Reply by Todd A. Clippinger

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Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4127 days

#1 posted 11-13-2012 05:47 PM

There are usually 2 routes to building your business as a fine woodworker. Keep in mind this is very distilled information but it is accurate.

Here is route #1 and it is the route I took because I did not even know of fine woodworking when I started my own business as a home remodel/repair contractor.

My opportunities come from my business as a remodeling contractor. Since I am in charge of the projects, I get to design them, run them, build them, and not rely on a designer to pass me work. But that means I have to do a lot of stuff I don’t care for too, although I usually do a better job than anybody else would so it is easy for me to follow my own work with my installs.

The variation on this route is to get hooked up with some contractors and designers to offer your services to them.

Route #2 is to start doing the fine woodworking shows – not the cheesy craft shows, the higher end juried shows. Some craft shows are juried and have some pretty nice work so I am not necessarily knocking them. But if you want to present your work at a certain “fine” level then you need to participate in a certain level of show.

I know guys that travel the fine furniture show circuits and they actually make a living at it. It is tough, you are travelling and showing so you are not building anything. The mileage and the costs are all deductible but you are also not making money at the show because you are not actually building.

Then you return to the shop and build like mad to fill your orders. You have to get things done before you head out to another show and you need to build some product to display at the show. You are not getting paid for this, it is all on spec and for demonstration purposes.

Make no mistake, it is a lot of hard work either route you take. But those are the 2 BASIC routes that most people travel. There are other things involved and everybody’s situation is different depending on their own local economy and the connections your are able to make.

I recommend this ebook from my buddy Scott Morrison (he is an LJ member) Marketing Ideas and Strategies for Woodworkers

It is actually a really good book to give you ideas on just what the title says. Without reading the book I had already done many of the things that Scott covers in the book and so I know they work. I also know that the book is full of things that he has really done since I have had many conversations with him. The book essentially shares with you the many things that I have actually talked about with Scott – he is the real deal.

There is much more but I do not have time right now to share. You are beginning quite a journey and there is a lot of experience to draw on right here at LJ’s.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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