it in the office and it looked a lot better than my first attempt at building a desk. And I think that planted a small seed where maybe it’s possible so you could build good-looking furniture.
We do another little time jump, our hot water here just, it went the way of the dodo bird. Like it just, it went away. Like it just, it went bad. And so we converted over to a tankless water heater and it opened up an enormous amount of space in our laundry room. And at the time we didn’t have any pantry space. And so I was like, “Man, let’s get some cabinets.” And we went and looked at the price of cabinets and I’m like, “Let’s not look at cabinets anymore.” And I remember that my dad had made this cabinet and it was a great piece, like I was in awe when he made it. There were several times I looked at it and I was like, “That’s a good piece. Like, I mean, That is professional.”
And so I was like, “Hey dad, can you show me how you did this?” And he’s like, “I only did it that one time with my dad and so I don’t know if I can do it, but we can give it a shot.” And so middle of August in Oklahoma, it’s 100 degrees outside and we go into my shop and so it’s 110 degrees and we work on building some cabinets and we built some floor-to-ceiling cabinets and get plenty of pantry space and the cabinets look all right. I mean, they lack some quality in the end, but in reality, if you just glance in there like they look good.
And so, it led to one of those things. It’s like, “Awesome, this is really good. This is great. I’m glad that I made something for the house and it doesn’t look terrible.” And so I planted another seed. So at this time I was not into doing DIY and trying to do stuff. So in the last couple of years, I don’t know what happened, like a switch flipped or whatever and I got really interested in watching woodworking videos. Marc Spagnuolo, The Wood Whisperer, Jay Bates, April Wilkerson, Fix This, Build That, some of these really cool channels. I like to make stuff. They did some really cool stuff and watching it, I’m like, “This isn’t really that complicated. It’s just there’s a process and it takes understanding that process to be able to make some of these pieces, some of this furniture and in all reality, I could probably do this. I think I can do this.”
And it brought back an appreciation for wood furniture that I lost a long time ago because I didn’t think it was possible for me to be able to do it. And I don’t know why I didn’t like wood furniture after I thought I couldn’t do it, but I did.
So I started looking at making furniture more. I started building things and one thing that I’ve realized is the quality of the stuff that I make is a lot better than what I could buy because I buy better materials to build it. And what I build lasts a lot longer. And then as I get more complicated in my pieces and the things look nicer, the more likely it is these things last. If taken care of, in a sense, forever. From what I understand, there’s a piece that my wife inherited that’s literally from the 1800s and it still looks good. And so I’m like, “This is amazing. I feel like I can do some of the stuff and get good quality furniture that will last a long time.” Because let’s face it, like Ikea furniture, Home Depot furniture, Target furniture, like an Office Depot furniture, like it functions but it’s all crap.
I mean there are some good things in there if you spend the money. But the stuff that a lot of people will buy because it’s cheap is cheap for a reason. It looks good but it’s going to fall apart and it’s just crap. And you’re going to be replacing it in a few years. And that’s to me where hidden cost is in modern furniture, in Ikea furniture, in the Office Depot furniture, is that it looks good but it’s going to fall apart or you’re not going to assemble it right or you’re going to take shortcuts or something and it’s just going to fall apart.
I mean, we have some square shelves from Target, the square boxes and you put the little shelf in there. And we got those from Target. And I mean, they just look like, I mean, they look good but when you pick them up, when you handle them, you’re like, it feels like cardboard. It’s Probably what it is. And I know if we ever have to move with them, they’re not going to survive the move, but they were cheap. And so with that in mind, getting into woodworking and learning how to do woodworking as a DIY-er, not only long term are you going to save money, but you’re going to learn a skillset that can last a lifetime and you can be able to build stuff that people can appreciate. Because I know my wife appreciates the stuff that I built. I’ve had to ask her if she does, but I know she does. And I know it’s something I can say I built that.
I mean, as a software developer, the things that I build, I can’t tell people about because they’re just not going to understand. And it’s always good to feel appreciated for the things that you do and so I feel like there’s the emotional success from woodworking. There’s the monetary success that long term, this thing is going to last. I mean, one of the YouTube channels I watch, DK Builds, he built a shaker style bed and this thing is made of hardwood solid walnut. And I know that thing is going to last 100 years, maybe 200 years if it’s taken care of. And so he never, if that’s the style that he wants to get, he never has to buy a bed again, ever. And I can guarantee he paid a lot less than what would be bought at a furniture store.
And so to me, those are some of the benefits of getting into woodworking. Not to mention, the more you do, the better you get. When you do stuff if you’re on a homestead, like I am, when you do some good projects around the house and you start learning how to make stuff that looks good, when you get to your homestead projects, you can add little flourishes and things like that just add that extra flair to it. I mean, if you watch April Wilkerson’s channel, she knows what she’s doing as a woodworker and she does DIY stuff. And I mean if you look at her coops that she’s made, I mean, she knows how to make them, she knows how to make them look nice. And in all honesty, at my skill level, I could possibly replicate that. Some of the stuff that she’s done, but it would be hard. But for her, it’s part of her process. It’s just part of how she does it and it looks great and it’s always nice to, if you have a homestead, the stuff that you make looks good as well as being super functional.
And so again, I mean, that’s another aspect of getting into kind of the DIY and woodworking beyond the basics. And that’s really what I’m talking about is get a little bit beyond the basics of woodworking and I think it’ll pay off in spades. I mean, even if you want to go to the extreme and go to like the end of the world as we know it, you’ll have a skill that you can like, “Hey, I can make you some furniture and I can sell it to you or I can fix your furniture and I have a barterable item, a skillset that’s available.” They say take two skillsets that you have and combine them and you’ll always have a job and you know, so that’s one of them is if you can build stuff and you actually survive the end of the world, then you have a barterable service that you can monetize, anyway.
Sometimes I think property-wise and it tickles my interest and it’s funny to me sometimes. But anyway, so now that we’ve talked about why you don’t want to get into woodworking, some of the benefits, some of the history, let’s just jump into one of my failures. My failures were literally in the cabinets that I made. One of the things that we didn’t think about, we didn’t understand wood movement in wood and going from a 70% humidity day to 110 degrees outside, 100 degrees outside into a house that’s 70 degrees and like 40 or 50% humidity. How that would affect the wood, not to mention while we were in the final stages of doing finishing, it rained. So there’s no telling what humidity in that aspect did to it. We just didn’t understand wood movement. And so now we have warped doors. And even when we were installing them, there was some warpage but when we got them all screwed in like it pulled out a lot of the warping. But the doors are warped.
Fortunately, you can’t tell very well because we have so much stuff stuffed in there that the doors are open a little, but I mean that is a failure and that led me to research why is this happening? And I learned about wood movement dealing with humidity and temperature. So that is something that I’m going to take into account in future builds and future things that I have to do and I’m going to learn to make better products and make better pieces.
So with that, I want to thank you for the time. I do hope you’ll look at woodworking beyond doing the basics on the homestead and maybe get into making a little bit of furniture. It doesn’t have to be fine woodcraft, fine furniture, but it can be functional pieces that get the job done and have a little bit of flair and it will last a lifetime, well beyond your age. It can just add to life, save you a little bit of money and just be a fun thing to do. Anyway with that, go out and learn something. Have a good time and fail at stuff. Have a good day.
There’s got to be a demand for high-end furniture as an “Alternative Investment” for the wealthy in this day and age. https://www.ft.com/content/15a569ca-d1a8-11e5-831d-09f7778e7377
Specialized, painstaking, craftsmanship in individual pieces, as detailed in podcasts such as yours, could certainly create a new type of business.
That could be cool. There are a lot of great furniture makers out there that it would be worthy of to be sure. I wonder if there is a way to make that market startup.