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8 thoughts on “AW #018 – Woodworking for a Living?

  1. I want to spend a moment and thank you for your soliloquy or thought experiment here. It is definitely food for thought on many levels for me and our culture as a greater whiole. I had the luxury of having had wood shop in junior high and uncles who were carpenters, cabinet makers or friends in the building trades. And now my father in law in his retirement. It in indeed a shame to see our schools abandon teaching anything not book-taught. Your revelation about story being a value add is so powerful to not only woodworking, but our culture as a larger theme. I hoe someday, you can perhaps write a screenplay about the homeless craftsmen and turn that story into something visual…visceral for more to experience, celebrate and who knows? Start a movement. Thank you again, Dean’o

  2. Hi Leh,

    I’ve been really enjoying your podcast. I work in hi-tech and woodwork for fun (build a separate ship building about 3 years ago). I’ve been thinking about moving to a business situation with woodworking over the next few years. I’m not in a hurry, but deliberate.

    You brought up the point of not knowing how much of an interview you did to edit down to “good podcast quality”. The podcast OnBeing, does both. They create an edited show, and they also post the “raw” interview for those who are interested in more, setting the expectation its a rougher and more comprehensive version. Just an idea – take it for what its worth.

    Best regards,
    Troy

  3. I worked at Costco for 8 years. Costco is a great company, but I hit a point I was no longer moving up and I was not personally satisfied. I had joined Costco straight out of the army and I had no skills or college outside of these 2 experiences.

    I quit Costco cold turkey, I just gave my 2 weeks and left. I couldn’t take working there another day. I had no skills but started working as a handy man. I bought some cheap tools and tool belt from Kmart and some home repair books and read them – INHALED THEM.

    Talking to a contractor, he was impressed with my moxie and took me under his wing and I worked as a sub under him for 1-1/2 yrs.

    During my remodel experience, I noticed that I had ideas that were actually better than most of the designers and I liked working on old homes. Custom trim needed to be made to match the historical trim and duplicate/repair old doors and windows, etc.

    I started doing research on old homes and designs. I came across these craftsmen that were doing new interpretations of historical designs, they were doing fine woodworking which I did not even know existed. In 2004 I designed and built my first table that I considered a piece of “fine furniture.” I built it for my wife and we still have it here in the house.

    In 2007 I became a juried artist in the Western Design Conference. That first table was even part of the portfolio that was judged to enter the WDC.

    My coworkers at Costco told me I was crazy to leave work with the great paycheck and sweet benefits. Today, I can definitely say that since I left Costco, I have made less money than if I had stayed. But since then, I have fed my soul by taking charge of my own life and making a living with my hands.

    When I left Costco, I never would have guessed that I would become a juried woodworking artist, in a show that receives applicants from all over the nation, would have shown in museum settings, or been published in woodworking magazines.

    Can you make a living by tossing it all to the wind and becoming a professional woodworker? Yes, but it you have to understand it is a business and make strong business decisions. You may fail, that is the risk. But I will say that starvation is a motivator and the pressure will pull more out of you than you ever imagined. Or it may crush you, it pretty much does one or the other.

    I have called myself a designer/craftsman because I realized that to sell my work, it was pointless to rely on on architects and designers, so I have always stuck to being the contractor that designs and builds all of the custom projects. I sell them myself and this is how I get my opportunities.

    I am well connected in the trades, craftsman, and artist communities. But none of this happened overnight. It simply has been a lot of hard work.

    Before the recession hit I had a couple of good years, I saved my money with a plan to build a bigger shop. The economy crashed and I bled out all of the money I saved but I did not go out of business and I did not lose my property. I am still here and kicking’ it. It is risk. I take it. And I have never regretted leaving my good paying job with full benefits at Costco. I am challenged every day, and I rise to it – every day.

    Your friend in the shop-

    Todd A. Clippinger
    http://www.AmericanCraftsmanWorkshop.com

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