Custom Woodworking,What does it mean?

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Forum topic by Kjuly posted 10-01-2010 02:11 AM 2829 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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308 posts in 3283 days

10-01-2010 02:11 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Recently, I was working on a new header for my web site. Well, I don’t mean working on the site itself, my son Michael does the technical part. . I was putting together a few ideas for him to incorporate into the new look and to make my web site more user friendly. I had decided to feature “Custom Woodworking” and support it with a short bio about my business.

Per Mike’s suggestion, I did a little research on Google Adwords, and found a gazillion references to “custom”. OK, maybe not a gazillion but several hundred million. Listed were thousands of sites for custom cabinets, custom furniture and custom kitchens ( just to name a few) and at first I thought,wow, there are a lot of people in the business of building custom everything. , Using Google, I dug a little deeper and found everything from custom cars to custom t shirts to custom finger nails and we can’t forget custom nose hair trimmers. It’s true, you can’t make this stuff up. Is the word “Custom” over used to the point that it’s no longer taken seriously? Has it become a tag that’s added to everything without justification? More specifically, is it meaningful when attached to woodworking?


(Or “bespoke”) An adjective describing any product that is special in some way, individually created for a specific user or system, as opposed to generic or off-the-shelf. Source: Free Online Dictionary of Computing

How would you define custom woodworking? Do you think the tag “Custom” is over used?

By the way, I am reconsidering using “Custom Woodworking” in the title page of my web site.


-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

23 replies so far

View NBeener's profile


4816 posts in 3172 days

#1 posted 10-01-2010 02:40 AM

If you do custom work, then—in all seriousness, I’d definitely include that term, prominently, in your description.

You can walk into a shop that’s filled with hand-made wooden goodies, but … if the owner is NOT a customer woodworker, then … either you like what you see enough to buy it, or … you don’t.

But—from a consumer’s point of view—knowing that you’re a person who can translate my vision (“we’ve got this spot in our family room that just cries out for a combination bookshelf/wine rack…..”) into a finished product—then I want to know that.

In some industries, that delineation is everything. Since we bought a new home, about two years ago, I’ll point out home building.

Production builders build any number of floor plans, but … with very few exceptions (like paint and carpet), you have NO options.

Semi-custom builders have a number of ready floor plans that they can build for you, but they can option them out, change lighting, finishes, minor mechanicals, and the like.

A custom home builder, though, starts you off with your wish list and a blank sheet of paper. You work with that person on every detail of the home—aesthetic and functional.

While I don’t think WW calls for THREE levels, I DO feel the distinction between custom and “off the shelf” is hugely important.

Good luck !

-- -- Neil

View uffitze's profile


199 posts in 2953 days

#2 posted 10-01-2010 02:48 AM

People like to feel special.

Having something unique (custom made) helps make that happen.

So, lot’s of people use it in their marketing.

Does that make the word over used? Maybe. But, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t use it too.

View StumpyNubs's profile


7591 posts in 2798 days

#3 posted 10-01-2010 02:49 AM

A lot of terms are over used these days just to make something sound better, or more exciting. I have the world’s greatest, most amazing, unbelievable website you’ll ever see. Truth is it’s a simple ebay store no different than thousands of other ebay stores. As for “custom” it should be used by someone who’s work is don to the exact specifications of the consumer and not mass produced in any way. Too bad so many people use these words so freely. It hurts those of us who really do “custom” worl.

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Kjuly's profile


308 posts in 3283 days

#4 posted 10-01-2010 03:04 AM

Thanks Neil,
Your builder example really paints a clear picture.
Good point about the customers point of view and that is what I was thinking about. Do you think that the customers are seeing “custom” attached to so many products and services that they become numb to it’s true definition?
I agree, distinguishing the difference between custom and “off the shelf” is huge and that is one of the reasons for reworking my web site.
Thanks for the comment.

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3072 days

#5 posted 10-01-2010 03:11 AM

If you were to get me started I could talk at great length about words that are often overused or misused. It’s a pet peeve of mine.

The word custom is difficult to deal with. As a noun it refers to the practices of a particular group of people or a culture. (i.e. it’s the custom of Christian’s to celebrate communion).

The word can also be used as an adjective as in “custom made”. The use as an adjective is secondary to it’s primary purpose. However, I know of no synonym for the phrase “custom made”.

As a frustrated English perfectionist, when I want to use the word “custom” as you desire, I would use the hyphenated phrase “custom-made”.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Kjuly's profile


308 posts in 3283 days

#6 posted 10-01-2010 03:48 AM

“Custom woodworking” could be interpreted as traditional woodworking as practiced by a particular group. “custom-made” better states my intentions.
I know that I have done my fair share of abusing (and worse) the English language and have no room to complain but it drives me nuts when I see these half typed messages. example…how r yu or i own 1 2.


-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3072 days

#7 posted 10-01-2010 04:09 AM

I participate on a couple of discussion forums like this one. The quality of the English used here is pretty good (but not perfect) compared to what I have seen elsewhere.

We have several active participants for whom English is not their native language and some of them struggle with English but I welcome them with open arms because it delights me to hear from people from, literally, around the world. If their English is not perfect they get a pass from me. They all know English better than I know their primary language.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View SteveMI's profile


1094 posts in 3292 days

#8 posted 10-01-2010 04:34 AM

I was making wooden signs with wordings that I thought gave the people an understanding of my ability to make “custom” worded signs. After a while I figured out that 90% of the people thought that the signs were only available in the exact wordings I had on display.

Is “custom” overused? Yes!!

Is saying “custom” necessary? Yes!!! Neil said it well.


View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 3872 days

#9 posted 10-01-2010 05:01 AM

Neil – semi-custom is definately a category of cabinet construction. There are a bunch of guys who will do anything you want within a certain framework (only frameless cabinets, or only certain woods, or only 32mm system). And they seem to fill a niche. It’s somewhere between stock cabinets (you have six styles to choose from) and full custom (sky’s the limit), and are usually priced somewhere in the middle, too.

-- -- --

View degoose's profile


7233 posts in 3352 days

#10 posted 10-01-2010 06:41 AM

I think that the custom you speak of is from the latin for he who pays… ie customer…they have to get what they want, to be called Custom-er
Is is over used … certainly… is it necessary… I think so…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View traupmann's profile


124 posts in 2785 days

#11 posted 10-28-2010 06:09 AM

I just went to Google with “precise hand-built unique wood furniture” and got custom furniture, Amish f** etc. :(

Does anyone get work from a website, or is it a tool of reference to a customer that is already in contact, even though it is only a reference from a friend?

-- chas -- looking for Serta sponsorship to go Pro...

View Kjuly's profile


308 posts in 3283 days

#12 posted 10-28-2010 01:41 PM

Yes, I do get work from my web site.Yes, I use it as a reference tool for someone that I have made contact with. It’s a great tool to have when you meet someone for the first time and they ask “what do you do for a living?” I respond with, I build custom furniture. Would you like to see some of my work? Hand them a business card with my web address on it.
Consider first impressions and your web site. This person that I just gave my business card to, will see my work for the first time via my web site.
You know what they say “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”

-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3891 days

#13 posted 10-28-2010 01:55 PM

Show me a kitchen cabinet supplier that doesnt use the word “custom” ? They are hard to find and nine times out of ten, those without the word “custom” are the ones who actually make “custom” kitchens.

Doesnt Home Depot use the words “Custom Kitchen” where a 20/20 program quickly fills in the gaps with ready made cabinets…................perhaps the fillers are custom ?

Its an over used word where the potential client rarely knows what “custom” means.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View john's profile


2370 posts in 4379 days

#14 posted 10-28-2010 02:11 PM

I prefer Extreme over custom anytime :-)

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View Kjuly's profile


308 posts in 3283 days

#15 posted 10-28-2010 02:50 PM

Cool bird houses
Extreme…but so cool


-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

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