Professional vs Amateur

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 09-04-2015 05:55 PM 1716 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4795 posts in 3269 days

09-04-2015 05:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I wonder what percentage of LJ’s are professional. Professionals, who make a living at it have a different agenda from amateurs who do it for pleasure. This difference seems to affect replies made to questions on this forum. Is there a difference or am I imaging it For example, a professional, responding to a question may say “use a CNC router” when the question was from an amateur who doesn’t have a CNC or may not even know what a CNC router is.

33 replies so far

View Clarkie's profile


455 posts in 1867 days

#1 posted 09-04-2015 06:12 PM

Hey Ron, first off just cuz a member says use a cnc router, that doesn’t indicate professionalism. I think it is the time spent in a trade that makes one a so-called professional. There are many woodworkers that are extremely good at wood working, yet never did it for a living. I’d have to ask how many know how to fix their mistakes, that is IMO how you tell a tradesman from an amateur. Yet, we were all amateur at one time. A few years back I started to impress myself by doing jobs without even thinking about them, then sitting down and thinking, hey, I did pretty good on that. lol

View Nubsnstubs's profile


1298 posts in 1756 days

#2 posted 09-04-2015 08:49 PM

Pro’s don’t always need a plan, or steps by the numbers on what is next. Amateurs, on the other hand, couldn’t even start a project without a drawing or approval from someone else…........ Jerry (in Tucson)

-- Jerry (in Tucson)

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3768 days

#3 posted 09-04-2015 08:59 PM

Suppose I follow the Athletics type definition….

Pros do woodorking for a living… so the balance their time and tool budgets accordingly.

Amateurs are not paid for projects (or just do it for a craft show a couple times a year) and do not rely on the business success to eat.

If you are hired into a cabinet shop – - even if you need guidance, you are a Pro. as in this is your profession.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Clarkie's profile


455 posts in 1867 days

#4 posted 09-05-2015 01:50 AM

Hey Jerry, very well put. I tell people when they ask what I do, “I’m CEO of Clarke’s woodshop”...then I ask them if they know what CEO means, before they answer I tell them, “CEO = Can’t Eat Otherwise…

View ralbuck's profile


4578 posts in 2292 days

#5 posted 09-05-2015 02:01 AM

I am an amateur !

Because—I give away more than I sell —and—it is a HELL of a lot cheaper than golf and has better working conditions

! I also get to wear UNFASHIONABLE comfortable clothes and DO NOT give one little DAMN trying to impress anyone!

So that is my take on it!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View InstantSiv's profile


262 posts in 1621 days

#6 posted 09-05-2015 03:52 AM

I’m a professional amateur who amateur’s professionally on the side.

View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3568 days

#7 posted 09-05-2015 04:49 AM

Because it is a HELL of a lot cheaper than golf and has better working conditions

! I also get to wear UNFASHIONABLE comfortable clothes and DO NOT give one little DAMN trying to impress anyone!

So that is my take on it!

- ralbuck

Amen and let’s keep making sawdust.
I had a situation today. I put an awesome rip in one of my jean legs so I just put some ducktape on it and kept going. A friend came by to get me to go eat lunch with him. retired pro woodworker too.

We blow the sawdust off each other and go to this high class eating joint for the wealthy lake folks on a lake. We had on dirty reeboks, torn jeans and dark blue t shirts, I had ducktape on my jeans he had green masking tape on his.

Eating joint had a lot of wealthy folks “dining”, we were not there to dine, we were hungry and wanting some food and that was the closest eating joint to us.

It seems most of those wealthy folks knew us. spoke to us, shook our hands and ask how we were doing never saying anything about how we were dressed in that high class eating joint on the lake but, several ladies did compliment us on the repair jobs we had made on our already worn out jeans.

I built their kitchens, he built their homes and when we got ready to pay…your meals have been taken care of and neither one of you two po mouthing sorry a** woodworkers that everyone knows you “ain’t broke” and can afford decent jeans don’t need to know who paid for it.

Pro to me means this is what you do for a living no matter what the job. Amateur means you’re doing it for fun and sometimes make a little extra spending money. I know amateurs that are much better than pros especially in woodworking.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View jeffswildwood's profile


3233 posts in 2003 days

#8 posted 09-05-2015 12:41 PM

Pro to me means this is what you do for a living no matter what the job. Amateur means you’re doing it for fun and sometimes make a little extra spending money.

With this, I fall into the amateur category. That’s OK with me because it’s so much fun. I make things for me, for give away and the occasional sell for a little money to buy more wood so I can have more fun. One thing I don’t like is an order with a deadline. That just takes all the fun out of it. Too job like. What I do like is the look on peoples faces when they receive their order. If I have done well it will show.

I do prefer the hobbyist title over amateur tho.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10535 posts in 3454 days

#9 posted 09-05-2015 01:44 PM

An amateur does it for fun. A pro get’s paid, even though it may still be fun.
By that definition, many of us are part time pros and mostly amateurs.
The definitions of amateur and pro do not connote skill level.

-- 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 bearkatwood's profile


1596 posts in 1037 days

#10 posted 09-05-2015 01:58 PM

To me an amateur could get paid for what they do in the field, but a Professional is someone who lives it, puts in the time and learns all about their craft to become an expert. I look at it more philosophically that just getting paid, take a look at a job you did last year or last week. Did you do a professional job on it? If yes, your almost there. Now pick it apart and criticize it to death and find all its’ flaws and go rebuild it without them. In a business sense if you can run a cabinet shop, get paid and make a profit you are a pro. When German cabinet makers take schooling to get their certificate they spend a lot of time learning how to balance the books, run a shop, please the clients and teach apprentices. If you feel you are ready to take on an apprentice I would have to say you have hit that professional moniker.

-- Brian Noel

View Daruc's profile


460 posts in 1158 days

#11 posted 09-05-2015 02:13 PM

When I think of a pro I think of someone that gives me a drawing and a quote with a contract.
Someone that shows up at my home with adequate help to perform the job at hand.
Someone that delivers the product wrapped and protected from damage. Someone that puts down tarps and blankets while doing the work and cleans the site after the work is done.
Then with all of that, someone that can build the product to and above industry standards. Someone that takes the extra step to make a better product, and satisfy a customer.

If an amateur did all of these things, then I would say he’s a pro.

-- -

View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3568 days

#12 posted 09-05-2015 03:10 PM

Where I live and work in an area of multi million dollar vacation homes.

Pro, the best and they know what they’re says most of these wealthy home owners

Amateur, well he or she just does it for fun or learning and they wouldn’t know how to do what needs done in my new vacation home. It’s going to take a pro.

New 2.5 million dollar vacation home being built. Lady ask me, Bruce do you know a pro stone maker that can build me a beautiful stacked stone fireplace and chimney for my new home. You know how I am and I want the best of the best.

Heck yes I know the best of the best and I’ll contact him for you. So, I call my friend the meat butcher that has never a day in his life worked as a pro stone mason. I meet him at the house when he gets off from work that evening and give him a drawing of the fireplace and chimney.

Aw shucks Bruce I can do that, take me a couple of weeks though. I’ll have to do it when I take my vacation. He tells me how much it’ll cost..not enough bubba…well how much then? You got to be kidding me…nope.
I’ll take my vacation in two weeks if you’ll go ahead and get the stone in here for me. No problem

Pro butcher “amateur stone mason” builds this lady a beautiful stacked stone fireplace and chimney in her 2.5 million dollar vacation home. WOW that’s beautiful and just what I the pro butcher “amateur stone mason” a big bonus to boot. Where’s my cut, get lost Bruce lol.

Pro butcher, “amateur stone mason” takes that money and pays cash for his wife a new jeep.

There is no way he would work as a pro stone mason, that’s what he likes to do for fun and make a little extra money. The lady never knew the difference but in her eyes and thoughts a pro did the work.

Even though he considers himself an amateur stone mason, he’s a top notch stone mason and I would consider him a master craftsman at doing anything stacked stone.

-- Bruce Free Plans

View Betsy's profile


3391 posts in 3922 days

#13 posted 09-05-2015 04:15 PM

Interesting conversation here. I make my “living” as a professional legal assistant during the week. I make my fun money – i.e. the little extra money that allows me to do things that my “living wage” does not, by woodworking. I consider myself both a professional legal assistant (and I’m damn good at it by the way), and a professional woodworker – and yes I’ve got enough of an ego to say that I’m pretty damn good at the woodworking I do. I create, I sell, I make money. I’ve had a traditional business before and quite honestly did not like running said traditional business – it didn’t fit my personality and so I chose to take on a traditional job.

Now my woodworking “business” is an on-the-side business. Some would consider it a hobby that I make money at which would not in their eyes make me a professional woodworker. I disagree. Simple as that – a person is a pro or an amateur based on the glasses one sees out of.

I can fix my “mistakes” and can figure out what went wrong, when and not make that mistake again. By some definitions that makes me a pro.

By this definition : ””Amateurs, on the other hand, couldn’t even start a project without a drawing or approval from someone else”, I’m not an amateur because I can do a project or job without the need a plan, or steps by the numbers on what is next nor approval from someone else. Do I work off of plans? Yes I do, but I make those plans. Do I often create or build without a plan or blueprint or step-by-step plans? Yes I do.

I remember as a child making pom pom yarn animal refrigerator magnets and selling them. I sold several dozen to the local butcher to sell at his shop. The butcher, whose name is driving me crazy because I can’t remember what it was, told me that I was a professional because I was making money off a product I created. That always stuck with me. Sure he was probably propping up my ego as a 10 year old, but essentially he was right – I was making money at something I did and I used that money to buy what I wanted.

So, I’m sure I’ve not explained my view as clearly as I would like, but the long and short of it is, I consider myself a professional woodworker. Do I run a traditional woodworking business – probably not by the traditional definition – but it’s a business all the same and I make money doing it. The fact that I love it is a bonus.

Some would not consider me a professional because the bulk of my living is made in a law office and not in a wood shop. But, I consider myself a professional and in the grand scheme of things – in my little sphere – I’m right!

Long and short though everyone has a different definition and a different perspective on the term “professional”. Same thing goes for “what is a craftsman” and a million other terms. What’s right will never really be a settled debate. I’m glad it’s debate – that to me means that people are thinking for themselves and not allowing the herd to put them into a circle instead of a square. Everyone’s opinion is valid and when you allow yourself to view those differing opinions and consider them – we all come out ahead.

Just my two cents – an opinion for sure.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View ChuckV's profile


3124 posts in 3553 days

#14 posted 09-05-2015 04:22 PM

I am maintaining my amateur status so that I can participate in the 2020 Summer Olympic woodworking events in Japan.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 1446 days

#15 posted 09-06-2015 03:33 AM

Well, I consider myself an amateur woodworker, but, seldom use plans or numbers, as some of ya seem to think we need. Most all the plans & numbers I use come from my mind. Now, I ain’t no sketch artist, or any other kind of artist, for that matter. When a client comes into my shop, & says “can you do this, & what’ll it cost?”, my first response is to let them know I’m no professional at anything, but I’d like to think I’m good at my woodworking, & I’ll show you what I can do for ya, & we’ll go from there. From that point on, if we’re able to come to an agreement on details, then I shake hands with the client(s) & give them my word. Now, this brings me to
my next point. Sitting at the scroll saw this afternoon, I was thinking about this thread. Out of all the comments posted, opinions given, & what have ya, not one of ya said anything about giving your client your word, or customer service. Even you hotshots that are telling us amateurs we couldn’t start a job w/out numbers & plans. Maybe its because my upbringing was different than yours, but I was taught to respect & learn from the other person when they come to me for help. Help them anyway possible. Just because they’re asking, doesn’t mean you’re going to get their work. I live in BFE NW Kansas. We’ve got so called “pros” all over. They’re lazy, won’t show on time, do shoddy work, are conceited. I could go on. The main idea is, put your work where your mouth is! Who are you to judge one from the other? I’ve seen pro work that I could out do w/my physical limitations. All I’m saying is everybody has their own ideas. You think you’re a pro, good for you. But try not to condemn the fella that is learning.

-- Sawdust703

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