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Wood work. Can it be a profitable Hobby? Your experiences if transitioning from another field.

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Forum topic by JSan posted 08-27-2013 08:29 PM 2828 views 1 time favorited 46 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JSan

46 posts in 627 days


08-27-2013 08:29 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource

Hello all, I’ll get to the point. If you have transitioned from a different career and made wood working you main career or at least a profitable hobby, what has been your experience. I would like to know your challenges, satisfaction, tips, etc. Experiences from professionals or amateurs will be apreciated. I currently work in an office (well actually a cubicle) but have the desire of one day making woodworking if not my main source of income but at least a profitable hobby. My woodworking interest are vintage and rustic woodworks and wood signs. Thank you all for your time.

-- "It's always a good idea to copy a good (wood project) idea" author unknown


46 replies so far

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DKV

3132 posts in 1154 days


#1 posted 08-27-2013 08:43 PM

How to make money in today’s world:
1. Have a college degree. A graduate degree helps.
2. Have no morals. Do/screw anyone to advance.
3. Have a moral facade. Go to church, join groups, give to charities.
4. Have a wife that also practices 1 through 3.
5. Have kids but sub their upbringing out to nannies.
If you follow the above suggestions religiously (pun intended) you’ll be wildly successful.
Oh, number six…have a hobby you can show and display. Woodworking would be a good choice.

-- My bad, 2015 is the correct year...

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Don W

15017 posts in 1217 days


#2 posted 08-27-2013 08:51 PM

There are plenty of woodworkers making a living. I transitioned the other way. You need to be better at marketing/business than woodworking. If you look at most really highly successful woodworkers, they taught, wrote, spoke, and did a host of other related activities to make a decent living. Have a good location helps as well. I live out in the middle of no where, so customers don’t drive by my place ever.

-- Master hand plane hoarder. - http://timetestedtools.com

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DKV

3132 posts in 1154 days


#3 posted 08-27-2013 08:58 PM

I highly doubt you could ever make enough money making vintage/rustic furniture and wood signs to ever come close to supporting a family. See woodworking for what it is…a hobby.

-- My bad, 2015 is the correct year...

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Puzzleman

331 posts in 1594 days


#4 posted 08-27-2013 09:04 PM

Hello. I made the transition to make my hobby my full time job. I work more hours per week than ever before. I make less money than I have made before. I am having more fun than ever before.

Listen to DonW. Making wood products is easy. Selling and marketing is the hard work.

I a
Would strongly suggest checking out a blog series done by Huff on marketing. He provides very valuable insights. He also has a blog series on pricing. Also very informative.

Most important thing is that this is a business. You have to be able to manage work. Do you this now as a hobby? Do you know what your costs are for what you do? Do you know ALL of your costs ( direct & hidden )? Read both of the series by Huff and take it to heart. Run your hobby as a business. Track ALL off your labor hours.

Read Huff’s slog series on pricing and marketing and put them into practice with your hobby. You will be able tell if you can make money at this. If you make money with your hobby, you have a great start.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

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JSan

46 posts in 627 days


#5 posted 08-27-2013 09:07 PM

Excellent tips so far… thank you all. It’s good to hear all sides.

-- "It's always a good idea to copy a good (wood project) idea" author unknown

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Jim Finn

1671 posts in 1572 days


#6 posted 08-27-2013 09:11 PM

I retired from construction work with a decent pension and I now do wood working as a hobby/business. I put in about 35 hours a week and sell at street fairs and festivals. The sales of these things I make pays for my hobby and my equipment but I could never live on that income alone…..Life is good!

-- In God We Trust

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JSan

46 posts in 627 days


#7 posted 08-27-2013 09:22 PM

Jim Finn…i think my wife would love that…. its sound interesting… thanks alot.

-- "It's always a good idea to copy a good (wood project) idea" author unknown

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DKV

3132 posts in 1154 days


#8 posted 08-27-2013 10:07 PM

JSan, there are thousands of very good woodworkers in the US. There are thousands of very good basketball players in the US. Very few make it to the NBA. The few very good woodworkers that have made it and can support a family are the exception. I’m not trying to put a downer on you but I would hang on to the cubicle. You haven’t told us how many kids you have. You haven’t told us if your wife works and what she does. If she could be the primary bread winner then you might have a chance if you are one of the very good woodworkers. So-so and mediocre don’t make it in any business. Have a dream but mix a little reality in.

-- My bad, 2015 is the correct year...

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1125 days


#9 posted 08-27-2013 10:16 PM

DKV, men you are really becoming a PITA. You have not contributed anything worth while to this thread.

JSan, the secret is to have a selling venue in mind before you even make a single piece. A good marketing plan and a place where people can see your work will get you on the road to success.

OTOH, if you want to make cabinets and that sort of thing, I would advice against it. It is a cutthroat overcrowded field. Anyway, these are my 2 cents.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

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DKV

3132 posts in 1154 days


#10 posted 08-27-2013 10:23 PM

Jorge, not to start an argument but what part of my posts are a pain in the ass? The reality parts that I’ve added so the OP can make an informed decision? I would like a show of hands from all LJer’s that have quit their jobs and were able to support a family doing woodworking of antique/rustic furniture and wooden signs. Give the guy a break. I like dreams as much as the next person but temper those dreams.

-- My bad, 2015 is the correct year...

View huff's profile

huff

2804 posts in 1935 days


#11 posted 08-27-2013 10:27 PM

JSan,

Woodworking can be a profitable hobby as well as a profitable business, but there is a huge difference between the two.

As a hobby; most will tell you that anything you sell your work for over material cost is their profit, so depending on how much you want to put back into your hobby will be how much profit you might want to make. Usually it has nothing to do with actually making a living or paying yourself.

As a business; (other then non-profit businesses) you have to treat woodworking with a totally different mind set. For most woodworkers, this is really a hard bridge to cross; taking a hobby to a professional business.

Pricing, Marketing and Sales will be three crucial elements for having a successful woodworking business and if you don’t master those, you will at best, only have a hobby that makes a little money.

If you treat your woodworking as a hobby; then it will always be a hobby. If you think you can’t make a living doing woodworking; then you will never make a living doing it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re building birdhouses or high-end custom furniture, you can make a living doing so if you know how to price, market and sell your work.

Good luck and wish you the best for success.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

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JSan

46 posts in 627 days


#12 posted 08-27-2013 10:30 PM

DKV, I’ll hang on to my cubicle that’s for sure. I’ll deviate a little bit from my topic. I guess I need to get started some where. I don’t have any training in wood work. The little that I know is purely by trial and error and I keep on trying because it’s a great satisfaction on doing something that you really enjoy. I do like my cubicle work but is not something I envision doing years from now. In the meantime and to continue self teaching wood working I need to buy supplies, tools, etc. but obviously it can add up so right now I see it purely as a hobby but I want that hobby to at least to pay for itself and from the few replies I received so far I think that can be achieved. It would be interesting to know how you got started in woodworking if you don’t mind. Thanks for your comments.

-- "It's always a good idea to copy a good (wood project) idea" author unknown

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JSan

46 posts in 627 days


#13 posted 08-27-2013 10:33 PM

DKV, no offense taken. I honestly appreciate your comments, really. I am really interested in you all’s experiences, specially from your early days in woodworking.

-- "It's always a good idea to copy a good (wood project) idea" author unknown

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1526 posts in 1125 days


#14 posted 08-27-2013 10:33 PM

Your first post for example, you sound bitter. While I have known people you describe, it is usually a minority.

The OP asked if it is possible, he did not specify if it was easy. Restoration of antique furniture can be very lucrative, if you know what you are doing.

In the end, I don’t see how your opinions are the “reality part” when you don’t do woodworking for a living and have never run such a business. Why don’t you let those of us who have respond and maybe you can learn something instead of posting those opinions you have a hunch are correct.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

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JSan

46 posts in 627 days


#15 posted 08-27-2013 10:37 PM

Jorge G. I think you are right. I think there is a good market for restoration of antique or vintage furniture.

-- "It's always a good idea to copy a good (wood project) idea" author unknown

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