Does fame equal fortune???

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Forum topic by bob1638 posted 10-23-2009 09:46 PM 1352 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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17 posts in 3148 days

10-23-2009 09:46 PM

As a full-time woodworker…I have noticed that some “pros” make some big $$$ for their work. I have been to shows and stand amazed at some of the prices I see on pieces!!! And I say to myself…what can’t I ask those prices????

Then I wonder…how does a woodworker gain the prominence in the public eye to command “outrageous” prices for their work.

How does one market themselves to the buying public for these huge $$$?

I have participated in wholesale shows where the furniture stores go to find sources for new lines. Never had any success with those. OK…maybe my work didn’t appeal to the buyers. All though the buyers gave positive responces at the shows…just no orders.

Anyway…how…where…to find the secret for “fame and fortune”??? Of the two, I would prefer the fortune.


17 replies so far

View PurpLev's profile


8535 posts in 3648 days

#1 posted 10-23-2009 09:58 PM

usually $$$$$ =/= wholesale

$$$$ furniture usually goes through private designers, and designers show rooms and similar marketing paths, not through mass production.

and even then – don’t expect to be selling large quantities… hence the $$$$ per item which needs to cover for the lower demand, and less sales.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3590 days

#2 posted 10-23-2009 10:03 PM

I see the same thing. I believe you have to make yourself “known” by writing a book, being published in magazines, having work in galleries, etc. You have to put yourself out there. You have to think of it like Nike vs Voit or the like. Nike will charge more because it’s a name brand, but it doesn’t mean they will last longer. There are tons of woodworkers that make Maloof rockers, and in my mind their work is just as nice. But because of who he is they will never be able to sell their piece at the same price as theres. It’s just how it is.
I prefer fortune over fame too, but in woodworking it seems as though you can’t have one without the other.

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View a1Jim's profile


117091 posts in 3577 days

#3 posted 10-23-2009 11:17 PM

I think this is all mater of luck or who you know. This question is asked in all the arts why them ,I’m a better artist. Look at Norm he was a carpenter and not a furniture maker and all the true furniture makers back east dished his show and projects and even his appearance in FWW but if you put most of there salaries up against Norms salary I would imagine none of them made what Norm made even though there talents exceeded Norms from day one. Look at some of the biggest talents here in Ljs some have had very successful blog cast made award winning furniture but still struggle to make ends meet ,were some dead furniture makers lounge chair brings $ 18000. Some make good money because they get a well to do client that loves there work, some are just smarter than most Like Thomas Moser and some just luck out.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3270 days

#4 posted 10-23-2009 11:30 PM

I agree with Jim….and reiterate it is mostly luck….there are lots of very skilled artisans…but only a few get the recognition they deserve. Then there are the ones that get the recognition and don’t really have the skill…the only thing us “amateurs” can do is keep pluging along and enhancing our skills….someday perhaps we will get collected or “famous” – for me though…I’m not holding my breath…LOL

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3471 days

#5 posted 10-24-2009 02:09 AM

it isnt’s marketing.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3590 days

#6 posted 10-24-2009 02:21 AM

I agree with Dan, it’s marketing. As I said, you have to make yourself known. Not only that you have to have great customer service and a great product. Referrals are a must. You can advertise out the wazzoo, but if you don’t market a good product you will fail anyways. But unless you get your name out there, nobody knows you exist, hhhmmmm….now I feel like a nobody….oh wait I am. LOL

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3471 days

#7 posted 10-24-2009 02:31 AM

Hello! Billy Mays here for MIGHTY PUTTY! Does this ring a bell? Or the dirt drill?

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 4314 days

#8 posted 10-24-2009 02:45 AM

I’m going to say smoke and mirrors. I’ve kept track of a known show with some amazing piece of work…most of which sit in the builders house. You might charge big bucks but after dragging a piece to five different shows and having it sit in two different galleries the profit drops real fast. The real questions is “Are these guys even making any money?”

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3471 days

#9 posted 10-24-2009 02:53 AM

Hard to say. One technique in marketing is private treaty sales agreements. ie: ” I will sell you this piece for 100 bucks and 900 bucks discount if you agree to make sure everyone knows you paid a grand for it.”

View dustyal's profile


1294 posts in 3475 days

#10 posted 10-26-2009 05:27 AM

I think it is more about branding. Once you have your brand developed, you market that. I don’t think anyone becomes an overnight “success.” They’ve had failures along the way and then favorable conditions come together and it gives the appearance that they “made it” overnight.

... just a little philosophy during the ALCS ball game waiting for tung oil to dry.

-- Al H. - small shop, small projects...

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 3785 days

#11 posted 10-26-2009 05:21 PM

I think if its in the cards for you to be noticed you will be. I myself love to work the wood and if fame comes from it, all the better.
Although I dont feel my work is good enough for me to become famous its fun to think about.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View SteveMI's profile


1094 posts in 3294 days

#12 posted 10-26-2009 06:12 PM

I’m going to agree with Dan; it isnt’s marketing.

My twist is you have to market to the architect/designer doing the upscale redecorating up-front. Even in the rare air I don’t think anyone pays those outrageous prices for pre-made or showroom pieces or anything that may be duplicated previously. You may even need to have a private showroom of past work just to get their attention. The great money is for custom made pieces that are built to dimensional specification from the architect/designer. The LJ will have an input into type of wood, finish and joinery.

The dark side of this is it takes quite a bit of time to wine and dine the architect/designers for the work. The discussions could take 100 hours over 3 months before you get a commitment. Unless someone knowledgable in the shop capabilty/talent is doing the footwork and other are working, it leaves few deliverables over a year.

I think some of the “name” people have most of this business due to having a structure in their business to account for this. Plus, the architects/designers have seen their prior work and know they can count on them to deliver on time. Also, that market may be so relatively small that only a few can survive.

In the end, the margin may not be as much as you may think.


View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10479 posts in 3428 days

#13 posted 10-27-2009 02:15 PM

I putter. I used to drink and gamble. Now I putter. I’ve probably not spent AT LEAST 100K by puttering instead of gambling and drinking Blue. I do miss the thrills, though.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3286 days

#14 posted 10-27-2009 10:57 PM

Incredible sex appeal doesn’t hurt—-Or I guess it doesn’t, I wouldn’t know


View dusty2's profile


323 posts in 3429 days

#15 posted 10-29-2009 01:20 AM

I think I must be putting too low a price tag on everything. It doesn’t sell even then.

I’m going to mark everything up, way up. Maybe that unbelievable price tag will impress someone.

-- Making Sawdust Safely

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