Sometimes I think this is important to say so that beginners can hear: It does not take much natural talent to become a highly skilled woodworker.
During the last 10 years I’ve taught a lot of students all over the world, and in almost every class there was at least one person who had more natural dexterity than I do. Though these particular students were all at the beginning of their journey in the craft, I could see that they could eclipse me in time if they simply stuck to it.
Likewise, there have only been two students I’d classify as hopeless. One in Connecticut; the other in Maine. That’s only two out of hundreds and hundreds.
Making stuff, really nice stuff, doesn’t require as much nimbleness as it does patience and perseverance. The basics – sharpening, sawing to a line, planing to a line and chopping – take time to seep into your hands. Once the basics are there, everything else gets easier. Turning, veneering, carving, hardware installation and fitting doors and drawers are all skills that build upon the basic set.
But mostly is has to do with the most profound and important piece of advice I ever heard from a student.
During a class in Texas, one of the students recounted how he made his workbench entirely by hand, including ripping 8’ planks for days and days to make the top lamination. One of the other students was simply amazed and asked him: “How did you do that?”
The student answered: “I just decided to commit to it. Once I committed, it was easy.”
— Christopher Schwarz