The First Step
Most of the time, when I’m sitting in my furniture stall in front of the old Radio Flyer wagon my grandson and I earned putting in a lady’s mailbox, people seem to wonder if I’m really alive (last time there I got a big offer of water from the man who works at the wine bar behind me). Occasionally, I get a compliment on my furniture, and/or sell something.
Not only am I being viewed, however, I’m looking back. About 30 to 40 percent of those I see and speak with are interested in building furniture themselves (or have a spouse or a relative who wants to do this kind of work). What kind of wisdom can I impart?
The best thing I can say is, “Take the first step.” I started out with very little machinery and skill. I read everything I could about furniture making. This gave me a preliminary idea of the heights and breadth of what can be done with wood. I decided to start with a stool so I bought a tool I needed for that. That’s how you amass tools: buy the one or two you need for your next job. Also, choose projects that will expand your skills and vision. Don’t be afraid of mistakes. At this stage, you can’t hurt yourself very much. Follow all the safety instructions, no matter how dumb they sound. Your fingers will thank you later. Over time you’ll learn where to find wood, a finishing plan that works for you, and more and more projects.
Above all, take the first step.
You can find Bourgeois Furniture at the Winchester Old Town Mall Saturday, October 9, 16 and 23 from 12-3pm.
I shall be participating with many other talented artisans in the Trails and Trees Studio Tour for Berkeley County West Virginia on Saturday and Sunday, November 6 and 7 from 10am-5pm. This is a trip around a set of studios. You’ll find me on Maple St. in Martinsburg at Lynn Gundry’s (a very talented glassworker) house with Bill Friend, another woodworker. Look up the Tour on the web or on Facebook.