OK, first let me apologize for my story telling, I tend to stretch, so if you like it enjoy - if not I apologize and you can skip to the end for a summary...
About two years ago I was about to get married (and I did), this was during passover holiday - my workplace had a mandated vacation, offices closed. so it is a week of vacation. There wasn't much to arrange anymore, and anyway almost everything is closed, so it was not busy. My mom who just started with her own hobbies (sculpting and mozaics, made a big chess/game table for my father from ceramics (the table-top, the rest is steel), she also a bought a set to go along, but it was way to small for the table. I who always liked working with wood, decided to carve him a chess set from wood, and set about to start - I had time, a utility knife and Pine wood from some cutoffs.
I started carving the pawns, it took a long time to get the first one done, and I was slowly starting to realize that there must be a better way to do it - no way that this is how chess sets are made, only master carvers can produce a matching set - and it would be too costly to but such sets, and yet - hand made sets exist and they are not that expensive... I started dreaming about this CNC machine which I knew must exist. I planned it out in my head, and then went looking online for it. Knowing what it should be able to do, but not knowing anything else, such as the lingo or look.
Eventually, I found out about this amazing tool called the LATHE, and saw some examples of things done with it. I found out about the manual lathe (not CNC) and decided that is what would do the trick. However, I had no idea if I could do it myself or if I would even like it... I ordered two or three books from amazon on the subject and waited for my wedding when I would recieve them from my family arriving from the USA. The wedding managed to make me forget the books for awhile....
All this time I continued with my carving effort, that ended with a badly cut finger that got me to the ER and quite a few stitches... Two weeks before my wedding. But everything was good by the wedding.
After the wedding when everything started to settle, I started to read the books, and was really itching to try it out. My wife was all there for me, and encouraged me to pursue this (I usualy talk a lot and do little if anything...). So I looked a little more and found a course in Israel with Eli Avisera (http://www.avisera.co.il) which was in hind site the best thing I could choose. I learned there all the basics and more, and had nice projects to show for my time... The course showed me more than anything that woodturning is something I want to do. And to this day I hold Eli responsible for this addiction :-)
After the course ended, I let it all simmer inside, and again at my wife's insistence (do you see how wonderfull she is?) I decided to purchase equipment so I can do this at home, as a hobby. After consulting with Eli and looking/asking online (mostly at rec.crafts.woodturning), I bought a JET mini and some accessories and tools (mostly Avisera tools), and my hobby was launched.
Lessons? If you live in Israel, look out for shipping charges, There are cheaper ways to ship than FedEx/UPS :-(
Summary: After understanding that through carving I can't reach the level of quality for the chess set I wanted to make, I started to look around and found about woodturning, I did a course and got hooked!
BTW, I never finished making that chess set yet, still on the drawing board.