Woodworking: A Hobby, Not a Job

In response to last issue’s reader Feedback section, where several other woodworkers discussed whether they make money at their hobby, we received this missive. – Editor

“Decades ago, I found myself at a crossroads: should I keep my day job — which I was good at but didn’t much like — or should I quit my J-O-B and go full-time into woodworking — at which I needed improvement but loved? I actually prayed to whatever wood gods there might be, ‘What should I do? Please send me a sign!’ When the answer came, it was hard to deny. A local attorney wanted me to make a sign for his new partnership; not a little door plaque, mind you, but a 4X6 foot thing, carved and painted, to erect by the street. I was elated! At last something exciting and lucrative! My prayers were answered, and as I assembled the materials and tools for the job, I mentally composed a resignation letter for my soon-to-be-former job. In the end, it was a disaster; I way underestimated the costs and labor, spent more on tools than I ever made off it, and worried and sweated every step. When it was finished I was a wreck, and although my attorney client was pleased, I was disappointed in the final product and cringed every time I passed it on the street. I decided then to keep woodworking as a nonprofit labor of love and to stick with my day job.” – Phil Gilstrap

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