Am I a Woodworking Snob?

07 Jan

I get quite a bit of my work from a certain website. Basically, buyers looking to have someone build them a project. Kinda like for woodworkers and clients. It works pretty well. They have a job board you can search through for these jobs, and then contact the posting party. Some things are beyond my scope – such a 30′ dining table with 16 chairs, but then again, some things are right up my alley, like cabinetry or smaller furniture.

Then there is some stuff is just awful, and I wouldn’t do it even if I could – because it’s a god-awful looking project that I wouldn’t even call furniture, let alone be something I could say I’m proud to have build (and surely not to have in my portfolio). Here’s the piece I’m referencing:

My god, what exactly is that?! In the description, it says “Simple Coffee Table” and “something for newspapers and magazines”.

How about something for the fireplace?

I don’t know who should be shot first – the guy that made this, or the guy wanting to have someone build something just like it.

I would never build this. Yes, call me snooty, if you must. But I would never have my professional name associated with this….thing.

The interesting part is, that with that amount of wood – albeit knotty pine, the box wine of the wood world – you could make a half-way decent coffee table. In fact, you can even make a decent piece of furniture out of one 2 x 4 ! You can read all about this project here, at LumberJocks.

More and more, I’m finding that woodworking is a lot like many other pursuits, such as playing a musical instrument, in that many people can do the basic stuff – such as read a plan and put a project together ( or in the case of music, read music and play the piano), but very few can actually create well – that is, create something new and nice, and do it very well. Everybody remembers the Beatles, but no one knows the “tribute” bands. And like this single 2×4 project, people can remember what this man did with just a single piece of lumber, while we forget the millions of pieces of 2x4s out there holding up walls and floors.


Posted by on January 7, 2013 in BlogNotes


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4 responses to “Am I a Woodworking Snob?

  1. billlattpa

    January 8, 2013 at 12:19 am

    I have two criteria for starting a woodworking project. First thing is do I need this piece of furniture and second is do I have the skill to to build it. That being said, I wouldn’t make a table out of 2×4’s and call it “woodworking” because I happened to use wood. I think that anybody and everybody should try to woodwork if they feel the desire. I started out around 3 years ago knowing only what I read and what I saw on TV. I like to think that I’ve improved a great deal since. And that to me is the key, constant growth.

    • pashley1916

      January 8, 2013 at 1:01 am

      Agreed. My skill set also increases with each project. You have to jump in the pool sometime!

  2. jorge

    January 8, 2013 at 12:32 am

    Hmmm…. I see many things wrong with your post. Maybe you are a snob, maybe you are not ambitious enough. As someone who is also making a living at this, the customer gets what the customer wants. It is not for me to judge whether it is “ugly” or “pretty” as these are subjective choices. The guy who made this made more money than you posting this blog, didn’t he?

    Another thing that sort of bothers me, is you posting the picture instead of a link. Unless you obtained permission to post the picture, posting a link would have been more appropriate.

    When I get asked to make something I don’t really want to make, I charge the hell out of it, if they still want me to do it, then my profit is outrageous. Most of the time they decline and go with someone else. But at least I don’t look like a jackass or a snob telling people I won’t make their request.

    Like you the jobs I decline are those which are beyond my capabilities, but if someone asked me to do something like you posted and they met my price, it is getting done to the best of my abilities.

    • pashley1916

      January 8, 2013 at 1:03 am

      Jorge, I do woodworking not just for a living, but for art’s sake. If that makes me a snob, so be it. Sure, if the guy paid me enough, I guess I’d make it, but while holding my nose.


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