Laura preaches again. Sorry. :-)
Originally Posted by NoliMum
Does anyone have tips for someone who dreams of woodworking but doesn't have the slightest idea as to where to start? I have no access to tools or woodshops or anything. I really want to make toys and possibly furniture one day, but it seems like such a lofty goal for a stay-at-home mom of a toddler.
It's not a lofty goal at all, but entirely doable. There's something about woodworking that seems so mysterious to people - it's what goes on in the mysterious shop class that you were never allowed to take. I didn't know a thing until I married someone who grew up with it, and it took me a few years to realize there were all these tools in the basement and I should figure out how to use them. And so I found things out one at a time - what a table saw does. And so I made a bunch of things using just that, before learning about other tools that might have worked better. The joys of power drills. The straightforward destruction you can cause with a Saws-all. The fun of jigsaws & bandsaws. And I know there's more I haven't experimented with.
To learn about woodworking, there are a couple of approaches. One is to find somebody, through church or community group or asking around, who is willing to teach you things. Old retired guys are great for that - they're often just so happy that someone takes an interest. The other is to just start with a simple project and decide that you're just going to figure it out, darnit. Sometimes, the Community Education in your area might offer classes too.
Tools can usually be rented at a rental place; most towns of, say, 20,000 people or more have them. They will also show you how to use them. This can be a fabulous resource, because for a rental anywhere from four hours to a weekend, which will cost less than you think ($10 is pretty common) you can get a free lesson on a machine that it's not your responsibility to maintain or store.
Once you've picked that simple project, and managed to achieve it, you can decide whether you want to take another one on. Ask questions, here or elsewhere, figure out what one new tool you want/need to learn, and pick something new/more challenging. Personally, I prefer to simply learn on one tool at a time, months sometimes with a little bit of playing here and there, until I don't really have to think about how it works anymore.
The wood animals here are a nice simple sort of project - they only require a scroll saw, or even just a hand saw (is it called a coping saw? Someone posted about that earlier) and a plain old 1x4 piece of pine. Playstands are also, believe it or not, pretty simple IF you have GOOD plans.
If you're going to find a woodworking book, make sure it's REALLY basic to start. Like, here's how to pick your wood, here's something you can make with just a saw and a drill. Lots of woodworking books seem to be geared to the male who has basic training and wants to spend hundreds on tools. Perhaps even a book on woodworking for kids? Check with your librarian.
Sometimes, I am just too longwinded. But I hope it's helpful...