When I first decided that I might want to be a professional woodworker I went to a million woodworking forums to see what people generally felt about switching careers to woodworking. I thought I would post some quotes from responses I read at forums for anyone else who might be in the same position as me. These are a mix of people who want their own business and people who just wanted to work for wood shops.
Ultimately, I feel that anyone should go for their dreams but be smart about it. Things don't just happen overnight. And you don't have to reinvent the wheel either. Companies will spend billions of dollars in the research and development sectors. If you're trying to do something that you don't know much about then the first step is to admit it and do the research and learn everything you can about it. Also, you have to be patient and motivated. I'm still figuring it all out as I go so we'll see if I can turn this dream into reality.
"Somebody will always do it cheaper than you will, and most people are driven by price. I've gone from a team of 6 to working by myself and still can't do enough to pay the bills unless I work 80 hours a week and my 50 year old body won't allow that anymore. So I'm working to get into construction management or something like that where somebody else is responsible for payroll and all those headaches that make the cabinet business much less fun than just building cabinets. " - contributor from woodweb.com
"I've been in the business about 10 years after leaving government at 30. Many days I wonder what I was smoking... No pension, ridiculously low income, fixing mistakes, etc. I have a good market and lots of business, but with average margins, all it takes is one employee's mistake, or my own mistake, and all profit is gone. We do a lot of what I consider beautiful work, but as I get older, the need to make money is taking over." - contributor from woodweb.com
"Bad time... worst market... no health insurance... no retirement." - contributor from woodweb.com
"This is the largest hobby in the US (and Canada?), so there are literally millions that have that dream of telling the digit boss to cram it, buying some flannel shirts, and walking off into the haze of a woodshop to be that guy they always wanted to be. I think it is just a daydream, a fantasy, to be out in the dust and noise and slam and bam of a woodshop as compared to clicking keyboards and electrons racing around flipping digits. Indulge that fantasy and what will be the next? " - contributor from woodweb.com
"I'm almost 60 and it's all in the challenge, pushing one's limits, learning something new. I'll probably never get rich at this. Mildly successful would be okay. You can't buy the personal satisfaction I take home every day. After all, money isn't everything." - contributor from Woodweb.com
"He wishes to be an employee, not start a shop. So if he's unhappy in his present career and thinks that he'll be happier learning the trade, well why not? Life's too short to not pursue happiness." - contributor from woodweb.com
"Yep, some people dream of doing something rewarding. And some go to the grave regretting that they never tried. Some will actually try and fail. Some will do it for 5 or 10 or 35 years and get sick of it and move on to something else. So what? Who said you have to pick one thing and do it for your whole life? (Except your parents and high school guidance counselor, that is.) " - contributor from woodweb.com
"I have yet to experience any sexist problems in the work place. I have worked in three different settings and every place I have been, the guys I worked with respected me for my work ethic and ability as a serious cabinetmaker. I have absolutely no problem asking for help from any of the guys, and every one of them is willing to spend the time and effort to teach me new skills." - contributor from womeninwoodworking.com
"I'm sure you know how important it is to have a business plan, and a backup plan. But just knowing this isn't enough. You have to actually follow it. Only you know if this is right for you. Many people have done the same thing. Many have failed, some have succeeded, some may not make much money, but are extremely content with what they are doing." - contributor from Woodweb.com
"If you're serious about crossing over to professional status, then take the time up front to accurately plan how you'll start, run, manage and promote your business. Get it down on paper so you'll have a clear and decisive direction to go in. This will help you work out a lot of the "starting a business" bugs most people don't think about until it's too late." - contributor from Woodweb.com
"Women in construction and woodworking trades are always treated with disrespect. My suggestion? Venture out on your own. Start your own home improvement business beginning with small jobs such as trimwork, painting, cabinet refacing, and a host of other small jobs." - contributor from womeninwoodworking.com