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Thread: Woodworking for a living

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Mt Pleasant SC
    Posts
    300

    Woodworking for a living

    How many of you are doing this for a living?
    I donít want to but just noticing lots of big tool owners on here.

  2. #2
    You might find that those who own the big, nice fancy tools just do it for fun, because they have a main job that lets them afford them. There are exceptions though.

    Another factor is often times you can find bigger, used machines for the same price as a smaller, new one, so in that case it's like "Why not just buy the big one"

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jun 2015
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    Sacramento, CA
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    1,981
    Quote Originally Posted by Stewart Lang View Post
    You might find that those who own the big, nice fancy tools just do it for fun, because they have a main job that lets them afford them.
    Exactly. The "buy your last tool first", "buy once, cry once" and "higher quality holds its value better" mentality definitely applies here.
    If at first you don't succeed, redefine success!

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rivel View Post
    Exactly. The "buy your last tool first", "buy once, cry once" and "higher quality holds its value better" mentality definitely applies here.
    Going along with that thought, I've personally splurged and bought some very nice handtools along my woodworking periods, and eventually ended up selling some for probably 80-90% of what I paid, even though I used them for a few years. Looking back on that, buying low/mid-range tools would have ended up costing me more after it was all said and done, because they would have been harder to sell and I would have gotten a lot less back out of them.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
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    54,154
    The size and/or assortment of tools isn't an indicator that one is doing woodworking for a living. We do have quite a few folks here who are employed that way and they have a wide range of shop setups and situations. Some of them are quite active here, too. By the same token, there are quite a few folks here who are hobbyists that enjoy big iron and have very nice shop setups.

    My shop evolved through several iterations and is well equipped because I was fortunate to be able to make that investment long before retirement was in the picture. For most of the last 25 years, it was pure hobby work, although in the last ten years or so, I did take on a few commission jobs making equestrian tack trunks. When I retired from full time work not quite three years ago, I decided to do more commission work and created a real business to do so. But I don't earn a living from this...it's just for "mad money" and part time. I don't need the income. Most of that work is subcontract to other makers, too, and is quite enjoyable. I may or may not continue in this way going forward. It's hard to say at this point.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Western Nebraska
    Posts
    3,858
    I'm a full timer now. Used to be a hobby, I bought some nice machines with the old career, then when that needed to change I decided to make my hobby my job. As for the big machines, what I find is that I actually had better taste in machines when I was a hobbiest. Now they all have to pay their way, so no more "just because I want one" purchases. My woodworking intent when I started this full time has adapted into more carpentry than expected, so while I have a big shop full of cool stuff, the main revenue is from building houses. There is enough millwork, cabinets and custom projects that come out of the shop to justify keeping it, for now at least. However now I dream of better finishing rooms, drying racks, a better forklift, etc. Boring.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
    Posts
    5,112
    Woodworking is one category, on the list of things that I do for a living. I don't do it for a hobby.

  8. #8
    I live about 20 miles west of Lancaster PA. Sine available farmland is increasingly expensive, the Amish have branched out into wood working. Generally in shops on farms already belonging to family. My wife has purchased several custom made pieces from the Amish. Not always solid hardwood, but certainly no press board. Been pleased with everything but how much they charge for the alterations to a standard piece in production. There are literally 100s of furniture shops and they make everything from birdhouses and porch crafts to fancy dining room furniture. At one time, Amish would only use air powered tools and engine driven tools. Somewhere along the way, the Ordnung was changed and they are permitted to use electricity, as long as it does not come from the grid. So many now have big diesel generators to run their shop equipment. They waste nothing, even the saw dust and scraps are used. they will also work long hours for low wages. No body in this area could start a wood working business with out having some kind of hook, or special product. Even if you do, within a few weeks, the Amish will have got their hands on your product and set up to copy your product.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Mt Pleasant SC
    Posts
    300
    I knew two guys from around there, one closed his cabinet shop due to the Amish but said he also needed regular hours. The other guy sold some huge oak trees to an Amish guy, got big bucks. When the Amish cut them down the whole inside was rot. They left them beside a road.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    WV
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    4,169
    Not sure what qualifies as woodworking but full time shop here.
    Sometimes I just want to look at pretty pictures,... Thats when I go to the Turners Forum

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2018
    Location
    Orwell, NY
    Posts
    384
    My business is building banjos and other stringed instruments, so it's partly or mostly woodworking but there's some metal work and other stuff involved. I am part time, about 20 hours a week on average. I'm planning to buy a house and move away and transition to full time in a year or two, when my current duties at the farm where I work and live are no longer needed. I'm making enough from my current part time level of work to live on, so I hope that when I switch to full time and have more time to keep more things in stock that will help my business continue to grow. Most of my tools are secondhand, but I did buy a new drum sander and small bandsaw and ring roller a couple of years ago because I wasn't finding what I wanted in the local used market, even after years of watching for them.

  12. #12
    I'm a full timer. IMO, all the best set-ups are owned by hobbiests. As said earlier, it's harder to justify nice things when ROI is the primary purpose.
    Last edited by johnny means; 08-31-2020 at 9:06 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Piedmont Triad, NC
    Posts
    698

    Living and Hobby

    I'm sure I'm the odd man out, but I did cabinets(commercial & residential) & architectural millwork for about forty five years. Now retired and still doing woodworking and finishing on the side. My hobby is also woodworking, I enjoy doing and learning new things. I still have all my machinery from when I was working full time, plus added a CNC router two years ago. I get to spend about thirty hours a week on my hobby.

    As an aside the boss I worked for about five years ago, for five years. Ran a lumber business, is retired and now living in Mt Pleasant,SC.

    Tony
    "Only those who have the patience to do simple things perfectly will acquire the skill to do difficult things easily.Ē Friedrich von Schiller (1759-1805)

    Woodworking since 1972

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    2,748
    Itís a losing prospect out in my area. Thereís many places offering whole bedroom sets starting at 600 dollars.
    Some donít care if they have a chest of drawers thatís stapled together. Part wood part whatever.
    I completely understand the need for cheap furniture for a new family. It just has to be functional and for the most part it will last just fine.
    The good news is the day of the artistic wood craftsman has begun.
    Aj

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Phoenix AZ Area
    Posts
    2,404
    There are lots and lots of these threads over the years. I just had a new thought. If you see the prices in a store, gallery, or at an art fair remember that the retailer is getting maybe 50% of the price. Finding the customer is a big part of the business. You might want to talk with some home builders to see what they pay for cabinets. We just built a house and our custom home builder was most comfortable with the cabinet shops he trusts will hold to the schedule, and that means those who can adjust their schedules on the fly. We choose a different shop whose work I would be proud to call my own. The builder was very uncomfortable put our architect was confident. In the end we got cabinets built to furniture standards (beaded face frames with inset doors) and the shop was never in the critical path of the schedule. Anyway find out what builders pay and what they look for beyond price.

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