Oct 292015
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Sometimes I hear woodworkers talk about avoiding repair jobs around the house and it makes me wonder, “Aren’t most woodworkers also do-it-yourselfers?”

My first introduction to woodworking was in Wood Shop class in junior high school.  No one in our family worked in wood, built furniture, or anything remotely associated with what we call woodworking today.  However, every male member of the family was “handy” and self-sufficient.

I got into home construction after the Air Force and, as much as I enjoyed it, I didn’t want to make a career of it.  Still, I stayed with it long enough to approximate journeyman status, and the skills I learned there I apply to nearly every session in the shop.  Germane to the present conversation, though, is the fact that, with the exception of a flooring installer (actually, Brent Wilson should be called an artist!), we’ve never had a carpenter or wood-oriented repairman come to our home in 30 years of marriage.

If something needs to be fixed, Brenda says, “Sweet Baaaaaaaabeeeeeeee, can you put a shelf here for me?” Or something similar.  Sweet-talk gets me every time!  When we moved into the new house, 19 years ago this Thanksgiving, I set up a rudimentary shop in the lowest level and trekked up and down two flights of stairs until her art studio was completely outfitted.  It was only after that when I got to begin formalizing my own work area.

A list of well-known do-it-yourselfers:

  • Steven Johnson renovated his Down To Earth Woodshop.  Click here to read Steve’s story and his trials with the legacy of the unhandy homeowner.
  • Michael Smith built his own shop in a series on Highland Woodworking.  Click here to read Michael’s story and the trials of being one’s own contractor.
  • The Wood Talk podcast crew (Marc, Matt and Shannon) even weigh-in on the topic.  Click here to listen to the episode they discussed DIY in detail.

(Respondents are encouraged to make comments below the post.)

Jim Randolph is a veterinarian in Long Beach, Mississippi. His earlier careers as lawn mower, dairy farmer, automobile mechanic, microwave communications electronics instructor and journeyman carpenter all influence his approach to woodworking. His favorite projects are furniture built for his wife, Brenda, and for their children and grandchildren. His and Brenda’s home, nicknamed Sticks-In-The-Mud, is built on pilings (sticks) near the wetlands (mud) on a bayou off Jourdan River. His shop is in the lower level of their home. Questions and comments on woodworking may be written below in the comments section. Questions about pet care should be directed to his blog on pet care, www.MyPetsDoctor.com. We regret that, because of high volume, not all inquiries can be answered personally.

  13 Responses to “POLL: Are Most Woodworkers Also General-Purpose DIY-ers?”

  1. I am also a machinist, and many of the things I make/repair seem to fall in both categories. I’m also into astronomy, and am currently in the process of restoring an antique telescope, and making a variety of small wood boxes to hold the eyepieces and accessories. I made some dovetail boxes, some from solid pieces of wood, some nailed, some whatever. It is enjoyable to make things and not be stuck in a rut as to the procedure. With this many projects going on, I do not have time to keep my work areas clean.

    • Jon, I’m with you! I, too, enjoy variety in my projects. And, when I’m in the middle of a project, cleaning is on a burner so far back I can’t see it! Thanks for reading, Jim.

  2. I have always done as much of the repair work around the house as I could, primarily because I could …and why spend the money? Now that I am retired, doing the repair, maintenance and updating work around the house is something that I look forward to . In addition, since I retired 2 years ago I have acquired a wood lathe and am learning to use that tool. Always something to do. I take pride in rarely turning on the TV during the day.

    • Anonymous, I just said to my wife last night, “It’s hard to believe we get so many channels and there is absolutely nothing to watch!” I like about an hour of escapism between supper and bedtime. Right now we’re watching “Lost” over again because of the dearth of good, clean entertainment. Thanks for reading, Jim.

  3. My profession is electronic communications but I have done all my own Electrical, Plumbing, Roofing, auto mechanics ( Night school for that) I’ve was a landlord for twenty years always did my own painting and repairs. I’ve hired out maybe three jobs in my life. I take one look at the price and say. “I’ll figure it out”

  4. My Dad got me started on bicycles as a pre-teen.. At over 70, I still repair my cars and household items including electrical devices.

    • In my earliest days of working I mowed lawns. My father said I could use the family mower if I maintained it, so I changed the oil, sharpened the blade and paid for the gasoline. Bicycles, cars, mowers, if you can figure one out, you can manage the other. Anything you need help with, look it up on YouTube!

  5. I have always been a DIYer, but as I am getting older I’m starting to draw the line on working on the roof or hanging off a ladder to paint the house. That’s what they make 20 somethings for!

    • Our home has a hip roof. Two sides have a 6/12 pitch, the other two are about 4000/12. I limit myself to the two flatter sides. Anything that needs to be done on the rest of the roof, I’m with you: calling a 20-something!

  6. I try to do absolutely everything, from woodwork to electrical. This puts boundaries on my life and property. For example, I have reduced the size of my lawn to match how much time I’m willing to mow using a gasoline, unpropelled push mower. As a result, I have pared my life down to the basics and as I get older I imagine those basics will get even more basic. But a few years back I decided that professional wood-burning stove installers should install the insulated chimney to a new stove. I didn’t want to mess around with something that could burn down my house. After a few hours of two, 200lb guys jumping around on my 200 year old roof (making me really nervous) it was installed. Once they had packed up and left I climbed the ladder to inspect their work. I had to redo all of it. What they did was absolutely terrifying.

    • Daniel, I’m with you, brother. If you want it done right, do it yourself. I draw the line at getting on the hips of our roof that are about 12/12. The other two hips are about 6/12, and I don’t mind climbing on them. Otherwise, I’m on it. The biggest problem is the limitation of 24 hours in each day! Thanks for reading, Jim.

  7. Besides a complete woodworking shop where I build furniture, I enjoy remodeling — two bathrooms (including a complete walk-in tile shower) and a complete kitchen, so far. Woodworking skills and tools have been a big part of both!
    I jokingly tell my wife I’ll tackle any DIY job except refrigeration and transmissions!!

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