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Woodturning in Your Retirement in Ireland

Updated: Jun 4

I have had many Students in the retirement age bracket over the last few years attending Woodturning Tuition classes in my Workshop. It seems to be quite popular with this age group so I thought I would write a post to deal with some of the issues and thoughts around your first steps in taking a lesson or deciding to take a lesson. I have also added information for those who are considering buying a Gift Voucher as a Retirement Gift too. These observations I have made have been from repeated patterns with different people but are always very similar in nature.

Woodturning in Your Retirement in Ireland
Woodturning Tuition in Tralee

Woodturning in Your Retirement in Ireland

Many people are used to being active all week in their chosen careers and the onset of a time when your week is no longer as full can be quite unnerving for some. I have found that the initial investment costs for starting Woodturning does not scare these individuals away as they may have put some money aside or received a retirement package and can afford it; quite possibly for the first time in their life. A basic startup with Woodturning could cost in the region of €3,000 depending on what equipment you buy so this is no hobby to take up lightly.

Spending less than or even a fraction of this amount will slow your growth as a Woodturner and could lead to you abandoning Woodturning after a few months in favour of finding something else to do with your time. Cheaper Lathes and Tools will limit your progress, trust me on this as I made these mistakes myself. Start as you mean to go on and you won't be disappointed! Having discussed these topics with many who are around the time of retirement I can confidently give some pointers here in this post. If you are thinking of Woodturning in your Retirement in Ireland, you should definitely read on below.

Choosing a Retirement Gift for a Family Member

I will just deal with this section first before moving on to the categories as it is quite common for the Retirement Gift buyers to be on the lookout before the Retirees. If you are looking for a great Retirement Gift for a Family Member, a Woodturning Gift Voucher can be a great choice. If that person is good with their hands and enjoys a bit or a lot of a challenge; it can be a very rewarding and satisfying use of their free time. I have Gift Vouchers available on my One Person Classes or 2 Person Classes which will get your loved one(s) off to a good start. If Woodturning is not a good fit for them, at least they will find out early on and can then move on to some other activity before going to any great expense. Woodturning is a difficult but not impossible craft to master but it is not for everyone unfortunately. I constantly say to my Students that the world would be full of Woodturners if it was easy to do! Please read on and you might see where this person is at in their Retirement journey before making your decision.

People generally fall into 3 main categories.

  1. Near the retirement Age

  2. Just recently Retired

  3. Retired for some months or even years

Near the Retirement Age

In the last 12 months this person may be getting nervous about the future but are also excited about they themselves being the near sole focus of their weekdays instead of being at a place of work. These people are generally more careful and considered when deciding to do something in life. Generally, I find that many of these people had a view to do Woodturning at some earlier point in time but never actually got around to it. Of course, I also get people from this category who don't have a clue what Woodturning is but saw a video recently and it looks interesting enough to try it out. This is the perfect time to start planning your Woodturning journey and I would advise you to take a Woodturning lesson as soon as possible so that you see all the pitfalls and benefits from an experienced Teacher who will more than likely save you some valuable time and money going forward.

Just Recently Retired

I find that these people just wanted to retire and get that bit out of the way first before then contemplating their future. They generally find that once retired they can't relax at all and immediately go searching for something to fill the void in their time. If they don't like to go Golfing, playing Tennis, hanging around chatting, going on foreign holidays etc then this can be an urgent time for them and impulsive decisions can be made.

The good news here is that they have made the decision to try Woodturning and can now proceed easily enough with sound advice and planning by taking a lesson with a Professional. Getting started Woodturning is quite complicated but can be easily overcome by taking a proper lesson with a Woodturner like myself and finding the right plan going forward. I will help filter out all the noise and get you focused on what machines and accessories to aim for so that you get off on the right foot and don't waste time and money.

Retired for some Months or even Years

This is the group I often find with the most regrets when it comes to Woodturning. The longer they've left it, the worse it is. They've spent time with the family, gone Golfing, gone on Foreign Holidays, spent time with Friends but none of those things have been challenging or fulfilling long term nor had the same effect as their previous occupation and there's still a bit of a void in some part of their lives. They still long for something else to give them that rush of self accomplishment in their free time. I find this group of late bloomers to be the most hungry to get started once the decision is made and frequently rush out too quickly and buy the wrong gear.

In some cases I have had examples of people who may have left it too late in life to commit to Woodturning fully and I find this to be upsetting when it happens. Thankfully, I have had only one case so far of someone going all out and spending a lot of money only to find that their age meant that they couldn't commit long term. If you are close to retirement age you should have no difficulties but please don't leave it 10 years before starting Woodturning.

The Horrors of Woodturning

Woodturning in the beginning is full of errors, catches, mistakes, bad finishes, bad pieces, poor Tool choices or wrong Lathe purchase etc etcetera. We all go through this and it can be a scary time for some but it is important to push through it to make progress. In my early days I made so many mistakes and poor choices that I wanted to quit and did even quit for a while. I never took a lesson first day and this proved to be my ultimate mistake and my biggest regret in Woodturning. When I came back to it I decided I would finally take a proper lesson and this was the 'Cure for All' that I needed and should have gone for right from the start. I didn't magically become proficient overnight but I was shown why I was making mistakes and was shown the correct way to present tools to the work on the Lathe. This turned out to be the Light Bulb moment and it opened so many new doors for me. After 6 months I couldn't believe the difference in the pieces I was making. Another 6 months onward and the quality was still improving steadily. Lots of repetition, lots of practice equals good results!

The Joy of Woodturning

Many new Woodturners think that by spending an hour or two a week on the Lathe will see them proficient in a month or two but it takes longer than that I'm afraid. Each piece you make is a block in the foundation of your progress and each new piece teaches you something new which is then applied to your next project. I often say to Students that I wish I could fast forward time for them to the 6 month stage to see their improvement but unfortunately that is not possible and all I can do is relate my own experiences. When you do get to this stage, there is nothing better than Woodturning because you are part of every piece you make. You Turned it and you finished it! Every movement of your body and the tool in your hands has an effect on the wood that when done right can be absolutely magical. For Retirees, this can be the buzz that they are looking for, so don't leave it go much longer.

Woodturning Tuition Classes in Tralee

What makes my Classes so special and different from other Woodturners? I specialize in low Teacher to Student ratio instead of big classes; normally one to one or one to two so each person gets my full attention or near full attention during a class. Instead of focusing on project pieces, I advise Students about Lathes, Sharpening Systems, Chucks, Hand Tools etc during the first Tuition session and always advise from a budget that the Student is comfortable with. Sometimes, the Student already has a Lathe or some tools and I can advise on whether good choices have been made or how what they have can be utilised.

After this part, I normally move on to Turning between centres. The point of this part of the Tuition is controlled Tool presentation focusing on good bevel contact and sharp Tools. Depending on the Students abilities we may move on to a second piece with more Tools being added and actual shapes being Turned. Don't worry if we don't get to do too much Turning in the first session, the aim is to start off right and proceed as you are able. I normally advise one to three x 3 hour sessions before you go off on your own. The next sessions focus on Turning mostly as we will have covered machines and Tools in the first session.

If my advice is taken, I will save you hundreds of Euro in your first year and push your Turning journey on much faster than you learning by yourself.

Take a Class with me in Tralee and see for yourself! Thanks for Reading, David

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