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A beginners question about Furniture making...

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niconico

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Hi there,

I've just found the UK Workshop site - which is great btw - so pardon me if I'm asking
a question that might've been asked several times before on this forum.

Would you guys have any advice to someone that is about to turn 30 and has discovered
a deep interest in furniture and would like to learn about furniture-making on his spare time?

I've got a BA in Graphic Design and can't afford to do another course, so all I'm left with is
evenings and weekends to learn, which doesn't make things easy. I've found a few courses
at the London Metropolitan University that seem good and affordable, but impossible for me
to take on as I'm full-time employed.

Ideally I would love to find a workshop where I could do an induction and learn how to use
the machines and hopefully then be able to rent some bench space and experiment on my
own as much as possible. I'm very aware of how naive that might sound and I'd obviously
prefer it if there was someone willing to teach me more than just how to handle the machines,
but I have no idea of how likely that situation could be.

I've got lots of energy and enthusiasm so if anyone could point me in the right direction or give
me some advice I would really really appreciate it!

Many Thanks,

Nicolas

PS. I'm based in Brockley, South London
 

Benchwayze

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Hi Nicolas,

Welcome to the Forum, first of all. You came to the right place.
I appreciate that money might be tight, but could you find something to 'give up', and enroll in a local Evening class? There must be one somewhere in London. Somewhere you could learn the use of hand-tools, and the rudiments of timber preparation and joint-making., Machines and design can come later.

That's about the best advice I can give you. Other than that, it's collecting tools as you go and reading books.
You are a glaring example of why the British Education system should never have removed practical craft teaching from the National Curriculum. At least you would have had a grounding to build on as I did in the 1950s.

Best of luck, and again, welcome. Hope you enjoy and befit from your membership. :D
 

Jacob

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Design is paramount. The mechanics of making is relatively simple. Main thing is to keep looking at stuff - measure, photograph, sketch, if possible take apart (and put back together). Especially traditional stuff, where just about every sensible design solution has been worked through and perfected.
Wish I'd done this when I was 30!
 

woodbloke

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Benchwayze":3s1694om said:
Hi Nicolas,

Welcome to the Forum, first of all. You came to the right place.
I appreciate that money might be tight, but could you find something to 'give up', and enroll in a local Evening class? There must be one somewhere in London. Somewhere you could learn the use of hand-tools, and the rudiments of timber preparation and joint-making., Machines and design can come later.

That's about the best advice I can give you. Other than that, it's collecting tools as you go and reading books.
You are a glaring example of why the British Education system should never have removed practical craft teaching from the National Curriculum. At least you would have had a grounding to build on as I did in the 1950s.

Best of luck, and again, welcome. Hope you enjoy and befit from your membership. :D
Welcome and I echo what John has said, but from nattering to someone over the weekend, it appears that the funding for evening classes may well have disappeared as well. It might be different in Londres but the traditional evening classes (and I used to run two a week) that happened in many secondary schools (and thus ones which were equipped with workshops) seem to be 'no-more' :cry: - Rob
 

Harbo

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Welcome.
There's quite a number of courses run in this country - some by Forum members.
Many are advertised in the Woodworking Mags.
Good luck.

Rod
 

Dibs-h

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Benchwayze":2up3jhqs said:
Hi Nicolas,

Welcome to the Forum, first of all. You came to the right place.
I appreciate that money might be tight, but could you find something to 'give up', and enroll in a local Evening class? There must be one somewhere in London. Somewhere you could learn the use of hand-tools, and the rudiments of timber preparation and joint-making., Machines and design can come later.

That's about the best advice I can give you. Other than that, it's collecting tools as you go and reading books.
You are a glaring example of why the British Education system should never have removed practical craft teaching from the National Curriculum. At least you would have had a grounding to build on as I did in the 1950s.

Best of luck, and again, welcome. Hope you enjoy and befit from your membership. :D
Hi Nicolas

Brilliant advice above - an evening course would probably be ideal. Given the nbr of colleges in London - someone, somewhere is bound to be offering something that suits.

Welcome to the forum!

Dibs
 

Togalosh

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Hello Nicolas,

You've come to the right place to start with, I learn something new every visit & all seem very helpful & knowledgeable.

My advice is:

- If money is tight then don't waste the money you do have on badly made tools (usually cheap ones). Old /second hand tools are more likely to be better than new ones & I bet London is full of shops sellling old tools cheaply.. but I've got good deals on this site too.

- Build a bench at home & practice at your leasure (until I was assimillated the lounge of my flat was my workshop - what neighbours?) .

_ Buy the DVD's from David Savage about planing, hand tools & sharpening (big discounts for newbies so don't register until you get them..if you want them of course).

- Mind yourself with power tools & saw dust.

Good luck
 

RogerS

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Hi Nicolas...I echo what the others have said.

I know that you say money is tight for another course but still you might like to take a look to see what courses (short and long) John Lloyd is offering as he is down in the SE and also has bench space to rent.

Good luck.

Roger
 

niconico

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Hi All,

I never expected so many replies but I know for sure now that I've come to the right place. Thanks so much!

Benchwayze - I can definitely give some up as long as I find a local evening class so I'll keep searching for one! I'm confident there must be one out there.

Jacob - That's really great advice!

Mr. Very Sharp - Sad to hear that's the case, it's a real shame.

Harbo - Thanks. Could you recommend any woodworking mags where I might find one?

Togalosh - Yes, what neighbours? :) I think i've already made a bit of an enemy when sanding the floors in our flat. I'll definitely look into the DVD. Thanks!

RogerS - This sounds great! Money is tight for a degree type course, but short courses and monthly rent for some bench space should be no problem.
Do you have a contact number/website for John Lloyd? I would love to hear a bit more about his courses. Thanks a lot!

Nicolas
 

Harbo

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Furniture & Cabinetmaker
British Woodworking
Are two British mags that I support.

Rod
 

Cheshirechappie

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Hi Nicolas - and as others have said, welcome to the forum.

The comments above about the woodworking magazines are right - there are several avaailable, all with slightly different takes on the very broad field of working wood. Cabinetmaking, turning, carving, routing and general woodworking are all represented, by both UK and US publications. A browse in WH Smith's next time you're passing might be worthwhile - buy two or three different ones, and see which one suits you. Many of them have adverts in the back for all manner of short and longer courses, which might be of great help.

You mention the wish to learn to use machines - fair enough, but can I put in a mention for handtool skills as well? You'll need to learn some, anyway; there are some things that machines just can't do. As well as that, there's a lot of useful work that can be done in limited space with some well- chosen hand tools, and they tend to cost a lot less than power tools. When there are other priorities for the household budget, that can make a real difference to what you can achieve.

With that in mind, there's an excellent book that might be worth dropping hints about near Christmas or birthday time - 'The Essential Woodworker' by Robert Wearing. It's written with the complete novice in mind, which is unusual for woodwork books - most assume some prior experience. Axminster Power Tool Centre or Classic Hand Tools can supply (and both websites are worth a butcher's, as well - APTC can supply seemingly anything, CHT go for the top-end specialist 'hard-to-find' tools). Another site worth noting for the future is Workshop Heaven.

You'll find it'll take a year or three to really get to grips with furnituremaking. It's not a skill learnt quickly or easily. However, nothing worth doing is ever done easily, and it's well worth persisting with learning woody skills - the satisfaction when you do start making things is very great indeed.

Good luck - and don't forget we're here to answer questions. There's no such thing as a daft question - we all knew nothing once.
 
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