About the Author
Melbourne Timberworks was founded by Tristan as a result of his many successful DIY woodworking projects. Entirely self-taught, Tristan sources his timber from local suppliers and has built just about every piece of furniture you can think of, for both commercial and domestic clients (you can check some out some of his work here). Today, he is here to share his advice on ‘starting your own workshop’, and some considerations and challenges of the DIY woodworking environment. So, please give it up for Melbourne Timberworks and woodworking guru, Tristan!
Starting a DIY Woodworking Venture
Aside from the mental health benefits of pursuing a hobby, woodworking is just great fun! But, when you’ve got a new and exciting idea in your head, it can often infect your bank account too… It’s tempting to want to spend every last cent in your wallet on the best and fanciest new tool or piece of equipment. That new tool feel is great, don’t get me wrong, but what you really need is the right balance of value and reliability (without living out of a cardboard box). So, aim for mid-range priced equipment for your humble DIY woodworking beginnings. Generally, you do get what you pay for, so whilst you can’t yet afford the best, don’t cheap out and get the worst either! Either way you’re bound to make mistakes, and there will be a few breakages along the way. But slowly, as you get better, you can update your tools to match your capabilities. You never know, you might even be able to start selling your work… But before we get too far along, here are my ‘6 Essential DIY Woodworking Tips’.
1. Gumtree is Your Best Friend.
You’ll probably need a work table for your garage or home workshop. But there’s just no need for a brand new, polished bench. Check the likes of Gumtree and eBay before you take the trip to a department store. Theres a heap of perfectly good used tables that you can use for your projects here. You might also be able to pick up a few tools. However, be wary of buying second-hand power-tools. For a beginner, it can be difficult to know the condition they’re in, and if they’ve been cared for correctly.
2. Test Things First.
Don’t rush. Trust me, there’s time for some testing before you rip into the ‘good copy’. Whether you love to paint, or building furniture is your passion, never try something new on the actual project itself. You wouldn’t serve your cooking before you’ve tasted it, right? So, take the time to develop your skills first. This way, you’ll avoid making mistakes with expensive materials, and possibly destroying hours of your hard work. Yes, practice can be a bit tedious… But remember, ‘if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly’.
3. It’s Your Space.
Set up a space dedicated to your DIY interests. It’s a good idea to have all the equipment in one area and in the same room. Everything within a few steps will work, especially if you need to get things in a hurry. Setting up a space also allows you to “close a door” on your work. It’s important to switch off for a moment and to be away from your projects so you don’t over exhaust yourself, and lose motivation. In doing this, you’ll train yourself to be productive as soon as you step into your DIY woodworking space.
4. Be Safe.
There’s nothing worse than starting a DIY project only to end up injuring yourself. Those ads on TV are not for your comedic relief. Be smart. Make sure you have the required safety equipment. Gloves, glasses, proper footwear and clothing can be the difference between coming out unscathed or making a trip to the hospital!
5. Youtube is Your Second Best Friend.
A very close second I might add… Your DIY woodworking doesn’t have to be an entirely solo project. You can invite the help of professionals from all around the globe to be your personal instructor, on your mobile phone! You can pause them, rewind them and fast forward through all the boring parts! It’s like school, except you only have to turn up for the bits you need, and only when you need them.
6. Have Fun.
This is probably the most important tip of them all. Sometimes projects start off really fun, but then as you progress through them you start to feel frustrated and tired. You start to rush to finish your masterpiece, and it doesn’t always turn out as you’d hoped. Take a step back and remember that you started because of your passion for woodworking, and that frustration is because you care. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to put the tools and equipment down for a while.
Trying new things can be challenging! But that doesn’t mean you should quit… I’m grateful that I persisted through the early stages of the DIY woodworking process. The skills that I have developed now give me the freedom to create whatever I want.
Thanks very much for taking the time to read my guest post for The Short Advice. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to respond to them in the comments section below. Don’t forget to check out Melbourne Timberworks here.