Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out?
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
I do it for several reasons.

First, I did it because it connected me with my stepfather, who passed in 1981, and taught me a lot.  It may sound a little odd to some, but...

When I'm in the shop, deep in a project, sometimes I can almost feel him there.  I wish I had told him more often how much I appreciated the sacrifices he made for two kids that burst late into his life.  I know my sister never did.  Rolleyes

Secondly, we needed things for our home, and all thru the years, my tools and workspaces provided them.  Bed broke, I fixed it, kid needed a desk to study on, I built one.  We needed a couple barns, bookcases... They went on the list.

Lastly, I worked in a high stress environment for forty plus years thru two careers.  The woodworking helped me decompress.  All around me, I saw fellow Marines / or Officers take out their stress on those around them. I never had to, I had sawdust therapy.  Crazy
I used the time to make gifts, and vent.

My kids learned.  A couple are woodworkers, but all are crafty.  Big Grin
Jim in Okie
You can tell a lot about the character of a man -
By the way he treats those who can do nothing for him.
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
One thing I've been told is that younger folks generally tend not to join clubs regardless of the club's central purpose. I've seen this in woodworking and in bicycling. So, it may or may not be that the art of woodworking is dying but simply that younger folks aren't "joiners".
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
I dunno. I'm a member of several ww'ing groups on FaceBook. They're *always* active. Several groups aimed at beginners; I'm constantly fielding questions there. A few subject-dedicated groups, such as box building, turning, and one dedicated simply to cutting boards.

I'm not a member of any club because I'm stupid busy with my kids.

At 43, I'm an X-er.
Semper fi,

  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
Neither of my sons ever showed much interest in working in my shop when they were young.

Now that he's married oldest has started woodworking -- he's making those cutting boards with epoxy streaks in them.  Nice ones -- LOML says she'll never cut on hers, it's too pretty. Cool

Fescue (#2 son) has started trying to build small boxes for Dungeons and Dragons players and is making nice progress -- until he let unisaw nibble on left thumb. Big eek

Not as good as his dad.  He didn't need stitches,  I got 27 Rolleyes
"Truth is a highway leading to freedom"  --Kris Kristofferson

Wild Turkey
We may see the writing on the wall, but all we do is criticize the handwriting.
(joined 10/1999)
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
Is the hobby dying?


Is it evolving, yes.

I was a rare one....I had a tablesaw, drill press, small bandsaw at age 21. Garage was a shop by 23. Most of my friends were getting done with school, getting their first nice car, traveling, etc.

Just turned 40, having had my own business in woodworking for 12+ years now, and a lot of my friends are now getting interested in woodworking related things that they are settled, own a home, in their career and have kids. My cousin for example is 38 and getting into wood burning. 

Of the people my age, many are interested in CNC machines and the laser engravers. 

With the amount of young people (under 40) on youtube that consider themselves "makers" that have more than 100k subscribers shows that someone is watching (and learning). 

I just look around here....we have 3 rocklers and 1 woodcraft within a 15 mile radius. If the hobby was dying, would you have 4 stores so close, all making a profit?

Once Favre hangs it up though, it years of cellar dwelling for the Pack. (Geoff 12-18-07)  

  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
I suspect that one reason novices join clubs is to learn from demos at meetings and that sort of thing. Well, they’ve got YouTube videos for all that now.

What really is the purpose of a woodworking club? I for one always felt that two hours in the shop was better than driving to a meeting and back.
Lumber Logs, domestic hardwoods at wholesale prices: http://www.woodfinder.com/listings/012869.php

Lumber Logs' blog: Follow the adventure
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
I think many of us started out as woodworkers from necessity.  When I was starting out as a young husband and father in the 70’s  I could build a bed set for 1/2 the price of a set from Sears.  I could fix a few drawers for almost nothing.  Walnut and cherry were pennies a board/foot.  And those pennies were important.

Now, anything I make for my kids or grandkids is more of a “grandpa made this for me” experience than a frugal one.  I can buy a chest of drawers with dovetailed boxes for less than the materials of a shop built one.  

Working with natural wood is less efficient than working with man-made materials.  Those manufactured panels are flatter and more stable than a solid piece of lumber.  The front door of my previous house would change sizes with the weather.  That is not so much of an issue with my insulated fiberglass door now.

While the quality of what I make might be perceived as better than a mass produced one, how good is good enough?  If I make something that will “last for generations”, is that even desirable anymore?  My kids did not want a hand made grandfather clock, as anything that “durable” would lock them into a specific decor.  
I offered my son the hand-rubbed finished walnut cradle  that I had made with meticulously turned individual spindles and all our kids used as infants for my first grandchild.  My daughter-in-law said it really didn’t fit in with the motif of the planned nursery, but she supposed if she gave it a couple of coats of paint maybe it would be ok. (They took a pass, saying the time it would take to refinish the cradle, especially with all those spindles would not be worth it)

Things have changed...
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
One of the reasons I'm happy to send my daughter to local high school is they still have "materials technology". It's a blend of high tech computer and old school wood, metal and sewing work, coupled in with art and design. So even senior students can get academic credits for "design" and "materials science" that count towards their University Entry credits. It might have been designing and making a school ball dress, or a bookcase. But they have the practical experience of doing it. 

The 17 year old head girl that took us and Ms 12 around the school on the "orientation tour" had done both, and was still off to do a University course. 

Thing is she knows that woodshops and sewing machines exist, and you can still buy the equipment. If you want a CNC or computer embroidery rig, they also know those exist, AND they know the basics of running that sort of equipment. Or at least finding a Youtube tutorial. 

Current generation of kids aren't dumb, Give a 5 year old a tablet computer, and they will have it sussed out in an hour. 

When I was growing up I always thought that it would be cool if you could cut down a tree, and make actual stuff from it yourself. But I had no idea how. Then the internet and portable sawmills showed up. Ohhh, you can do that.
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
The local schools have "TSA," which includes enough woodworking that my son made 2 Adirondack chairs.  They also worked with robots and cnc routers.
  Re: Woodworking as a hobby -- is it dying out? by bhh (Our woodworking club...)
I've been a member of the Kansas City Woodworkers' Guild for something like 15 years now.  We continue to grow, expecting to get very, very close to 1,000 members in 2020. This is primarily because of two things:

1) About 2005 the membership decided they wanted to stop meeting in a church basement and have a proper community shop space
2) Actively support growth through education - teaching from within the group and bringing in outside instructors

Our shop is now about 12,000 square feet (of which at least 10,000 is used for machines and bench space), includes a very large library of woodworking and related books and videos and we have something like 60 hours per week during which the shop is open and supervised.

Our membership is trending younger instead of older. Sure it is a trend from an average age of 60+ to something closer to 50, but still.

To use the shop, membership is $95 per year. Not month, year. We maintain this low cost because as a group we take on outside projects to raise money, offsetting dues. In general we have larger machines than one might be able to have at a home shop: 5hp Saw Stops times 5 (each machine is set for dedicated use -- two with large outfeed tables and a rip/combo blades, two with x-cut blades and one with a dado stack and all having various jigs and such custom made for that particular machine), a 12" & 8" jointer, 20" and 15" planers, 4 bandsaws (two at 20"), 24" and 32" wide belt sanders, assorted other stationary sanding machines, half a dozen very nice scroll saws, lathes for spindle work (The Kansas City Woodturners sub-lease space from us and have a few tons of lathes of their own), multiple floor standing mortising machines, multiple router tables and a very well stocked tool cabinet and bench room.  All the stationary machines are on dust collection either a dedicated unit or have pipes to the industrial grade cyclone (talk about removing the chrome from a trailer hitch!). Lately, the CNC has been probably the most popular big tool and they are in the process of upgrading (again) to a larger bed machine. We also have an agreement with Legacy for licensing their software so there are a few PCs in our library for the members to use. 

The average user brings in materials for a project and does the heavy lifting on the machines and typically glue ups of larger portions. Then finishes off at home. The one thing we really don't do in the shop is finishing due to dust and health issues as we can't turn over the air in the space fast enough. Being a shared space, you don't want to be trying to finish something while the jerk at the next bench is sanding anyway.

We offer lots and lots of classes at different levels of experience. The most popular being the shop class you never got to take as a kid. That is always full and they keep adding more sessions. I think they run 4 or 5 each year, 3 or 4 weeks long each. Always full and has a waiting list.

All operations and governance is done by volunteers. We don't pay salaries or discount membership to officers. All money goes back into maintaining and improving the shop.
Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things. -- G. Carlin

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