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I see a noticeable trend where many discussions involve the most elementary of questions. Topics that would be covered in even the most informal 1-2 week hobby level woodworking courses. Knowledge that would be gained from even brief research.
Answering many of these questions in a comprehensive manor would involve teaching a full fledged "woodworking 101" course.
Furthermore many involve an introduction that starts out with "I am new at this" and essentially the question amounts to "tell me how to build my project" Read between the lines and this is all too common.
I have to make it a point to suggest that when pursuing woodworking as a career it is advisable to at least attempt to learn the basics via formal training, research, and personal work before charging clients money, and claiming to be a professional.
I certainly understand that everyone who has made it had to have the freedom to start out from nothing. However ignorance of even the basic fundamentals is startling. The right place to start is by learning a little bit first, before you jump head first. Not by being ignorant of the knowledge that exists because of those that have gone before you.
Quite obviously there are people who are clearly taking commissions, and therefore representing themselves as a professional maker, who have obviously never even gone as far as to study/read a decent book on the subject. Certainly no knowledge or understanding of critical concepts such as wood movement.
I just don't know what to think. There is certainly no barrier to entry.
However. That being said this profession is often so fragmented, and dispersed a self serving "king of the playground" type mentality exists. As a result there does not seem to be much effort, or cooperation to create uphold a encourage a greater degree of professionalism in the trade, while driving some of the riff-raff away.
When I apprenticed 40 years ago I learned many things , yet I still try and learn something new each day as I still don't know it all .
Is there a question in there....or are you just venting?
There are guys here who have decades of experience and guys who started out a few months ago. Some of the guys who think they know everything know the least IMHO.
I'm a small shop and I have to bid against much larger shops that have maybe 30 or more guys, painted trucks, and nice showrooms who still don't know how to build stuff correctly. I've had to turn down jobs where they wanted me to fix what the other company designed and built poorly! That's the nature of this, and many other, trade(s).
Like D Brown said, if you don't feel like answering something b/c it's beneath you you have no obligation to. It's a free site, cost you nothing but time. There are plenty of guys, including myself, who nudge the hobby guys back towards their own forums. Or sometimes even take a moment to help them along.....it's all good;>)
I am going to agree with D brown here.
I too went apprenticeship in the 80's and for those who wanted to learn were taught from some of the best the industry has to offer. As time passes we are all getting older, the skills we have learned for us to make a living must be passed down to the one's willing to learn.
I have always used the phrase "there is no stupid question" no matter how basic, this attitude keeps the ones willing to learn the ability to do just that learn. To those who make others feel stupid or uneducated, well they have their own personal issues to deal with.
I have help many beginners in our trade my whole career. I write articles about our trade on a regular basis and post them on our website for anybody willing and wanting to learn more, its up to them to decide what's basic, good, helpful or not information.
The bottom line is this, those in the quest for further education will find it one way or another, as a business owner it is my responsibility and job to make our clients successful, why? because that is what makes us successful.
My two cents
I think by nature or being paranoid at least in my neck of the woods most guys won't give you the sweat off a back let alone share long learned secrets and tips .It seems like some are afraid you might be better than them or get better with help , makes little sense .
The Woodweb is supposed to be for industry proffesionals. That's how it is put to you when you register. I think base questions may be better placed in forums that cater to them such as the Fine Woodworking forum or sawmill creek etc...
I agree with D Brown in that I have a lot of respect for those who wish to learn this trade, who take advantage of the many opportunities available to them such as woodworking schools, classes, and the vast number of books/magazines and online knowledge that is already available. Armed with that and the foundations that start with personal work are a much better start.
I am certainly glad to help people and pass knowledge to those who are putting in a comprehensive effort to learn and become proficient, and at least grasp the basics before accepting money for their work.
I have very good friends who practice woodworking as a hobby, even accepting a little money on the side. Even still I gladly share knowledge with them.I have event sent smaller projects that are not suited towards my business, their way.
I know that they are at least respecting their craft, and they often do better work than some who claim to be professionals. They paid their dues, and learned the fundamentals.
However what I am talking about is here seems to be a trend though of ignoring all of that. These are the people that skip the personal work, classes, and don't read any books, or preform research. Yet they take on projects with the attitude of "I have no clue how to do this, but I can go online and ask people who do, because someone will answer my question"
I am guilty of asking dumb questions, and certainly do not know anybody who hasn't, but the latter example is getting into a territory that is beyond that. Certainly there are few professionals who could say that they never get in a little over their head, but the difference is they have the foundation to solve their way out of whatever predicament they are in.
However when someone asks. "How do I build a table?" or "keep a table top flat" The answer essentially needs to be "woodworking 101"
I have no problem with an industry that works together to pass knowledge the right way, to those who have proven by their actions that they are dedicated to their craft. There are a lot of possibilities to create more opportunities for this.
However, I have to say that this is a profession that doesn't often work together as others do. In my area, I certainly network with other shop owners, and we do try to work together however there is nothing that compares to professional organizations that exist in other fields.
In addition to greater co-operation I would like to see a greater degree of recognition for those who are furthering the craft. Less for those who seem to want to skip past the step of learning to walk, before they run
My thoughts are that it might be more helpful to guide some of those who have clearly not grasped even the basics to pursue some degree of training, research, and personal work. While they may seek "how to advice" they are likely not experienced enough to be able to interpret how to implant such steps given to them, or sort out the good advice, from bad information. They are likely not at that level yet, and would likely benefit much more from research, and some form of structured training, or mentorship. This may not be something they want to hear, but it is the truth. Trying to answer some of these basic questions may not necessarily be helpful.
I thin might have implied this but there is no need to chase people off, but perhaps steer them in the right direction and encourage them to do things right, and elevate themselves by becoming a professional.
wow! is someone full of them self?
There is a difference. Not talking about those who actually bother to read "woodworking 101" but those who are too ignorant to do so, and expect to be told how to do everything for free.
There is a line between novices/inexperienced that are sincere, and do put out an effort to learn, and those that would prefer to sit back and ask others to get their answers, or the answers they want.
Heck, we have all had co-workers or employees like that, eh?
I love nothing more than meeting a younger person (or older retired type) that has a sincere interest. I easily go too far out of my way to help them learn all they can, and most importantly, to 'learn how to learn.'
I once partnered with a local college to have students in their Furniture program work part time for an entry level wage and college credit. I have seen more than one of them go on to good careers working wood. I got decent, sober, motivated help, and they got real world experience, some pay and credit.
I have little time for those that prefer to vegetate on my efforts. I will actively encourage them to pursue another line completely.
These types are pretty easy to spot here, and one can deal with them however one likes.
Perhaps the real issue business-wise, is that despite one's inclinations or sincerity, the low threshold will allow anyone to take a customer's money and fumblefart their way to a finished product - or not. Then the offended customer develops an opinion about everyone in the business that is the opposite of what true professionals work o hard to develop.
I once heard someone state that the building trades exists for those that can't pass a drug test.
So....how do we differentiate ourselves from the others?
Good post Trout.
red oaks - Often those that need to read woodworking 101 are the last ones to realize that is what they need. They just don't know what they don't know. They think the rules don't apply.
Being a professional has nothing to do with an open armed welcome for anyone and everyone. It does mean to narrow down to a discriminating group of people that are dedicated enough to take risks, educate themselves, put their work out there, everyday, and still have the time and inclination to help anyone they deem deserving.
How many of us have had a potential customer say they could make this, if they just had more time and the tools and space and.... Then try to hire us for $18.00 per hour to make whatever it is they think is so easy? Or "How do you make this? I've got a few minutes to spare...."
I doubt Myron is full of himself. I don't know him other than a few thoughtful posts, but I bet he suffers from the same things many of us do. To get up every day and cut wood to support oneself and family takes a tremendous amount of self-confidence. Confidence that is at risk of being eroded at any point by economics, government policy, health, etc. Or even the wood itself.
The wood will always humble us, usually when we think we have it all figured out. Those of us that spend enough time at it have nothing but respect and admiration and empathy for our peers, whether we know them or not. I'm not about to give away trade secrets, but I do.
I think the culture is different now. Woodworking as a hobby/ retirement dream/ possible side income/ "easy" income, has been marketed and sold to 1000's of Americans that may have at best had a shop class in 8th grade.
I support Myron on this. What we have to remember is that all you have to do is check a box on this site and you are a professional. Even easier than telling your Uncle that your garage shop is not a cabinet shop. Some days I want to slap my forehead while reading this questions, and just move right on by. Mostly I try and help. My son runs to the computer while working on his car. Looks for help and often can even get a video. Point is, it appears some folks find it easier to type than experiment in the shop. Time restraints and tight bidding competition doesn't help. My lastest favorite on here is all the guys that are afraid of solid wood. Interesting trend!
you would think the woodweb moderator would comment on the subject as it directly relates to their forum policies.
I think for younger folks going to the internet IS the research and method of learning as they know it. They don't question their method of learning perhaps. Tired cliché of the decade: it's the new normal.
I've been doing this 40 years. Sometimes I get stupid and forget something simple, or I try something completely new and ask noobie questions because, hey, who knows better than here?
And sometimes I sit down and answer 14 questions that seem so simple, yet once stumped me. I can give something back to all the folks who helped me get where I am now.
Just today I answered that yes, it was possible to make solid panel doors that don't warp; on a thread filled with guys that have shops ten times the size of mine. I gave them some tips, and it reminded me of the time when I thought all this crap about wood shrinking and expanding was bull, and certainly didn't apply to ME.
Wood, the great humbler.
man,i completely agree with the OP.
there is really not much that would devalue the skill that one has than "i would do it myself, but i dont have time ,tools, shop or help" ahemm OR skill...
but then again,todays generation seems to expect that because ,for the most part, what we do doesnt require a college degree, they can just have the tips and tricks of the trait handed to them on a silver platter...i had the greatest luck to have learned most of what i know from my Dad ,making me a 3rd generation woodworker , and now i am very happy to see my son working the shop floor and genuinely have interest in the craft....although with a more electronic and automated approach .