When woodworking is really work and not a hobby

I enjoy woodworking. I’ve been at it almost all of my life in some fashion or another. For me, spending time in the shop is a way to relax and lose track of time.

Along the way, I’ve had folks approach me and ask me to build something…and offer to pay me. And frankly, I’ve pursued such projects from time to time to supplement my income.

As soon as the discussion of pay comes up, there’s a mental shift for me. This is no longer a hobby, but a part-time job until this job is completed. There are deadlines and expectations — if not the customer’s, my own. So when I’m in the shop working on a project for which I’m getting paid, it’s not for relaxation. As a matter of fact, it can become a little stressful. I impose upon myself high standards for quality of work. And that’s on top of the looming deadlines and customer expectations.

Fortunately, I’m in a position now where I can afford to pick and choose the projects I want to take on for pay. If a customer has unreasonable expectations about the high cost custom woodworking, I’ll pass. If the customer can’t decide what the finished project should look like, I’ll pass.

But for those customers that really appreciate the kind of work I do, there’s a sigh of relief when the project is delivered and the customer is happy. When the customer hands me the final payment, the sense of satisfaction can sometimes be overwhelming.