I thought I retired

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Blog entry by WoodenDreams posted 09-10-2018 07:36 PM 1094 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

My wife and I were looking for a Toy Box for our grandchildren, but couldn’t find anything with the quality we were looking for. So we settled on plastic totes. I retired in 2016 and started a woodworking shop as a hobby with quality in mind. This turned into a overblown hobby. January 2017 this turned into a business. I Build to order Hope, Cedar and Toy Chests. I also take on Restoration & Specialty projects. I have on display a Hope Chest in a store that they take orders on, and I ship direct to their customers. I’ve gone to three Craft Shows and displayed my work showing the detail and quality workmanship. A lady at church said I should also make Wooden Urns. So I added to my line two styles for adults, with choice of wood (Hickory, Red Oak, Mahogany, and Poplar) and one style for pets. I now supply several funeral homes with my Memorial Boxes. I’ve been asked by a couple funeral homes to built caskets. I thought about it, but told them I don’t have the space to build them at this time. I’ve had to turn down work from home improvement contractors and a store that wanted my products & services. I thought I retired to get out of the rat race. Been so busy I had to limit my work week to about 20 hours to get my life back. And have to tell my customers that I have a 4 to 5 month waiting list. I’m finishing today a 21” Lazy Susan for a client. I currently as of today have in my care 6 restoration projects for clients, prepaid orders for 2 Hope Chests, 2 Cedar Chests, 12 Memorial Boxes, and a lists of clients that want Specialty projects done. There is a market for quality workmanship. I use NO plywood or MDF board. and I use NO screws, nails or staples (except for screws to attach hinges or hardware). And I thought I retired.

5 comments so far

View Oldtool's profile


2955 posts in 2959 days

#1 posted 09-10-2018 09:26 PM


I fully understand your pain, I too have experienced the same overwelming demand on my woodworking, especially due to the fact that I’m “retired and have plenty of time on my hands”. (Not my words)

I retired in 2011, looking forward to my expected free time to persue what had become a relaxing hobby for me. I started woodworking in 2003 as a means of relaxing after the problems of the day’s work. During that time I read every woodworking magazine I could get my hands on to learn as much as possible, while I made a couple projects that we needed in our house. I pretty much decided I want to make some American Period Furniture, mostly Queen Ann is my desire, but since retirement I’ve received one request after another.

While my requests are very frequent & keep me out of the slow hobby mode of woodworking as your business requests do, at least you get paid for your work, all my requests to date are from family members.

I don’t mind though, I’m always glad to help family, and occassionally I do get paid – with a good bottle of Scotch.

So my advise would be, as long as your business woodworking is still fun, do it. Once it becomes a business that becomes demanding on your time and causes you to consider giving up woodworking, give up the business and continue to have fun in the shop doing what you like.

Good luck,

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4094 posts in 3878 days

#2 posted 09-11-2018 12:32 AM

I feel your pain. While I don’t build anything for people (much), I’m now doing all the things that I put off until I retired. Just finished a new block wall in the front of the property. Now that I’m old (65), my hands and back aren’t what they used to be, so one of my sons did most of the work. I can’t even run a shovel, now. :( I used to be able to pick up a Chevy small block short block and put it in the back of a truck, all by myself. That is, I’m sure, why my back is so bad, now, lol. Now, I can’t even pick up one of the heads. I’m happy for you that you’re able to do these things you do, but maybe you need someone to help you learn how to say “no”.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View ShopCat's profile


121 posts in 4348 days

#3 posted 11-03-2019 03:39 AM

Been there, still doing that. It gets worse. At one point I thought about getting a regular job so I could go back to having vacations. Been cold here, my shop is unheated. It has an outside vented dust collection system in its own shed, but inside I have a 500w space heater. The net result of single digits is the backlog grows, because you can’t glue. That plus the kitchen has an increasing number of finishing solution bottles that I don’t want to freeze. That in turn generates inquiries on why all this stuff isn’t in the shop. But it sure as hell is more satisfying than working with Oracle.

-- ShopCat

View WoodenDreams's profile


1065 posts in 680 days

#4 posted 11-04-2019 03:45 AM

Living in South Dakota I understand the cold, issues of keeping the glues, stains, finish products and yourself from freezing. Was looking for a shop area to rent or build a garage. To save cost my wife allowed me to convert the basement. So my shop is in our basement. Started with a 14×14 space and a 8×10 walk in closet used as a storage space for tools, hardware, and finishing products. I soon took over another 8×20 area of the basement for assembly, gluing and finishing.

Still too busy. Over a year ago I backed down my shop time to 20 hrs a week and finally got within a month behind on work. Started taking more orders and quickly got six months behind. Even though I stopped taking orders, customers still call with orders and drop off their projects for restoration (with no promises, I’ll get to it when I get to it stipulation). Just finished another Pet Urn and desk restoration. Now working on a hope chest. I now have nine restoration projects in possession to do and six orders to make thing for customers, not counting doing the mallet swap. I’m currently three months behind. The blessing is not the amount of work I have, but working on the projects when I want to. The rat race is still knocking on my door, But I’m controlling the time factor.

Recently my wife and several friends told me to learn how to say no. Get caught up and take a month off from my shop. But Had a chat today with another friend on getting stuff made for a upcoming April sales event. Life goes on.

View ShopCat's profile


121 posts in 4348 days

#5 posted 11-08-2019 01:55 AM

Ah yes, Restorations. That’s its own special world. I don’t say No, now I just tell them to hang on to it until I give them a call. My total working shop space is officially 15×15 so I truly don’t have room. When I do a restoration the Honda goes out on the driveway, and my wife drives the Honda.

A female friend has spent the last 20 years or so going to estate auctions. She accumulates. She has a friend/confidante/competitor who also accumulates. I have managed to dodge and evade for the last year, but they are both very determined women.

It can be very interesting work, but my shop is not a restoration shop, it’s a carpenter->cabinet maker->casual restorer->wanna be furniture maker->boxes seem like they could be interesting shop. A lot of the neighborhood kitchens have dovetailed Baltic Birch kitchen drawers from my shop. I never intended to do that, but I did it for our house, then I did some for her sister, then they showed them to someone. I already owned the Porter PC690 router and the dovetail jig. That went on for at least a year. Dust collection on that 690 router and jig is lousy by the way.

-- ShopCat

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