With 2013 circling the drain I find my thoughts turning to this past year (and I can’t help thinking about the few years proceeding it, too). It’s been a rough go. I don’t know how far I should go back to make this all make sense to you.
What I would really like is to tell my story, tell about my plan, execute my plan, and document my weekly progress (without it being too boring of course). All I ask from you is to follow along (if you have the stomach for it) and give me your advice, encouragement, or honest constructive criticism.
Maybe an outline of my history would work best… 1989 – Bought & operated a floral & gift shop with my wife. Her dream.
Sold some wood items there and dreamed of being a fulltime woodworking pro.
1999 –We need a change. Want a simpler life. I can see an opportunity in the distance to move to the mountains. Woodworking will just be a hobby, I guess.
2002 –Sell home, sell business, and move to the mountains. Take a dream job (5 year contract) to manage 1300 acres of privately owned forest land. Here is the deal… you’ll give me a free cabin to live in, snowmobile every day in the winter and ATV in the summer, and you’re gonna pay me too? Only if you twist my arm. I know, “where’s the rough part”… stay with me.
2003 – Befriend a local contractor and help him build log homes on my days off. Enjoying building things again. Start dreaming of being a fulltime woodworker again. Strike up conversations with the contractors clients about the perfect pieces of furniture for their new homes. Life is good… Sled/ATV all day, build furniture at night, carpenter on the weekends = ca-chinggg! Having a lot of fun & making $$$$.
Side note: Bought 4 acres of this forest land back in 1994.
2007 –Contract is up. I can renew for another 5 years or work fulltime building log homes and filling them with custom furniture. How do I stumble on to this stuff? I opt for door number two, of course! Without concern for what’s happening in the rest of the world.
Sell the 4 acres. Buy 38 acres just down the road (just beyond the forest, not too many trees here but a lot cheaper). Put in power, dug a well, and build a woodshop to live in while I build our dream home.
2008 – Designed and built our one of a kind, home and bled on several occasions. Yes, Really. I swung the big hammer named Lorraine for 10 months. I peeled and stacked logs, framed walls, pulled wire, laid tile, set toilets, stacked rock, and carved paw tracks through the house in plank flooring. See pics
2009 –CRASH! Contractor friend is starving and thinking of chasing an oil job in Alaska. I decide to go it alone and build furniture wherever I could. I strike up a deal with a furniture store in Salt Lake. They want me to compete with Mexico & Indonesia, but I have a large home I can’t sell or pay for. My wife has been working at a mountain lodge 15 miles away. I know the owner and used to help out there too once in a while. My wife tells the owner about our struggles and he offers me a job. The furniture store in Salt Lake really leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I should have never let them talk me down to the prices they did. I was just giving it away. I was so depressed (just like a lot of other people). I was losing my house, bill collectors calling for the first time in my life. I would come home from the lodge look at the shop on my way in the door and think; what a waste, but I couldn’t bring myself to do anything out there. I even thought I should sell my tools (not that I have anything of great value). Just pissed at myself for falling on my face and digging such a deep hole in the process.
2011 – Lodge hits a rough patch and lays both my wife and I off. We scramble to find new jobs. She ends up in the nearest town (20 miles away) in a bakery. I go about 100 miles away to an RV dealership working on trailers & motor homes for a few months, but the commute is too much and I end up closer to home at a friend’s fabrication & machine shop. What would I do without good friends?
2013 – Both of us are happy to be working, but neither is happy with our jobs. Somehow we’ve managed to just barely keep our heads above water on less than half the money and so far we’ve kept the house.
Earlier this year, I shook the funk off, dusted off my big boy pants and did a few commissions. Starting to dream again. Ran across Lumber Jocks awhile back and you have inspired me! I’m thinking crazy thoughts again. Maybe I can make this fulltime woodworker thing work.
Stay tuned for the plan… 2014 is going to be the year!
-- Craig Bullard http://www.facebook.com/Outlawfurniture