Is your hobby sitting in front of the TV? That’s the reality for many men today – it’s very easy (and satisfying) to chill on the couch and just space out with some television shows. But, if you don’t also have some other hobbies then you’re really missing out.
Hobbies in your life can become true passions which make you enjoy every day just that little bit more.
They’re things you really look forward to during your working hours, and also things that you’ll find deeply satisfying and fulfilling.
There’s a truly staggering amount of options out there when it comes to hobbies – but we’ll focus on just two of my favorites that I think every man should try at least once in their lifetime, chess and woodworking.
How To Try (And Master) These Hobbies
I love really actionable advice, so that’s what I’m going to focus on.
The only way to figure out if you want to do an activity long term is to give it a try. No amount of reading or theorising can help you decide if it’s for you or not – you just gotta get out there and try it. So that’s where we’ll start.
Then after that, we’ll run through some practical steps you can take to not only partake in the hobby regularly, but how to get the most out of it, and make progress.
So again, the focus will be on actionable advice – For each hobby listed we’ll follow this structure:
- How to try it
- How to master it
So with that said, let’s get to the good stuff!
Chess: An overview
As you can probably already guess, this is an almost entirely intellectual hobby with basically no physical aspect. Sure, you physically move pieces around the board, but that doesn’t really count. Chess is a battle of wits between two opponents, and this game has been played for thousands of years.
Chess is also mentioned in a related article, “Hobbies that are appropriate for your age”.
You probably know the basic rules of chess – most men usually learn them at some point during their lives. From just knowing the basic ruleset, you may not realize that this game is incredibly deep.
There are tons of different strategies and tactics, so much so that you could play chess for a decade and still find yourself on the end of a crushing defeat at the hands of a more experienced player.
Playing chess requires a lot of mental focus – it’s very easy to let the focus slip, and cause you to make a game-ending mistake.
Already, this might sound like something you could enjoy – Or on the other hand, you might hate the sound of chess.
Either way, I encourage you to give it a shot.
How To Try Chess
Chess is one of the easiest hobbies to try – you can be playing a game within 60 seconds of reading this article.
Simply go to chess.com, make an account, and find a game. This is a very popular website, and you’ll find a game within seconds no matter what time of the day you want to play. There is also an excellent rating system so that you’ll always be matched against players that are around the same level as you.
You might also consider a local chess club. Or, in many city centers there’s people who sit in parks or other areas with chess boards open for anyone to sit down and play.
If you would prefer to interact with someone in real life when playing, one of these options might be preferable!
How To Master Chess
The road to mastery with chess is very long, and realistically you probably won’t ever get there. But, there’s lots of scope for improvement. And for all the time you spending playing chess, you’ll find yourself getting better and better.
That’s one of the great things about chess – you invest time in learning and playing, and then you reap the benefits of your improvements as you play more.
Sometimes you will find yourself getting destroyed by some player.. Then a few weeks you’ll play them again, and this time you beat them – things like this that mark your progress are very satisfying.
You’ll need to spend some time learning chess theory, and then putting it into practice.
It’s good to have a basic strategy you can use for both white and black play, to get you started. There are many openings in chess, and many mid and endgame strategies as well. At the bare minimum, I would suggest the “queens gambit” opening for white, and the “Sicilian defense” opening for black.
Start off with these, practice with them, and then go from there.
Woodworking: An overview
After talking about chess, I felt that my second suggest should be something more physical.
While woodworking is clearly a more physical activity than chess, it still requires focus and care to do effectively. As with most other things, you’ll learn from your mistakes with woodworking. It’s all about crafting things from raw materials with tools – and the more you use these tools, the better you’ll get, and thus the better your results will be.
There are tons of techniques to be mastered – different ways of jointing pieces together, and different techniques for actually cutting and shaping the pieces you need.
You’ll sweat, get a bit scuffed up, and overall it’ll feel like a bit of a workout while building a project. The end results of your efforts are so worth it.
You can work on building things for your home, as gifts, or just for the heck of it. No matter why you’re building something, you’ll have an emotional attachment to it. Every time you look at it, you’ll remember the sweat and effort that went into making it.
It’s not just an assembled piece of wood, it’s a homage to the journey and process you went through with all those materials and tools to make an end result that serves a greater purpose – whether that’s a simple cutting board you’ll use every day, a garden bench, or something more ambitious like a shed.
Another nice thing about woodworking is that you’ll end up making lots of manly heirlooms that can be passed down to future generations.
How To Try Woodworking
Unfortunately, woodworking requires some upfront investment. You’ll need at least some basic tools to get started – I would suggest you stick to hand tools for the moment.
Overall, power tools are of course much more capable and quicker to use – but, hand tools are cheap and will give you a taste of what “real” woodworking is all about.
A hand saw, hand plane, hammer, square/level, clamps, and a measuring tape should be enough to get you started. You can pick up cheap versions in a store or online, or you might even have some of these laying around your home already. You’ll need a few other basic supplies too, like wood glue, nails/screws, and so on.
With the tools and supplies sorted, you should next pick a simple project to try.
You should also be able to pick up some cheap lumber from a local hardware store. Or, you might even be able to find some free wood that someone else was planning to throw out.
How To Master Woodworking
After building a simple project or two, you might decide that woodworking is something you want to do regularly.
If this is the case, there’s no shortage of free plans and guided builds online from very simple projects to very complex – no matter what you want to build, you can probably find plans for it.
Mastery of woodworking is about just practicing. Keep building things you find interesting, and challenge yourself to build more difficult projects that are just outside of your comfort zone.
Some woodworkers choose to only use hand tools. This is an admirable choice, and will give every project you build a certain “old-timey” feeling. However, most people will opt to use power tools.
The downside of this is that it’ll take some investment to get a decent array of power tools for your shop. The good thing is that they tend to last quite a while, and if you’re planning to build things regularly then you’re certain to get a lot of use out of them.
A table saw, circular saw, and powered drill would be a good place to start.
If you want to keep it really cheap to start, I would suggest a table saw – that’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. Table saws come in all shapes and sizes, but I would suggest the Dewalt DWE7480 as a starting point – it’s small and cheap, yet also powerful and sturdy.
One of the most satisfying thing about progressing your woodworking skills is that you’ll eventually get to the stage where you don’t need to use plans from other woodworkers.
You’ll be able to come up with an idea for something to build, and then design the plans yourself.
You might struggle the first few times you do this.. But eventually it’ll be no problem to make plans, get your lumber, and put it all together.
We went through two very different yet equally compelling hobbies in this article – Both chess and woodworking are, in my opinion, something that every man should try at least once in their lifetime.
There’s a strong chance that either the intellectual challenges or chess or the physical challenges of woodworking will be appealing to you.
Once you find a hobby you like, it can provide years or decades of enjoyment and fulfillment. Time spent trying new things and finding something you enjoy is time very well spent indeed!
I’m Paul from Woodwork Boss – and as you might have guessed, I love woodworking! Woodworking is one of my true passions, and I love to share this passion with other interested people on my website. At woodworkboss.com, you’ll find woodworking tips, free project plans, buying guides, and inspirational posts. Aside from that I always like to make sure I’m well groomed, and I enjoy watching football on the weekend.