Apprenticeship update- unabridged version

22 Feb

As I mentioned in my first apprenticeship update post, a lot of my fears about the whole thing were quelled right from the get go. I’m continually grateful for having such a smooth and worry free apprenticeship. I’ve felt challenged and have been absorbing as much information as I can each day.

Case in point, I had to muddle through week two battling a cold. It’d been going around. Tim himself had just gotten over a cold when I started my apprenticeship.

Even this was a useful lesson for me. A lesson about being a responsible woodworker, and being self employed. Tim had had to take two sick days. Normally I would force myself to go to work no matter what. But in our profession, it’s better to take care of yourself. Especially if you’re self employed, there’s only one of you, so you’re better off mending yourself than running yourself down and potentially having to take more time off than if you’d just listened to your body in the first place. Furthermore, a day full of operating heavy machinery whilst feeling out of it, being heavily medicated or sleep-deprived is just foolhardy. I ended up taking a day off.

That aside, I’ve been learning many tips and tricks from Tim. Some are business related, and some are for practical applications. I value both of these because they come from his own personal trials and errors, experiences, and growth. The practical tips I’m more likely to snap up and use right away- it’s hard to argue with something that will save you time and effort and is proven to work well. Advice on business and the direction of my career I tend to take more with a grain of salt. I still value it and glean what I can from it, but I’ve noticed that every woodworker has a different opinion, it’s hard to follow just one person’s advice.

I intend to specialize in studio furniture design, building freestanding, mainly solid wood furniture. I’m glad to learn about cabinet making, as I’ll use sheet stock in the future and have grown to see it as a valuable material. I’ve heard many people by now say that making your living as a studio furniture builder is a bit like saying you want to be a movie star. Good luck kid.I realize that it might be a tougher market to break into and it’ll be rough going, but I see it as attainable. I’ve seen several successful models, each very different, and ALL completely at odds with what naysayers would have you believe.

So my advice here is to be careful about seeking out cut and dry answers to complex questions that you have for your own career. Ask instead about other woodworker’s careers, and tabulate those answers and find out what the patterns are.

Everyone is different.  Some don’t let their clients give them deadlines, some slave over deadlines, some create for themselves, some work on commission, some work as many hours as it takes, some insist on relaxed work hours. They all set out different rules and goals for themselves and each have different ideas of what success IS.  So what I believe now is that woodworking and your career as a self employed worker is whatever you WANT it to be. Of course you have to work hard to get to where you want to be, creating your own breaks, but essentially you make the rules as to what you will and will not do. And that success is self-actualizing in that you will be as successful as you push yourself to be.

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