business or expensive hobby? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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business or expensive hobby?

How many people do you think get into the woodworking/carpentry/handyman business because they really want to go into business or because they want an excuse to invest in an expensive hobby?
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post #2 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 01:51 PM
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Well, I don't know if people think "gee, I want an expensive hobby." Further, I don't believe woodworking is all that expensive a hobby. Takes up some space to be sure, but expensive? Not in my view. A couple/few grand and you can have a table saw, planer, jointer, drill press and router, maybe even a band saw. New, delivered! If you choose the used route, you can cut that initial cost to less than thousand to a few hundred dollars. Not a pricey hobby in my view.
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post #3 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 03:00 PM
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When I started to add equipment to my garage, I never once thought of a business as why I needed or wanted to get more stuff. I just wanted more option & tools at my reach to make the stuff I can. Slowly I've offered to make a few items for people at reasonable prices. When I started getting into making pens on my mini lathe, the idea of a business did rear its head. I will likely sell pens as a hobby for awhile before actually making it into a small business. I've sold a handful of pens so far but not lots.
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post #4 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 03:09 PM
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I went into woodworking as a business. In 27 years I have spent about $13,000 dollars on machines and tools, less about $2,000 recouped from selling used equipment as I upgraded. When I retire and sell off my shop I expect to recoup another $5,000 to $6,000.
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post #5 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by subroc View Post
Well, I don't know if people think "gee, I want an expensive hobby." Further, I don't believe woodworking is all that expensive a hobby. Takes up some space to be sure, but expensive? Not in my view. A couple/few grand and you can have a table saw, planer, jointer, drill press and router, maybe even a band saw. New, delivered! If you choose the used route, you can cut that initial cost to less than thousand to a few hundred dollars. Not a pricey hobby in my view.
Subroc
You didn't figure the actual cost of the shop. The structure.
Even if you convert a garage and put your expensive vehicles outside. And you may have paid $100 per square foot for the space.
Woodworking has been a hobby of mine for over 40 years. But I consider it expensive. Right in there with golf and fishing.

If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #6 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 04:31 PM
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Subroc
You didn't figure the actual cost of the shop. The structure.
Even if you convert a garage and put your expensive vehicles outside. And you may have paid $100 per square foot for the space.
Woodworking has been a hobby of mine for over 40 years. But I consider it expensive. Right in there with golf and fishing.
Clearly, what is expensive is in the eye of the beholder. If you consider it an expensive hobby, who am I to argue? I don't think it is. After the initial outlay for tools, they can last a lifetime. In my initial post I identified it takes some space.

Everything costs money.
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post #7 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 05:51 PM
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I've always looked at any hobby that I have, had better pay for itself and then some.
I'm not just talking a break even and tools that I might or might not normally use, I'm talking turning a substantial profit that pays for the tools many times over as well as the utilities and shop space that is wasted that cause a financial loss.

What if your wife hobby was clothes and jewelry? Looks good in the house, but personally I would prefer my wife naked and wouldn't appreciate the financial loss of her being "stylish".
Likewise I have a wood and car fetish, but don't look so good naked. So my wood and car prospects better pay and pay well...Otherwise I'm doing the family a disservice.

I understand our wood projects are entertaining and a desire...so are my wife's hobbies.
So why can't we make it pay?
If it's our livelihood it better pay extremely well, by the way.
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post #8 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 08:37 PM
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An accomplished woodworker can make something that can be passed on for several generations.
What's that worth?
And if you still can't make it pretty, at least make it strong!
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If you don't have time to do it right the first time, when will you have time to do it over?
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post #9 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 09:09 PM
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If you think woodworking is expensive try taking up photography. I turned pro in 1985 because I couldn't afford it as a hobby. Don't even want to think about how much money I spent over the years on film, printing, darkroom equipment, scanning, computers, travel and other related expenses.

Just sold one camera and two lenses and got half the money I needed for all my woodworking hand tools. And yes, I do plan to make this hobby somewhat profitable. If not my wife will make me get a job sooner or later.
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post #10 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 09:17 PM
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The only persons opinion that matters when it comes to if a hobby is expensive is my wife's. She says woodworking and shooting are both expensive.

She's probably right....
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The tools don't make the craftsman....
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post #11 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 10:18 PM
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LOL! Woodworking an expensive hobby. My other interests are fly fishing and photography.
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post #12 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 10:59 PM
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Fly fishing and fly tying, here, Kerrys. But like my wood working, I don't spend a lot of money on either of them.
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post #13 of 28 Old 06-02-2016, 11:23 PM
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Every time we see a $60,000 truck pulling a $10,000 trailer loaded with $50,000 worth of ATV's for mudding purposes my wife and I just laugh and remind each other again how inexpensive woodworking is relative to hobbies like that. Same thing with big fishing boats or ski rigs. Or even a nice Harley Davidson - lots of money in those!
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post #14 of 28 Old 06-03-2016, 02:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerrys
LOL! Woodworking an expensive hobby. My other interests are fly fishing and photography.
Yikes- fishing is about a thousand dollars a pound and one lens can cost more than a cabinet saw.

Cut it twice, measure once and it's still too short.
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post #15 of 28 Old 06-03-2016, 03:51 AM
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For me its a hobby, but i dunno that id call it an expensive hobby. Woodworking is one of those hobbies thats only as expensive as you make it, you can quite easily support a woodworking hobby with about $100 worth of tools, if you stick to hand tools, and lets be honest, thats all you really 'need'. Power tools bring the price up a bit, sure, but again, only as much as you want.

I think ive got barely over $1200 sunk into my woodworking, and probably less. I could easily be under $1000 had i not got a bit of a windfall when i bought my new table saw and jointer. Compare that to something like photography, where a basic DSLR and a couple lenses can run you $1500 and thats the gear you almost have to have. The startup cost for woodworking is realyl pretty minimal

I need cheaper hobby
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post #16 of 28 Old 06-03-2016, 05:11 AM
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It all depends on how you temper your tool buying.
This goes for any hobby OR business.

On the photography front. I'm classified as Professional since I've sold prints. Most if not all of my work is landscape work (but I also photograph wood and construction projects for record). The Digital format has changed the whole industry to where a hand held pocket camera can do a whole lot. I used one for close up landscape work and with a 12 mega pix, I was able to blow prints up to 30-36" wide without the photo breaking up.
On longer away shots, I picked up a Nikon D3100 and 2 lenses. A 35-105mm and a 55 to 200 lense. Bought all of those used for under $500. I use a form of Photoshop which is Apple based, and my printing is done under my supervision by a hi-end printing shop.
It didn't take long to earn back my equipment loss. About 10 prints sold and the rest is sheer profit except driving and time expenses (and you must include those last two).

Cars? All used and stuff I restore. I generally pay $.10c on the $1.00 for vehicles and drive them for easily 150,000 miles+. Either that or I buy/fix/sell them and turn a profit.
Difalkner made a good point on the expensive truck and RV's going down the road. If you buy new, you lose as soon as the vehicles come off the showroom floor. At last count I've owned 64 vehicles. All but one were bought used. All were either bought at 1/10th of their original cost and run for years OR bought and flipped after minimal work.
I've probably profited and saved more money than I can tally. Probably enough to pay for the last 2 homes I've owned.

Woodworking/Construction has been my mainstay business.
Going back to the homefront and cars paying for them. Likewise when I buy a home I buy them to flip them but we also need a place to live. This current house I bought for $62k. I'll have another $60k in it when finished. It's estimated the value will be well over $300k. So tools are required to do these re-habs and other things. I could have spent a solid $2k on my Delta Unisaw take saw. I found one used and in very good shape for $200. This goes for most of the tools I own.

I just don't have the financial option to hire work done OR do a hobby the doesn't pay. To those who can afford it, go for it. Not only that, I wouldn't be satisfied with contracted work from others when I have the knowledge base to do it myself. There are some things I just can't do. No Knowledge Base. On those things I shop hard for deals.

Last edited by aardvark; 06-03-2016 at 05:14 AM.
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post #17 of 28 Old 06-03-2016, 12:26 PM
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I guess some would classify me as a pro photog also as I have sold prints and done a bit of product work but to me it is a hobby. I shoot a d810 with numorous lenses and a full studio setup for the product work. Photography is what got me back to woodworking. I wasn't happy with the frames available and started building my own frames along with cutting my own mats and mounting my work.

The fly fishing is another world all its own.
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post #18 of 28 Old 06-03-2016, 03:21 PM
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It is always nice to be able to make a hobby cover expenses, but doing a hobby for profit usually takes the fun out of it.

Woodworking experience can be a way to make some extra money when times are tough, either working for someone else or yourself, but it can be a rough go it you try to make a full time business out of it. BTDT.

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post #19 of 28 Old 06-04-2016, 05:25 PM
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Before I even got into woodworking, I was still trucking OTR. As I've said here several times, I came in one Saturday afternoon, walked in the house, my ass dragging low enough it was covering up my footprints. My bride took one look at me & said you "look like ****"! As always, I responded in a respectful manner. But, she thought I needed medical attention. So, off to the ER we went. The Sawbones gave me a once over, & told me I was dehydrated, not eating right, bp was high, on & on. He looked me dead square in the eye & said "Brad, I'm goin' to put this to ya in terms you'll understand. If you don't quit eatin', thinkin', sleepin' & drinkin' trucks, we're gonna drop yer ass in a deep hole. And it ain't far off!" my bride jumped up & said "you need a hobby!" the next week I come in, we started looking at woodworking tools. Now, ya have to understand that I've been in the trucking business since I was a very young man. Grew up in the business. Never been around any wood tools, only in high school, & that was a waste of time. My bride was so insistent I was getting into woodworking, we kept buying used tools for two, almost three years. They sat in our basement, in our garage, storage facility, til we had all we could afford. Then I started goin to the library & checking out books, taking them on the truck to read. They were all about the different tools we owned. In 2009, I came in off the truck with viral meningitis. Lost the use of my legs, & left arm. Spent 8 months in the hospital learning to walk & use my hand again. My Sawbones told me my trucking days were over. Now what?!? We were able to set up a small shop in our basement, & from what I'd read, I learned to use our tools. Making toy boxes, toys, wind chimes, anything we could think of that I could handle to make & sell. I just kept at it until I got the scroll saw, & a few other tools perfected. Now we have a little bigger shop with more tools, a few newer ones, some not. But 90% of what I do is scroll work. We do light furniture repair, lathe work, most anything wood. I'm self-taught, & we don't get rich at it, but we clear enough to buy wood, tools, things like that. Yes, iron is pricey, but if you don't jump into it all at once, & buy everything brand new, it can be managed. I think you have to figure out what you want to do, buy tools & wood as you can afford them, & do your best at whatever it is you do. My apologies for the length, but, sometimes I get a little long winded.😊 learn all you can, & enjoy every minute of it! Just my .02 worth.
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post #20 of 28 Old 06-05-2016, 03:05 AM
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Regret that I certainly could not justify woodworking as a hobby. It is part of my DIY activities which over the years has saved me a fortune. I justified buying a tool for a job as only the cost of a couple of hours hired labour. Latest is a nice Bosch Jig Saw to cut some alloy. Will also be used for wood.
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