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Forum topic by Kingchristo posted 02-19-2017 11:07 PM 950 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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35 posts in 3143 days

02-19-2017 11:07 PM

Hi guys I really feel frustrated at the moment. Ive been doing woodwork as a hobby and escape from my it job for 10 years now. I recently lost my job because I have bipolar and now wood and metal work keep me well. I would love to do this as a full time thing but have no idea where or how to progress. Woodworking is expensive here in the uk and I see that alot of people won’t pay for the time and effort put into work. Any help would be great.

9 replies so far

View JAAune's profile


1891 posts in 3232 days

#1 posted 02-19-2017 11:28 PM

This question of yours covers so much ground a simple answer is impossible. I’ll suggest reading a single book first to set a foundation before deciding how to proceed.

Lean Thinking

Pay close attention to the definition of “value” as that’s the core aspect of any business. Value is what the customer wants and will pay for. Once you condition your mind to think along this line, you’ll be able to spy out opportunities to tap into under-served markets. Once you know your market, you’ll know what resources you need to cater to it.

People will definitely pay for the time and effort that goes into woodworking but only if you are both good and fast. If your work isn’t better or cheaper than similar products on the marketplace, why would anyone buy from you? Also, just because you think something is better doesn’t mean that the customer thinks the same way you do. Remember, clients are seldom interested in technicalities like dovetailed joinery but they do want drawers that don’t fall apart with use. Woodworkers think, “dovetails = good” but clients think, “intact drawer = good” and it’s important to remember that distinction.

-- See my work at

View Woodknack's profile


13522 posts in 3296 days

#2 posted 02-20-2017 12:55 AM

Back about 20 years ago I considered going into business as a woodworker so I talked it over with someone who now runs a woodworking school but back then was making custom pieces. He told me the reason he writes for magazines is it’s steadier income and that he was thinking of opening a school. He gave a bleak picture. I tried it anyway but quickly decided it wasn’t for me. My only advice is don’t try to be a generalist. Find some niche that interests you and focus on that.

-- Rick M,

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Jim Finn

2858 posts in 3837 days

#3 posted 02-20-2017 01:07 AM

Are there not apprenticeships there in the UK? We have them in the US and that is the way to earn a good living wile working with your hands.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Lubbock Texas

View Kelly's profile (online now)


3161 posts in 3860 days

#4 posted 02-20-2017 05:32 AM

I’ve made a good living from woodwork, but only because I did not limit myself to it. I did that by going the handyman route. I didn’t just grab a bunch of yellow, cordless tools and hang a shingle. I can tackle a little of this and that, then some more.

My shop was equipped with: a cabinet, band and miter and scroll saw; a spindle, 48” drum disk, 89” edge and a spindle sander, as well as belt and pad sanders; a drill press; a small lathe (a new addition); pressure washer (a serious one); an airless, four stage HVLP and conversion and an airbrush; vacuums; grinders (variable speed, so it could be used on granite and so on, which required a slower speed); polishers (automotive, granite, etc.; irons (for steaming wood to remove dents); ladders (step and extension); misc. paint equip. (extension handles, tape machines; . . . .

These things allowed me to do what other guys couldn’t, such as make letters, build shelves, repair a window frame, pressure wash a sidewalk, roof, drive or house exterior.

These things allowed me to survive when other guys couldn’t because they were limited in what they could do.

Food for thought, and keep in mind, I didn’t rush out and buy the things mentioned [and hundreds of other items for thousands of dollars] all at once. After getting the major tools, I added to the tool collection as I needed tools. A pipe clamp here, a Fein Multitool there. . . .

View Kingchristo's profile


35 posts in 3143 days

#5 posted 02-20-2017 12:39 PM

Thanks guys for your reply. I do try to learn as much as I can and love the challenge of learning something new. I enjoy making industrial furniture with steel and old wood and max making, sign making and turning. I have just finished making a bunk bed draws and stairs. I also have to think about the fact that I’m supporting my children and wife so that makes it scary to

View Kirk650's profile


680 posts in 1664 days

#6 posted 02-20-2017 06:27 PM

All I can add is to suggest that you tailor your products to actual demand. Years ago, while driving the wife around on a shopping trip, I found a woodworker’s shop and showroom. He had magnificent furniture, beautifully made, and very expensive. We chatted for a while about woodworking. A year or so later, I happened to be in that same area, so I visited the shop again. What he had for sale was far different this time. He had what I’ll call ‘rustic’ furniture, with tables made from reclaimed doors, and everything appeared to be distressed – dents, discolorations, mismatched paint, and such as that. Naturally, I asked him why he had changed to this type of production. He said that people were buying the rustic stuff eagerly, but had rarely bought the ‘good stuff’ that he had been making.

View Madmark2's profile


1815 posts in 1504 days

#7 posted 02-20-2017 06:50 PM

You can try to compete for jobs on lowest price or highest quality. The are three components to any job: cost, time, and quality. The customer can pick any two. Never promise to control all three!

Lowballing to win jobs will kill you when you windup spending more than you get for the jobs. You can’t make up for bad pricing on volume.

There is always a market for high quality work. Occupy that niche and you’ll do well.


-- The hump with the stump and the pump!

View Kelly's profile (online now)


3161 posts in 3860 days

#8 posted 02-20-2017 07:17 PM

Elaborating on what M said, if you get all your bids, you’re bidding too low. Of course, if you don’t have any work, you’re too high. That said, as you get swamped, you can raise your prices.

View Lazyman's profile


5947 posts in 2303 days

#9 posted 02-20-2017 09:41 PM

Have you thought about trying to find a job doing the same sort of work that makes you happy for someone else. This might be good way to learn the the trade while you support your family and if the work helps keep you well, twice the reward. Once you have the experience, you can step out on your own.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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