On Being a Full Time Maker

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Well, it has been about 3 months that I have been a full time maker after we moved to Chicago from Washington, D.C. I knew this process would be a lot of hard work and it is so true! Coming out to a new city with no clients and big dreams has been quite the experience. I didn’t know what to expect starting out so I put my head down and hustled. Three months later and I have been swamped. I started collecting clients via word of mouth and before I knew it, I was doing handyman jobs and building custom pieces within two weeks of touchdown. I have not had a lot of time to just relax and build fun things in the shop. 6

On our way to Chicago, I picked up an entire woodworking shop from Drew Fisher of Fisher’s Shop. We bought these tools from an older woodworker who was retiring the craft. The tools are from 1989-1990 era and all solid cast iron and steel Grizzly or other similarly good tools. Drew helped me rewire them before pickup and that helped free up a ton of time for me to hop into making. As it is with older things, they break a lot and require more maintenance. The prior owner did not take as meticulous care of the tools as I would have liked and so I have spent the past three months stripping apart every power tool in the shop down to their raw components and giving them a thorough cleaning and greasing. I actually have really liked doing these tasks because I now know how to tear down every tool in my shop. So far I have stripped down the drill press, bandsaw, table router, thickness planer, and table saw. I have spent hours pouring over old manuals and using the blow torch to loosen up old bolts and replacing parts. I have loved it!

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Having different tools in the shop down at any certain point has forced me to get more creative with my fixes, forcing me to hone my circular saw and hand tool skills. All great lessons to keep me on my toes and constantly learning.

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One thing I was not quite prepared for in Chicago is the cold. I know, don’t even say it. Chicago is cold and snowy, blah blah blah. I have been told a million times like it isn’t obvious. However, if you have seen my last shop video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LH6s7BIHxZQ then you would understand that my shop is an old brick carriage house that refuses to hold heat and instead, likes to maintain a constant 20 degree temperature, regardless of the outside temp. BURRRR!!! Thankfully I have a little heater that is giving me the black lung… no, honestly, and this allows me to get it up to around a balmy 30 degrees. Not too bad actually when properly bundled up.

So yes, the past three months have been filled with a ton of client work with zero time and energy dedicated to making fun builds or YouTube videos. I cannot understand how other makers do both. My hat is off to them. All I can hope for is some free time when I can focus on fun builds and not just straight client work. I am optimistic that this is the start of something new and so I am keeping my head down and trudging ahead.

Wish me luck and send advice and comments my way! Thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “On Being a Full Time Maker

  1. Glad you’re staying so busy man, that’s awesome! I’m impressed how quickly things picked up for you. At one point I was doing both YouTube and client builds and I can tell you it’s unsustainable (client builds are on a very selective basis now). It seems like it’s basically one or the other because you can’t possibly do both for very long while still remaining sane (or married) haha

    Like

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