Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Quest For Pocket Change

     Here the problem as I see it. There are not enough hours in the day to really be successful at any business venture and still work a full-time job. I don't even have kids and I feel like I'm strapped for time.  Consequently my dream job remains a hobby.

     I have always been told that you never want to turn a hobby into a job. Eventually the joy that it once brought you is replaced by the same dread that you used to get working down at the Piggly Wiggly.

     I get it. I've even had it happen. Years ago I started a photography business and put all of my money, time and energy into making it fly. I actually did fairly well. However, I started to really hate it. What was once an enjoyable hobby became a job. To this day I refuse to do a single portrait. Not even for friends or family. Having to do photography everyday was like being forced to eat Lima beans. Lima beans really aren't all that bad but since I was forced to eat them as a kid I now have some very negative associations.

     The thing is, I hate punching a clock more than I hated photography. Now, I can't afford to re-purchase all of my photography equipment and dive back in. Even if I could I probably wouldn't. I'm a relativity talented guy and I have at my disposal any number of skills that I might turn into a profitable business. Currently the skill I have decided to focus on is my wood working. Wood working is a great way to make money if you have the time to dedicate to building.

     When I first started wood working I wanted, more than anything to make money. Wouldn't that be cool? Do what you love and get paid for it. I think this is the heart cry of almost every artist I know.

     Unfortunately I am a very impatient person. In my head I want to start and finish a project in the same day. As a matter of fact if I don't start and finish in the same day, the odds of  finishing at all are greatly diminished. I could work on a project a little at a time and -have it done in a few days, right? Somehow I can never muster the will to do things that way.

     So what's an ADHD  woodworker to do? Believe it or not, the answer is customer accountability. When I take an order for a custom table I feel compelled to complete the table. It invariably happens that I do not have time in one evening to finish the project and so I pick up my hammer night after night until the table is built.

     Is it really any different in the rest of our lives? When do we lose weight the fastest and keep it off consistently?  When do we do our very best at our day jobs? What about marriage and fidelity? I'll tell you when. When we have someone holding our feet to the fire. Whether it's your running buddy, your boss or that friend who isn't afraid to call you on your crap, accountability is the key to much of our success in this life. Business is no different.

     A wise man once told me. "If your going to do something well, you have to do it every day." Don't get discouraged when it seems like your never going to be able pitch the day job in favor of your dream job. Dial back your personal expectations.Set aside time every night to chip away at each project until it gets done. Eventually you will get there.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Caribbean Charm

     I am in love with crates. Plain and simple. It might very well be considered an addiction.
One of the problems I have had in the past is sourcing these little beauties for reclamation.
Most of the crates that find locally are pretty flimsy. They are great for planters or light duty shelving projects but not great for furniture.

     Not long ago I decided to build my own crates so that I can use them to build cool industrial chic furniture.
To date my favorite piece is this Caribbean Blue end table I like to call the "Beach Comber"

     Most of the crate and pallet based furniture that you see on the internet really looks like shipping materials  With this table I wanted to add something to the mix that I hadn't seen.

     I have the privilege of owning a decent band saw, so I designed my own table legs. To do this I drew the profile on a sheet of 8.5 x 11 card stock, cut it out and traced it onto four pieces of scrap  2x4 lumber. I cut them out on the band saw and then used two four inch wood screws to attach them to the bottom of the crate.

     This little gem took about three hours total and will easily bring $75 to $100 depending on the size.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Little Boxes

All of the wood I use in my work is sourced from pallets and shipping crates. I don't spend any money on my lumber if I can help it. This really brings up the profit margin on the work I do.

One of my favorite repeat projects are these small boxes and trays that I do.

There really is nothing to them. I cut all of my reclaimed boards to size on my chop saw.
Once I have my boards cut I butt join the corners and attach the bottom with glue and a brad nailer.

This is a simple and profitable project. People love them and are willing to pay anywhere from $10 to $25 depending on size. If you don't want to make your own you can buy one from me here ant my Etsy.com shop.

The "Barn Wood" Dilemma

     A few months ago I responded to an ad on Craig's list for barn wood. Supposedly there were tons of it. Imagine my surprise when I showed up and it was in the form of a century old barn, still standing and relatively sturdy. My lack of tools and access to heavy equipment trumped my imagination and I was forced to pass it by.

     I decided that there must be a cheap and easy way to distress new wood in such a way as to look like it came from an old barn. Where did I turn? Pinterest of course.

     I was directed to this great blog post on how to weather wood using vinegar and steel wool.

     The coffee table above shows the wood before treating it with the aging solution. I followed the directions the first time and the in subsequent attempts increased the time the steel wool soaked in the vinegar.

     The results were fantastic. The longer you leave the steel wool in the vinegar the darker and more aged your wood will look. I've used it on several large pieces and numerous small boxes and crates.

     Below is the finished product. The photo really doesn't do the finish much justice. In person the wood grain really pops and the effect is so convincing I've had people ask where I sourced my wood. When I tell them that the wood was reclaimed from newer pallets and shipping crates they are amazed.