Think about it. When I first started woodworking – and for the first few years of my time in the shop – I was a lone wolf. A maverick. I was a man unto myself.
Oh, sure, I had the Woodworker’s Website Association online. It was a great forum to belong to, and I had the chance to virtually meet a bunch of other woodworkers who were doing things over in there shops. I started posting there in 1999, and it was pretty cool. Through those contacts, I was invited to a woodworking school where I met a number of great woodworkers – oh, and this guy named Marc Spagnuolo.
Speaking about that guy Marc, it took a couple of years after we met, but blammo – he created The Wood Whisperer website, and eventually the Wood Whisperer Guild. This online community gives me the opportunity to push the envelope in my woodworking – to try new things I would have never considered doing. While it is a virtual community, I know I’m not alone. I could read about how to do different techniques, get feedback from the other guild members and show off my successes.
Just this past year, I also became a member of the Modern Woodworkers Association. Chris Adkins, Dyami Plotke and several other woodworkers came up with this awesome concept at the last Woodworking in America conference. With so many woodworkers looking for online content and posting their projects, the MWA has become a great place to check in and let the woodworking world know what’s going on in your shop.
While I have been woodworking in my shop here in Florida, I was unaware of a great resource right in my own backyard. The St. Petersburg Woodcrafters Guild has been meeting just down the road from me for about as long as I have been living here in Florida. Every month, local woodworkers have been coming together to swap stories, brag about their exploits, point each other in the right direction when making tool purchases and offer advice when a member became stuck on a technique. It was just this past February when I attended my first meeting … and last night I took the plunge and became a member.
Now, I go to my shop all alone when I want to escape the real world and reconnect with the craft I enjoy. But, I know better. I’m not just by myself … I’ve got a lot of support. That’s pretty reassuring.