Hey folks! Names John/Jay/JC … Call me anything but Shirley, and really even thats fine. I’m the owner and only (also best) employee of JC4 Woodworking in TI New York. I decided today i would start one of these new fashioned bloggy things. I’ve always thought of keeping a journal and I figured “Hey, why don’t i do one on here!”
So here we are. Hopefully entertaining you and enlightening other new woodworkers with tips and ideas i pick up along the way. I’ve always enjoyed reading a good article, and i love writing so here’s my attempt at it.
First, about myself… Or more or less how i got here up to now.
We got the name thing out of the way so thats the hard part. I started my business last year at the wrong time of the year. Living in a tourist/summer community, mid May is NOT an ideal time to start furniture making company. I mean making adirondack chairs is fun, but mass producing them all summer and making scratch, while juggling a part time landscaping job, didnt exactly catapult me to the top of the Clayton Chamber of Commerce list.
Winter in Northern New York is long… Really long. When Labor day hits and all of one the two towns in the area shuts down with the exception of two bars and two restaurants on one block (Literally, Alexandria Bay NY has one block open in the winter) you have to keep yourself occupied. So i worked, and worked, and pretended to work, and worked a little after that. I broke up the monotony by coaching/playing hockey, drinking cold ones, and playing music, and even at one point going crazy and proposing to a girl in two weeks… We’ll get to that another day… I built things i couldnt even see the use of but people on my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/JC4Woodworking) seemed to like them so, to quote a famous movie, sometimes you have to say what the … Fudge is also hard to come by in the north country in winter… I sometimes think thats what causes cabin fever.
Turn the clock ahead to my official business “opening” as far as Uncle Sam is concerned, March 1st. And people still aren’t busting down the garage door to get my wood- er, phrasing… Eh, it’ll pass. By March I was pretty much living off my trusty End Grain Coasters, and whatever money i could make working under the table. Some small installs, jewelry boxes… You know the gig.
Now’s a good time to point out my situation… I’m 25, I live at home, and my shop? Oh yeah, half of my dad’s garage… So, not ideal as you can guess. Moving out: rent here is too high (thank you very much military base) and as far as jobs, theyre not too great either. Sure, i could go work at the semi-local call center, but im a bit of a country renaissance man. How can i do customer service for someone when my knowledge of computers is at about par with my 63 year old fathers? The solution to everything is go out in the woods to me. Ugh, technology. Anyways, my situation… Oh wait, thats about it.
Never being one to ask my parents for money, i asked my parents for money. And thats when i hit the goldmine. I had been left a handful of money when my grandmother passed on and now that i was 25, it was actually mine. Now this handful is just that, a handful, i could live on it for maybe a year. What did i do with it? took out a little bit and built up an inventory to sell.
So, hate me for the luck? it gets worse. My dad’s letting me use his business’s old store front to seel out of starting this summer (sad story there however, his small marine business went belly up after 20 years)... But this is where my title sets in.
So now here’s the number one thing i’m learning… And unfortunately, patience really IS a virtue. It’s also a necessity. I’m not the most patient person, I use Kreg pocket holes on some things JUST so i dont have to wait for glue to dry. I’ll sand only to 240, and then not sand between coats of poly just so i dont have to wait for the project to be done. I buy water based minwax urethane, which i think looks awful) JUST because is dries fast, same with my usage of Shellac… Although theres really nothing wrong with Shellac i guess. And guess what? I’ve gotten away with it… once or twice!!! I’ve had projects get scrapped or redone because of it. Thankfully not enough to drown me.
I tried to justify it, with such a small shop, and me not being much of a sit around person, one glue up can make a day only 4 hours long. Or that i needed to just build up what i could, save the time consuming parts for custom work. And one day after splitting the living $#!+ out of a face frame with Kreg Screws, i strolled over and on the top of my shop board is that one moniker about that special virtue.
The lack of said virtue has even led my already thinning hairline to just start vanishing. Some of its not only the shop, its the idea of the business itself. Sure, I’m very lucky for the opportunities i have, and to not be in debt since i bought all my tools with my savings when i came up with the idea. But that doesnt mean it’s not stressful. But seriously folks, i think i can chock most of it up to patience. I’m not going to be able to tell where I’m going before i get there, so why be hasty to get there. If you work your ass off and take your time on a project in May instead of rush through it to get it done, August isnt going to come sooner either way. Frankly since I’ve learned wood working is best served slowly i find large gaps of time go faster, even if the days of sanding, stinging, gluing, watching simpsons on the shop tv, go slower.
So that my friends is volume one in my Journal, hopefully the admits don’t see my snore fest and tell me to go back to leaving long statuses on Facebook… But hey if they do, I’ll just build a therapist or reporter to talk to.
Hope you all enjoy!
-- John, NNY, www.facebook.com/JC4Woodworking