Pro vs Hobbyist - an attempt to get back on topic

There seems to be a major difference between a professional woodworker (one whose livelyhood is from woodworking) and a hobbyist who does woodworking for fun/therapy. There are a lucky few who make a good income from their woodworking, but they're few and far between.
I've found that the work of an experienced "enthusiast" often exhibits more attention to details and finer workmanship than the work of many professionals. This is not to say that the pro is unable to do better work, just the monetary return on their investment in time and effort doesn't often make it "worth it".
Here's some of the differences I see. What are some of the differences you feel are significant?
Do you think the best work comes from the pro or a fanatic hobbyist?
To the pro, time is money
To the hobbyist time - in the shop - is also valuable, but only because there may not be much of it available, given all his/her other demands for time ( kids, spouse, job, friends, etc..) -============== The pro most often makes things for customers who have particular wants and needs and delivery/installation dates.
The hobbyist may also have people to satisfy but they're usually less demanding and the design is less constrained/ defined. Deadlines and delivery dates are more geared towards birthdays, anniversaries and a few holidays. ================== The pro is more concerned with the function and less concerned about nuances of the wood, the finish, the edge treatments etc.
The hobbyist may agonize for weeks over just the wood selection, another week selecting the grain of key parts and spend hours getting the edge treatment(s) to catch the light just so. ===================== The pro will optimize his sheet layout to get the most ouf of each sheet in order to minimize "waste" and increase profits.
The hobbyist may "waste" half a board to get that special grain pattern for a particular piece. ====================== The pro often specializes in a type of furniture, case work, solid wood construction, period pieces, a particular style.
A hobbyist will do all types of woodworking and may get pretty good at a range of styles, methods of joining etc.. =================== A pro's goal is the check from the client.
A hobbyist often sees the process/journey as the goal, the finished piece being just the end of a particular journey. ==================== To a pro, wood is just a material with certain characteristics which lend themselves to making into saleable pieces.
To a hobbyist, wood may be a magic thing that may even have its own voice and talks to them. ================== To the pro, efficiency means profit.
To the hobbyist efficiency may me using the wood very well - and maybe avoiding tear out. Other than that the word has little meaning =================== The pro must often make "vanilla" pieces which are marketable.
The hobbyist can do any flavor that strikes his or her fancy. May not work in the end but the enthusiast can "spend" the time exploring. ================== charlie b
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Amen!!

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I'm not sure I agree. I think there are people in every profession or trade that are in it strictly for the money. In every profession or trade there are also perfectionists. To take it a step further, there are people that make a commitment to contribute to society in their profession/trade.
"Craftsmen" , "hobbyist" and "pro" all have different meanings IMHO.
The "pro" could probably whip you up a chest of drawers in less than a week, technically perfect. The hobbyist, can build the same chest in as many weekends as it takes, over extending the capability of his tools, supplies and experience. The craftsman, will build the same chest and take the time to source the perfect material for the project, execute perfect jointery and detail, demand perfection throughout the project from himself, and it will take as long as needed, to satisfy his own standards.
Cheers,
aw
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Lots of great responses and plenty to think about as a result.
When I think of a pro I think of Frank Klausz, a product of the european apprentice system. He was taught THE way to do each woodworking task and THE order in which to do them. He seems to go into auto pilot mode - you do this this way and then you do this next - this way ... It's done in this order and in this way because it's the quickest, most efficient and best way to do this because it's based on hundreds of years of experience, it's the way I was taught to do it - and it works.
Maybe I'm reading this into it, but this approach seems to lack many opportunities to explore possibilities as the wood and the situation presents them.
Toshio Odate also comes from a similar traditional apprentice- ship background - but with a little more soul - very quiet soul, but soul nonetheless. His tools and his wood are part of him and he puts some of himself back into them. I'm not sure the european apprentice programs gets into the soul side as much. The tools are a means to and end rather than one of tge participants in a process of doing.
Tom Watson's contribution to the discussion, as always, was thought provoking. A caring pro does make an effort to use the wood to its best purpose and for its most pleasing appearance in the finished piece. And with years of practice, probably no longer needs to agonize on which piece of which board should go here, this way, rather than that way. Or grieve the "waste" of a nice board, knowing it will be used in some other piece somewhere down the line.
Maybe that's another distinguishing difference between a pro and a hobbyiest - the amount and selection of wood on hand. What a luxory that'd be.
It certainly would be nice to sit in on a pro like Tom's internal conversation while selecting the boards for his next piece. Here's another internal conversation I'd like to listen in on.
http://home.comcast.net/~charliebcz/KrenovPondering.html
I really like the idea of edge treatments and joinery as the jewelry of the design. As a former jewelry maker the analogy strikes home. Even a beautiful woman looks, and probably feels, better wearing a fine piece of jewelry. Of course a sensitive design will not try and guild (sp?) the lily.
The hobbyist doesn't usually do large installations where matching patterns and colors must be made to fit together in a pleasing and coherent manner. That would drive me crazy. Maybe that's another difference between the pro and the hobbyist - the magnitude of the work, with the complexities that go along with large project. Imagine what Tom Plamann's dealing with on his staircase project.
Unlike the hobbyist, the pro must, in addition to having the knowledge, skills and abilities for the woodworking, must also know people and how to work with them - a skill that sometimes is lacking in some of the threads recently.
Tom summarized what a pro should be.
"The pro will optimize the use of his time, tools and wood. He follows the "least effort theory" in production but does not sacrifice final appearance and a general sense of design, proportion, balance, structural integrity and visual impact - on the altar of "efficiency". He designs, bids and builds in such a way as to hold true to the fundamentals of his creed - which is to say that he came up with a design, which he believes that the customer will like, and which he believes is worth lending his efforts to - he prices his work so that he can afford to incorporate the elements that will make the design sing - he will make enough money to support his family - but will never make so much as he could have, taking his artistic sense, his organiazational skills, his ability to work long hours in pursuit of a goal - on to some other venue. When your vocation and your avocation are the same you are truly lucky. Doing what one loves and loves what one is doing - well that's good fortune smiling on you."
I put my foot in it with this one

and Chris rightfully corrected me
"On this topic I could not disagree more. I take great care and concern to take the characteristics of the wood involved to produce an astatically pleasing final product and for it also to be a functional product at the same time."
As did Charlie Self "I don't think so. Pros are probably more likely to see right away how a piece of wood will best accept a project."
ADubya adding a new dimension
' "Craftsmen" , "hobbyist" and "pro" all have different meanings IMHO.
The "pro" could probably whip you up a chest of drawers in less than a week, technically perfect. The hobbyist, can build the same chest in as many weekends as it takes, over extending the capability of his tools, supplies and experience. The craftsman, will build the same chest and take the time to source the perfect material for the project, execute perfect jointery and detail, demand perfection throughout the project from himself, and it will take as long as needed, to satisfy his own standards. '
Paul Kierstead got to the bottom line
"I think the real question is: Does it matter? There is no shame in being an amateur, none at all. There is no pride in being a pro. Either you build things you can be proud of or you don't, it doesn't matter who is footing the bill."
Looks like dedicated pros and semi-fanatic hobbyist have a lot more in common than I'd thought.
charlie b
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What the customer is willing to pay for. Seems most today want it cheap not looking for quality. Then there is the other extreme. Willing to pay any price these are the most desirable customers the ones with more money than brains. I mean really $6000 for a kitchen table. No joke the shop near the one I work in actually sold one the other day then the customer paid out an additional $1500 a piece for chairs. Go figger.
I think we do good just selling 2 5.5" x 14.375" x 0.98" pieces of birdseye maple to a customer for $47. Seriously
D. Mo
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I can probably outdo a lot of the non-professionals, but there are those that are as good as any woodworker that can be found.
I need to make money, or else, why open the doors. I have better than average quality for "run of the mill" cabinets at a fair price (which is typically a little higher than other shops). This tends to be my main source of business. If someone is interested in something special or demands quality, like a nice piece of furniture, then my price goes up accordingly as does my quality. I would think that most serious amateur woodworkers could easily outdo my "run of the mill" cabinets, but I probably build them faster, the quality is more than acceptable and I make a decent profit versus time.
A little side note brought to mind from another thread. Part of making money in the shop is knowing when you are finished.
Preston

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