In 1977 I had my first taste of working wood in my father’s shop, in 1980 I built my first cradle as a gift to my teacher for his new born. In 98 I found Unique Clocks, I built it from the ground up supported 5 children with nothing more than hand tools. In 2004 I finally fell victim to all the marketing hype of efficiency and higher profits through the use of a tablesaw and jointer. I cannot stress enough how frustrating and unnecessary they were. A year later I sold them and returned to the only tools I knew to be truly efficient, my hand saws and planes.
Being in business is not what it’s cracked up to be, working up to 18 hrs a day sometimes until sunrise 7 days a week is not what I would call living the dream despite what some may lead you to believe. Yes if I did resort to using all the machinery available I most probably would’ve worked upto 12 hrs a day, 5 days a week and on occasion a Saturday but it’s not me, I can’t stand the bloody things. Those who work by hand know exactly what I’m referring too.
Going pro takes all the fun and clarity out of woodworking, it’s crazy long hours, you don’t make what you want to make but what the market dictates to you what you should make and none of it makes up for the family time you lose and that’s the most precious gift a man has is his FAMILY. Your kids grow up and you grow old faster than a blink of the eye and you realise this later and you wish you could take it all back but you can’t.
After reading Greg’s post on the wabi sabi and after having given it much thought I have finally come to the decision of slowing down. I’m giving up professional woodworking and going back to being an amatuer hobbyist. I’m not doing this because business is bad on the contrary I’m overworked but just like Clark and Williams said the orders do not justify the pay ratio to the working hours. No one is willing to pay the true labour costs involved so my thanks goes out to Greg for his post.
I’m really excited about this, I will be able to dedicate much time to further explore other areas of woodworking I’ve wanted to before but never had the time to do like carving and marquetry. I will be able to devote my time to my family and my craft without compromises. I can do things around the home without having to pay someone to do it. I can work normal hours and actually get paid for it, I can live a normal life. To me that’s what living is.
Does this mean I will stop making and selling clocks or furniture or tools? No but I will build without time constraints, without having to worry about labour costs. Whatever I make and decide to sell will finance my hobby or go to charity or both.
Today I started cleaning up the shop, I’m trying to turn it from a dust filled cluttered workshop into a pristine clean true hobbyist shop. Tomorrow I will service my wife’s car something I haven’t done in a long time, I’ll take my youngest son to the park and finish off the day tinkering around in the shop again. I have a lot reorganising to do so I need to give it much thought on how to regain much of the shop’s space again. I’m really looking forward in starting the build of a new work bench, it’s going to be around 2m long with a tail vice. I have plans on building a decent sharpening station and a new tool cabinet. I also want to build a kerfing plane and a frame saw so I can get rid of my bandsaw which I’ve only ever used for resawing. So who cares how long it takes to resaw a board, I’ll have all the time in the world. Who cares if a project takes me months on end to build, it just means it will be longer till my next purchase of lumber. This also means I can actually devote more time to my journal for the next generation of woodworkers (my future grandkids), I need a new bookshelf, I want to build 18th century furniture with ball and claw feet all this is now possible for me to do as it never was before.
I don’t know what the future holds and I really don’t care well maybe to some degree I do but what I do know is that people will continue to spend more money in places like Ikea, super amart, kmart, target etc on their throw away items than they would of on any handcrafted item and the loss is theirs not mine.
Thanks for taking the time in reading my blog. I hope you don’t think this is the end of it all a new journey has just begun and it’s going to be one hell of a ride. I’ll be posting the final videos as soon as I can I still have the final back orders to finish and then I’m free as the song say’s to do what I want any old time.