Before You Start
An article by Scott Woyka
So you want to be a Furnituremaker?
To many people, the idea of working creatively with wood is an ideal they would like to pursue, or perhaps wish they had. I have often heard comments such as, "Oh, it must be so satisfying", "I'd love to do that", " If I had my time again..", and so on. It is a vocation that seems to capture the hearts and minds of all of us. Indeed, there is much satisfaction to be gained from designing and making furniture, and working for customers who like your work is a very uplifting experience.
Before you embark on any career it is important that you gain a good understanding of what is involved and you must try to be realistic. This is particularly true of a career in the crafts, because, whilst it may be very appealing, it is likely that you will have to work long hours for a relatively low remuneration. Like any other small business you will need to be dedicated if you are going to survive, especially in the early years.
It is most important to set out your objectives at the start. To do this you must ask yourself many questions.
- What kind of furniture do you want to make; contemporary or reproduction designs? Will it be one off or batch production?
- What service will you offer? Will it be purely making to other people's designs, or will you offer designing as well?
- Who will be your customer base? Will it be the wealthy or a mass market? How will you reach them; Galleries, retail outlets, word of mouth? Where will they be; local, national or global?
- What form will your business take? Do you want to work alone or take on employees? Perhaps a co-operative or partnership would suit you?
- What sort of lifestyle do you want to attain? Making a living should be your first objective. However, you may find there is a trade off between profitability and the development of your work. For maximum profit you want to produce work at minimum cost. If you want to make the very best work, it will be more difficult to find the market and achieve the prices you need to charge.
Deciding on where you want to be in five or ten years is the first step, but it is unlikely that you will be able to start up doing the work you most enjoy. Taking on less appealing work may be necessary to keep the wolves from the door. There is an element of luck in the opportunities that come your way but it is those who steadily and systematically work towards their goals who have the greatest chance of success.
Once you are on the road there is a great amount of pleasure to be had working with the materials of your choice, finding design solutions to a particular brief, running your business and dealing with your customers.
Books that may help you.
- Cabinetmaking, The Professional Approach Sir Alan Peters http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0025962000
- Marketing and Promotion for Crafts Betty Norbury http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/0854420622
- Running a Workshop Crafts Council