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Forum topic by Rebarn posted 12-30-2017 09:19 PM 798 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


12-30-2017 09:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m wondering how many of you are wood working for a living. How many of you have a business in wood working? How many of you have a thriving business? What were some of your strategies getting started?

I have been in business for five years now and have a measure of success. I’m curious to hear some of your stories.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!


18 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1005 posts in 190 days


#1 posted 12-31-2017 12:50 AM

by “woodworking” – do you mean furniture and what-not ?

I opened a custom wood shop in St. Marys, GA in 1985 doing furniture repair
for military members that had furniture damaged in shipment. (that was pretty lucrative).
I made an attempt at custom gun cabinets, hutches, display cases, etc. It just didn’t hold my interest.
in 1989, i switched gears to pursue my passion. hand carved wood signs for main entry gates to private subdivisions and tee markers for golf courses. I built a 2500 square foot shop with a 10ft ceiling, central heat and air.
when I joined the social media craze, my business exploded…... had to hire 6 people to keep up.
after 10 years of doing that, it became a JAY-OH-BEE – JOB and wasn’t “fun” any more.
I scaled down to just me and all my business was internet based – no local work any more.
I shipped signs all over the country and the world from Japan down to Puerto Rico and beyond. I was GLOBAL.
made a ton of money – sold that place, moved to another bigger place, built another 2500sq.ft. shop and it took off.
dabbled in restoring antique wood boats – that was fun. did tons of mahogany and teak work on private yachts.
I became a woodcarving instructor in 2000 and traveled around the country for 5 years giving carving seminars
to sign shops that was willing to pay for my skill. (that alone was probably the most rewarding for me).

once you find your “niche” – life becomes meaningful. if you are good at something, and you like it, you should
gather all the professional tools you need to make it happen and pursue your dream.
if you have a chance to attend some training seminars – GO – no matter the cost. education is priceless.
I was fortunate to attend some 3-day workshops given by Norm Abram and Tommy Silva in 1990.
I learned more about woodworking from those guys than most average guys learn in a lifetime.
I did learn (very quickly) that Timber Framing is NOT my thing !!!

so yes, I have made a very comfortable living doing “woodworking” in several different venues.

[and “wood working” is considered one word – not two. “woodworking”]. if you want to be professional
“woodworker” – decide just exactly what you want to do – don’t start off Helter-Skelter and get nothing accomplished. define your skill – make a plan – set some goals. take photos of your projects as you improve.

best of luck to everyone that wants to pursue the craft.

-- Graduated Valedictorian from the University of HardKnocks --

View Rich's profile

Rich

3012 posts in 617 days


#2 posted 12-31-2017 01:34 AM

Rebarn,

There are many LJs who are professional woodworkers and finishers. There are also plenty of folks who will tell you how awesome they are, but have nothing to back it up other than hot air. Projects and/or reputation in the industry speak volumes in my book.

Your projects are an example. I don’t need you to tell me you’re a talented professional, your work shows it.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#3 posted 12-31-2017 01:58 AM

Hi Rich

Yes, I run a successful business, but I would like to hear from others to compare notes.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#4 posted 12-31-2017 01:59 AM

The other thing is that I would like to encourage others who are trying to make the leap.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1005 posts in 190 days


#5 posted 12-31-2017 02:07 AM

true rich – so true – that is why I have a portfolio of my work.
if a person really wants to excel in any craft, they should have nice photos
to show potential clients. I am “Old School” with actual photographs in a book.
not on a smart phone where – - – - well, you know – flip flip flip flip flip. very unprofessional, in my opinion.
build a website – post photos of your best work with a brief bio on the project.
try to show photos of your projects in use. try not to include photos of a messy shop in the background.
don’t overload the potential client with photos and photos and photos of boring “stuff”.
build some pamphlets to pass out to potential clients.
keep it simple – keep it streamlined and on point.
categorize the pictures in groups: cabinets in one group, hutches in one group, dining tables in one group, etc.
put yourself in some of the photos showing that you are the craftsman that makes the items.

here is an example:

I go to a client that is interested in “a really nice sign” and only show a few examples.














.

-- Graduated Valedictorian from the University of HardKnocks --

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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#6 posted 12-31-2017 02:11 AM

Great pictures. I agree with you on a segmented gallery on a clean website.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

View Aj2's profile

Aj2

1441 posts in 1825 days


#7 posted 12-31-2017 02:34 AM

That’s not woodworking that’s sign making.
The craft of working wood is slowly going away even Cabinet shops around here are pretty pathetic.
There are plenty of store selling furniture made in Indonesia and China.
I don’t know hey anyone would consider woodworking as a business.
Get out whlie you can.

-- Aj

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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#8 posted 12-31-2017 02:37 AM

Aj2

Well…I can’t disagree with you more. This fellow is making wooden signs and is making a living out of it. I make furniture and have a workshop…a store and 6 employees and I make a pretty good living out of it. It comes down to your business sense.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

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JackDuren

388 posts in 987 days


#9 posted 12-31-2017 02:39 AM



That s not woodworking that s sign making.
The craft of working wood is slowly going away even Cabinet shops around here are pretty pathetic.
There are plenty of store selling furniture made in Indonesia and China.
I don t know hey anyone would consider woodworking as a business.
Get out whlie you can.

- Aj2

You have to be multi talented these days. You can run a cabinet,commercial, sign panting,etc and have woodworking shop and make nice pieces.

Most the guys I hear on forums have other means of income other than woodworking.

It’s all good..

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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#10 posted 12-31-2017 02:45 AM

Yeah, I hear you. I consider myself a novice woodworker. Compared to a lot of the higher skilled gents here I am a shoemaker. Business is business…art is art. There’s a big difference.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

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Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#11 posted 12-31-2017 02:47 AM

I want to encourage as many woodworkers here, who have a dream, to put their mind to it and go for it. Learn as much as you can about business and gear your woodworking towards what people are buying.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

388 posts in 987 days


#12 posted 12-31-2017 02:50 AM

I love “I won’t” but they will if they want to eat….

View Rebarn's profile

Rebarn

204 posts in 1629 days


#13 posted 12-31-2017 02:54 AM

Business is business whether you are selling tacos…windows…office supplies or custom woodworking. It’s all the same.

-- A day without slivers is a day without sunshine!

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

388 posts in 987 days


#14 posted 12-31-2017 02:54 AM


I want to encourage as many woodworkers here, who have a dream, to put their mind to it and go for it. Learn as much as you can about business and gear your woodworking towards what people are buying.

- Rebarn

We have a Hallmark CEO working at our company now, Now he is part owner. Hired on many in the office. Doesn’t have the first clue about woodworking. Work is a bit slow right now. Will pick up soon.We have two shifts. Do about 10 mil a year.

We’ll see how education plays a roll this year.

I’m hired as the “we can do ” guy. So we don’t have to refuse work and can review processes. It’s like working with first year woodworkers with control of money and tooling purchases. It’s tough…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=py0w4PylbGE

View Knockonit's profile

Knockonit

376 posts in 230 days


#15 posted 12-31-2017 03:09 AM

I”ve been in biz for almost 30 years, mostly in last 15 or so in general contracting, down sized the framing business and did away with the cabinet shop (this shop was the love of my life, next to the gal i co habitat with. lol )
I could stay in it all day, but the never could find a no. 2 to handle things whilst i dealt with other biz issues, several tried, but none ever came close to being successful.
I’m of the belief to be a good wood worker, finish person, its a calling, something that makes you happy, challenges you to be better, to learn more, and to continue to experiment with new methods, ideas, tools ect.

I went thru 52 employees last year just new hires, out of all them one is still with us. Most had attitudes, could’nt show up on time, were hunted for lack of alimony payments, or they were caught telling fibs.
I have zero tolerance for liars, and thieves, we go into zillion dollar homes, and trust i a huge thing,
My key leaders have been with me for almost 2 decades, they live the rules and know them, its one of the reasons i’ve been reasonably successful,

any event, it is a tough business, until you find your niche or little piece of paradise to call success.
Honestly, there is absolutely nothing else in the world i ever wanted to do.

I build, big, little , monster homes, you name it, its what i do, and will till the dirt gets dropped on me. I enjoy all the facets, mostly the smiles on clients faces when they get exactly what they want, and not a story as to why not, or because.

Damm i love building
Rj in Az.

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