I have the world’s worst hobby: woodworking.

To begin with, it’s expensive.  It is certainly possible to get into it without thousands of dollars worth of power tools but even if you avoid that route, it’s still not possible to avoid hundreds of dollars worth of hand tools.  It’s expensive no matter what.  The raw materials themselves are expensive too.  Good wood is not cheap.

Good wood is also a bit hard to find.  The usual places like hardware stores and Home Depot will not have any wood you can use to build anything nice although Home Depot does have some plywood with oak veneer on it – most of the time. You have to look up “lumber” or “hardwood” in the phone book and go there which is usually in an industrial part of town that you never go to; a place with railroad tracks crisscrossing the streets. Someplace with plastic bags blowing in the wind and getting snagged on the chain link fences which surround old buildings with broken windows up high.  A place where homeless people push their shopping carts on the way between shelters.

Then you need a large vehicle to transport it; either a pickup or a trailer. A minivan will work in a very limited way.  All this is before you even start a project.  If you’re after some exotic hardwood, well good luck to you.  Most hardwood dealers only have two or three types of wood – usually whatever grows in your part of the country.  Exotics are imported and most dealers don’t have much of it around.  If you need a lot, you’ll have to drive a long way or pay a lot of shipping.

Then there’s the floor space.  It takes the space of a one-car garage at a minimum and really needs a two-car garage . That’s a lot of space for a hobby.  Some lucky stiffs actually have a separate building of that size in the back of their house for this; a building with its own electrical system and hopefully some sort of heating and cooling.

Then your project starts.  If you screw it up, you have a big pile of something that is not usable for its original purpose.  You have to salvage what you can of the material or find a way to use it somewhere else.  If you are successful, then you have something that will last forever.  Is that a good thing?  It may be but it may also be true that your spouse may decide to redecorate one day; what then?

And it makes a huge mess.  One is left with a fine coating of sawdust on the floor and on most everything else with a flat surface.  You have to leave an hour just to clean up after you’re done.  You can pick up and throw away all the small chunks that get cut off of the ends of things but these make your trash especially heavy.

It’s just terrible.  The only hobbies I can think of that would be worse might be owning a plane or boat.

But I love it.  It’s a curse but I do love it so. There’s nothing that can compare to the satisfaction I get from taking a pile of raw material and creating something useful.  I have the freedom to avoid the cheap stuff that most of us a forced to accept and create something that previously only the very wealthiest people would have.  Maybe that’s why God created us:  because he got the same feeling from creating something out of nothing.  I hope so.

So I’ll keep on indulging in it but I will discourage anybody else from ever getting interested in it.  There must be a better, easier, and cheaper way to have fun.

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