Woodworkers that have found their sweet spot – what they make well, and make money at – seem to be, in my estimation, few and far between. I’m speaking about guys that want to make a living at it, not hobby types, not even craft show guys.
Have you found that item line that works for you? You’d like me to tell you what to make, what will sell well, wouldn’t you? It’s what everyone wants to know that sells something – whether it be the “it” toy of the Christmas season, or a livelihood, people want to sell what people want to buy.
Well, actually, I think I CAN do that.
It’s pretty simple, really – you need to build what you are passionate about.
If you’re not passionate about it, why are you building it? Some will answer, “Because I have to, it’s what is selling.” Maybe you’re making cabinets or cutting boards by the dozen. Your’e bored, but it’s paying the bills.
Maybe worse, you’re making a lot of money, but you really don’t like, or are ambivalent to, what you’re making. It’s worse, because the good money are a type of golden handcuffs. I know a person that really doesn’t like her job, but they pay her so well, she has to stay.
Passion in your work means everything; it means your satisfaction with your work; it means you’ll want to do your best at it – and then even better. It means wanting to get up and the morning and get back to it. That leads to excelling, which in turn leads to excellence, which will take you to the top. The top means prosperity, because people will pay top dollar for the best – and I don’t care if you’re making 18th century period furniture, mid-century atomic ranch, or cutting boards.
Cutting boards? Yes. “But…they’re….cutting boards”. That’s right, and you need to make they best out there – not just in terms of construction – any wood monkey can do that – but unique designs, materials, shapes. Use your imagination – and passion fuels the kiln of imagination. Think cutting boards are a bore that can’t go anywhere? Talk to the Boos Block company then.
If you’re passionate about something, you really never rest – there is never a “good enough” – there is only, “how can I do it better?” If you become content – it’s then you stop growing, and others catch up and run past you. Many of the world’s great thinkers and artists had a driving passion. Einstein felt that he was a genius, not so much because his brain was special, but because he had a passionate curiosity about things, and how they worked. Edison loved his work so much, he hated sleeping, and really only took cat naps – and in his shop. Then you have Picasso and Pollock who were very passionate – maybe even a bit tortured – with love for what they did.
Myself, I can make a piece “perfectly” – that is, no technical errors, no gaps, no finish foul-ups, and then I’m only, ok with the piece. If I didn’t make that joint quite tight enough, or some other little thing a customer would likely never see – well, that’s all I ever see. And If I do make it “perfect” the first thing I’ll do is wonder how I could have made it better – a contrasting wood perhaps? Lighter color stain? Different shape top? But it’s that kind of passion that moves me forward to better and better designs.
I have a passion now for what I do; it is both satisfying and never satisfying, but in a good way, as in eating chocolate, lol. I’ve had crap jobs before, believe me, and hated them, and it’s really a lousy way to live when you hate going to work – but I’m fortunate enough, and yes, passionate enough, to do what I love.
No, I can’t tell you to make cutting boards, side boards, surf boards or head boards – you’ll have to figure that out; but I can tell you that a passion for whatever you do will take you to the top….and that’s a good place to be.