How old were you when you started woodworking for a living? I am 34,
have a wife, a house and a kid on the way. I also hate(!!!) my
current job. Does this sound familiar? Has anyone had a similar life
crisis and gotten into woodworking at a later age? Was it a rough
start? How did you do it and can anyone offer any advice? Please
share your stories.
I was a painting contractor for over 30 years,fell through a rotten step
blew out everything
in my left knee.Three surgeries later,the ladder thing is history,cant
Started woodworking when I was about 15,had a grand father who was good at
it so I paid attention. Now I have a w/w shop at my lake front home making
bookcases,wall units,tables and custom orders.
Also do prefinishing of wood state wide ,finishing before installed,both
inside and out ,all done in my shop.Contractors seek me out,have about 4
months of work ahead of me .
I thought life as I knew it was over,but it just got better.Still work toooo
much but also can take any day off I want to go fishing.
Im 54 in June and dont ever want to go back to the rat race....
GO FOR IT.....
I was 55 when I started. I did a little in my early 20's when in the air
force and the base shop had everything you would ever need but since that
nothing. The nuclear industry here in Canada decided they wanted to get rid
of a bunch of people and offered a good buyout package plus earned pension
without discount so I grabbed it and ran. Spent a bunch on some ww tools
and then spent a bunch more because I should have spent the larger amount
first, been at it for about a year and a half now and love it. Keeps me
busy and keeps SWMBO out of my hair as I do the odd project for her. It's
great watching something take shape as you build it.
I used to own an automation/controls company and had always taken whatever
evening woodworking courses I could find locally, as a hobby, and to get my
mind out of work for a few hours a week.
Ended up being diagnosed with MS, 3 months after my son was born. Sold the
business, sold the house in the city, bought some waterfront property, built
a house and shop.
I took almost a years worth of intense courses, at a woodworking school for
highend furniture. All hand tool work except for stock prep. I'm booked
solid and the rest, as they say, is history.
Starting up can be rough. To outfit a complete shop, with most of the
machinery and hand tools you'll need, will scare you. Building a customer
base, takes a while.
Advice? Take some courses, don't reinvent the wheel. Woodworking is fun,
soothing, almost therapeutic, but if its your business, then be familiar
with basic business, accounting and admin, or you will not make it.
You have an option when running a shop/studio, you can turn out 1 project
per week or 1 per month, whatever your hourly rate is, you will make the
same money. Do the highend piece per month, and leave the rest for someone
Don't plan on getting filthy rich ($). The process, the people you meet
along the way, and the awstruck expressions of a satisfied patron...is the
Cheers and good luck!!
I was early 40's doing software development when I got sick of looking at a
computer screen. About the same time my mother had a heart attack and my
dad had a quintuple bypass. I moved back to the city where I grew up to
help out. While here, I decided to start a small one-man cabinet shop and
haven't regretted it.
I must admit though, before I did computer stuff, I was a general contractor
and homebuilder. When I started my shop, I didn't have a business name or
phone number (still don't), but friends still in the contracting business
have managed to keep me busy so far.
With a kid on the way, I would think twice before taking the leap.
I didn't get into it at a later age but I did get more into it in the last
10 years or so than I did in the past. At least where making a living in
concerned. I guess I actually started in high school, what with the shop
class and the fact my grandfather was one excellent turner and woodworker.
Watching him do his thing got me hooked. Over the years I always did
woodworking on some level while also doing general contracting and music for
a living too for a while. Then I started getting more and more tired of
running up and down the road to this job and that job. Building houses and
log homes all over the damn place was just too much. That crap will make an
old man of you way too soon. If you can pull it off and take the time to
build a good client base you will not regret it. Word of mouth is the best
you can do in this biz and if you turn out good work and stand behind it the
word will get around eventually. I make a little bit of everything in the
shop these days from custom tack trunks and accessories for the horsey
people to larger built-ins, computer workstations, entertainment centers,
etc. Kitchen cabinets are too competitive at least around here. The Borg and
other places like it make it almost impossible to get that kind of work. It
may differ in your area though. One offs and special construction type
furniture, built-ins, mantels entertainment centers and the like seems to be
what comes around here more than anything else.
email@example.com (kilerbbb) wrote in message
Woodworking is a great hobby that will make you enjoy your free time.
On the other hand, when you do it for a living, it may become very
I know personnaly over 20 former woodworking business owners and they
all told me the samething: It's frustrating and it doesn't pay enough
to justify such worries. The most successful of them was making about
40K (CAN) when he was at its peak with an established clientele (and
he had no more life - constantly working). In a few words; it's not an
easy life... Makes me remember this guy who was featured in the
Woodwork magazine 2 or 3 months ago... he was very well known and he
made furniture displayed in museums in New York. He quit the trade to
become a... nurse... because it pays more and it's less stressful...
You should probably seek for a job in an established woodworking shop
where you can learn the ins and outs first hand... at the owner's
expense. At least you would be trading a job you hate for one you may
appreciate. Then the rest is all up to you. Maybe you can start your
own business after you've made some contacts in the field and you feel
you have enough experience. Or you may eventually become a partner in
your boss' business. This would be a much more reasonable way to go
Just my 0.02
P.S.: I'm 35 and I'm learning woodworking myself. I hope I can retire
young enough to start my own woodworking business. The key here is
I'll do it as soon as my retirement income will be enough to sustain
my living. This way I can refuse the contracts I don't want to do and
be more picky. When you have no other choices than taking the jobs you
don't want to do just to pay the bills then it becomes a job...
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