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The Best Investment for Your Woodworking

It’s the time of year when resolutions are made (and broken) and we look ahead with excited expectations for the new year. What do you want to get done in your shop this year? What do you want to learn? This is when I start to think about taking classes that will challenge me and force me to try a new technique. I firmly believe that this is the best investment you can make in your own woodworking. The is no question that good quality tools can help you immensely but lets be honest, you still have to know how to use it right?

Here is the problem. Woodworking classes are expensive! No question that they shouldn’t be because think about what you are getting by taking one. A fellow craftsman is passing along some serious knowledge and best practices that will serve you for the rest of your woodworking career. The big cost isn’t so much the ticket price of the class, but the time and sometimes travel necessary. A lot of schools have seminars and weekend classes, but I just don’t get much out of those because it isn’t enough time to really cover a topic. Most of the time you sit and listen to a lecture and then get a small amount of hands on time. It is the process of actually making with someone looking over your shoulder and guiding you that makes these classes so worthwhile.

So, OK, you have scrimped and saved the money to pay the class fee, but now you have to figure out how to get to the school and arrange lodging and travel. This can be a very daunting hurdle to overcome. Not only that, but while you may be having a ball, you are away from your family and that is always tough. My wife is a sweetheart and has come with me on a few woodworking vacations. She enjoys the quiet time to read and catch up on some relaxation time, but eventually she wants to get out and do something and with me in class all day she is limited. So no matter what she says I always end up feeling a little guilty for taking time away from her vacation.

What’s my point? I seem to be advocating taking a class, but spending a lot of time shooting holes in the idea. If you can work it out, then do it, it will be worth every penny.

But maybe there is an alternative. The digital woodworking community has never been better and there is this little known site call The Wood Whisperer. Maybe you have heard of it? Marc and Nicole Spagnuolo has put together an amazing community that is full of information. What has been missing is that class feeling you get when you bond with your fellows and get knee deep in shavings and sawdust.

About a year ago, Marc launched The Wood Whisperer guild. This is his subscription only site full of exclusive content and events. I was an inaugural member and the first year has been a lot of fun. You meet great people and we have been fortunate to have some big names come and speak to us on their inspirations and work. Internet technology is a wonderful thing that allows us to have a fully interactive discussion and learn a lot.

Marc is taking this idea to the next level in a few months by starting up a group build project. He is going to present us all with a small table design and build it while we build along with him. This is not a new idea as many of us bloggers and podcasters have encouraged our readers to build along. Marc is going to augment this idea with weekly live guild session to help along people stuck in the build or to share ideas for variations on the plan. With over 500 members already in the guild you can imagine the collected wisdom and experience all gathered together in one chat room. With the live streaming capabilities that web cams offer us, many of the guildees can broadcast what they are building at the same time and we can all advise one another and share in the woodworking goodness.

In other words, this is a traditional guild where you get together with friends and talk wood. Only I suggest that it is better because we can do all of this while remaining in our own shops and building along.

So my point is, if you are not already a Guild member, I urge to to click on the pretty Guild icon up on the top right corner and check it out. It will easily be the best money you have spent on your woodworking education. Now to be perfectly honest, I do get a little kickback if you sign up by using this link and I thank Marc for the opportunity to represent his ventures on my own site. I can tell you that this “kickback” has nothing to do with my endorsement of The Wood Whisperer Guild. It is a great place to be and I am happy to be a member. If nothing else my proceeds will just go back into my own show to make it better.

If you join, make sure to drop me a line and say hi next time you are in the chat room too.

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