Tag Archives: aerospace cabinetmaker

Moving on up…it’s a scary business

27 Mar

The dynamics at my job have changed for me quite a bit in the last couple of months. While I’ve stayed in the section that builds the galley kitchen of the plane, my actual position has switched around several times. I started off about a year and bit ago building the drawers of the galley, then moved on to building the galley structure above the counter. That first switch kept me from quitting, so it was a welcomed change. More recently I changed positions again. I still work on the structure above the counter but now instead of building from scratch, I’m fitting and fine tuning elements. It takes a lot of patience and precision, but I really like it. I’ve found it to be a huge contrast to my two previous positions where I had to be precise but build quickly and do quite a lot of heavy and messy work.

And finally to current day, where I’ve  signed on to learn yet another position. It’s the position that follows the one I work on now. I will be adding the veneer and wooden moldings to the structure above the counter. When I originally started working in aerospace this is the type of position I was after, so I’m quite pleased that it’s only taken a year and a bit to get here. I had graduated from woodworking school a mere 6 months before snagging this job and had only accumulated 6 months of woodworking experience in the interim. This all meant that even though I had wanted a veneering position straight off the bat, I certainly wasn’t going to beat out people that had years of experience over me. And the company wasn’t going to take it on faith that I was a good worker. I’m actually glad to have had the experience of the previous positions, because it has given me a more broad understanding of the process. Plus I have slowly but surely proved myself at work through consistency and by showing up to work everyday with the intent to do my best. Mistakes happen, but the intent was there. There are people many that show up to work with the intent to do the minimum required of them, and their mistakes turn out worse as they come from a place of apathy.  The good news it that I will be in great company for my new position. No apathetically inclined individuals work there.

I have to say that my experience working at a large company has proven invaluable. It has been at the same time terrifying and liberating to have the ability to change positions frequently. Terrifying because it is out of my comfort zone to keep diving head first into the unknown, but liberating because I have found that each new change has brought rewards with it. And so I will keep trying to say yes instead of no when new opportunities arise at work. Though this hasn’t translated to every aspect of my life, I see now that it probably should, and maybe I’ll work on that!

Verdict is in…

17 Nov

….annnnnnd I have a white card! As of yesterday I accepted the offer to become a permanent worker- I’ll sign officially in a week or so.

Yehoo! For the first time in my life I have a secure job with benefits- for as long as I want it. Although most of my artist friends look down on my “factory job”  in Aerospace, I can’t help but feel proud of the accomplishment, and feel a bit giddy at some of the freedoms it will give me. It’s no ordinary factory job, there are no conveyor belts etc., we’re doing custom work in a more cozy setting . I have a calm and safe workplace, I build something that I’m proud of, and I’ve made some good friends.

What will become of me now!?

My original plan was to work at least two different jobs in the woodworking industry to diversify my experience and I’ve done that.

I also planned to work to buy tools. And I’ve done that. (and frankly there’s no end to the tools, but I have a great foundation now)

Next I planned to slowly but surely build a customer base by making furniture on the side. I wanted to start my business with the least amount of risk. That’s where I’m at now.

The goals stay the same but some are gaining priority…

The problem is that the third and final phase of my plan I’ve found to be a bit flawed in practice. I don’t have the energy to tackle full scale furniture projects on a deadline. I need to work at a leisurely pace, and still have time to live outside the shop. My first commission was a trial run that proved difficult on my everyday life. To make matters more complicated some of life’s other priorities have crept in- having a family and home-ownership are bumping my woodworking business plans down a peg or two.

The revised plan

I still plan to start my own woodworking business, but I want to put less pressure on myself and say that it happens when it happens. I need to actually discover what my niche will be- which I’d like to come to in a natural way by experimenting. I would hate to start hastily by doing the first thing that comes to mind and then get pegged into making a particular product that I didn’t even feel passionate about. The world feels full of possibility again!

Let the experiments begin!

In the balance…the day job

24 Oct

I’ve never worked for such a big company before. I’ve worked as a glassblower, with my sister and father. I’ve worked as a dog walker for a very small business. I’ve worked for a studio that made bracelets and vases out of veneer- again very small 8 people involved max. I’ve worked a handful of other jobs along with my freelance pet portrait painting gig- even smaller operations than the above. Almost all of my jobs have had very little contact with others during my work day. I could easily go hours without talking to another human.

Very little of my previous work experience prepared me for this job in aerospace. I had the skill set but that’s about it. I’ve adapted to  talking to MANY of my coworkers throughout the day and I feel I am better for it. But on the flip side I’ve learned how frustrating it can be to work for such a big business.

Building private jets requires a lot of people, a lot of parts, and a lot of space (not to mention a lot of $$). It also requires a lot of paperwork. If there is the tiniest problem, there’s a form for that. And because of all of these people, parts, spaces, papers, and problems the whole thing is a huge orchestration! From an employee standpoint; It’s far from perfect and it’s far from personal. But it’s a very good business.

All this to explain that because the company is so big and has so many priorities, rules and paperwork; structured chaos if you will- my job is in the balance. I was laid off last November for three months. The rumour mill at work has been churning out all kinds of juicy info about our jobs for months now- but here’s the short version:

In two weeks I, along with potentially 50 other contractors (in order of seniority), MAY be given our white cards and permanent employee status. (with this I’d get benefits, a union, and more job security plus paid vacations)


In two weeks I along with all of the woodworking contractors (more than 50 ppl) MAY be laid off. (with this I’d lose my seniority, have no re-hire date given to me in advance, and there’s the possibility that they wouldn’t hire me back at all (at least 20 people didn’t come back last time))


Which will it be? I’m trying to stay optimistic but kind of preparing myself for the worst at the same time. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know! Wish me luck!

The job that’s paying the bills… more about my aerospace experience

26 Jul

So it’s been four months since I’ve been back on the job (5 months total not counting a lay-off period inbetween). This job pays the bills, and that was what it was intended for. I wanted to amass as much woodworking toolage (sure it’s a word… ) as possible while building experience on the job to boot.

But truthfully I’ve been trying to figure out how long I want to keep this job. I haven’t been all that happy. I’ve been yearning to start my own woodworking business ASAP, but recent events may change my mind.

Nothing but the truth…

These past four months have been spent at one station, assembling drawers for the kitchen area of private jets. This entailed many procedures that got carried out over a jam packed six day period- then it was on to the next jet’s drawers. Each task was written in a chart. The amount of hours given for each task on my chart seemed to never correlate with how long it took me to accomplish each task. Over four months I grew faster, but still not fast enough for the charts. I was delivering the finished drawers behind schedule each week. This grew more and more frustrating. I had positive feedback about the quality of my work, from several people but I somehow couldn’t find a way to keep up. I wasn’t alone. My station was shared with another person on my shift, plus two people on the day shift. All of us were struggling. I worked myself ragged some days- advil and ice followed. Sometimes we would even get help from other very experienced woodworkers in our section- I noticed that they too could not work at the pace the chart demanded. Finally we had a two our meeting with the fellow that created the chart and he agreed that changes needed to be made.

The shift…

Several days ago we started a new jet that was to have the amended chart with more realistic hours for each task. But that same day I was switched over to another station, as were four other people in our section. I was disappointed at first because I wanted to prove I could turn around the drawer station- especially with the new chart. But the higher ups had made their decision.

Hind Sight…

I’m now working on a totally different part of the kitchen. I’ve had two days of worry-free bliss compared to the station I’d been frantically struggling through. Both days so far I’ve been able to do the work assigned in the time assigned, and even a little under schedule. I can’t believe the difference. I have the sense that I had been dropped into the worst possible station right out of the gate. Aerospace work doesn’t resemble traditional woodworking in the least, so in this case learning your abc’s is hard enough without being asked to then transcribe a dictionary. Short of growing two extra arms I don’t know how I could have done better than what I was doing. No wonder I was so stressed all the time. I had no idea just how bad it had been until I started this new station of sunshine and lolipops. My attitude towards my job-that-pays-the-bills has improved ten-fold. It feels good to breathe again.  So… yeah I might stay a while longer… I’m still not sure how long, but longer than before the change in stations- that’s for sure.

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