The Great Unknown

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Blog entry by Ethan Sincox posted 12-26-2006 05:39 AM 1021 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’m spending this Christmas holiday with my wife’s family this year. Part of that tradition is a “secret Santa” gift exchange. I drew Uncle George this time. From what I understand, George is a retired jack-of-all-trades, and spent many years in construction and cabinetry.

I knew we had to travel with our presents, so I didn’t want to get into anything big. And having just received some bog oak from England at the time of the Secret Santa name drawing, I had a desire to turn a bog oak pen. I had an idea it would be something George might appreciate, so I decided to make the pen and give it to him as a Christmas gift.

(I have some pictures of the pen I quickly took after it was made – once I get back home I’ll take some time to post some of my projects on my blog and I’ll make sure that is one of them.)

The gift exchange there is always a very social affair, where one person opens their gift and passes it around for everyone to examine before the next person opens theirs. George was one of the last to open his, and once I explained to everyone that the pen box wasn’t what I made (it was a $5.99 cigar-style rosewood pen box from Rockler), but it was the pen, they seemed to appreciate it a little more. Thank goodness I took the “Made in China” label off of the box! That would have been awkward if everyone had thought I was presenting a pen box as something I made with that label on the bottom…

Earlier this evening, Dana told me that George had come up to her and expressed his joy in his present. He also said that, after seeing some of the projects I’ve completed since I started woodworking, I should consider leaving my IT career and make woodworking a full-time thing.

I certainly appreciate his kind words and I’m truly glad he enjoyed his gift. But I’m not without such self-awareness to know I have a long way to go before I even consider such a move. I know in order for such a thing to work, one needs to be able to bring together a good combination of craftsmanship and productivity and business knowledge. I have some sense of the first, very little of the second, and even less of the last!

But while I don’t think I’m ready for it now, it IS something I often think I’d like to do at some point in the future. One of the few things to actually make me feel any kind of jealousy towards another is when I see someone in a vocation they truly and completely enjoy. I would love to eventually find myself in that same situation!

I’m not really in a huge rush to get there. I know it will take time to develop a strong foundation of the skills I’ll need to make that kind of jump.

But the question I asked myself earlier this evening, when Dana mentioned George’s comments, was if I would have the courage to make such a jump when I was ready.

I’m often amazed when someone actually pays me for some of the things I’ve made. I don’t know if I can quite comprehend the possibility that I could make a year’s salary selling the things I make.

It isn’t something I’m going to worry that much about right now. I’m content with making a little bit here and there – enough to buy a new tool every now and again and pick up some wood from my local wood pimp… But I think after tonight it is something I’ll always have in the back of my head. I hope I can keep it there as a motivation, and not as a fear-induced limitation.

-- Ethan,

4 comments so far

View Don's profile


2603 posts in 4173 days

#1 posted 12-26-2006 06:00 AM

Here’s to you developing the skills, business knowledge and courage to live your dreams!

-- CanuckDon "I just love small wooden boxes!"

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 4323 days

#2 posted 12-26-2006 06:59 AM

No reason you can’t make the leap slowly – One step at a time. I’m technically working two part-time jobs. Moved to 20 hours at the “real job” to make sure there was a regular source of income, the rest of the time (20-30+ hours a week on average) devoted to the home reno and woodworking business (with the woodworking taking up the least of that time – professionally at least) my goal is to increase that area along with my skills in the coming years.

Things are going well, and I’m so much happier all around. Get to do everything I like to do – I’m one of those types cursed with several interests – so this arrangement works well for me.

If you can keep a partial paycheck or bennies from the IT job, and put in as many woodworking hours as you’d like/need to get things started you’ll be better off, the Mrs. will be happier (or at least less worried about the cash flow).

For me, If I never made the jump when I did, I may never have. I could have kept waiting to be “ready for years”. There was a magic combination of events coinciding that gave me that final push… So I’d say, stay an active member here, read everything you can and start planning everything out (read some of Mark Decou’s old posts on the subject) and watch for your “window” – whether it’s 3 months or several years coming.

Best wishes in the new year!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Ethan Sincox's profile

Ethan Sincox

767 posts in 4170 days

#3 posted 12-26-2006 03:52 PM

Encouragement from others on a similar path of life is always a welcome thing, Scott.

I’ll certainly do as you suggested, maintaining my actions and interactions with the woodjocks(.com), and continue keeping an eye out for my window.

-- Ethan,

View darryl's profile


1795 posts in 4322 days

#4 posted 12-26-2006 05:08 PM

I got a similar reaction from my brother that you did from George. My father bought one of my walnut and maple cutting boards to give to my younger brother who recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq. My father told me last night that when my brother opened the cutting board he was very impressed with it, and that’s when my father explained that I had made it. My brother’s response that he wanted to know why I remained in IT sales when I can be doing more woodworking!

As my brother and I don’t have the greatest relationship going at the current time, I was touched that he was so impressed with my work.

And my answer for staying in my IT sales job… insurance! With a wife and three girls at home leaving a job with health insurance just doesn’t seem like a good idea for me.


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