starting a custom woodworking business

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Blog entry by Vincent_Von_Gotcha posted 01-28-2010 06:04 PM 6390 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Dear internet friends

I set here in my office bored to tears and ready for a change. Consequently I have recently realised I hate taking orders from STUPID people!!! with that in mind I am thinking of joining the ranks of the self employed and teaming up with a fellow carpenter who happens to be my grand father-in-law and a former head carpenter for the state I live in (indiana). We live almost 2 hours away but I feel we can make the partnership work. Outside of the distance factor any ideas for success or pitfalls anyone have encountered before.

-- Jeff

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117113 posts in 3598 days

#1 posted 01-28-2010 06:16 PM

The old saying is don’t quit your day job is true. Now is a tough time to start a business so there might not be much work out there. I would try it out week ends first and see if you can get enough work that way . If that works out think about quiting.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3268 days

#2 posted 01-28-2010 06:23 PM

If you don’t like taking orders from stupid people, you’re going to need to screen your customers very carefully… Just check some horror stories from other people in the building trades. Then on top of that, the idiots won’t want to pay or take you to court.

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View Rasta's profile


120 posts in 3464 days

#3 posted 01-28-2010 06:34 PM

I had my own concrete business and anyone who tells you being your own boss is great and wonderful has never done it.

-- Roscoe in Iowa

View WayNorth's profile


9 posts in 3075 days

#4 posted 01-28-2010 06:45 PM

My 2 cents. I worked in construction as a Union carpenter, and decided that is not what I wanted. I was on the road quite a bit and many motel stays, one thing I did see alot of was people drinking up the good money they would make. I also do carpentry work as a side line business right now. Work is getting slow up here in Northern Minnesota. Luckily I have a weekend job Sat. thru Mon. 12 hours days and they pay us for forty hours because of the crappy hours. I don’t enjoy the job but figured that theres not much employment around right now. I wanted to just do construction work for a full time job on my own but with the winters, unemployment, no work etc… I decided to keep my weekend job and do the carpentry work during the week. It works out pretty well, A little tired on Tuesdays but I always try and think about the money and bills, good luck in whatever you decide.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3330 days

#5 posted 01-28-2010 06:45 PM

I am 62 and have been self employed all of my working life. I have NEVER been an employee of anyone and could not imagine it being any other way.
I agree that it is a hard time to go self employed in todays economy, so if you do make the leap just be sure you have enough financial backup to last you about a year. Self employment taxes, buying your own health insurance, having ALL the tools necessary to do the jobs, and a lot of hard work are just a few things to consider.
You also need a defined game plan for what type of woodworking you have a passion for doing. I spent many years doing custom restorations and woodworking on wooden yachts and was able to work with great lumber such as teak and mahogany in a field that was not as competitive as the residential construction market . Obviously there are a lot of stupid people you have to deal with, regardless of whether you are self employed or a employee of someone. I just always found it easy to tell the stupid ones that I was not interested in their business…or if I did take a job before realizing how much of a problem they were, I knew i was protecting myself because I ALWAYS had every detail of the job and any changes in writing.
Teaming up with grand-father-in-law is very vague. What type of woodworking does he do and is it in line what your passions in woodworking are?
If you are married most certainly make sure your wife is behind you 100%.
Good Luck ! Being self employed is one of the most rewarding things you can do for yourself an dit can also be one of the hardest things you do for yourself…

View Fireguy's profile


132 posts in 3257 days

#6 posted 01-28-2010 07:14 PM

There are stupid people every where, The only difference between working for someone and being self employed is that when you are self employed they are called customers instead of employer.

If you are going to make the jump I hope it works out, just make sure you do it for the right reasons.

-- Alex

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4121 days

#7 posted 01-28-2010 07:21 PM

Being self-employed is the best and worst experience all in one.

The stupid people will still call you, they call me all the time. Give me your number and I will forward them to you.

Charging a “consultation fee” will help weed them out up front.

I am a remodeling contractor and there is absolutely no way that I could make it go living 2 hours from my work. I work long days and 6 days a week.

Having someone to work with can help ease the burden of the business and may help cut down on the hours but count on 10 hour days at least.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Eric_S's profile


1565 posts in 3217 days

#8 posted 01-28-2010 08:30 PM

I dont know much about working on your own(wish i did though), but I can tell you from doing consulting that a 2 hour drive will wear on you VERY quickly!

-- - Eric Noblesville, IN

#9 posted 01-28-2010 08:52 PM

ten hours a day todd? man im doing some thing wrong here.thats like going on vacation for me hell im lucky to get 4 hours of sleep right now .jeff think it through i am not kidding i spend at least 12 hrs a day in the shop and then im on the putr desiging cabinets or putting bids together so i kid u not it adds up fast and next thing u know u worked a 20 hr day good luck my friend

-- i wonder if obama stood in a wind storm with them big ears of his would he start spinning like a drill bit

View BOB67CAM's profile


269 posts in 3093 days

#10 posted 01-28-2010 11:32 PM

yea fireguy is right
ive done many things from building computers to fixing cars and so on
just for an example and i know woodworking is a bit different but 1 of my pc customers who was a heavy nightly drinker would call me the day after i reformatted his pc and claim i messed it up, when the truth was his infatuation was porn sites and you know where that heads…but the same is for cars, welding, construction and so on and tellng them to get bent will not keep them around nor will they send thier freinds to you
so in a simple scenario u build a coffee table and the people have a kid that has a party and someone dances on the table but of course “lil timmy” would never do something like that, it had to be a bad joint or bad wood or bad craftsmanship all of which pointing towards you and your work
that is where you will have to figure out how to make people use common sense which is at best an impossible
regardless i wouldnt say stay away from it, id say take it slow, build slowly and steadily and if its starting to work out you will know when its time to jump ship if you think rationally and not just passionately…hopefully that helps ya ;)

-- if you dont have it, build it, especially when its a stupid idea

View cris567's profile


2 posts in 1217 days

#11 posted 02-16-2015 10:37 AM

If you want to be self-employed you’ll need to have the following traits: self-motivated, ambitious, go-getter, coachable (when you’re new and still learning). You’ll also want to be able to handle delayed gratification.

If you work with anyone other than yourself, you’re going to run into stupid people in all industries. You may want to learn some people skills so you can handle tough customers and co-workers when you come across them.


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