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Forum topic by UncannyValleyWoods posted 06-13-2013 05:53 AM 767 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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UncannyValleyWoods

335 posts in 553 days


06-13-2013 05:53 AM

I’m certain many of you build pieces you intend to sell, but weren’t contracted to build. I’m also willing to bet that many of you have finished a project and then found yourselves stuck with it, because you couldn’t find a buyer.

I’m interested in hearing any horror stories…of furniture that ended up like bad VD, you just couldn’t get rid of it…. This can’t be an all too rare occurrence? Any advice is always welcome as well.

-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods


14 replies so far

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Loren

7738 posts in 2337 days


#1 posted 06-13-2013 06:09 AM

Only build spec pieces if they add significantly to
your portfolio.

Be honest with yourself – are you set up to really
do all common aspects of wood furniture building
to the level that architects and designers expect?

Look at the major design mags, and if you can
mostly say “I can build that and I know how” then
you probably can serve the clients who have the money.

If not, the spec pieces will tend to be under-developed.

You can study the market. You can build the kind
of sanding-intensive sculpted work that sells in
galleries, but you can’t make an easy living at it
because the time will burn you – and the pieces
will look great but if you try to get what the time
is worth you’ll have problems.

Be wary of polishing end grain.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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joeyinsouthaustin

1270 posts in 762 days


#2 posted 06-13-2013 06:50 PM

Still sitting on several. Got a beautiful mahogany, inset, grain matched, special ogee bead perimeters, and on legs. It was delivered, paid for, and the interior designer decided she didn’t like it anymore and got the client to buy another. Could be worse. At least that one got paid for. First and probably only time. %90 of what I am sitting on has to do with an interior designer or decorator. :(

-- Who is John Galt?

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dbray45

2536 posts in 1466 days


#3 posted 06-13-2013 07:17 PM

If you are making something for a designer, to their specs – you deliver and they change their mind – they should take it off your hands at the negotiated price. If they don’t, I wouldn’t take their orders any more.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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joeyinsouthaustin

1270 posts in 762 days


#4 posted 06-13-2013 08:23 PM

Oh if it were only that simple. I don’t have the time to be at all the right cocktail parties. The breeding of connections in the social scene makes up IMO %80 of the interior designer/decorator scene, with the rest being honest and good at their job. There are too many shades of grey that makes it difficult to “not take their orders any more”, to go into in this thread. My shop is well respected for our experience and quality of work, but when those who define taste get to clucking sometimes you got to just keep people happy. It has been my policy… and I am hurting to keep up with, not hurting for work. (and, honestly, it is factored into the price of any job where a design party other than an architect, and homeowner is involved) ;)

-- Who is John Galt?

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UncannyValleyWoods

335 posts in 553 days


#5 posted 06-13-2013 08:30 PM

Interesting. Joey, at what point did you choose to open your own shop? What was the genesis of your current situation? Did you start out as an apprentice and eventually move out on your own, or did you reach a certain skill level and decide to go fully professional?

-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods

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joeyinsouthaustin

1270 posts in 762 days


#6 posted 06-13-2013 11:02 PM

Uncanny As most it is a bit of a story… here is the short version. I was introduced to construction by my parents. In part because we were poor, part they were hippies who believed in DIY, and in a third part they belong to a religion that encouraged, in part self reliance. I learned I had a knack for it later building skate ramps, and soap box cars and such. That pointed me towards a (rare in my parts) four year high school drafting and architecture program…. After that I obviously decided to be a musician and studied art in college. :) I have a bfa in sculpture and photography, and this is where I learned what someone might pick up as a traditional apprentice. The formal part of woodworking technique and skill was the most interesting part of that schooling. So of course I took that and spent 15 years as a touring musician. To support that I needed to do what I could that had flexible hours and where I was the boss. I did time in the restaurant business, and WW’ing on the side. Eventually I joined a band with someone who came up out of high school in the apprentice system, and after managing a cabinet shop for the last while was going out on his own. I informed him I was going to be his employee, and he didn’t say no. The next years were my second WW’ng education where I learned the ins and out of residential carpentry from framing, and floors, up to elliptical coffered ceilings and sculptural grade cabinetry and such. 10 years ago We formed a partnership and I am actually a partner in this shop, but have built it from the beginning. Partnerships are one thing, so technically I never went out on my own, and talking about them is a different topic. Our is good… most are not.. but we both contribute skills the other doesn’t have, and went about it as maticulously as we always have our WW’ng. I really enjoy woodworking… but now fully enjoy building a business around what I love to do. It constantly requires you to learn new things (Thanks LJ”S %100) and humbles you when you take on the responsibility of providing the skills and livelihoods to others and their families. Our firm has become fairly large and rather diverse. Teaching others has been very rewarding in many ways. We are getting to the point as owners where we can cherry pick the fun stuff for ourselves…. and not far from when we may have more time to work on personal projects and dreamwork.

TMI?? nawww thanks for asking.

-- Who is John Galt?

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joeyinsouthaustin

1270 posts in 762 days


#7 posted 06-13-2013 11:07 PM

Edit: These were for my wood veneer gloat thread. But why not leave them here?? I can’t seem to delete them??

Oh and BTW here is the lay out. these will be panels in oak shaker doors and panels. It is two islands front back and sides, and a pic of my favorite one. Should come out great.

-- Who is John Galt?

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UncannyValleyWoods

335 posts in 553 days


#8 posted 06-14-2013 05:59 AM

Wow, very cool veneers, man. That’s going to look amazing!

I dig your story man…not too long at all.

Personally, I’m in an odd spot. I have the good fortune of not having to go and get a 9-5. My wife works and make a good living for both of us…the draw back is that we have to move every three years. Without getting too deep into things, I can say that I’ve basically been given carte-blanche to pursue any artistic endeavors I please….but that doesn’t mean that I have carte-blanche to the check book. So I’ve been building pieces to sell, mainly so that I can buy more lumber & tools to build pieces for our house. Basically, I just want to improve my skills, but I can’t do that without building. I’ve stretched out and tried to get some apprentice jobs with some cabinet makers, but no one seems to want a 30 year old who’s going to move in a couple years. I’ve also built a few pieces, recently, that I can’t find buyers for. So…needless to say, I’m in a weird spot…skill level not high enough to work for architects and decorators, but too skilled to simply sit around and not hone the skill’s I’ve got…gotta switch cities all the damn time… And to put the icing on the cake, I SUCK AT RUNNING A BUSINESS. I just hate it…I’m not organized, terrible with math, marketing and customer service etc… So, now, I’m just trying to strike a balance with all of this…and still make enough dough to keep at it.

-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods

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Loren

7738 posts in 2337 days


#9 posted 06-14-2013 06:10 AM

Stop affirming your weaknesses,
instead work to correct them.

Success at the trade does not await
no-can-doers.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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UncannyValleyWoods

335 posts in 553 days


#10 posted 06-14-2013 06:11 AM

Oh man, don’t get me wrong Loren. I get up every day and work on correcting my weaknesses. I’m just self deprecating as hell. :-)

-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods

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UncannyValleyWoods

335 posts in 553 days


#11 posted 06-14-2013 06:16 AM

Personally, I think weakness is the key to creation. There would absolutely be no fun in creation…or life in general…if we didn’t all have weaknesses. I just really enjoy hearing about how other people solve problems and organize themselves. Folks are incredible and have dealt with many things I’ve yet to encounter. Cooperation, advice and council are the spice of life.

-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods

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Loren

7738 posts in 2337 days


#12 posted 06-14-2013 06:24 AM

When I was starting out I looked at and read dozens
of books, eventually coming to own over 60 I’ve read
cover-to-cover, plus a lot of magazine back issues. Some
people resist an intellectual understanding of the trade,
or are not able to read and thus forced to learn through
other means. Good cabinetmakers are sharp people –
it takes a while to get control and predictability in all
the major steps of building cabinets and furniture:
milling, design, joinery, work flow, etc. One by one
you get the processes optimized, master the way you
use your body to lift and move rough lumber and so
forth. This is just doing the physical work. I plan out
what I want to accomplish the next day the night
before and consider the work flow issues that are
going to come up. It is more mental than people who
don’t do it can imagine…. and it is also intensely
physical at times.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

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UncannyValleyWoods

335 posts in 553 days


#13 posted 06-14-2013 06:36 AM

It’s interesting that you mention that. I’ve been thinking quite a bit about that, Loren. Having lived with folks who worked as re-modelers and spoken to many a cabinet maker, the one resounding thing that comes up, time and time again is the direct correlation between work flow and earning capacity. In a cabinet shop, there is no time to screw up a cut, no money to waste a square inch of lumber etc. Knowing this and having seen the end results of good work flow, seems obvious to me that it actually makes up about 90% of the skill that goes into wood working. Anyone can figure out how to follow a set of procedures and plans and come up with a nice finished product. But having the motions become reflexive and natural…well that’s all about zen, I suppose.

-- http://www.etsy.com/shop/UncannyValleyWoods

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dbray45

2536 posts in 1466 days


#14 posted 06-25-2013 05:08 PM

Uncanny – Try making small stuff – jewelry boxes, small tables, foot stools, and the like and sell them on Etsy, ~bay, CL and the like. put up a web page.

These are ways to sell that are not address specific.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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