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I know. The title sounds strange. But after browsing and reading several posts, I thought it wouldn't hurt to ask for some feedback.

We have a friend who's trade is Trimwork. 48 years old. Two years ago, he decided to make a lifestyle changes and stopped drinking or doing anything else. He's has no regrets, but after he was laid-off, the only people he knows are people who he would end up being tempted to pick up where he left off.

We realized he can't read. And he realized we don't care. And it's a great friendship. Honest. Straightforward. Hardworking. He's a good man.

He's excellent at math, and the furniture he crafts, from his own designs is incredible.

He has the shop, the tools, the ability, the time, and the motivation. He does not have the wood.

Any suggestions on the smartest way to go about starting to sell his stuff? The financial situation is serious, but the landlord is a builder and employs him anytime he has work. Still, the income is too inconsistent. He has the finishing tools, the space. All of it.

He does have A LOT of scrap wood, organized and great quality.

We've asked him to make two bookshelves and two vegetable bins, and brought our own wood and paid him hourly for labor.

Which is one solution, but we can't be buying 1200.00 worth of lumber and labor every month.

Should he make several pieces and put a classified ad out on Craigslist? I was thinking about figuring out how to get him enough wood to create a certain number of items, and than advertising to sell them?

They live in a location that is ideal for people to stop, and anytime they have put something in the yard/field/acre to the side of the driveway, someone has pulled in right away.

Should he charge a super cheap hour to begin with - ex. 2 bookcases took him six hours- unfinished. We were thrilled and were happy to pay $25.00 an hour for pieces our family will have forever. What about a flat rate per project to get the ball rolling?

It just seems like such a waste. The location, space, tools, woodworking ability, motivation, but the reading and education is really requiring that a person show him how to sell. After he see's how to do it, he'll be fine.

If this is too long, and nobody replies because it's way too much to read, it's no problem - I figured I would only be out the time it took to type.

Have a great day guys. I'm off to build some picture frames with 1x2's for my boys.
 

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It sounds like your heart is in the right place wanting to help your friend, but when you start inquiring about selling hand made pieces, the truth is anyone with experience on this board will tell you that selling one-off items is a venture that is fine as a source of supplemental income, but as a primary means of earning a living it can be very difficult and leave most bewildered. Without going into my long story, I started out doing that very thing to hone my skills, both as a salesman and a craftsman, I soon learned I was on a treadmill that provided very little on my investment and soon after channeled my interests into interior trim and built-ins. I still get to make a nice table at least a few times a year, or a nice custom thing-a-ma-jig that can't be bought anywhere else, but I needed to build things on a larger more profitable scale to keep the food on the table.

You said this man has the skills and resources, but unfortunately lacks the ability to read. I would think that searching in your local area for another carpentry/remodeling job would be the most obvious regardless of his deficiency. If somebody with "really good" skills came to me for work, I would certainly give them a shot. As far as the drinking thing...I've dealt with this before with another worker and it is a huge red flag. Hope he keeps it together.

As far as craigslist or other means of advertising his wares...give it a shot with a few easy pieces and see what heppens. Do a search for those type items and see what he's up against.
 

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"I would think that searching in your local area for another carpentry/remodeling job would be the most obvious regardless of his deficiency. If somebody with "really good" skills came to me for work, I would certainly give them a shot."

THANK YOU SO for taking your time to send me that feedback. I really appreciate it. I uploaded pictures of his work. The stained pieces are just projects he's done, and the unfinished pieces are what we bought, showed him the picture and he built. I WANT TO FINISH THEM MYSELF (my outlet if I'm not building).

I don't know if he's really good, other than the reaction of people who come and will see the trim work inside his home, the bed he's built, the other projects, etc. Most of his work he would make for someone who needed it, and give it to them.

2. General Contractors in the area looking for Trim, or subs looking for a trim guy.

I really liked reading about your personal experience and your wisdom of what you got out of it.

2. As I develop my plan and get the resources pulled, (requirements, local shops, etc) I'll update the thread.

3. I'm going to talk to his Partner (Seamstress, but can read and APPLIES every bit of knowledge she gets in her life, still, similar situation.
And get them to take pictures of the work he's done on the Landlord's properties.

Sounds like a lot on my part - but they've shown us that for the amount of time I put into a project for them (they are pretty destitute right now), they will than do at least 3 times that much work on the same project AND help someone else with the same thing, down the road.

Thanks again so much.
 

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It probably wouldn't hurt for him to put some of his spare time into an adult education course, basic reading ability means he will be better able to watch out for himself and be more hireable. There's probably programs in his area that will get him what he needs for free. If he's that sharp he should pick up on it pretty easy.
 

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Agreed. Great idea - especially b/c the adult vocational programs would probably be linked up. It can be a pretty sensitive thing to bring up. I'll leave that to his wife. Thanks for that idea. I appreciate it.
 

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My heart goes out to the guy.
Surely, there are folks here on this forum that could use a tool box or some shop item. If you and he could come up with some useful shop helper, I'll bet he'd get some, maybe a lot, of orders. In my experience, woodworkers are a generous lot. What do you all think?
What sort of fabric work does his wife do?
 

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He shouldnt worry about going to a reading class because everyone else in the class is there for the same reason.Your a good person,not everyone would care.Itchy
 

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It's amazing that we still run into people in this situation these days. My first job out of highschool was working in a coal mine in rural West Virginia. We had a very hard working and tough lead man that was flat out illiterate. I use read him the daily safety meetings and write out his reports for him. I asked him how he got through school without being able to read or write. He told me he was a good football player, and could lift heavy stuff. Once he toted Christmas trees for his English teacher for a passing grade.

Are there any sources of inexpensive lumber in your area he could get a hold of to start building some things for supplimental income. I've noticed things like deck chairs and swings sell really well during the spring, summer and fall months.
 
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