Woodworkers are famously good at arithmetic, rooted in the constant use of measure and calculation of yield. But they are not always so good at making a profit.

Obviously this is a generalization. But why do those woodworkers for whom it is true persist in working hard for what seems like so little? Because they find other satisfactions in the job. 

Developing research on how owners and managers at woodshops and manufacturing plant managers think - in The Mind of the Woodworker study -  has returned a trove of data, that we are still analyzing at Woodworking Network. But what came to light in the first presentation of our findings at Cabinets & Closets 2014 last week was the fact that woodworkers do it for more than the money.

That's true of a number of careers, and human resource experts tell us employees seek more than a paycheck at work. These characteristics are exaggerated among woodworkers, who in many cases have been able to meld their hobby, passion and career into a single-minded pursuit.

The study found that woodworkers trust each other as their primary source of information, that they are self-taught, and that they are gregarious. Wood crafting is their favorite past time (cooking is second, by the way), and most do not anticipate they will stop woodworking when they retire. The numbers for woodworkers skew way above national averages in all these aspects.

Why do woodworkers like their jobs? The work is creative, challenging technically, and they like the commute, since frequently they are able to work in a business that adjoins their home or is close by.

Paul Downs, Cabinetmaker, who keynoted the 2014 Cabinets & Closets Conference sessions, provided a perfect snapshot of the life of a woodworker as he related his journey from eking out a  living as a custom cabinet and furniture builder to profitable commercial conference table manufacturer. Most especially so in this remark about what he loves: "Who wouldn't want to work in a wood shop?"

Learn more about The Mind of the Woodworker research.

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