A professional is a master craftsman and a beginner is a beginner, right?
Over the years of being involved in woodworking communities, I have come to recognize four types of woodworkers: the practical-ists (those who build something just when it is needed), the hobbyists (those who enjoy creating things in their spare time), the master craftsmen (people who are highly skilled and highly invested in the craft), and the professionals (those who are in the trade to pay the bills).
In my opinion, there is no hierarchical positioning of these four types of woodworkers, although some try to create pedestals for some and others see themselves as not worthy. While some professionals are beginners to the craft, as they sell the products of their new skill, some beginners create the most extraordinary pieces of wood art that definitely puts them in the class of the masters. But, regardless of skills, passions, income, or goals, a woodworker is a woodworker: they create something, whether practical, artistic, or a mix of the two, out of wood! Period.
As I type this, I can look across the room and see the silly little end table that I created almost a decade ago and I smile. It isn’t fancy; it definitely isn’t perfect; and, yet, it represents a LOT of things for me: 1) the courage to meet the challenge of building a table; 2) honouring the beautiful grain of willow wood; 3) the skills developed while tackling this “first”; and 4) “me” and my journey.
Looking back at that project that I shared online originally, I skimmed through some of the comments posted those many years ago and this one, from Bob, caught my eye and, well, made my eyes water a bit. Bob said, "you have your own style and it is growing on me. At first I couldn’t see what you were doing but, having looked again, now, I have to admire your originality and vision. Obviously your fab skills will improve but don’t change that style.”
Isn’t that what life is all about? Finding “you” and developing your skills? And, we can’t forget the other part of the story - helping others along their way, being supportive, regardless of their skill level or the type of woodworker that they choose to be at this time.
So, kudos to you, regardless of why you create things with wood, whether you are a professional or a hobbyist, or where you are on your woodworking journey and your skill level development.