good idea or bad idea?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by matthewcressey posted 01-31-2013 08:54 PM 1691 views 0 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View matthewcressey's profile


76 posts in 2188 days

01-31-2013 08:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Ok to start off im 16 years old and have been woodworking for almost a year. I have reasenly been offered a job by a local cabenet maker. My first thought was AWESOME. this was expessily good to me becasue I had not yet chosen a carrer path much to most everyones dismay. But my father really hates this idea becasue he wants me to become an electrion. I have worked as an electricion for the last 3 or 4 years and have my helpers lisence. But I really dislike it, its borking long the simplilist thigs can become impossible, and oh ya he pays me a wopping 7 dollers an hour. thats not even mimimum wage. that was untill I told the cabanet maker that yes I would love to work for him. Then all of a sudden he raises it to 12 an hour which is quite a bit for a 16 year old. That is if I stay and work for him. Also he take every oppertunitie to tell me how much better life is as an electrition. Hes disipointed that I wan to become a carpender. which he veiwes as a very unskilled job. He also get mad like really mad whenever I mention anythinbg about woodworking whether it be a outfeed table I want to build or that chuck i want to buy. So what do I do?

28 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2489 days

#1 posted 01-31-2013 09:13 PM

Life’s too short to do something you don’t love. Tell your old man to become an electrician, but do what makes you happy.

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

View a1Jim's profile


117332 posts in 3780 days

#2 posted 01-31-2013 09:16 PM

Hi Matthew
This is an age old problem where fathers want their sons to follow them in their trade or profession. It’s hard for someone your age to understand but even though your father my not put it so you like what he’s saying he’ wants the best for you. I have been a contractor and have owned my own woodworking business for 25 years and two of my son’s have worked with me. They both have decided to follow their own interest and I think that’s great. From my prospective becoming an electrician will make you a much better living than woodworking . I think the hardest part of your situation is that you work for your father. If you can be brave enough to get to the point were you can earn your electricians Licence then you can work for yourself and control of your own business. Electricians are always in demand but woodworkers are a dime a dozen. Once you have your licence and have been on your own you can do woodworking as a hobby and enjoy it much more than always having to only build what others want you to build with deadlines always pushing you. Work out a deal with your father to just have you try the cabinet making but that you can still help him with his jobs. The cabinet making job may pay more now but the electricians pay will be much better in the future. I know this may not be what you were hoping to hear but as a person who has been in the trades for years I think it may be the best way for you to go. Good luck on what ever you decide to do.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3361 days

#3 posted 01-31-2013 09:19 PM

If you truly have a choice, then do what you want. But I say there’s nothing wrong with pleasing your father…it’s honorable. Whatever you do now doesn’t have to be what you do when you grow up. Most people change their careers 4 times or more.

I will say that an electrician can make a much better life for himself than a carpenter, IMO.

-- jay,

View stefang's profile


16140 posts in 3537 days

#4 posted 01-31-2013 09:38 PM

I can’t say what is best for you, but do keep in mind that every job becomes pretty routine after awhile. Maybe you could try out the cabinet job for a limited time to see if you really like it. Your father might not be too stubborn if he knows it is just a trial.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2690 days

#5 posted 01-31-2013 09:43 PM

I have to agree with Jim this time.

I worked for an electrical contractor and got my Journeymans ticket. I could go anywhere and ask just about any wage I wanted.
I also hated it, but for me it was a means to an end. More on that in a bit.
I also worked as a framing carpenter, a finish carpenter and in a couple of cabinet shops.
I eventually got a license as a general contractor and did well and I could actually do the work that I would have had to pay an electrician to do.
I also had a plumbing ticket as a helper and I was legal to do plumbing work as long as it was signed off on by a licensed plumber.
This saved me and a lot of customers a lot of money because I was able to do legal simple installations while the contracted plumber did the heavy important work.

I worked in the shop with my dad and grand dad who were both master craftsmen cabinet makers. Back then I wasn’t interested in that type of work because I am somewhat OCD and also a lot ADHD.

Here is the bottom line:
A bit of advise from my dad that I’ll pass on to you, take it or leave it…....
Learn everything you can about every trade you can, even if you hate it. That way when the pickings get slim you can always find a well paying job in another skill.

Now as I get closer to 60 years old, and still feel a lt younger than I am, but am unable to do those things fast enough to make it economically reasonable to hire me any more, I am falling back on the fine wood working, re-learning the stuff dad and Grand pa tried to teach me back in the middle of the last century.

Your dad only wants the best for you. I don’t blame him, I just don’t agree with his methodology.
I believe that any time you have a chance to learn something, you should, prejudiced against the skill or not.

Print these posts out and show them to your dad, if you can prove your case, who knows, he may soften up a bit.

We’re pullin’ for ya, keep you stick on the ice!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3200 days

#6 posted 01-31-2013 11:06 PM

All jobs have things that suck. With any of the skilled trades, you can do extremely well or limp along poor for the rest of your life. It is more of a matter of how well you run your business than how well you perform your trade. That said, as an electrician, you wouldn’t be underbid by people working for pennies an hour in factories overseas or being churned out by machines by the box car load. Electricians and Plumbers can’t get outsourced. Carpenters can.

Regarding the pay. There are two sides to that. (No offense meant, just straight talk) When you started at 13 or so you were not worth that much (probably costing them more than you were earning them). You make yourself valuable by the work you do. You say you were “bored.” That tells me you weren’t earning what you were given. You are on a job and have nothing to do? Man up and ask for more to do. Better yet, do it without asking. They are on a job to do work for a customer and not to keep you entertained. Even if it is cleaning up the truck, sweeping up the work site, or covering ditches, or hauling a pitcher of tea for the other people on the crew or anything else that needs to get done. It’s all part of the job. You make yourself a more valuable asset and then you ask for more money.

There is a lot difference between woodworking for enjoyment and doing it for a living. It will take many more years to be good enough at woodworking to be up to the skill level to make as good a living as one of the licensed trades. Now, doing woodworking for yourself at home? I can see no reason against it as long as you don’t leave a mess for everyone else in the household. Get good enough at it, it might work into something great.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5128 posts in 4163 days

#7 posted 01-31-2013 11:22 PM

I started at a piano shop as a “gopher” doing what needed to be done.
Learned a BUNCH about WWing and finishing. Wouldn’t trade the experience at all.
Best thing is learning to communicate well, and be precise.
Not tryin’ to be a butt, but (is that redundant) your writing/spelling skills really need improvement.
Hone ALL your skills to succeed in any trade you might choose.
A well spoken and well written candidate will always succeed.
Remember that even sanding is a skill, building is a form, and finishing is an art.
I hope that you will accept these comments as a positive help.


View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3488 days

#8 posted 01-31-2013 11:31 PM

Hey Matthew, I think everyone has given you some great advise. I can only add to it from the side of a woodworker that has made my living doing so for the past 27 years. I can see your fathers side and truly believe he only wants the best for you, but I also understand your frustration from not enjoying what you’re doing now. Making $12.00/hr working in a cabinet shop compared to $7.00 working with Dad sounds like a big deal right now as a 16 year old, but from what I’ve seen in the two trades over the years, the typical electrician usually ends up making more then the typical woodworker. After saying that, I made my career choice as a professional woodworker and never regretted doing so. As a young man, learning both trades could serve you well in the future. I’m not sure how you can convince your Dad to let you learn woodworking also, other then let him know you would like to be open minded to both careers and hope he would be too. You have plenty of time to decide which path you would choose and who knows, it could be neither. Like Cosmicsniper said; most people will change their careers a number of times before settling on whats best for them. Just keep learning and you’ll do fine. Good luck.

-- John @

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3172 days

#9 posted 01-31-2013 11:49 PM

It’s a difficult choice but I think you need to find out what you can expect to be earning in 5 years time and make your decision on that, not the difference on what you could be earning now.
As far as ‘skilled trades’ are concerned, drain cleaning would probably earn you more than being a sparky or a cabinet maker put together. It comes down to supply and demand.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2393 days

#10 posted 02-01-2013 12:05 AM

i agree with what everyone else is saying that the electrician job will help you earn more money in the jim said you can always do ww as a hobby.

but sometimes you have to do what you love,cause as they say money’s not everything.i think that saying came from someone very well off!!!

keep in mind your father has your best interest’s at heart and also paying you $7 an hour is not bad for learning a skilled trade.hope this helps.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View RichCMD's profile


402 posts in 2144 days

#11 posted 02-01-2013 12:22 AM

Just a few random observations:

1. This is not meant as an insult, so please don’t take it that way. Most folks end up doing work completely different from what they thought they would when they were sixteen. You will likely be neither a cabinet make nor an electrician.

2. Somebody once told me that the secret to happiness is finding something you like to do and then figuring out how to get somebody to pay you to do it.

-- Ride the bevel!

View Don W's profile

Don W

19014 posts in 2770 days

#12 posted 02-01-2013 12:34 AM

Ask anybody over 40 if they are doing what they wanted to do when they were 16. No matter what you chose now, there is probably a 95% chance you’ll change your mind before you’re through college. If your not considering college, change your mind right now.

Next, your 16, so its difficult to understand what making a living means, but think about what a carpenter/woodworker makes. I did it for 15 years and just got tired of struggling.

Its very important you like what you do, but when your struggling to make a living, its hard to like what you do. Your going to find you’ll like doing a lot more than you know now.

Its also ok to change your mind. Learning is a good thing. Keep Lear Ing no matter what and you can’t fail.

As a father I’ll say one more thing. It sounds like your dad just wants what’s best for you. That’s what good dads do, so keep that in mind, no matter what you decide.

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

View Wiltjason's profile


56 posts in 2165 days

#13 posted 02-01-2013 12:45 AM

i have been an electrician in columbus ohio for 20 yrs. if i had to do it all over again i would do neither. personally i wish now that i had gone to collage to become an engineer, architech, or constrution management. here in ohio the skilled trades are being gutted by people hiring cheap labor and underbidding jobs. even the IBEW is have problems right now, its a damn shame ( i did go threw a 4 year apprenticeship ) luckily for me i landed a job with the city of columbus but those jobs are hard to get. as a side note i do make alittle bit if money out of my woodshop and for me personally when someone else determinds what i build and when it will be done it sucks the fun right out of it, just my 2 cents, good luck to you

View LoydMoore's profile


105 posts in 2159 days

#14 posted 02-01-2013 12:57 AM

Make real sure you do not miss any school classes.

-- Loyd, San Angelo, TX

View RockyTopScott's profile


1186 posts in 3681 days

#15 posted 02-01-2013 12:58 AM

You are young enough. Try the woodworking for a few years and see if it really is what you want.

Learn some electrical skills too along the way, just in case.

Never stop dreaming…never.

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

showing 1 through 15 of 28 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics