Over the past few months I’ve been building up some commissions for furniture. I’m picky over the type of pieces that I’d like to build and since I’m not looking to be building furniture full time (been there, done that) I feel I’m right to be choosy and go with pieces that really interest me. It’s a nice luxury to have, but as I completed my the last Workhorse workbench last week, I realised I’d forgotten how wonderful it’s been to be building for other woodworkers.
Making benches for woodworkers brings it’s own pressures; for the first time ever the customer understands how it goes together, and technically speaking everything has to be perfect; you know that they’re looking for a gap in your dovetails. Most other customers don’t give a crap if it’s dovetailed at all, or even if it’s handmade.
Selling furniture on a sales point of it being ‘hand made’ isn’t an easy feat. Firstly because the way it’s made isn’t usually what adds value from the customer’s perspective, and secondly because any value that is perceived in the term ‘hand made’ is watered down by larger companies using it to describe items which have seen little more than a bit of glue scraped off by hand.
Building by hand is the only way that I enjoy to build and so the satisfaction makes the challenge worthwhile, perhaps even interesting. But I’m certainly going to miss working for customers who understand the difference between a top that’s flattened by plane rather than one just stuck through a sanding machine, and knowing that that difference gets appreciated.
Now if I know anything about selling furniture it’s understanding that you are all part of the experience for your customers. There’s a saying that sex sells, but we can’t really go there with furniture, so you should use the next best thing – a nice waistcoat.
Rodrigo Meza says
Thanks for sharing! Have you already chose which furniture projects to make? What kind/style of furniture is it? Congratulations on the Workhorse, a really beauty.
Jeffrey Garrett says
Good luck with your new ventures Richard, I watch to see what you are up to with great interest. I am only sorry that the benches are no longer available from you 🙁 I do understand your needs and desire to explore other ventures and wish you well.
Ps. That bench looks out of place in the kitchen…. It would be much happier in my workshop!
I’ve only ever built furniture by hand have done all my life but I’m not getting any younger so its getting harder to keep up with machinery speeds to maintain my hourly rate. Many hobbyists are just that they have the luxury of time but being in business is s different kettle of fish time is always agsinst you. People may fantasise working wood like they did 200yrs ago and I’m fortunate enough to live that fantasy everyday in my shop but none of it comes without a price. I wish you much success.
yes ever commitments come with a cost, though arn’t we lucky, that we are in a enviroment to make our own choises, cheers Peter
Paul Chapman says
That “last” bench looks lovely, Richard. Good luck with your new ventures.
Maybe that is the next big thing. Waistcoats for woodworkers.
Let us think about it. ?
Bench looks fantastic, but dare I say it, it is too nice. It’ll be a bit like using a Ferrari to pull a trailer.
Dan O'Neill says
admired your work bench shown on
mike murray says
I think I would look a right dicky [doo dah] in a waistcoat, but a brown warehouse coat would be my style for sure. : )
You did that bench up right Richard. Somebody is going to be lucky when they end up with that one.
Get in touch with some of the folks on Escape to the Country. I would guess they will have leads on folks that are looking for special hand made furniture to fit the houses they buy.
All the best and thanks for sharing pictures of that bench.
Michael Ackerman says
Toad in a hole and cured workbench. The Aga does it all.
Nicely, stated and well thought through, you certainly are grounded, and have the game worked out. Ta for sharing, cheers Peter
Dan O'Neill says
I,ve seen your latest Work Bench and I am hopeing to learn what the workbench cost and what the frelght cost to send bench to Boston area Mass,
Dan O’Neill a
patrick anderson says
Ah waistcoats. Can’t find them over here for love nor money 🙁
Dave Parks says
Beautiful bench. Unfortunate you don’t still build a couple a year just to supply such beauty to the woodworking community. Since you are not building any more of these, is there any chance you continue to supply leg vices ?
I’m not at all sure what waistcoat is, but I love the look. Thanks for sharing.
That table (first image) is really nice! what sort of wood were you using there?
Greg Gimbel says
That would be nice to only choose which projects you wanna build. Congrats on reaching that point in your career to be able to choose.