Going Pro....


Dave F

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well, i do woodworking because I like it very much, but I also charge for the things I make, but i'm not 100% into it since I'm in college. So, I don't know if that's pro just because I'm actually living of it, and I like to consider myself a pro because I think that the word PRO means a lot more, like very high skills, big shop, I don't know. But I do want to get a bigger shop and maybe hire some woodworkers so I can lean my business to something more comercial, with quality always in mind of course.

just my thought.

Walter

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I like to consider myself a pro because I think that the word PRO means a lot more, like very high skills, big shop, I don't know.

Well that's a very good point, Walter. What does the term "Pro" mean? Is it different for everyone, or are there standards to go buy?

Maybe that should be a first topic here. Wanna start the thread?

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Walter, from what I've seen, being a "pro" woodworker has little to do with the size of the shop or a huge amount of tools. Lately, there tends to be a trend in the custom realm toward "the little guy". Check out Tom Fidgen. He's all hand tools. NICE hand tools, but works in a very small space and produces very excellent pieces.

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Walter, from what I've seen, being a "pro" woodworker has little to do with the size of the shop or a huge amount of tools. Lately, there tends to be a trend in the custom realm toward "the little guy". Check out Tom Fidgen. He's all hand tools. NICE hand tools, but works in a very small space and produces very excellent pieces.

I agree, big shop and lots of tools does not equal pro. Skills, reputation, consistent client base and the ability to make an income from your work is what people look at.

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Yes, I agree but I did have the concept of the big shop and high skills, I think that I had that in mind because many of the woodworkers i've seen videos of, have like a lot of tools and high skills. Thanks for pointing that out, it gives me some kind of peace haha.

And BTW, I didn't mean "I like to consider myself a pro", I meant, "I DON'T like to consider myself a pro", I don't think I have that kind of skills yet, I forgot to put the word DON'T. sorry!

Walter

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Yes, I agree but I did have the concept of the big shop and high skills, I think that I had that in mind because many of the woodworkers i've seen videos of, have like a lot of tools and high skills. Thanks for pointing that out, it gives me some kind of peace haha.

And BTW, I didn't mean "I like to consider myself a pro", I meant, "I DON'T like to consider myself a pro", I don't think I have that kind of skills yet, I forgot to put the word DON'T. sorry!

Walter

Your on the right track. Skills will come as you move forward. Also remember that a skilled woodworker can do more with less tools than a woodworker with less skills and more tools. For example James Krenov, not a woodworker with a large shop or many machines yet is work has inspired so many. True, you will need a larger shop and more tools if you are looking to get more involved with cabinets, mill work, entertainment centers etc. Work on developing your skills and the rest will follow. What direction are you looking to move in with your woodworking?

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. What direction are you looking to move in with your woodworking?

Well, that's good question, since I like doing pretty much everything except turning and carving it would be a tough deicision. What I know is that I like to build contemporary and modern furniture, so that's a start. With that said I once considered making kitchens because it's pretty fast because most of this type of kitchens are made with european style cabinets and they are pretty fast, but here in mexico, most of the houses are built with concrete and brick so I NEVER get any close to a 90° corner or a bump-free wall so they are very hard to get installed. So I don't really want to mess with all that problems so I'm thinking of just furniture where I don't have to do any installation such as: Bedroom furniture, cribs, coffee tables, end tables, entertaiment centers, etc. That kind of stuff is what I enjoy the most because I don't have to be thinking how i'm going to install it and such.

Actually today I started working on a staircase, a client wanted me to cover all the steps with oak but it has 9 flying steps, and I can't sleep thinking if I will be able to do it, but I'm sure I'll manage to do it, i mean, I have to haha. And I didn't rejected it because it's a big challenge, I need the money and i'm not the kind of guy that won't take challenges because I gain experience while i'm doing it.

Walter

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Well, that's good question, since I like doing pretty much everything except turning and carving it would be a tough deicision. What I know is that I like to build contemporary and modern furniture, so that's a start. With that said I once considered making kitchens because it's pretty fast because most of this type of kitchens are made with european style cabinets and they are pretty fast, but here in mexico, most of the houses are built with concrete and brick so I NEVER get any close to a 90° corner or a bump-free wall so they are very hard to get installed. So I don't really want to mess with all that problems so I'm thinking of just furniture where I don't have to do any installation such as: Bedroom furniture, cribs, coffee tables, end tables, entertaiment centers, etc. That kind of stuff is what I enjoy the most because I don't have to be thinking how i'm going to install it and such.

Actually today I started working on a staircase, a client wanted me to cover all the steps with oak but it has 9 flying steps, and I can't sleep thinking if I will be able to do it, but I'm sure I'll manage to do it, i mean, I have to haha. And I didn't rejected it because it's a big challenge, I need the money and i'm not the kind of guy that won't take challenges because I gain experience while i'm doing it.

Walter

The type of work you want to get involved with does not require large space with many tools so that is a good thing. Make a few pieces take some photos and maybe start selling on places like Etsy. Show friends and family your work and mention to clients what you are working on. The more people that know of or see your work the better. Maybe start a blog, also post photos of your work here in the gallery section and gallery sections of other forums. Along with woodworking skills marketing skills are also important in the pursuit of being a full time furniture maker. A great magazine to start reading is Woodshop News. Each month they do an article or two on woodworkers who have turned pro and how they got there. Some have small shops some large so you can learn from both ends of the spectrum. Always carry your business cards with you. You never know when you will meet a potential client.

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Thanks for your good adive, i'll be sure to check out that magazine. I'm thinking I should print all my projects and make an album of what i've done, so I can show it to people. Because all my clientes are friends of friends and family members, but they actually call me because I sell them at a good price, but when pricy stuff comes up, they usually want it very cheap and maybe, because of my age, they kind of hesitate because they might think they'll waste a good amount of money on crappy furniture. So that said, at the same time I go meet them so they can tell me what they want I could show them my work so they would be more confident if they want me to do that stuff or not.

Thanks, BTW, I'm guessing you do this for a living right? you seem like you know about this subject.

Walter

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Thanks for your good adive, i'll be sure to check out that magazine. I'm thinking I should print all my projects and make an album of what i've done, so I can show it to people. Because all my clientes are friends of friends and family members, but they actually call me because I sell them at a good price, but when pricy stuff comes up, they usually want it very cheap and maybe, because of my age, they kind of hesitate because they might think they'll waste a good amount of money on crappy furniture. So that said, at the same time I go meet them so they can tell me what they want I could show them my work so they would be more confident if they want me to do that stuff or not.

Thanks, BTW, I'm guessing you do this for a living right? you seem like you know about this subject.

Walter

Hi Walter

Yes, I've been self employed for about 20 yr's now. Not all of those years have been as a furniture maker, I started out as a carpenter & sub contractor. The last 10 - 12 yr's or so have been cabinets and now furniture full time. My past carpentry clients have followed me and are now furniture clients. I actually started woodworking with my grandfather, from there I took shop classes from 7th grade on through high school.

It's is a good idea to keep a photo journal of your work, even if it's a small project. It's ok to give family and friends good pricing but be careful, if you don't put a fair value on your skills they may not either. Sometimes low pricing may give the impression of low quality or little experience. As your skills improve adjust your pricing. Family and friends should understand and support your ambition and find your pricing very fair.

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Hey Dale,

It's great to see you and your wisdom here. We are fortunate.

Hi Adam

It's great to see you here as well. I love talking / writing about this topic. I have many friends like us who are self employed either as woodworkers, carpenters or artists. We all learn from each other. Being in my mid forties I have plenty of stories and lessons learned to share, personal and from others. Along with a list of what to do there is a list of what not to do we can discuss. Perhaps a new thread?

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I'm definitely game for a thread of what not to do as well. This whole thread has been very interesting as, unplanned as it was, I am doing more and more projects for people in my neighborhood. What's bad is that I recently drew up plans for 4 tables I want to make and sell through a gallery just to test the waters, but these neighborhood projects are easy and fast in a too hot garage; once it cools down, my projects... and weather that is conducive to quality (!?) work.

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