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Making a Living In Woodworking
Making a Living In
While anyone reading this page will have some level of interest in making a living at
woodworking, be it furniture or cabinet making,
there are a number of considerations to bear in mind.
While all businesses have their difficulties, and many of them are typical to
business itself, there are a few that are unique to woodworking.
Often, the idea of it can be much better than actually being in it. It is
difficult to take a hobby and turn it into a profession, as it kind of loses the part of it that was
It can no longer be a "when you feel like it" endeavour. It's more like a job at that point. (no
kidding). All of a sudden the need to produce high quality products, in as short amount of time as possible. It
becomes the boss of your life. Forty hours a week, often goes by before you know it, and you find you need to
work sixty, to earn the same amount as you used to, when you had a real "job".
A good bit of the romanticism is lost to practicality. Phone calls, estimating, drawing, meeting
with client's, are part of the package, because without any one of these, there's no business. And none of these
tasks are fun, or optional.
Then there's the fact that you need a shop that will be either too big, or too small, which will be
full of equipment which will also be too big or too small. The smaller group of tools, in the hand tool
category, will also be a major investment. (two clamps aren't going to do you much good). And to make it worse,
without knowing what type of work you will end up "majoring" in, will keep you in the dark, as to what type of
tools and machines to buy.
Also the licenses, insurances, professional fees to help you keep what you've earned. The list is
endless, and keeps being adjusted by our elected officials, who are kind enough not to tell you about the
change, but will gladly fine you for not following them.
So, you still want to be a woodworker? Okay then, let me add a few more considerations. Designers,
architects, and CLIENTS, added to the equation will really make things fun. Let me give you an example.
We built a rather large entertainment center for a women. Upon delivery and installation, she loved
it. Couldn't compliment us enough, on the quality of our work. When we left the jobsite at 6:00, the lady was
doing cart wheels. While we were headed out the door, the designers were showing up. They loved it too. The
following morning, at 8:00 o'clock we arrived back at the site to work on another project we were doing for her.
I rang the doorbell, as was promptly greeted by a screaming maniac. " Got that piece of **** out of my house.
It's all wrong. It looks like the great pumpkin". This lady was going off. I have a big problem with people
yelling at me. I don't respond well to it.
So I walked back to my truck, to calm down, and try to figure out whether to go home, or what. My
brother - in - law was helping me on the project, as everything was very heavy, and his size was really a
blessing in moving things around. He's remained calm, and convinced me to try the doorbell once again.
This time the women was a little calmer, so I asked her exactly what transpired on the previous
evening, when she loved it. She said she didn't really know what happened, but it seemed to change colors, and
as she kept saying, "it turned into the great pumpkin. It is too orange, take it back and refinish it". Well
since it was a dye, that wasn't an option, even if I was willing to do it. (I wasn't).
After picking her brains for a half hour, it came out that she left for a little while to pick up
her daughter, and while she was out, it seemed to change. The designers had decided to change all the light bulbs
in the room to an orange bulb, for a "special glow". (She was not aware of this bulb change). We found the change
quite by accident, but we changed them back to soft white bulbs. When she came back into the room she looked at it
and said, "it's beautiful again", what did you do to it? I held up an orange light bulb and said your buddies
thought these might be a better choice for the room. Fortunately the story had a happy ending, but it could have
gone the other way.
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Woodworker’s Journal is the definitive book on woodworking from woodworking’s most trusted
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Collins Complete Woodworker Book
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