Can you be a full time professional Woodworker?

You love woodworking! Your basement or garage has been transformed.  It’s no longer a place to park the car, or the lower dungeon of the home. It’s now your workshop. Your  most beloved place on earth.

For those of us who do woodworking I don’t have to describe the feeling it gives us. The inner peace of creating something useful and beautiful from something that was basic and rustic gives us a real sense of accomplishment. Man is meant to use his hands! And we as woodworkers do just that.

You might love woodworking so much you might be considering becoming a full time woodworker yourself? I know this feeling all too well. I was the same way. But before you quit your day job and become one, let me ask you some questions that I learned over my 15 years of being a full time professional woodworker.

The following 5 questions will help you determine if you CAN be a full time professional woodworker. (To answer these you must be honest with yourself)

1. Are you a self motivated, self disciplined individual?

Most people get up and go to work on time because they know if they are late, or fail to show, severe reprimand will be taken against them. Which ultimately means, the loss of money. But if there is no time clock, no boss watching over us, could we still get up on time?

Even if you love what you do, you’ll still become tired. It takes a strong individual to everyday get up and get in the shop knowing that the computer, tv, x-box is just steps away. No one would punish you for taking the afternoon off. You have become your own worst nightmare, you are the boss of yourself.

2. Do you save your money?

Being self-employed means never really knowing when or where the next job will come from. Sometimes you might be so busy you think you’ll need to hire help. This takes money. Money that you’ll have to have saved to be able to pay for that employee. Or, work might slow down, and you’ll need to have money saved to make the mortgage payments. All in all, a big paycheck isn’t a reason to celebrate.

3. Do you worry about when your next paycheck will come?

As mentioned, sometimes paycheck are stretched out. Friday doesn’t mean payday anymore.

Over the years I’ve learned the cycles of my busy and slow seasons in the region where i live. This helps in being able to predict income and workloads. But even after 15 years, things can surprise me. I can be booked out for months or work from day to day. Don’t panic if the phone doesn’t ring. It takes steady nerves to wait it out.

4. Can you work alone?

Unlike an office where you might greet several people walking to your desk, there is no one to welcome you as a woodworker. There are no coffee breaks to share your weekend activities with. There is no one to bounce ideas off of when you come to a difficult step. It’s you and you alone. From morning to night you might not even utter a single word out loud. A woodworker must be comfortable with being alone.

5. What’s your skill level?

As woodworkers it’s safe to say, we all are learning everyday. From a tip video on youtube, to seeing a new photo on Facebook. These can inspire us or give us some new info. But to be a professional woodworker you have to really push yourself to learn more. Sometimes it’s learning as you go. This can prove to be successful, or result in numerous trials and errors. That lesson costs time, material, and money. And learning those lessons can’t be billed to the customer.

If you have answered honestly to the following questions, and still want to continue, than you CAN be a fulltime professional woodworker. In my following blog “SHOULD you be a full time professional woodworker?” I will cover the steps you need to consider for establishing yourself in this line of work. Stay tuned.

Oh and make sure you can dance. Customers love that. 🙂