Worth Doing Well

I heard a poet speak last night about doing good work. I was immediately intrigued by the parallels to our work at the bench. He said that doing it was worth it because it was hard. It was hard to do good work. Nothing good comes easy. If you’ve ever tried to write you know how hard good can be.

The same thing is true for our work at the bench. It’s easy to drop your standards. Here’s a note from a maker struggling with this issue:


Recently I watched the video featuring you and your beliefs on woodworking. I share some of your feelings about woodworking. I don’t quite feel that I prefer the days of the 19th century but I do feel that technologically speaking, we have reached a point in the industry where there is nothing to be gained.
Our current dependency on technology, in work and in life, is destroying the most valuable relationships we have. There are fewer and fewer opportunities to be intimately involved in the building process and experience the rewards that come with it. Not many clients are willing to, or can afford to pay for hand built pieces anymore. In fact very few people are even informed enough to appreciate the workmanship. I work as a cabinetmaker and it is tough to get independent work consistently. Primarily now I have to make my living installing kitchens for large manufacturer’s. These kitchens are produced by CNC. From a logical standpoint you would think that this improves the accuracy of the product but it is the furthest thing from the truth. Consistently the cabinets are of poor quality. I simply can’t compete against the prices of these other manufacturers. The times that I do get to produce my own cabinets, are very fulfilling and remind me of the enjoyment I get from building.
It was nice to hear from another woodworker who still enjoys the process. RW

My reply:

I hear you. Your goal has to be to let people know what quality is and You can produce it. You show the difference between a CNC box and one of yours. The key is marketing unfortunately. Not what you are probably good at. But it’s the key to your survival as a professional woodworker. Get an article in your local paper, do blog posts, have open studio tours so people can understand your process. Photographs of work both completed and in process. Folks have to learn to appreciate quality. And unfortunately you have to sell them this. It’s more than a piece of furniture that you’re selling. It’s a piece of quality. Good luck to you.


SAB Detail Inlay

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