Creative woodworking - making for need vs. pleasure

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Forum topic by live4ever posted 07-22-2011 07:16 PM 1619 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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983 posts in 3008 days

07-22-2011 07:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: banter chat design furniture

When I see inspiring work, particularly furniture, I often think to myself “hey, I’d really like to try that” or “that would be amazing to execute!” Especially some of the more creative pieces that look like they belong in an art museum.

But then reality hits and I remember that although I am fascinated by certain designs, I (or my wife) would never want them in our home because they wouldn’t go with the overall decor. Then there becomes less of a reason to spend effort and [limited] money, especially if we’re talking about larger furniture pieces.

I’m a hobbyist and don’t have plans to woodwork for profit, but I do want to woodwork for pleasure. I’m finding part of my pleasure comes from trying to dream up and execute “out of the box” design.

Things like boxes and small accessories can be given away, but what about the larger things? What do you do? Make what you feel like making hoping you can find someone who you can give it to or sell it to? Or make only when you have a home lined up for the piece?

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

14 replies so far

View Don W's profile

Don W

18715 posts in 2565 days

#1 posted 07-22-2011 07:44 PM

that’s an interesting question. I typically have a home before I start, but have on occasion made thing “just because”. Most of it went to somebody, but I do remember making one of those workmate type benches that I just didn’t like and never used. One day the parts got scavenged and the wood recycled. I’m sure that’s not the only time, but its the one I remember at this point.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3156 days

#2 posted 07-23-2011 03:19 AM

CR has this right.

This is a real pet peeve of mine. My wife thinks everything in the entire house needs to be exactly the same style and color. Worse than that, it’s really difficult to communicate it with her…if I tell her i want to make something in a mahogany craftsman style, she’ll say, “No! All our furniture is mission and i hate mahogany”. The irony is that, yes, our furniture is largely, you guessed it, mahogany!

Then, she’ll say, “That won’t go with our house.” Never mind that our house was built in 1989, and the only stylistic influences are some colonial elements, which, by the way, she hates. Go figure, a Greene and Greene Piece wouldn’t go with our house, but our mission furniture does?!?

So, like many people here, if I want to build something, I’ll have to fight to get it into the house. Some people just don’t understand that “art” isn’t the pictures you hang on the walls, it’s the frame that it’s in. At least that’s true as long as all we can only afford to hang up are pictures and prints…and as long as my frames are worthy of the “art” label.

Of course, when we have visitors, the first thing they notice is the woodworking…which she speaks of with such pride! Doh!

-- jay,

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3008 days

#3 posted 07-23-2011 03:37 AM

Folks, just wanted to let everyone know I have a split personality and occasionally post under the name Comicsniper. ;)

Jay, sounds like we married the same woman…

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16274 posts in 4216 days

#4 posted 07-23-2011 03:40 PM

I make what I really want to make, and worry about where it’s going to end up later. I think if you get too caught up in the practicality aspect, you will limit your woodworking pleasure significantly.

Jay: I feel your pain. That sounds exactly like my wife. I thought all women were supposed to be great interior decorators. The funny thing is, she can go to someone else’s house that may be decorated with a pleasing mixture of styles, and she thinks it looks great. But in our own home, I always get the “that doesn’t match our stuff” response.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2981 days

#5 posted 07-23-2011 08:18 PM

In the past I’ve made things to fit the needs of others that I have wanted to make with very little consideration of making for myself with the exception for the shop. Now that my wife and I are empty nesters and my new shop is here at the house I have projects I want to make for the house and for myself. As a hobbyist myself making projects now will be for need and for pleasure. As to the decor most of the things in the house is a mismatch of items so the decor issue isn’t a problem at this time.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View shipwright's profile


7980 posts in 2796 days

#6 posted 07-24-2011 02:41 AM

I made most of the pieces in our house and I agree that a lot of the “arty” outside the box stuff that I really enjoy making now doesn’t fit in.

To the end of finding a home for it, I will have several of my pieces in a gallery in August. It will be my first attempt at infiltrating the “art community”. We’ll see how that goes.

If it doesn’t move I’ll try something else, but I’ll continue to make what I enjoy because it is, when all is said and done, it is a hobby….. for fun.

-- Paul M ..............If God wanted us to have fiberglass boats he would have given us fibreglass trees.

View ShopTinker's profile


884 posts in 2766 days

#7 posted 07-26-2011 02:53 PM

I enjoy making things I’m asked for as long as the request isn’t overly specific. I really like making something that makes something else easier, better, or saves time. It might take two days to make, but it will save five minutes each time it’s used again, and again, and again. It’s appreciated each and every time it’s used.

I’ve seen some unusual pieces that made me think “I’d like to try making one of those, but what would I do with it.” I haven’t done it yet, but I think charity auctions is the answer. Make it to see if I can and, if it turns out nice, donate it to charity.

-- Dan - Valparaiso, Indiana, "A smart man changes his mind, a fool never does."

View agallant's profile


551 posts in 2884 days

#8 posted 07-26-2011 05:32 PM

I make what I like. Sometimes I make something because I think it will be fun then give it to a friend. Most of the things I make are things I need. I am going through the house and replacing all of the Ikea crap with stuff I make. My wife does not care about having one style in the house so I get to do what I want. She has never told me that something does not go with the house, in fact I know she hates the matched set look.

As for what fits with the house I am in luck there the house was built in 1925 but the inside was gutted and looks like a downtown condo (it was done before I bought the place) so if I make something modern it works or if I make something classic it works but we all know that the only thing that matters is what the wife says…..

View Beeguy's profile


179 posts in 3634 days

#9 posted 07-28-2011 06:43 PM

Maybe I am frugal, but I think I get much more enjoyment when I make something rather than buying it. So there is usually a purpose to my woodworking. There are a few things I make just for the fun of making it but I always seem to want to have a practical use for whatever I build. So (other than boxes and birdhouses) I rarely would make the same piece twice. I often thought I should because I think the second one would probably be much better than the first.

-- Ron, Kutztown, PA "The reward is in the journey."

View SSMDad's profile


395 posts in 2595 days

#10 posted 07-29-2011 01:11 PM

Jay and Charlie, I’m with you on the wife issue though we don’t have much so it’s a bit easier to challenge her. haha

Ron, until recently I was the same; make what I need (which is also enjoyable because I need lots of pieces and can’t stand particle board furniture). Of course this philosophy went flying out the door when I got my lathe. I still mostly make what I need furniture wise but I turn for the pure enjoyment of doing it.

-- Chris ~~Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past."

View helluvawreck's profile


31071 posts in 2864 days

#11 posted 07-29-2011 02:54 PM

I think that hobby woodworkers should make what they want to make whenever they want to make it. If they want to make things that are artistic then so be it; however, if they want to make things that are practical and serve a practical need then so be it as well. Different strokes for different folks.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View jerkylips's profile


409 posts in 2568 days

#12 posted 07-29-2011 06:53 PM

I’ve had really good luck selling stuff on craigslist. If you make something & price it low enough that you’re just covering your costs, you might have good luck. That would give you the ability to do the work without being “out” financially..

View WayneC's profile


13754 posts in 4095 days

#13 posted 07-30-2011 04:41 AM

Chris Schwarz has some very interesting thoughts in this area in his latest book. Basiclly he is evangelizing the idea of building quality items that will last a life time. You build them specifically to meet your needs. This is in contrast to buying mass produced goods, that do not necessarly meet your needs and are desgned to become obsolete/require replacement in a relatively short period of time. He applies the same principles to his selection of tools. The book is a very interesting read even if your not a hand tools person.

-- We must guard our enthusiasm as we would our life - James Krenov

View S2artDesigns's profile


112 posts in 2486 days

#14 posted 08-09-2011 01:24 AM

I mostly make rustic jewelry and walking sticks. I make things that I think look nice. Things I enjoy to wear and use myself. I have started selling some but I rarely make anything to specs or a design. People just have to buy what I make if they want. I don’t sell a lot but I don’t really care. I like to create unique things. I just have to hope there are others out there that share my taste.

-- Visit my Etsy site to see my burl wood jewelry at

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