When I first came to Fine Woodworking, I was intimidated by the big names-Maloof, Boggs, Hack, Lowe, and so on. But when it came time to visit them and take photos for their articles, I got along famously with every one. Turns out we are all-basically-inquisitive people who love to build things. The main difference between me and the "masters" was that they had built a lot more pieces and made a lot more valuable mistakes. As I helped to edit and shape their articles, I was surprised to find my ideas blending in with theirs-and being welcomed.

I began to notice that the best woodworkers are usually the most humble. They have nothing to prove, and they know enough to know how much they still don't know. Beware of people who imply that their way is the only way. Phil Lowe is among the most skilled woodworkers I've ever watched, but he's never preachy; he only says, "This is how I do it."

There are heroes out there, to be sure, people like Lowe with an extra measure of raw talent and determination, plus the courage (in many cases) to choose woodworking as a profession. But the truth is that good ideas can come from anyone, and anyone can make something that is beautiful.

Fine Woodworking magazine used 77 different authors last year-a mix of hobbyists and pros-plus 125 other people who sent in tips and pictures of their work. On FineWoodworking.com we posted blogs, videos, and gallery items from thousands more. We'll take good ideas wherever we can find them.

So beware of hero worship. You might start to think you need all of the top-rated tools plus weeks of classes with a big-name guy before you can build another piece.

But your instincts and ideas are better than you know. Make projects your own. Change dimensions. Use the wood you have. Trust your eye. And when in doubt, figure it out. You'll be proud of yourself when you do.