A Strategy for Woodworking #47: Worth Doing Well

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Blog entry by Gary Rogowski posted 04-20-2015 04:51 PM 1507 reads 1 time favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 46: Chisels at the Bench Part 47 of A Strategy for Woodworking series Part 48: My Transmutable Bench »

I heard a poet speak last night about doing good work. I was immediately intrigued by the parallels to our work at the bench. He said that doing it was worth it because it was hard. It was hard to do good work. Nothing good comes easy. If you’ve ever tried to write you know how hard good can be.

The same thing is true for our work at the bench. It’s easy to drop your standards. Here’s a note from a maker struggling with this issue:

Recently I watched the video featuring you and your beliefs on woodworking. I share some of your feelings about woodworking. I don’t quite feel that I prefer the days of the 19th century but I do feel that technologically speaking, we have reached a point in the industry where there is nothing to be gained.

Our current dependency on technology, in work and in life, is destroying the most valuable relationships we have. There are fewer and fewer opportunities to be intimately involved in the building process and experience the rewards that come with it. Not many clients are willing to, or can afford to pay for hand built pieces anymore. In fact very few people are even informed enough to appreciate the workmanship. I work as a cabinetmaker and it is tough to get independent work consistently. Primarily now I have to make my living installing kitchens for large manufacturer’s. These kitchens are produced by CNC. From a logical standpoint you would think that this improves the accuracy of the product but it is the furthest thing from the truth. Consistently the cabinets are of poor quality. I simply can’t compete against the prices of these other manufacturers. The times that I do get to produce my own cabinets, are very fulfilling and remind me of the enjoyment I get from building.

It was nice to hear from another woodworker who still enjoys the process. RW

My reply:

I hear you. Your goal has to be to let people know what quality is and You can produce it. You show the difference between a CNC box and one of yours. The key is marketing unfortunately. Not what you are probably good at. But it’s the key to your survival as a professional woodworker. Get an article in your local paper, do blog posts, have open studio tours so people can understand your process. Photographs of work both completed and in process. Folks have to learn to appreciate quality. And unfortunately you have to sell them this. It’s more than a piece of furniture that you’re selling. It’s a piece of quality. Good luck to you.

Northwest Woodworking Studio

-- Gary Rogowski...follow my podcast at and twitter @garyrogowski

3 comments so far

View Andre's profile


3734 posts in 2682 days

#1 posted 04-20-2015 05:11 PM

So sad, but all so true.

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View DocSavage45's profile


9019 posts in 3719 days

#2 posted 04-20-2015 05:34 PM


It is great to inspire people who have been discouraged. Part of keeping it going is passion, desire, and creative joy. The other part is survival if this is your path. Skill and craftsmanship also play an important role.

Have had several conversations with well known artists and craftsmen. The product and the person are two factors a customer who will spend significant bucks seeks. The middle class has less disposable income and many places to spend it? I figured out too late, that tools and space cost money? LOL!

To me it seems woodworking as a means of creative satisfaction is on the rise. There are many more stars of woodworking than the days when you did your first DVD’s for Tauton, who are clear in their ability to guide us. Technology has been inspiring and educating. We have to know how to adapt, which is how we survive? If we do not adapt????

Where am I going with this ramble? LOL!

I’m on a learning path. Your words often ring true when I see them. Keep giving hope and knowledge while shaping skills!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View Schwieb's profile


1911 posts in 4338 days

#3 posted 04-21-2015 10:24 AM

This is the basic reason why I chose not to do woodworking as a career but as a hobby that I truly love. I pursued a professional career that would pay a better per hour rate and traded that for time to make things. The folks that really appreciate and will pay for the high quality work they admire and we like to make are very few and far between. Yes, you can try to educate the public and they see the difference but coming up with the money for the difference rarely happens.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

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