Becoming a pro woodworking, The ramblings of a 30 year pro woodworker

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by a1Jim posted 02-23-2019 07:03 PM 899 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

So you want to become a professional woodworker, well your not alone who hasn’t thought of making great masterpieces and being known as anther Sam Maloof, James Krenov Charles Neil, of woodworking, perhaps making items for the white house or movie stars?
First off wanting to make a living in woodworking is a bit like when your a teenager planning on being a rock star not impossible but the odds are against you. Why? Because 80% of people who own a table saw and a pocket screw jig in their garage wants the same thing to make a living as a glorious woodworker.
A very big problem is that there are many people who make products and sell them for less than what they pay for material. Of course, this is impossible to compete with.
So how do those who succeed as pro woodworkers succeed? It takes a combination of things to make a living in woodworking. First, you need to be able to survive financially for 1 to 5 years without making a profit plus having funds to buy tools and equipment, and a space to work in. This part of the equation may mean you starting off part-time or having a day job or your spouse is working and is willing to cover your lives and business expenses or are you willing an able to take the risk to take out good size loan for your new business. Assuming you can manage the financial end of this new venture then there are are other issues, Issues like: does the place you’re going to work in is zoned properly for a woodworking business? Does it have adequate power to run the machines you need, (just a table saw with enough power for a woodworking business will need 220 power by itself), is it large enough to hold the equipment you will need? Does it have enough light, heat, cooling? How about a bathroom? Do you need a permit or license to do what your planning on doing?
Let’s assume you have all that covered then next major factors you have to consider is are you knowledgeable and talented enough in the woodworking.
Have you run a business before? Do you know what it takes to make it all work? Many people recommend a 5 years plan? Will you know how and where to acquire accounts to purchase your, wood, tools and supplies? Is your credit good enough to buy on credit? Where will you advertise your new business and can you afford the cost in your budget? Oh what about a budget do you have one or know how to make one or keep books for bookkeeping? How about insurance or employees? How about a phone, is there someone who can answer it when you’re running loud equipment? Do you have a vehicle that can haul the long pieces of wood or finished projects with?

Now back to where we should have started with two important issues. Is there a market in your area for another pro woodworker or aspiring pro woodworker and do you have a product that not everyone is making that the public can’t live without that will be profitable?

We have covered a lot of tough subjects and questions.
After reading through that list of questions are you saying “ but I can fill in the blank to fix that” to a lot of the questions then perhaps your not going to let any of those items stop you, then you may have enough drive to be a success in spite of any or all of the areas I’ve covered.

Just think of the top five woodworkers you know that you have seen on TV, in magazines or online, all of them are doing one or all of the following, teaching in person, teaching online, writing books, all to supplement their income. This is true of all of the most amazing woodworkers I can think of in spite of their great an amazing talent and masterpieces they make.

I still will tell you what I tell my students that want to go into the woodworking business “don’t quit your day job” and unless you must absolutely try woodworking as a business,
”don’t wreck a most wonderful hobby by going into the woodworking business”.


3 comments so far

View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4088 days

#1 posted 02-23-2019 08:12 PM


Interesting post. I would add that It depends on the type and or style of your work. I have had conversations with some of the Masters ( a few are my friends) and I’ve learned about their experiences in the field they occupy. I had delusions about this same topic.
James Kenov and Charles Neil being my first mentors. I quit my day job in a mental health center and decided I would do this . Asked local wood working businesses if I could be a gopher/worker. Many of the responses were insurance problems. I did get a day of enlightenment from one of them who already had a talented assistant. He was challenging in a non confrontational manner. I’d bring up an idea and he showed me an example of it that he didn’t get results from.

I didn’t quit my day job as a psychologist and built my shop and acquired tools. Selling some of them now as I never used them. I’m fortunate in being able to survive but I need to get my butt in gear.

Now it’s making the idea come to life, for my family and having a prototype to sell.

By the way… The high end galleries in the Hampton’s that sold my heroes work have had to close their doors.

Life is different now.

Thanks for bringing up the topic.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View a1Jim's profile


118258 posts in 4823 days

#2 posted 02-23-2019 08:24 PM

Hi Tom
I hope everything does swimmingly with your shop and prototype, I’d keep that under wraps if I were you otherwise half the universe will be making it if it’s truly something new and unique. Yes, things are different all but a few baby boomers are not the driving force in the wood furniture market that use to want highly finished works of furniture art, but now for the most part, its the younger set wanting barn wood creations mostly put together with pocket screws.


View DocSavage45's profile


9069 posts in 4088 days

#3 posted 02-23-2019 09:27 PM

Appears you have posted more than one time? LOL!

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics