Thomas S Stockton
That's a good question, I think it depends on the person but when I started out I read a lot, a friend had a complete set of early Finewoodworkings and I read them cover to cover. I was also fortunate that I was able to go to school for a year at a now defunct furnituremaking school. That a couple of apprenticeships and some other short courses really helped.
I think one of the things that really helped me along the way was joining the local woodworkers group, there is a lot of knowledge in these groups and people are really willing to share it. There are also a fair amount of week long and weekend classes offered so if you see something interesting and can afford it these are a great resource. And don't overlook the local community college I know in southern California there are 3 or 4 that offer affordable classes with really good teachers.
If you live in the western US pick up a copy of Woodworkers west magazine, they have a complete listing of classes from about Colorado west. www.woodwest.com. Find one or two woodworking magazines and subscribe, I like FWW but there are others.
I also try to catch any interesting furniture exhibits at museums especially if I'm traveling and I've also found intersting pieces that are on display in the permanent exhibitions. The DeYoung in San Francisco has some Greene and Greene pieces and a gorgeous Maloof rocker in ziracote.
And finally places like Woodcentral lots of info here and friendly people.
Oh yeah and lots of hard work and some painful mistakes.But the mistakes always work out somehow.
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