Woodworking or DIY with wood? Two ways of understanding woodworking. Two?

A few days ago Julio left me a long comment with his opinion about what he thinks about learning carpentry by reading blogs and watching videos on the internet. I thought this is a good topic for a blog post, so I copy and paste his comment (hope you don’t mind Julio) and then leave my reply. You will see that we don’t agree on everything, I guess because our paths and our state of the art are not the same. If you don’t know his blog, in the privacy of the revealed shavings (it seems he closed the blog), stop by. This way you can compare two different ways of working and decide if we are doing the same job or if they are different things.


“My (Julio’s) opinion is that the internet is a great source of information and that trying to learn through the net is inexpensive but not very fruitful and successful. I have noticed several times that in this country people who are fond of woodworking are closer to DIY than to completing real projects with wood. Unfortunately for me, because for the rest everything is fine, people fond of woodworking prefer to learn by experimenting, based on trial and error and through diffuse and incomplete information in foreign publications, instead of spending money to attend classes that demonstrate effective and transparent methods that guarantee success and good results in our workshops, and thus be able to enjoy the process during a task knowing what is done and why it is done this way and why other methods may be worse or less convenient. In this way I think it saves a long road of uncertainty and a great deal of time that can be spent actually working on jobs rather than guessing what is being done. For me, learning with the internet is a blind alley. In the end the piñata will break but how many vases did we break first. Proof of this are the comments I receive in my publications on the network, I am infinitely grateful for the support and appreciation of what I expose, but people are wrong to say that I teach something, that is wrong, the only thing I do and I intend to internet is to publicize the work of wood in a traditional and artisanal way, disclosing certain information that may be relevant. But to really teach and learn, it is necessary to actively participate in a personal tutoring, where I can correct or warn the mistakes that are made when working. My intention in aula flamingo is to offer a useful teaching, my function is to remove the blindfold of ignorance in order to break the piñata with the first blow.

I hope no one feels bad for my opinions, I am sorry to be so sincere but it is the experience I have from the last years and seeing the activity of others in other pages, and the comments in forums.

As always thank you Sergio for taking the time to publish such motivating information in your blog.

Julio Alonso”


My response:

I believe that when you search for information on the Internet you have to know what you are looking for, what you are looking for and what you have found in that search. My impression after years of woodworking hobby is that in Spain (I don’t know how it is in other Spanish-speaking countries) the culture of woodworking has been lost in a short period of time. I know quite a few people who tell me that their father or grandfather was a carpenter and yet that knowledge has not been passed on and has been lost. Lately with the rise of DIY woodworking, many people are interested in learning, but in many cases they start from scratch, often advancing from other home DIY projects. And that is the problem. If you are still a kid you do for example a FP (vocational training) or go to a carpentry school and learn the trade well, but when you have an age many people no longer think much about receiving classes or do not want to go and pulls experimentation, internet and a friend who teaches him four things. And I do not see it so bad, sometimes you have to experiment or see what others show on the internet to see what possibilities this hobby has and see how far you can get, because no one likes to make large investments in a hobby in which we do not know where we are going to get. I have to say that my path has been one of experimentation in my workshop and watching videos on the internet. I have been gaining practice and some knowledge and I see that I can get pretty good results with what I have. Being aware of my limitations now is where I feel I would like to take classes with a professional carpenter or at a carpentry school to teach me the knowledge and skills properly, but at this time I can’t afford it and I don’t have access to those classes in person here either.

When starting from scratch in a hobby like this, there must be a phase of approach to the practice that allows us to discover how great our interest is, and then decide which paths to take according to our possibilities. And I am referring to the economic possibilities (which will be whatever they are), available resources (which will depend to a great extent on the area where we live) and the possibilities that our own ability gives us (which will improve as we acquire knowledge and practice). So I think that the DIY woodworking is a good start so that little by little more people are encouraged with the hobby of carpentry and then many of those people are encouraged to take classes in courses conducted by craftsmen or in carpentry schools focused on teaching the most artisan work.

Between your blog and mine there are big differences in terms of content. You seem to be enthusiastic about the knowledge of the techniques, for you the final aesthetics of your woodworking projects is not fully understood without the aesthetics of your way of working. I enjoy seeing work like this because I understand the effort, knowledge and passion that are necessary to work in this way, but when it comes to my projects I have to pull from my possibilities and I look more for the final result before thinking about such a perfectionist work (that I have not had the chance to learn and that is not learned in four days just watching videos on the internet). To carry out the projects I use my DIY electric machines, which forces me to insulate myself (goggles, mask and earplugs) to protect myself from the wood, which defends itself by throwing large quantities of wood chips and sawdust into my eyes, wood dust that clogs my lungs and causes the machines to generate deafening noises. Meanwhile, you need a more direct contact with the wood, you treat it kindly, you feel the subtle vibration of the hand tools as they cut the fibers accompanied by a characteristic sound, and as far as I can see the wood responds delighted, delighted in every way.

In some comments they call me master and I have to say that I take it with humor, since I am not a master carpenter at all. I would say that my thing is DIY woodworking. I’m pretty handy, though. Especially with my power tools. And I try to show my tricks and how I do some projects, looking to improve our small workshops to try to maximize the possibilities of our small machines. And with the intention of encouraging those who watch my videos and read my blog to continue with this hobby. But anyone who looks to me to teach them the carpentry trade is in the wrong place. I totally agree with you that if you really want to learn the carpentry profession you should look for a school where you will receive the necessary theory and practical classes. If you are content to do some projects in your home workshop it is always good to keep an eye on the tricks and projects that others post on the internet, although this can also involve risks and frustrations. Against this, common sense, patience, and thinking about what should be the sources of knowledge to which you turn to.

I guess it all depends on how far one wants to go, although when you get there you often want to keep walking.

Sergio (author of the carpentry blog enredando no garaxe)

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