It’s obvious from your responses to different posts which ones appeal to a larger percentage and one of the highest is working with your hands and earning all or some percentage of your living from being a woodworker. I know the goal is to make your living which of course is important, but dismantling the goal of making money alone has been the most difficult aspect of my work.
Through the decades of working as a furniture maker I have always made a living, so just what does that mean. I think I have worked for myself and to my own schedule most of my life. That has never once meant nine to five. It’s never been a five day week and it’s never been a guaranteed weekly wage. How about going two months with no pay? How bout 6 1/2 days a week and how about 14 hours in any given day. Disappointed? Well, I don’t know I would have traded it for an hour or two traveling to work during rush hour to start and end my day. I know I enjoyed walking from the house through to the workshop at 7am and not wasting time anxiously trying to get to work on time. I was already there.
I have only used a computer for a short time really, compared to others, I had to learn, but nothing I have ever done on one compares to working from 7am until 9 or 10 pm making something from wood. Is that silly? I know, “Paul, Get a life!” Well, there isn’t a day of it I would change, really. Can you believe that? I’m not really talking about odd days like that in a given month or so. More a pretty normal day. I’m grateful to my wife. She was with me the whole time and never asked me to “get a real job.” Funny thing really. She never saw her life as separate from mine. We were always together and united in our vision for family life, family business and being together in the day to day of life. I liked it when she brought tea and biscuits out mid morning and we sat in the garden and talked about work, the children, the customers, shipping out projects and then the things surrounding us in the garden, in the house and simple things like that. We did that a couple of time s a day and then always had lunch together too. We didn’t ever talk about having our own space or private time out, stuff like that. She was never interested in woodworking and never really worked with me that way, but we understood this was the life we wanted for our family life. Family being together kind of counters some of the effects the Industrial Revolution has in our today’s-world as best we can. It’s reversing some of the negatives, keeping the best of the past, uniting it with the present and living it with the loves of your life. In my case my wife, my children, my grandchildren and my friends. And of course woodworking, metal working, leather working, painting and drawing, writing photography and watching life around me in nests and trees and fields and woods.
The ambitions we have are often different and so they should be. My goal was to be self employed being a woodworker and making my designs. Some of my designs were worth more than a mere day’s pay and I charged for both my labour rate plus the design according to its worth. But I engineered a path leading away from making things purely on the basis of money because I realised there had to be something more rewarding and that meant getting back to why I became a woodworker you see. I was fifteen when I started this and it was what I wanted to do. I didn’t start working to make an income but to work with wood. I didn’t need money, didn’t do it for money and yet the fascination of working wood motivated me more than anything else. And guess what? When I wake up every morning, that’s after 50 years of daily woodworking, it still fascinates me. When and if I did it for money and when I did make money in larger amounts than normal I felt something died. I even lost interest sometimes. I became aware that my love for woodworking was my first and foremost motivation and it was rewarding and fulfilling to return to the place where woodworking could hold the content of something I really cared for. Of course there is something honest about earning income and paying your way. I could make money from my work and still enjoy woodworking. Even when I worked twice as long and twice as hard as others might expect of themselves, my work gave me great reward. The saying, “Don’t work hard work smart.” means nothing to me. I don’t agree with it. I love hard work that includes critical thinking ending in results. Stepping outside the dream others have for you or even try to impose on any vision you have can sometimes take a tough stance but starting to live to establish new ideals can lead to looking back and say it’s been real is well worth it.