This week, we spoke with professionals from California to New York in both custom and production woodworking to share a bit of advice for woodworking students and young careerists. Here's what they had to say:
"Make friends with a photographer. Quality photography is gold. Have an elevator pitch with your five best photos organized on your smartphone. Have kick-a** business cards. If people don't say, "Wow, nice card" when you're handing them out get new ones. Don't beat yourself up when you make mistakes. Think of it as paying for your education. Be patient and keep in mind that it takes time to make a name for yourself. Apparently it took Bruce Springsteen 8 years to get discovered, and he's the boss..."
- Brian Grabski, Owner of Designed & Made, Minneapolis, MN
"If you are just starting out as a woodworker or looking to make it more of a business, I would say: don't turn down any job. It will force you to learn and be in situations where you have to learn. I would also say to reach out to places that you wouldn't expect would need wood things built, like breweries for tap handles, wineries for display racks, and other people in the trades like automotive and metal work. You never know what they might have been looking for or what they might need made out of wood."
- Kyle Toth, Owner of Wood by Kyle Toth, Temecula, CA
"If you are planning on starting a woodworking business it would be safe to assume that you have some aptitude for building. Your butterfly joints and your finishing practices will improve by spending hours in your shop, your grasp on the business end will not. Reach out to people on that side of the industry."
- Ethan Abramson, Owner of Ethan Abramson, Westchester, NY
"Stay with it. There’s a lot of pressure to pursue a career as a doctor or lawyer, but the world needs people who have a hands-on skill set. We will need them even more as the baby boomers retire. Those who are in trade schools right now are in a great spot. There will be a lot of jobs opening within the next 15 years."
- Adam Schneider, President and CEO of ConceptWorks, Elkhart Lake, WI
"You must decide whether you wish to pursue woodworking as a hobby or a career. I was never really a 'woodworker' as much as a salesman but I knew I could make money selling casework and store fixtures so I dove in head first."
- Phil Bower, President of Advanced Cabinet Systems, Marion, IN
Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.