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Forum topic by dontknownothin posted 06-05-2012 06:01 PM 1694 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View dontknownothin's profile


4 posts in 2150 days

06-05-2012 06:01 PM

Topic tags/keywords: rant quality finishing time safety

I was hired to work as a cabinet/what ever the customer wants maker, everything from dart boards to shuffle boards, to full Irish pubs in your basement. First day of work, locked horns with the boss. He said I was taking too long assessing/preparing for what I had to do…you know time wasters like drawings and jigs and safety. That was a harbinger of what would be a long and painful string of hornlocking. His favorite quotes, “Don’t worry about it, we can sand it out later”,meaning burn marks from the saw…instead of getting the blade sharpened…or gouges and burns from a router because he doesn’t bother with feather boards, jigs or a constant feed. “It’s only stain”, meaning just slap it on, stop anytime you want in the process, don’t wipe it down as you go to give a uniform stain, “No on will notice”, meaning brad nail holes, different elevations of miter joints, different trims joining other trims on the same job, because he ran out of the main trim and just grabbed something from a different job, doing a rough sand(60 or 80 grit) and then skipping the finer sand altogether, using too much glue so it seeps out everywhere, and doesn’t mark it so I can find it, or deal with it himself…we use oak veneer in parts of our jobs, so sanding it deep enough to get it all is usually out of the question, and nothing being level. KILL ME! AND he gets ticked when I comment on something or point it out…and asks ‘why is nothing I do good enough?” Oh just KILL ME AGAIN!
I’m TRYING to finish an oak corner shuffleboard right now. I’ve already spent about 4 hours just filling and sanding, and have another 4 to go…and THAT is JUST the handrail!!!!!!
Last job was a huge Irish pub bar…He decided I wasn’t going fast enough so jumped in to ‘help’ varathane it…GROAN…that made even MORE work for me afterward. Everywhere he worked, there were long beaded drips at the edges of every cabinet door, in every corner, and just about everywhere on the canopy…If I hear ‘no one will notice’ one more time, I’m going to poke out my eardrums!
Okay, I don’t feel better, but I’ve got 4 hours of sanding ahead of me…any sympathy would be welcome!...


-- Bev

15 replies so far

View waho6o9's profile


8167 posts in 2544 days

#1 posted 06-05-2012 06:45 PM

Start your own company Bev. It seems you are into more quality than quantity. People pay for quality.

Custom Wood Work by Bev.
Where quality reigns
No job too small

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2211 days

#2 posted 06-05-2012 06:46 PM

Clearly this guy is a winner in his own world. I can only feel sorry for his customers, although, it does seem like you are more their advocate so good for them. I suggest you make the most of this and keep an eye out for a better situation. I used to think that contractors just charges as much as they could for equal work… but boy did I learn that lesson. I’d pay extra for your careful and more masterful approach, versus your boss’ willy nilly attitude towards the end product. Good luck Bev.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2254 days

#3 posted 06-05-2012 06:48 PM

I would not be able to work for him. Good luck.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

7948 posts in 2296 days

#4 posted 06-05-2012 07:23 PM

Not to sound like a prick… but I find whining on internet social forums about the person who is signing your paycheck to be in very bad form.

You may be ten times the woodworker that he is, but he’s doing some things that are crucially important to making the business survive…. quoting jobs, landing jobs, meeting customer expectations (which may be different than yours), and hopefully paying the bills (to include payroll).

If you’re that troubled by it…. you really should sit down and have a heart to heart with the man.

Either that, or learn to work really, really fast, so you can both meet his time expectations and your personal quality expectations.

Just remember…. if his business fails…. you’ll go and collect unemployment….. and he’ll starve.

-- It’s the knowledge in your head, skill in your hands and motivation to create in you heart that makes you a woodworker. - Mainiac Matt

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3069 days

#5 posted 06-05-2012 07:32 PM

”locked horns with the boss.”

The only thing I don’t understand is why the “boss” would keep someone around who doesn’t work as instructed…..............

-- mike...............

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4907 posts in 3928 days

#6 posted 06-05-2012 07:39 PM

Get another job. This ain’t gonna get any better.


View PurpLev's profile


8534 posts in 3616 days

#7 posted 06-05-2012 07:42 PM

sanding is fun – enjoy it (not…)

I usually just put my mind elsewhere and go at it, OR really focus on each detail and lose trace of time… either way the job gets done without too much fuss

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

View Tyrone D's profile

Tyrone D

314 posts in 2300 days

#8 posted 06-05-2012 08:11 PM

That sounds a lot like my old boss.
I actually got fired from my job but the funny thing was: I was planning on quitting the next day.
Whenever I did something my way and not his, he’d bitch at me for about five minutes repeating the same thing over and over. It was like working with my mother! One instance was when I was setting a router’s bit height. I did it my way using a straight edge and got it perfect the first time in about 30 seconds. My boss comes over and says I should just guess. He plays around with the thing for about a minute and a half before he gets it right…
It wasn’t even the kind of work I wanted to do. It was more of a finishing carpentry job. I want to be a Joiner/Cabinetmaker.

-- --Tyrone - BC, Canada "Nothing is ever perfect, we just run out of time."

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2216 days

#9 posted 06-06-2012 07:49 PM

Sadly, your boss is right. When I became a “boss” (different industry, same struggles) I had a hard time. Like you, I am a nit-picky perfectionist. It took me a long time to grasp that customers don’t appreciate the smoothed edges on the bar graphs for their quarterly data reports half as much as I do, and that 45 to 60 minutes of coding is a waste of time. It does give it a much more polished and professional look, but our clients weren’t comparing and contrasting. As long as the substance was there, they were happy. Similarly, do you think the average person would notice a few brad holes here and there, or very minor inconsistencies in stain color? Probably not. Most people I know still but furniture from Ikea, so that says it all.

So the “no one will notice” is probably 100% correct – unless you point it out. Unlike you, your customers are not professionals. They aren’t going to pick up on the minute mistakes unless pointed out. If they were keen enough to notice, you wouldn’t be doing the work for them in the first place. I’m not saying I agree with you, or that I agree with your boss. The reality is there is a minimum acceptable level of quality. More often than not, that minimum or slightly above is the goal.

The people that will notice are the people that will pay far above top dollar. Excuse my assumptions but based on your bosses sentiments I don’t think he is attracting those clients.

Also this is why I firmly believe you should never make your hobby/passion your career. I used to LOVE all things technology. After 14 years in the business, I want nothing to do with it when the clock (finally) stops. I will never make woodworking my career or use it for profit that I rely on. If I happen to sell a few pieces I made the way I want for some pocket money, terrific.


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3276 days

#10 posted 06-06-2012 08:20 PM

Some people are perfectionists and others are most certainly not. If you stay around either type of person you will eventually take on those traits. At 64 I have never been one to cut corners and do a half-ass job regardless of who might never notice it….but then again being self employed all my life I have NEVER had a boss to answer to other than my self.

You can be an average woodworker for those “who will never notice” or you can set your standards higher and be noticed…the choice is 100% yours.

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3076 days

#11 posted 06-06-2012 08:46 PM

This is the “choose your battles” type of situation. I know where you are coming from and have gone through the frustrations you have. Not in woodworking, but in the job market as a whole. Locking horns is a sign of bullheadedness in both directions and neither side is going to give. Bad situation as you never want to be at war with your employer. The trick is compromise. Issue here seems to be related to the balance between speed and quality. It means that your quality will have to drop some, your speed will have to increase some. My suggestion would be to get involved in a smaller project, ask to demonstrate how a little more prep time in advance can save on the finishing steps later. What you have to do is prove that one quality step in advance saves finishing time, which in turn saves money and labor. Best to be demonstrated on a smaller project, a one person operation.

Understand that this will not allow for perfectionism but a true “good enough” scenario. Customers want quality, but they may not necessarily want to pay for it. That is the compromising situation. Each extra step you take is one step reduced from the next paying customer. If you can demonstrate that extra steps in the beginning mean less steps in the end, then you might get him to bend a little. Because he can attribute it to the bottom line. This will require you bending some in his favor as well, otherwise he will not listen to you. If the situation becomes too stressful, you might have to look for another employer.

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View dontknownothin's profile


4 posts in 2150 days

#12 posted 06-15-2012 12:05 AM

@Waho6o9. LOL, I might just! Can I steal, um, I mean borrow the name you made up for my business? :)

-- Bev

View dontknownothin's profile


4 posts in 2150 days

#13 posted 06-15-2012 12:25 AM

@sixstring…I’m definitely on the customers side…they pay REALLY good money for quality, and in turn, when they get it, it’s REALLY good free PR/Advertising for us. We hardly do any advertising at all, yet the work doesn’t run out. Before me, not so much…and I’m NOT anything special, I just care to do it right. Part of his problem is that he thinks that he will lose business if he gives a realistic time frame for job completion. So he gives customers ridiculously short completion dates….and he WAY underquotes. First two jobs I did with him ended up costing him $300 and over $1000 respectively. Where as had he planned it properly…which would have taken oh an hour or 3…he could have made $2000 and $5000 respectively. SIGH…I’ve made some headway on this front at least…he’s starting to give realistic quotes that give him a profit and make the customer happy.

-- Bev

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2761 days

#14 posted 06-15-2012 01:39 AM

I agree with Greg the box scluptor. No one will notice? You will notice and you have to please yourself first. Average quality seems to be the norm these days. As far as saving money I believe it doesn’t cost any more to do the job right. No rework saves time and money. Continue to work for him but network and build a client base before bolting.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View waho6o9's profile


8167 posts in 2544 days

#15 posted 06-15-2012 03:58 AM

”@Waho6o9. LOL, I might just! Can I steal, um, I mean borrow the name you made up for my business? :)


By all means Bev and may you be successful in your endeavors.

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