Updated: Aug 27
There’s no doubt, making a living as a furniture maker is incredibly challenging. There are many hurdles that make woodworking even as a hobby inaccessible. The learning curve is steep, we need space to create, and of course a suite of tools to be successful.
Because of these challenges, I’ve found the woodworking community to be one of the most resourceful, adaptable, and helpful groups of creators out there. We all know the challenges, so there are many people willing to help.
So how do you start woodworking without any skills, tools, or space?
There are a few options.The best is a Maker Space. A Maker Space is a shared creative workspace that very often has a wood shop, and can offer woodworking courses with the tools needed to make indoor furniture. A good maker space will have most woodworking tools for beginners and plenty of people their to teach you to learn how to use them.
After building my first few projects out of a single car garage with a contractor table saw, I joined MakerLabs in Vancouver, British Columbia. They had all the tools needed to make beautiful furniture: jointer, planer, table saw and plenty of benches. I was even able to get a small studio space to store my tools as I took on more projects. This is an excellent answer to getting immediate access to all the tools needed to build furniture.
So, maybe there isn’t a Maker Space in your area. Look, there’s no way around it, you do need some space to be a woodworker at any level. That said, you don’t need to own every tool and machine to start. The 3 most critical woodworking machines to make indoor furniture with hardwood are a table saw, a jointer, and a planer. Eventually, you will need all 3 to make more advanced designs and higher end pieces. That said, you can start with just a table saw if you have a little determination.
The planer and jointer. These are what you use to true your lumber - get it flat, square and dimensioned. We call this “milling”.
When I faced this common woodworking challenge for my first projects, I reached out to the woodworking community for help. For me, this was mainly my Dad’s friends, friends in trades, and I posted on Facebook to see if anyone could help. My personal experience with this was great - most people were honestly just happy to spend some time in the shop.
So you’re having trouble finding help? As a self-taught woodworker, the ultimate resource for the modern woodworking hobbyist is YouTube. There’s outstanding instruction from guys like Steve Ramsey that will teach you how to be a resourceful woodworker. When I started, I made a walnut dining table out of my small garage with his video showing how to joint a board with a table saw and 3X3 Custom’s video how to mill wood without a jointer. I still use the jointing jig Steve demonstrates to this day.
Here's some of the first few projects I made out of my single car garage when all I owned was a contractor's table saw.
We designed our woodworking plans and pieces to be accessible to the non-professional. This means challenging parts like joinery can be done just with a table saw, a shop made jig and table saw sled. We offer suggestions for multiple tools at different stages to accommodate different wood shops. There’s also the human element to our courses and plans - if you’re stuck, just reach out. I’ll get back to you quickly to help you navigate any part of the build.