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
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
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,
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
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
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.