A man’s greatest resource is his labor. I know it’s been said many times before, but that’s only because it applies to so many areas of life.
Anytime I don’t have money for something I want, I ask myself ‘Can’t I just build it myself?’ I’m always still surprised how often I can.
I am not some special kind of building wizard who’s been studying the ancient ways of engineering under an ancient Shao Lin master on a mountaintop. I’m a regular dude who just started trying to see what I could do. Every time I tackle a labor-intensive task, I get better at it, which is how I know you can too. Woodworking is one of these tasks.
“Anything you practice, you will get better at”-Denzel Washington.
Is woodworking even worth the time?
When I’m feeling lazy or tired or hungry, the answer is always “no” followed by some cop-out rationalization full of “reasons” that are totally not excuses.
Otherwise, the answer is always, “Of course! It will only take ____ amount of time, and think how much money you’ll save!”
As I said earlier, I’m in no way a master woodworker. I do like it though, and I have a decent aptitude for it, which converts into ability every time I take action on a new project. Each time I get a little better. You will too; there’s no way you can’t!
Evaluate your own aptitude and, if it appeals to you, learning the details will not be hard. YouTube is an amazing, free learning resource. Lynda.com is even better.
Here are four reasons why woodworking is great for people on a budget:
1) Your labor is cheaper than Amazon
This stuff was just for fun, playing around on the bandsaw.
In the last couple of years, I have made the following things.
Custom counter tops, window trim, dormer vent, small spiral staircase, chicken coop, door footings, study desk, fencing, raised garden beds, floor transitions, birthday gifts, island tops, accent pieces, AC access cover, custom doors, car repair, cabinet doors, cabinets, fridge shelves (just had to paint them), bed frames, and tables.
These were all the things I would have had to spend my income on! You can literally cross items off your Amazon Buy List, because you can make them instead.
2) Wood is the cheapest, easiest to use building material out there.
There’s a reason that mankind has been using wood as the medium for everything from hobbies to large scale engineering projects for thousands of years. It’s also relatively easy to cut and modify compared to metal and other mediums. It’s the most abundant, readily-available resource for most people. It literally grows right in your own back yard… or possibly your neighbors (Seriously, don’t try to steal your neighbors tree. That won’t end well. But if you find they’ve already cut it down, you can offer to remove it)!
3) Building is like therapy, only cheaper.
Some people have chocolate, some have music, and some people pay $300 an hour for counseling. I have my band saw.
Everything from planning to cutting to completing a project is soothing and gratifying to me. Plus, I get the bonus of a little pride with every, “Wow! You MADE that?” I hear.
4) Wood is everywhere, not just at Home Depot.
This is a tree that fell down in my Dad’s back yard. Also, some amazing fashion and safety sense.
I remember when the connection finally clicked for me. “All these weird, leafy things are made from the same thing as the boards in the lumber section of Home Depot!” Actually they’re better. You can get amazing grain patterns, superior strength (Oak, mulberry, mesquite, versus weaker pine), and custom dimensions (3×4, 5×4, 1×4, etc.) by using lumber from a downed tree that blew over in last winters storm. In most areas there are even people that will drive a portable saw mill to your location to mill up the tree for you.
So come and join the brotherhood of woodworkers. You might just find a life-long hobby. Not to mention a vehicle to make your engineering- and financial dreams a reality, whether it’s a new door, a table, a toy for your kid, or a kayak for the weekends.