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Forum topic by ChrisLaBudie posted 01-21-2014 06:19 PM 1881 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 1003 days

01-21-2014 06:19 PM

Topic tags/keywords: arts and crafts

I need everyone’s help and advice. I plan on going very far in this field. I am very experienced and well for my age. I am an 18 year old. Currently in high school and I am one of the smartest in our overall shop as what my teacher had told me. I really would like to start my own “garage shop” and get as many costumers and eventually label my own company doing what I love. Does anybody have any advice they can give me in chasing this dream Such as what projects I should start to mass produce? Who would buy them? How I would

16 replies so far

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 1144 days

#1 posted 01-21-2014 06:31 PM

Save as much money as you can now, go to work in other shops for 3 or 4 years to learn more about the industry and other building and operating techniques while studying sales and business at night. The better prepared you are before starting will help.
You will learn what products, how to produce and who buys them by working in other shops. Then you can make your own better opinion on how to move forward. That or stay in school and become a professional..whatever..

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1168 days

#2 posted 01-21-2014 07:38 PM

Stay in school, get a 4 year degree. Focus on business admin and marketing. Once you have that you will have a better shot at understanding how to run a business. That is the first thing you need to do.

Once you have that, start to research what types of woodworking can be profitable, and then choose the product to base your business model on. Trying to male a living cutting wood is a business and nothing more, and not an easy one at that.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

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81 posts in 1031 days

#3 posted 01-21-2014 08:01 PM

+1 Hydro

Get a 4 year degree and specialize in the subject if your interest. On the side you can begin working at home and slowly get good at it.

I will also suggest trying to find someone who can teach and guide you. Having a good teacher is very important.


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Clint Searl

1533 posts in 1778 days

#4 posted 01-21-2014 08:02 PM

First, move to Hollywood, where most of the costumers are.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

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Craftsman on the lake

2504 posts in 2854 days

#5 posted 01-21-2014 08:06 PM

Get a higher degree that is in something worth spending the money on. Make a high salary at that job you get with the degree. Invest wisely. Retire early and make your woodworking hobby into a hobby you have time to work at. Forget about making a living at it. You will either be successful and learn to think of it as just a job or you’ll go broke.

Advice from the only experience I’ve got. Don’t go into education. It’s a nobel and rewarding profession but you won’t be able to support your family that well. And you will find out what not being appreciated is about.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1168 days

#6 posted 01-21-2014 08:18 PM

I’ll add a couple more things. First, I agree with Craftsman above. I have degrees in Secondary Education, Psychology, and Electronics Technology and the only one that has paid the bills is Electronics.

Second, I have worked building custom furniture and been involved with many other woodworkers struggling to make a living. Few have been successful. My professional career has been industrial sales, providing application based solutions in many areas including CNC woodworking work cells. The areas of wood work that I have seen to be profitable are residential and commercial case work (basically cabinets and boxes) store fixtures and architectural millwork. The furniture industry has, for the most part, moved offshore, and the production of piece parts is done by automated equipment, not by hand work.

If you love wood work, get a good education and enjoy it as a hobby.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View Loren's profile


8156 posts in 3064 days

#7 posted 01-21-2014 08:22 PM

Get a job in a cabinet shop. Work as an installer’s helper
if that’s what you can get. You can go to timer framing
school and from there get hired as an itinerant timber
framer assisting self-builders assembling their dream homes.

There’s work out there. The learning curve to get so
you’re good enough at custom woodworking to make
a decent living at it is quite steep… but all businesses
are difficult in their specific ways.

You may not really have the self-starting character to
run your own professional shop, hustle the work and all
that’s required. Many people do not and are better
suited to working as employees.

View ScaleShipWright's profile


253 posts in 1302 days

#8 posted 01-21-2014 08:27 PM

If you want to learn a trade, find a good mentor (scholar or professional), it’s great to have talent, but the way to become a master is long and demanding.

-- God exists... But relax, He's not you!

View RussellAP's profile


3059 posts in 1703 days

#9 posted 01-21-2014 08:28 PM

Although my wife works a conventional job, I have been making more each month that I do this. You need to be able to do most anything that people want from deck building to hanging a flatscreen on the wall. You won’t just fall into the big custom jobs and even if you do, that stuff takes time to build and you really can’t make out by yourself. You need at least one more guy. But the smaller stuff is a breeze to do by yourself.
You won’t get rich, but you’ll love what you do.
Keep all your fingers.

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

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 1356 days

#10 posted 01-21-2014 08:51 PM

Marry Rich.

Get a good education.

Get jobs doing demolition. This is the easy way to see how buildings work or fail.

Use as little debt as possible.

Learning business/contracts etc. So you don’t end up like me suing for $30,000 at the moment.

Never work for family.

View Texcaster's profile


1100 posts in 1090 days

#11 posted 01-21-2014 09:27 PM

Your teacher tells everyone ” you’re one of the best! ”. Keep living with mum for awhile. This is a windup, someone has a new ID.

-- Mama calls me Texcaster but my real name is Mr. Earl.

View Armandhammer's profile


235 posts in 1042 days

#12 posted 01-21-2014 09:36 PM

I’m a cop. I risk my life everyday I go to work. I work weekends and holidays and nights. I’ve had guns and knives pulled on me and I’ve been nearly stuck by dirty needles more times than I want to count. I deal with the worst of society. It’s draining. Sad thing is, I make less than a teacher. Moral of my story, don’t be a cop. Being a teacher would be a much better choice. Of course there’s probably a lot of better choices than that but stay away from criminal justice, unless you are going to law school.

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Craftsman on the lake

2504 posts in 2854 days

#13 posted 01-21-2014 09:45 PM

Armand, I see your point. I had a student teacher who came from law enforcement. He was a local officer for about six years. He decided that going back to college for 4 yrs was worth it considering the danger and hassle he encountered on the police force. And we’re not in a high danger area like some places. He did his internship (student teaching) with me in science in the 8th grade. He was a nice guy. A big age difference between he and I but we became friends. He decided early the next year after he was hired that his nervous system couldn’t take it. He quit just before Christmas. Ironically, he went to work for a carpenter and is doing that to this day I think.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1733 days

#14 posted 01-22-2014 02:29 AM

Since you state you’re serious about this, I’ll assume you intend to overcome all the usual obstacles to break into the trade. Becoming a master woodworker takes many years to achieve and you’ll have to be persistent to stick with it long enough to reach the point of earning a decent living in the field.

Ideally, you’ll want to find a mentor. Someone with good experience running a business who can not only teach you woodworking, but can also inform you about marketing, customer relations and legal matters. The most convenient way to get this is to locate a position working in a small woodshop where you’ll get the chance to speak to the owner or managers on a frequent basis. This will allow you to save up some money while you learn.

The college route of getting a marketing and business degree before launching into woodworking is viable but you’ll want to bear in mind that if you take on debt, you may be forced to drop the idea of becoming a woodworker until you can pay off the debt. Business startups usually don’t provide income for 2-5 years and entry-level woodworking jobs give low wages. It takes time to get a good income in woodworking and being in debt requires making regular payments which are hard to handle with a low income.

Also bear in mind that the most profitable woodworking ventures aren’t furniture-making. There’s a guy on this forum who makes clothespins of all things and based upon my understanding of his recent posts, he’s making better hourly income on his goods than most furniture-makers do with theirs. By all means, make and sell furniture but also consider adding a few product lines to your list of money-making ventures. You’ll want multiple revenue streams.

The most important thing you can do however is to network. You need to know lots of people. These people will be future clients, mentors, industry leaders, suppliers, subcontractors, etc. This is probably the biggest difference between people who survive and those who don’t. This will help you more than any college degree and it will benefit you more than having amazing woodworking skills.

You can’t easily get a job without knowing people (many woodworking facilities never advertise for help), cannot sell furniture if people don’t know you exist and will not know where to find answers to questions if you don’t have people to talk to. Get good at talking to people.

-- See my work at and

View GOOD LUCK TO ALL's profile


418 posts in 1144 days

#15 posted 01-22-2014 09:00 PM

Another suggestion is that when you ask people for help and they try to help you need to give them thanks for helping or they won’t help again. (such as here)
Bridges are hard to build but easy to tear down. Always do anything you can as to not burn a bridge.

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