Poll: How Do You Learn Woodworking

Woodworking knowledge is something we are all constantly in pursuit of. Thankfully, there are a LOT of options available to us. We no longer have to rely on taking expensive classes when so much information can be found online and in books. And as many Guild members know, even online classes can be quite effective thanks to the additional interactivity. In my situation, most of my learning is through podcasts, books, and blogs. I punctuate my learning each year by taking a class or two. And whenever possible, I do try to learn directly from other woodworkers in person. So if you’re like me, you probably want to select more than one thing in this list. Let’s just say you should pick the one that you get the MOST information from. And if you are thinking about podcasts, just select the Woodworking Blogs option, since most podcasts are presented on blogs.

This poll was created by Tom Iovino of TomsWorkbench.com.

Category: Poll of the Week


  1. I say most of the above. I haven’t gotten to any schools but I read books/magazines, watch videos, read internet forums, tv shows, other woodworkers and a bit of trial and error.

  2. Most of my education originally came from my grandfather when I was little. Since then I have forgotten most of what he taught me. I was given a good deal of his tools just before he passed. Since then the majority of my information comes from Marc, Matt, Shannon, videos and the online communities.

  3. Fred November 14, 2012

    I read everything I can get my hands on, mostly magazines, and then I go to the shop and use the techniques and make it up as I go. I’ve used plans a few times, but, I find they limit my imagination to what’s on the paper.

  4. jlaviolette November 14, 2012

    Websites like this one (especially this one) and trail-and-error. I have read a lot of books as well, but those came recommended from other websites and forums. Without the internet I’d still be making toothpicks and firewood.

  5. Mattah November 14, 2012

    Until a couple of weeks ago youtube + woodwhisperer. The problem with this approach is that I was selecting whatever I wanted to learn, which was good at first. but since my knowledge was small sometimes I applied cuestionable techniques to my projects(when your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail ).
    So I bought a couple of books that gave me an overall map of furniture building and now instead of relying in my “experience”, I have a more educated way of selecting joinery, technique and materials for my projects.

  6. This is a hard question to really answer. I learn a lot from just being in the shop working. but, at the same time I learn and am exposed to so much more online and in books than I would be in my own shop. I had a hard time answering this question. Though I ended up saying books. Why? Because I learn more traditional hand tool techniques, visually see furniture construction(drawings and sketches), and I am exposed to different types of furniture styles, many older books were written by those who had done the same things for years, so they became very proficient at the styles they constructed in . All of these things combined give me a lot of information to take back into my shop. I could learn all of this from schools and from online content, however I feel I have enough basic techniques under my belt to learn successfully from a book, vs. when I first started when I was a kid. And I can buy several books for the cost of one class. Not to say classes are bad, I just don’t have the money to go galavanting all over taking classes.

  7. This is a tough one to answer as I have learned at least a little bit from each of these. At the end of the day though, I don’t learn it till I try it and screw it up. :) So regardless of where I learned it from, I think trial and error is king.

  8. Richard November 14, 2012

    Marc, it’s very difficult to answer this question. Many years ago i started out with a book, and then i got another but i just wasn’t getting it. Then I started watching your video’s and everything came to life. I know there are many options that you would fall under but in my personal opinion there needs to be a Woodwhisperer choice or at least a Pod casting choice =)

  9. Skee November 14, 2012

    It needs to be check boxes instead of radio buttons. I think we all learn some from each of these sources. Asking for a primary one is simply too challenging.

  10. Texfire November 14, 2012

    All of the above, with internet forums, blogs and videos leading the pack.

  11. Chris November 14, 2012

    Why is ‘Marc Spagnuolo’ not an option? :-)

    I’m half joking, half serious. I started in woodworking recently and the vast majority of my knowledge has come from Marc.

  12. It’s a pity you can’t select more than one as quite a few of them are valid for myself

  13. Don F November 14, 2012

    I learned the basics from J. Arthur Johnson when I was in 7th grade shop class . . . and I’ve been self-taught ever since. I do read Fine Woodworking (I have EVERY issue) and some books that my wife and friends have given me; and of COURSE Marc’s fine blog and a few other on-line sources but I don’t feel like I have really learned how to do anything until I’ve tried and failed and then re- and re-re-tried until I’ve made it work MY way.

    Someday I’d like to take some classes, specifically boat building and rocker making, but dang it, they’re EXPENSIVE and I’m CHEAP!

  14. Rick W November 14, 2012

    It is a combination of all of these things. Unlike my favorite toll for an operation the resources are so great now I can learn from multipul sources.

  15. Jerry November 14, 2012

    No one answer. I’ve learned mostly from on-line forums / blogs, the Woodwhisperer :), and I have taken classes at a woodworking school. A few books on specialized topics. DVDs, etc. Early on even from the man, Norm, I watched A LOT of New Yankee Workshop.

  16. JerrySats November 14, 2012

    For me its a little of everything , before the interwebs came along it was more books and magazines as well as just doing things .

  17. Shamuss November 14, 2012

    All of the sources above and THEN repeated trial and error. Repeated over. And over. And over.

    • Greg F November 14, 2012

      I’m with Shamuss on this one. I would have picked multiple sources if I could have.

  18. YouTube is where I found a lot of info. The Guild and HTS is also great for how to in HD.

  19. Eric R November 14, 2012

    From anyone and anywhere I can.
    God knows I need all the help I can get…lol

  20. Chuck R November 14, 2012

    Basics from Norm except that I cringe every time he uses his nail gun. David Marks for inspiration. Marc for technique – hard to beat his clear logic. .

  21. Martin R. November 14, 2012

    Before the podcasts, the was the Newyankee Workshop. Norm thought me soooo much.
    I simply had to have what he had. I spent a fortune on tools. I also took a few basic course, which thought me some basics, tool sharpening, finishing, etc.

    Then, the podcasts came along, and espacially TWW. I learned a lot more about precision woodworking. Before that, Norm was my only reference. Before TWW, I did not know what a router plane was, much less what it could be used for.

    Now, I learn for different podcasts. Different views, are what I like the most. Besides TWW, I enjoy Matt, Tom Hintz (newwoodworker) and Brian Grella (garagewoodworks). I really like his setup methods using a dial indicator.

    Hope you’re going to be on for along time as I have I lot left to learn.

    I the mean time, I just hope I had more time to learn from my own experience…

  22. Seth Hoover November 15, 2012

    From The Wood Whisperer, and trial and error.

  23. VitalBodies November 15, 2012

    Marc, you are such an absolute expert at coming up with great photos. Like really. You are a non stop inspiration! For me, blogs, photos (like a Google photo search or Pinterest or the like) and a lot of trial and error are what is happening. Would love to try the guild some day.
    PS don’t forget, we need our humor fix…

  24. Justin Chen November 16, 2012

    I’d say I’ve learned the most from your videos.

  25. Chris Farmer November 16, 2012

    While I selected “Something else”, I really would have liked to see an “All of the above” choice.

  26. Lee Wierenga November 17, 2012

    Where’s the online videos option man? Actually, it’s a mix of videos online, articles, and another woodworker/engineer so I had to go with “Something Else”

  27. Jeremiah Erwin November 17, 2012

    Most of my up to date learning would be from watching TWW and trial and error. I Learned a lot of the basics back in high school but lost some finese being away from woodworking for awhile.

  28. Blaze November 18, 2012

    Without Norm, I probably wouldn’t have developed such an interest in working with wood, so he’s my #1. Norm built my foundation, and books gave me a glimpse of the incredible variety of techniques and an appreciation of the design process. Marc, the contributors to this site, and other web-based sources provide ongoing inspiration that keeps me eager to get back into the shop.

  29. Jim Heinbuch November 21, 2012

    While your polls are great, many times I would have to check more than one. Today’s poll would almost have to include “all of the above.”

  30. Avi December 6, 2012

    Mainly trial and error. However I often look at other peoples project and see how I can improve on them.

  31. Kevin December 31, 2012

    I get the information for this *very new* hobby from blogs/videos. I’m a technical person, and I need to see something in great detail in order to get comfortable with it. I’ll frequently consult half a dozen or more sources before I take an idea into my workshop.

  32. Collin C. February 27, 2013

    From my dad. He is a retired teacher and one of the things he taught was wood shop classes varieing from simple to masterfull. I learned from a very young age the benefits of doing things for yourself.

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