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A passion that is just out of reach!

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Blog entry by Jbreth posted 10-21-2009 05:38 AM 1155 reads 1 time favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So I love to do wood work. I am currently working at a woodshop in my area where I build building materials. I have a passion for furniture but from what I hear people don’t like to pay the price for good furniture around here (Kansas). I haven’t ever really tried, which I know to reach a goal you have to first start it. My job now is a good one but I am rushed. Every order I get seems to have a big RUSH stamped at the top. When I work I like to put alot of pride and time into my work, making it as closely to perfect as I can make it. I don’t know if this is the place to vent but I am! My passion for woodworking started about 10 years ago when I got hired on with our local school district. I worked in the finish shop and I fixed broken furniture. Teacher and student chairs were my speacialty. I also made desk tops and whatever else came through. I usually tried to get all the “special” pieces that came through. Which wasn’t much. Well things happened and I lost my job, they later phased out my department because it is cheaper to by plastic chairs than to have the wood repaired. Most of the chairs that I worked on were over 60 years old and were still in perfect condition. I then got a job at the woodshop that I am now working at and they put me on casings. I really enjoyed it for awhile but it became repetitive. The casings that I was making were half rounds, and arches. They are nice and all but it actually started to burn me out on woodworking. I got a job offer at Precision Pattern Inc, they make furniture for Cessna mainly, but provide furniture for many other jets on the market. They made me a service tech, which basically was going out to Cessna and fitting or customizing the furniture to Cessna’s standards. I loved this job, but then Cessna called and wanted to put me in there interior department. I took that job in a heart beat. I think this was the best job that I ever had. I was on the flight line and basically worked punch lists for the customers. I actually got to work on Harrison Ford’s jet while he stood outside the plane. That was amazing in itself, he is a really good guy in person. Well I got hit by the layoffs in April and did the unemployment thing until I was on the verge of going insane with boredom. I thought I would try and hit up the woodshop again. Hoping things might have changed…..and they have. New management! He is a really good guy, he just promises more than I can handle. To the customers that is. I am back on casings but I also do louver vents and other misc. items that come through. I love what I am doing, I just like to put my best into what I do, and it is hard when my orders that I receive have been setting on his desk for 2 weeks and is now past due. Now I have to rush to get it out the door and always worry that I am taking too much time to finish up my job. They haven’t complained, and I ask him time and time again if I need to hurry. He will usually say “no”, “you are doing a good job”! Then he will come around the next day and tell me that the order I am working on is a rush item. It is quite stressful and that isn’t what I want. I want to be able to enjoy my job and put pride into my work.

One day I dream to have my own shop, it will have a show room and the front, and a shop in the back. I want customers to be able to view the building process through windows throughout the showroom. The knotty cedar floors will have little piles of sawdust for looks and the beauty of my showroom will entirgue my customers. I guess it is a dream, but one that is worth trying for….right? If anyone has suggetions on how to take my job or any insights on what I should do to relieve some of the stress of being rushed I am open to anything.
Thank you for viewing my blog, I don’t know if this is a reasonable blog, but I wanted to relieve some of the steam that has been building up and maybe find some solutions!

-- I wear sawdust for deodorant!



7 comments so far

View patron's profile

patron

13538 posts in 2808 days


#1 posted 10-21-2009 05:47 AM

i’m sorry to hear of your plight ,
as they say ,
been there , done that .

the best i can tell you ,
separate your job ,( to eat )
from your work . ( to live )

you will see your dream ,
and your love will still be there .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

115206 posts in 3044 days


#2 posted 10-21-2009 05:54 AM

Kinda sounds like T Chisels shop

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Rabbet's profile

Rabbet

35 posts in 2608 days


#3 posted 10-21-2009 07:02 AM

I believe 90% of us on this site wish we could build for a living. The dream you have is similar to mine. I work in a fabrication shop manufacturing stainless steel winery equipment. Three months before crush it’s a’s and elbows and as August nears every customer is a rush, so it is hard to do a perfect job. The boss seems happy with my work so I keep plodding along. Most people do not want to pay $ for quality work especially when Ikea, Costco, Walmart and the like are out there telling you what the hot trend is for the year. Nothing commercialy made will stand the test of time in design or quality. Maybe to achieve your dream you can start slow with small items that you can make quickly and sell at craft shows or on consignment at a local store. It may turn into commisions. Doing a job that you like and going home to a job that you love dosn’t sound too bad to me (thats what I do). Great work will not go un-noticed. Keep up the passion and the dream, and don’t quite your day job! At least not yet. Good Luck.
-Rabbet

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3289 days


#4 posted 10-21-2009 11:32 AM

Jason, it is tough when you have to work to meet someone else’s deadlines. But you are able to at least be working in an area that you enjoy rather then working in a job because you must in order to pay the bills. But you are right about the challenges of competing with Costco, Walmart, etc. with regards to quality vs price. People, in general, do not seem to want to pay for quality furniture and seem to focus on price alone. Just do the best job that you can, given the circumstances at your paying job, and use your skills to focus on the kind of quality work that you are capable of outside of work. This will give you some measure of personal satisfaction (although we tend to be our own worst critics and focus on our flaws rather than our successes). :)

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Walnut_Weasel's profile

Walnut_Weasel

360 posts in 2689 days


#5 posted 10-21-2009 03:23 PM

If only there was a time machine. Life between the ages of 5 and 16 were so much less complicated and care-free…

I just keep plugging along and try to dwell on the good things and let the bad things dwindle into the past. Easier said than done, but I have to stay focused.

-- James - www.walnutweasel.wordpress.com

View Wingstress's profile

Wingstress

335 posts in 2982 days


#6 posted 10-21-2009 06:42 PM

The key to being stress free at work is the ability to minimize waste. When your working processes are full of waste, it drives the employee to be delayed, late, and ultimately stressed out of their mind, because their boss is saying “rush rush rush.” From what I read, it sounds like your a person who takes pride in their work and truely wants to do a good job. Thats what every employer is looking for, but if they don’t allow you to operate in the correct environment, your talents and abilities are wasted. (Again, try to minimize waste).

The best way to minimize waste at work is “Lean Manufacturing”. People throw that word around like the latest buzz word, but if you actually study it, its increadibly simple and works. For example the company I work for went from a 54 million/year company to 126 million/year in five years and only went from 450 employees to 470. Our on-time delivery went from 45% to 92% in that same span. That meant that essentially the same number of employees were producing twice the amount of product in half the amount of time.

This was all done by eliminating waste and maping out the process flow. We measured everything! How far was someone from the fax machine, how far from the printer. We realized to receive an order an employee had to walk over 600ft! They had to go from their desk to the printer, to the scanner, to the fax, etc… We bought a cheap scanner at office max for $50 put it on someones desk (no longer 600 feet away), made some templates to elimate over production and cut the order entry time down from 30 minutes to less than 1 minute.

These same concepts need to be applied to where you work. How far are you from your tools? How often do you wait for some else to finish using a tool? How much of your day is spend waiting for someone else to finish a task. Are there visual indicators on the wall showing you and the rest of the company where your parts are in the process and when they are do? Is your product pulled through the process or is it pushed.

This is exactly how toyota runs their plants and its how America ran their factories during WWII. In fact we taught it to Mr Toyota post WWII. For some reason America forgot about lean and Japan embrassed it. Its made a resurfacing in the late 90s and has helped many companies.

I would suggest you do some research on the web for lean training in your area and approach your boss with the idea. You could end up being the hero of the company :-)

-- Tom, Simsbury, CT

View stefang's profile

stefang

15512 posts in 2801 days


#7 posted 10-21-2009 09:37 PM

Tom has a good point there. Usually smaller companies are ripe for becoming more efficient with good ideas. Your plight of limited time to do a job you want to take pride in is nothing new. About everyone wanting to do good work has been frustrated that way. In order for a business to make a profit they have to make a product that is good enough to sell, but not better than good enough (a Ford gets you from point A to point B just as fast and almost as comfortable as a Cadillac). Also smaller companies often get orders just because they can deliver the product faster than their competitors. This is just a fact of life. It isn’t easy to stay in business these days. We have to be practical in order to make a living.

The quality of work you are dreaming about is normally only purchased by well off customers who can afford to pay for something with extra good quality, and design. My advice is to either get a job with a shop that produces high end varied work and/or try to live out your dream on your spare time and try to establish yourself as a highly skilled woodworker selling what you make.

Many of us have been through something like what you describe, and we have managed to survive and have a good life, but we had to be realistic and improvise and often compromise to make our dreams come true. I’m sure you will too. Good luck on the way.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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