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PostPosted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 8:13 pm 
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I have now seen three+ separate instances (banker, pilot, geologist) of someone who used to work in a technical field and then decided to become a woodworker/cabinetmaker.


Is working with wood particularly attractive? (I haven't seen anything similar when it comes to machining.)


Have you heard of similar stories from other fields?




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:26 am 
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I have a good friend whose professional work is in computers and website management, but took up woodworking on the side. I think it is a creative outlet, like most art forms.


There is an interesting book out now called "Imagine: How Creativity Works", which discusses where creative thought comes from (but notably fails to address the ultimate philosophical question). Some of the case studies are of people who have had damage to the main "ordinary working" parts of their brains who have then completely deviated into creative or artistic works, some of which have become highly valued. There is a theory that our modern, job-oriented society tends to suppress these aspects of our minds, which sometimes surface and demand their own outlets.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:40 am 

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My guess: carpentry has a tangible physical product AND laymen can differentiate good workmanship from bad.


At worst, the product of technical work is entirely intangible or diffused which makes it hard to feel like anything was accomplished at the end of each day. At best there's a tangible output but quality is only apparent to other specialists at a similar level of competency.


I've noticed that software people tend to turn an obsessive hobby into a profit-optional small business. Examples: beer brewing, board games, vegan cooking, live music, restoring cars, stuff like that.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:16 am 

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I know a lawyer who retired to woodworking; craftsman type, almost no power tools. Also, David Brinkley, the late TV newscaster, retired to woodworking and had been making chairs and cabinets, among other things, for years.


From experience, there is something soothing about working with wood, a balm for what ails the career professional. I think that a good part of it is that the project is not set by someone else. Mechanics, software, electrical, all require fitting into an existing system with its requirements, right and wrong answers, and tolerances. Woodworking is free-style but for the function.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:43 am 
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Power tools warrants a more "industrialized" approach. Measure accurately, set up machine, dial in. Make one cut. Or two-hundred. Do this for all pieces, then assemble.


The unplugged approach is very different: The final piece is built almost organically. Since cuts are not as precise, pieces are all unique and made to compensate for the last error.


Political science -> motorcycle repair

http://www.amazon.com/Shop-Class-Soulcraft-Inquiry-Value/dp/1594202230




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:45 am 

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"Is working with wood particularly attractive? (I haven't seen anything similar when it comes to machining.)"


I've done some small-scale hobbyist machining and would say it's quite a bit more difficult to get started compared to woodworking. The necessary tools tend to be expensive and heavy, and the work goes much slower so it requires a lot of patience. Cleanup of metal shavings and oily coolants isn't much fun, either.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:08 am 

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"Since cuts are not as precise, pieces are all unique and made to compensate for the last error."


You can see this in dovetail joints, where an error in cutting the pin is compensated in cutting the tail, or vice versa. Or the well hidden, trimmed sanded and stained shim :)


I still think that most working mechanical assemblies are more like doing a puzzle or filling out a form; too restrictive, and in that respect, more like work.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:02 am 

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I once knew a lady who had given up life as a mathematician and instead was way into weaving. I guess it has some similarities with woodworking, in that it's very hands-on and produces a tangible final product. One thing she said she liked was that weaving allowed for a lot of creativity while still being very ordered. i.e., you could spend a lot of creative energy on deciding what you were going to weave, or you could choose something simpler and turn it into more of a meditative exercise. I am not big into woodworking but I feel it might be similar in that sense?




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 6:21 am 

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+1 to KevinW




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:08 pm 
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I can tell it is very fulfilling to see the result of your work standing on its own, it doesn't matter if you used power tools or not. I'm currently involved with building and I can see why mmm took on it as a hobby. J_ too. I will probably do some of that for money.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 1:03 pm 
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Location: Netherlands/Austria

During my study for building engineer, I build my first little sailing boat from mahogany and marine plywood from scratch but according official drawings. A fast planing dinghy, I was realy proud as it was watertight, looked beatifull and sailed as lightning. The boat was officially measured and was allowed to races in its class (Tempo Scow).

When some years later a baby of us was born I sold it. Was conform market price, so I got a reward for the invested materials and some for my labor.

In short: I learned woodworking, working from drawings, learned varnishing, learned sailing and was paid thereafter! (when I started the construction of the boat I was 17 jears, constructing lasted one year).

It was the start of hands on working on many trades.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:19 pm 

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Perhaps part of it is that it seems that almost everyone thinks that they can learn woodworking. Somewhat like everyone thinks that they have a sense of humor-- perhaps most people think that they have the requisite skills to be good at woodworking.


Many surgeons report woodworking as a hobby. Another common surgeon hobby is tying flies for fly fishing. Much of it seems to be a lot of BS-- an attempt to portray oneself as having obtained above-average technical skills.




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PostPosted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:40 pm 

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A geologist friend of mine has a machinist shop set up at his house as a hobby.




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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 3:37 am 
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@Mo - Learning it is not difficult. Being good at it is. What I find is that it requires a lot of concentration to make consistently accurate cuts. I generally last 15 minutes before I better stop because I'm starting to drift. It's impressive to me to be able to keep the required concentration for a full 8 hour day. This persistence in concentration does not seem to be required in more technical skills.




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PostPosted: Tue May 01, 2012 5:00 pm 

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Shopclass as Soulcraft is definitely a good read. I actually read that right after I had a big breakup with an old gf who had helped to mire me in drudgery. It contributed pretty heavily to a re-orientation of my thinking. I've exchanged emails with author Matt Crawford and he is a good dude. He's not necesarilly introducing new ideas but I enjoyed his writing style thoroughly and the discussion is timely.


The woodworkers I know both happen to have a background as long haul truckers.




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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 2:53 pm 
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@Mo--I would think woodworking would be a risky hobby for a surgeon.


From Bigato's journal...

I finished the side roof and now we have a porch. It's very fulfilling to see your work standing for itself and being useful.




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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 7:40 pm 

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Shop class in high school was the best and most peacefull class I ever took.


It made me focus and fits my detailed oriented mind.


My grandfather is a wood carver and has made alot of grandfather clocks, crates and bowls with impressive carvings.


For me its the calm, wonderfull smells, making me foucs on a single piece and making it perfect in my eyes.


Its one of the main hobbies I want to start doing, when I retire..




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PostPosted: Wed May 02, 2012 10:16 pm 

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@jennypenny, many have "own occupation" disability policies... huh... now that I think about it, I'm going to take up wood-working with a table-saw or a band-saw! (an incredible number of hand injuries come from these two)


In all seriousness, it is risky, but not too risky it seems. I worry most about carving turkey at Thanksgiving.




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PostPosted: Thu May 03, 2012 12:46 am 

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I used to be a SEEKER and a STRIVER and a PERFECTIONIST, but now I'm a(n) ACCEPTER of what my life is offering me here and now. I'm learning to make the most of where I am instead of wishing I was somewhere else or idealizing another life.




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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2012 10:59 pm 

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"I used to be funny, but now I'm just a fat mom!"


Sorry this thread title reminded me of a Pam quote from The Office...I'll go now...




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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 12:04 am 

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I had a guy give me a quote for a wooden fence (which was $1800 -- no thanks. I did keep the nice plans he drew up for me, though). Turns out he was an aerospace engineer, but he made more money building fences on the side, so he decided to do that full time. http://justwoodenfences.com/ i think.




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PostPosted: Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:20 am 
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@paxprobellum: lol, reminds me of Office Space where the former crack addict selling magazines is really an out of work software engineer.


To contribute (at least this is my plan); I used to be a systems analyst now I'm a [on call basis] firefighter... The guy who sold me on it is a former physicians assistant.




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