As much as I love woodworking, it is not a tried-and-true path to fame and fortune — especially fortune. Woodworking just does not pay the bills in the same way that starting Microsoft did for Mr. Gates. While it is not uncommon for someone to say, “That guy is as rich as Bill Gates!” I have never heard anyone say, “Dude, I’m as rich as Rob Johnstone!” (Even though that would be true for so many people…)
But in the late 1600s in Cremona, Italy, there was such a woodworker: Antonio Stradivari. He was so good at what he did that fame and fortune flowed to him like water downhill. “Rich as Stradivari” was actually a saying at the time. Stradivari, as most of you know, made violins as well as other instruments — viola, cello, double bass. He even made guitars. And he was a full-time woodworker. There are about 1,000 Stradivari instruments that still exist and are still being played. All made by hand. He lived to be 92 years old and was still making instruments up until his death. (He did of course have apprentices helping him.)
While I am commenting on his financial success, I am certain that Antonio was not just building instruments for the money. He was interested in his craft. So, while we will likely never get as rich as a Stradivari doing woodworking, we can emulate him by focusing on our craft. And that can lead to riches of another kind.
Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal
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