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Someone commented the other day that they thought, "individuals coming into woodworking will be fewer and fewer." He said the young are not that much interested and schools are placing a lesser importance on woodworking or tech side...where does this put the dealer of woodworking related product?

I disagreed with him...the mere population of "baby boomers," who enjoy woodworking even to the point of starting their own business is ever growing. Also, the young (who amaze me with their intelligence), may want to do something on there own...like start a business instead of going to college. Having a woodworking background could enable a person to do that.

I personally think the general woodworking industry will grow and the end-user population will continue to get bigger...from people retiring and from the young who want to start a business.

My question: What do you think?

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I respectfully disagree. I think woodworking as a profession among the young is not their priority. There's way too many jobs and opportunities related to technology now than there ever has been before. These young guns can do more with a computer, cell phone, and video games than any of us could ever imagine.

I also think that cheap, imported items have taken place of quality, handmade work. Just look in your favorite box store for bird houses. I can't make a bird house for what they sell theirs for.

I think the woodworking profession is a mere hobby for us older folks, but not an option for these young guns. That's just my opinion.

By the way, as school funding decreases, so do the electives such as wood shop, metal shop, band, music, and even P.E. Without those classes, students aren't exposed to the fine arts, therefore, a lack of interest in those professions as well.
I have lived in various areas of the US with my career as a Safety Engineer over the last 25 years of which I have lived in nine states, finally ending up in New York, where I am retiring soon. I grew up staying the summer's with my Grandfather who was a carpenter from 1918 to the mid 50's when he retired. For most of my life, it has been buy cheap, fast and throw away in America. The pendelum is swinging back again with the changes to our countries economy much as in the 30's when Gustav Stickley introduced Craftsman Furniture to us here on this side of the pond. People are realizing again the benefit of buying quality that will last in contrast to the same cheap spun alternatives.

We are restoring our 1930 Craftsman home back to it's 1930 original look a room at a time. Last year I got a part time job at Lowes to cash in on the special deals and discounts that they give their employees. While there I listened and talked to the customers and observed their buying habits. I worked across from the Kitchen Cabinet Area and listened to the various wants and needs of those shopping. At least 6-10 times a day people came in asking for custom "Good" quality cabinets, some offering 50-60 thousand dollars, only to be told "We don't do custom work." The market is there.

My son Liam built a Craftsman End Table, his first project. One of the teachers at the School Co-Op we attend ordered two tables and a matching head board from him, he's eight years old!! Needless to say, Liam is focused on doing this for his career. He told me that he can go down to NY City when he is older and build 2 or 3 kitchen jobs a year and relax the rest of the year. The market is there again, it is up to us as parents to assist our kids to realize their dreams. The industry is saturated with tech's and computer gurus, many now out of a job.

It is true, the past few years have been hard on the skills market. But, it is a good thing for those who are ready to grab the next decades wave of trades employment. The market has been filled with an over abundance of tech jobs and starved the skills trade. The few that are ready with their skills honed will enjoy many years of work, due to limited craftsman in a VERY HUNGRY market.

If we prepare our children with our skills now, when they get 18-20, the fields will be ripe for their picking. They greatest thing about it also, is that this awesome tool called the KREG Jig makes this opportunity available for anyone. When an 8 year old can build a Stickley replica table, I cannot even imagine what he'll build as a man. Liam is not anything special, he's an 8 year boy with red hair. What is special is a tool that enables him to build awsome stuff. Any 8 year old can drill a hole and screw in a screw. I just showd the lad how to plug it in.

Be there to cheer your child on and don't preasure them. Let them have fun punching holes in wood and screwing in screws, and behold!! Out comes a piece of furniture. Tell your children daily that you love them, spend time with them daily and they'll believe you. The result will be amazing.
Great post Michael!

Like here in Italy this kind of job, like plumber, electrician, chimneysweep, etc, has been forgotten but I think those will be the new rich jobs in the future.

It's a turning wheel.....

Ciao
Michael, Liam's Dad said:
I have lived in various areas of the US with my career...[snipped]


What fantastic insight, Michael... and inspiring. I also think you've touched on one of the important aspects of the Kreg Jig in your later paragraphs about Liam. What we're finding through our new DIY efforts, and from seeing the Kreg Jig on shows like Rachael Ray, Cool Tools, Bathtastic, Spice Up My Kitchen, etc... is that what makes the Kreg Jig unique is more than just making woodworking fast, fun, and easy.

Based on what our newest customers are telling us, the Kreg Jig is giving them the confidence to get started. It's stripping away the natural fears people have about 'woodworking' and inspiring them to give it a try. The natural desire to build things with your hands is there, the desire to save money building things yourself is there, the instinct to create something from nothing is there... but the Kreg Jig makes woodworking more approachable to average people.

Where usually a beginner would have to have a shop full of tools worth thousands of dollars, with the Kreg Jig all you need to get a basic start is a Kreg Jig, a saw, and a drill.

Where usually a beginner might expect a wood project to take several weeks, with the Kreg Jig, you can finish in a matter of hours or days.

Where usually a beginner would be required to use glue, with the Kreg Jig it's optional.

Where usually a beginner would spend significant time calculating stock overlaps and ensuring that your workpieces align correctly, with the Kreg Jig, you can finish in 3 simple steps. "Drill. Drive. Done!"

Of course woodworking is never that easy, but I think the Kreg Jig is proving to make it so much easier and less daunting of a process that DIY'ers and homeowners are discovering that they're at least willing to give it a try. And if we get them to give it a try, most of them will stick with it since woodworking is such a rewarding hobby. So far the response has been overwhelming, and it's part of the reason we started this site. Customers are writing in to tell us that the "Kreg Jig changed their lives", telling us stories about how they used to come home after work, watch tv, and that was where they stayed all night... but now they can't wait to get home and start cutting up wood for their next project! Others are writing in that they bought the Kreg Jig on a whim, but a couple of weeks later found themselves buying just about every other woodworking tool on the market because they had found a new hobby to love! The Kreg Jig had literally transformed them and started them off on a journey that made a huge impact on their lives.

On a personal note, I think there are probably positive and negative notes to reference in regards to woodworking right now... especially in our classrooms, it's sad to see these trade classes disappear, but I think with tools like the Kreg Jig, exciting new woodworking programming like the Woodsmith Shop, the Wood Whisperer, Matt's Basement Workshop, LumberJocks, and a whole host of others. It's generally a very exciting time to be involved in woodworking; and we at Kreg are proud to be playing an important role in that process.

Have a great day everyone. Good luck, and good woodworking!
-KregRep
One way to ensure a future for woodworking is to involve kids. To write kids off as being too obsessed with computers and gameboys to be interested in woodworking is a mistake. The problem, like others have written, is that they aren't exposed to woodworking -- either at home or at school. And for reasons too complicated and controversial to get into, we can't depend on schools to offer shop classes. That's why I would encourage woodworkers, especially those who participate in guilds, to reach out to local schools and do demonstrations. I did one last year and it was an incredible experience. When I ran a homemade plane along the edge of a board and the shaving started to curl out, you would have thought I was doing a magic trick with the way they responded. They had TONS of questions and were even fascinated by the different kinds of wood I showed them. I made sure to let each one, with my help, use the handplane to get that feel we all love so much. Each one wanted a curled-up shaving to take home. This is very much a first step. Sparking an interest is one thing, but providing the resources for learning the craft is another. I also think the field suffers for the lack of African Americans and other minorities. And while there are many excellent female woodworkers, there needs to be many more. I think demonstrations for adults are also a good idea. The rule in my shop is that no one -- young or old -- who has never used a handplane can leave without giving it a try.

Mitch
http://furnitude.blogspot.com
I think there will be a goodly quantity of young folks that want to express their creativity in wood.. Today with all of the infor available on the web (like this community) it will be easier than ever to get up to speed. Also tools today make woodworking easier than in the past.

I hope to pass my tools along to my grand kids and hope like heck that they are interested in using them.
And for reasons too complicated and controversial to get into, we can't depend on schools to offer shop classes.

About a year ago I called my old Junior High School which is located near Chicago, IL looking for an address to buy some hammering molds to make hammered copper plates and bowls like the one's we made in class years ago. I was informed that the school abandoned all the Shop Classes, including the Wood Shop Class that I was so active in.

I called two other High Schools, one in California and one in New Hampshire in search of the coveted equipment. I was told similar stories by both of these administrations. The reason behind all three of these "Bail Outs" had nothing to do with interest, but in liability. One administrator told me that one kid cutting off a finger in a tool would bankrupt their school board.

We are members of a Home Schooling Co-Op here in NY, I teach the Junior/Senior students Wood Shop, using the KREG Jig exclusively. The class only meets once a week, so we went with the KREG Jig because it is fast and makes strong joints. These kids never touched a tool before except the joy sticks on their computer games, their first project was a Stickley repo telephone stand. One senior is getting a summer job in a few weeks building sheds for a local contractor; he has been bitten by the wood bug!!

Yesterday another teacher informed me that three more families are joining the Co-Op in September because they heard we had a Wood Shop Class. The fields are ripe folks, we need to reap the harvest now. We can be part of and see a resurgence in woodworking that hasn't happened since Stickley introduced the Craftsman Movement of the 30's. Kreg has developed a tool that enhances our trade and I believe if Gustav Stickley saw this jig he would use it as well.
I congratulate you on introducing kids to WWing, I remember my shop classes in a large HS in Va. Beach. It is sad that many systems have done away with shop classes but its a reality we all have to live with. I see home woodworking growing even more popular year by year and the number of skilled fine craftsmen continues to grow.
I do want to point out one thing to you if you are planning on teaching, Gustav Stickley did not introduce the arts and crafts movement in the 30's. He brought the ideals from England and Europe to the US at the end of the 1800's and in fact his company was out of business by 1915. These were times of growth, not times of depression. The movement was a reaction to the overly ornate, yet shoddy furniture of the Victorian age. Stickley's designs and production was targeted at the working class and the rapidly growing middle class, people finally able to have some disposable income and wanted "honest, sturdy furniture". While Stickley did not subscribe to all of the social and political aspects of the English Arts and Crafts movement, he did bring the ideals and furniture to the masses. The Arts and Crafts ,movement in the US and Europe was ended by World War I and was mostly forgotten until the 1980's since then the revival has been going strong and show's no sign of slowing down. Many good bio's and histories of Stickley and the Arts and Crafts movement are available online and in print.
Good Luck.
Brad Ferguson
http://treefrogfurniture.blogspot.com

Michael, Liam's Dad said:
And for reasons too complicated and controversial to get into, we can't depend on schools to offer shop classes.

About a year ago I called my old Junior High School which is located near Chicago, IL looking for an address to buy some hammering molds to make hammered copper plates and bowls like the one's we made in class years ago. I was informed that the school abandoned all the Shop Classes, including the Wood Shop Class that I was so active in.

I called two other High Schools, one in California and one in New Hampshire in search of the coveted equipment. I was told similar stories by both of these administrations. The reason behind all three of these "Bail Outs" had nothing to do with interest, but in liability. One administrator told me that one kid cutting off a finger in a tool would bankrupt their school board.

We are members of a Home Schooling Co-Op here in NY, I teach the Junior/Senior students Wood Shop, using the KREG Jig exclusively. The class only meets once a week, so we went with the KREG Jig because it is fast and makes strong joints. These kids never touched a tool before except the joy sticks on their computer games, their first project was a Stickley repo telephone stand. One senior is getting a summer job in a few weeks building sheds for a local contractor; he has been bitten by the wood bug!!

Yesterday another teacher informed me that three more families are joining the Co-Op in September because they heard we had a Wood Shop Class. The fields are ripe folks, we need to reap the harvest now. We can be part of and see a resurgence in woodworking that hasn't happened since Stickley introduced the Craftsman Movement of the 30's. Kreg has developed a tool that enhances our trade and I believe if Gustav Stickley saw this jig he would use it as well.
I do want to point out one thing to you if you are planning on teaching, Gustav Stickley did not introduce the arts and crafts movement in the 30's.

I do appologize for my error in Stickley dates, my knowledge of Gustav Stickley is limited to what the Curator told me when I visited the Stickley Museum in Morris Plains, NJ. I'm just a woodworker that loves the style of furniture. Fortunately for the kids in my class, I'm not teaching them history heh? :-) At least their tables look good.
Something interesting to ponder. China may soon have an upside down pyramid problem. With the one child policy and improvements in standard of living, one working Chinese adult will be supporting two parents and four elderly grandparents. They may be too busy trying to serve their internal needs to export low-cost stuff to us anymore!

I think there are two recent innovations that will save woodworking in America - the SawStop and the Kreg Tool. I have been trying to make custom shelves and cabinets at home - things that you cannot buy - and have worked through all kinds of techniques. What I like about Kreg is what I think a lot of younger people will like - speed, efficiency, repeatability. I will post pics of the shelves I built recently. Just a few hours on something that would have taken days with glue and biscuits.

My one suggestion is that Kreg needs more in Spanish. I am not Latino, but I think you have a big market there, esp since the tools are at just the right price point.

Sean
Such a great thread..
Michael Thanks to you and everyone else here that are teaching the youth this great trade. I attended a Vocational and Technical school for high school and even though I went into a different field woodworking was to be one of my choices. I recently went back to my school for a tour to show my wife around and was so disappointed in the school for removing a mutiple of shops. The trades are still there but the clas room time has been cut dramatically and so I believe the teaching has suffered. Its bad enough they removed the word "vocational" from the schools name a few years after I graduated, I hope they will not have to remove the vocations they teach.
I am waiting with much anticipation for the day my young daughter can join me in my shop, and perhaps I can show some of her friends the "magic" of woodworking like Mitch did.

Chris
All depends if there will be wood to work with. Fly over the country sometime and you will see a lot of mountains with no trees.

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