Don't Be a Copycat - Focus on Your Custom Woodworking Ability"Rick, I am struggling in my woodworking business. As I look for new ideas, everything seems to be made in China. How can I compete?" - David

David, I know I have written about this before, but I saw a great article stressing the same point. Originality sells and China copies. So, as a custom woodworker, your task is not to look at what is already made, but to ask your customers what they would like made. In the past I have show some examples of the childrens' furniture painted with non-toxic colorful paints. There is a company in Sheboygan, WI making kids wooden blocks using beeswax as a finish. Both companies are appealing to the parents desire to protect their children.

In the February 27th, USA Today, an article shows a son that wanted to honor his mother's passing with a special tribute. She was a teacher that had a great passion for reading. In her memory,Todd Bol placed a small wood hutch in his yard and filled it with books. He dubbed it a Little Free Library, with the motto, "Take a book, Leave a book."

According to USA Today, Todd's hutch was so popular that they started getting requests to build other Little Free Libraries for other people. That led to a web site,, where you can get plans for the libraries and maps of their locations. This has proved so popular that one Wisconsin prison is now building the units.

David, the lesson I gleaned from this article was to focus on your custom ability and not be a copycat like China. Stop looking at products and thinking, "I could make that." and instead start asking people, "What can I make for you?".

Good Hunting,


Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.