It’s been three years now that I started my professional venture into woodworking. What was once a hobby is now my full time job and so far it’s paying the bills. The goal was to sell small runs of custom furniture, not one-offs, but limited editions. For the area I live I don’t feel there is the customer base for bespoke pieces designed and created for one customer alone. I do think there is room for small runs, enabling me to make jigs in order to speed up the production process but not making such huge numbers that it becomes mind numbing.
Where am I going with all this? Good question. When I started I decided the best route to get me to my furniture goals was to start with small items, cutting boards, bird houses, wood toys, etc. These items can be fun to design and make, and selling them at craft shows definitely spreads the word about who I am and what I do. I also ended up in many shops selling my products wholesale. This was even better as the sales were guaranteed and much less time me being a salesman (something I hate) and more time me actually making things (something I love).
The only issue is you end up making what you make. By this I mean if you always make cutting boards, you’re always going to make cutting boards. Sometimes you need to throw yourself out there and start new projects, projects that might not pay, might not work, but new things. Making salad servers or iPad stands is a good way to help pay the bills, but I can’t say I’m fulfilled at the end of a day making these items.
To this end I’ve not signed up for any craft shows this year. I’m doing one last big show in Toronto (One of a Kind) and that’s it. I’ll still work on wholesaling to shops, custom canoe paddles, and I might try an art show in the fall, but for now I’m going to take some time, time where I won’t be making money, and start building the furniture in my many notebooks. I have a lot of designs that have never left the pages of my books, and it’s about time I get started on them. Will they sell? Who knows, but they definitely won’t if I don’t make them!
Just before Christmas I had an email from an Executive Chef down in Florida. He was opening up a new restaurant and was searching for flatbread boards. He liked some of my other products and we worked together to come up with these 10×14″ walnut boards. The chartreuse edge was requested in order to match some of the same colour accents in the restaurant. They’ll be adding some rubber feet to the boards to keep them secure on the tables.
If you’re in Delray Beach, Florida, head over to Apeiro and grab a bite to eat on one of these boards! Remember that we’re always keen to work on custom orders no matter how big or small.
A month ago I ordered a custom brand from Heavy Industry. I found them on Etsy where I also have a shop. They were absolutely awesome to work with. I sent them my logo in jpg format, asked about what size would work best for the font, and presto, here’s my awesome new brand. I splurged for the electric branding iron, didn’t want to have to mess around with a propane torch trying to get it to the right temperature. I’m really pleased with the brand, and I think it helps developing an identity, plus it looks pretty cool. I’ve put it on a few items so far, including the business card holder seen above.
Last week I finished off this coffee cart for Patisserie la Toque. They wanted a modern looking coffee cart with a bit of an industrial feel. Seemed like the perfect opportunity to try my hand at a concrete counter top! The cart is 3/4″ Baltic Birch plywood and a 2″ thick concrete top. I put it all on casters so they can move it around for cleaning purposes. The cart + coffee maker must weigh in at around 200 lbs. so it’s quite sturdy. Already they have had lots of comments from their customers and it might lead to a few outdoor concrete table orders.
I took a great paddle making class a few years ago, but haven’t had the time since to make another one. My 4 year old keeps growing so she was due for another paddle. She is in love with the colour purple so I grabbed a bit of purple heart along with some poplar and walnut and made her a little paddle for our adventures.
The second paddle was a present to my wife, after many years she was still using some junky old paddle lying around the garage. Her’s is also in the picture above, it’s made from walnut and butternut and is very light. Mainly used hand tools to plane down the blades and shape the shafts, worked out great. Both paddles were finished with spar varnish, wasn’t happy with the product and it smelt awful. I’ve read many people say that poly is better as it is harder, and you don’t really need the uv protection for the limited amount of time it is outside, so on the next one I’ll use some poly instead.
Up next I’m making a paddle for a local kids charity to use for their silent auction. Hopefully it brings in some big bucks for the organization, it will be auctioned off at a canoe fundraiser so hopefully it’s a good fit.
I had another post planned, then the above picture happened…. The guy with the huge smile on his face is greeting one of his team mates at the finish line of world Championships. They have just won a silver medal in the relay, a huge feat considering the competition! He raced using one of my custom rifle stocks, the design was a collaboration between what he liked and what I felt was best for him. Very excited for him and his team mates, they really deserved this win after a long season of hard work! Alex also had a 5th place individual finish earlier in the week shooting 17/20, his best International result to date! Here is a link to the post about his stock.
While I said last post that I was cleaning the shop and setting up some new to me tools, I ended up finishing one last project… It was quite the year for custom rifle stocks! I’ve made many over the last few years, but 8 in one year is a new record for sure.
This one was for another local athlete. It’s made from Walnut and has some green accents (as per the athlete’s request). On this one I ended up making all the adjustable parts as well, which takes a bit of extra time but ends up working out nicer in the end.
The finish on this stock is boiled linseed oil, it’s cheap, easy, and looks great. The other 7 I did this year have all been exposed to some harsh weather and still look like the day they left my workshop.
I doubt 2014 will bring quite as many stock requests, which is fine, I wouldn’t mind spending time on some other projects I have in my head. All the cut offs from this stock (and my other stocks) get used in many of the items for sale in my Etsy Shop.
Cutsom stock #2 is now finished and off to a happy customer. This one was also made of walnut but had a slightly different design as requested by the client. Once again I’m really happy with the finish on these rifles and will use it more often on my other work.
Now that these two are done I can get to work on my backlog of projects! It’s great to be busy but it would be nice if my list would get shorter and not longer once in awhile…