I think you’re going to like today’s topic, even if it’s not a technical, wood finishing “tip.”

Given Labor Day is coming up and we’re honoring workers and workmanship…

What I’d love to talk about is…

How YOU got your start in wood finishing.

Look, we all know woodworking and finishing isn’t easy – it requires a special type of person with the skills — and temperament – to do it right and truly enjoy it.

There are few folks among us who possess innate skills to take on a major woodworking project right out of the gate and nail both the construction and the finishing.

For ME, the skills of being a competent woodworker never took hold. I should have known that I was in for a rough start in the woodshop when my high school shop teacher kept giving me the same freshman year wood project to build…and rebuild…and rebuild right up to graduation day in my senior year!

While all the other kids in my shop class brought home more and more advanced pieces made for their parents, I kept getting the same foot stool project…and frankly, the skills never really took hold.

But when it came to finishing those foot stools – WOW! Every semester my staining and finishing just got better and better.

Likewise, I’ve talked to just as many woodworkers who tried their hand at wood finishing and just couldn’t get it to click (hopefully the tips and advice in our blog have been helping.)

What frustrates me to this day is that building and finishing are part-mechanical, part-spatial, and part artistic…and for some of us they all don’t flow together to help make that final project come to life.

For me it’s a bummer – because I really wanted to build that cupboard in my senior year.

So, I guess what I’d really like to know today is a three-part question:

First, how did you get started in woodworking?

Second, was wood finishing a focus point during your early skills development?

And third, when and how did it all come together…or are there parts of your skillset, like mine, still “stuck in freshman year?”

Please share your thoughts or read what others are saying below in the comments section.