A little over two years ago I was sitting in my bonus room, like I am now, thinking about woodworking. But I wasn’t thinking of the wonderful smell of fresh Walnut shavings, or the enormous amount of projects on my backlog. I was thinking about ways to get more time woodworking, a better way to finance my woodworking passion, and my retirement. Especially that last point, my retirement. It was late 2009 and I knew that in 2010 I would turn 40. I was thinking of the future, as many of us often do when a year ends and a new one begins.
I was thinking of making changes in many aspects of my life. My career at Microsoft was (and is) going well, but the team I was in was very chaotic. It was affecting my home life and that wasn’t acceptable. I wasn’t getting enough time in the shop, and when I did have time I was too tired to work safely. On those days I watched woodworking videos, read woodworking magazines, blog, and books. When I did have enough energy to get time in the shop it was very appreciated and therapeutic, but made Mondays even worse.
So I made some changes, and still have some more to make. The first change I made was to switch groups at Microsoft to a team that was much less chaotic but has the opportunity to make a much bigger impact. It’s been reinvigorating and rewarding.
The second change I made was to start Upper Cut Woodworks. I now know how I will spend part of my time when I retire – building custom heirloom furniture. Part power tools, part hand tools, but all of it well built. All the time and resources I spend woodworking are investment in my own retirement. Everything I learn now, every project I build, every customer I connect with is an investment in my retirement. I expect I won’t retire into woodworking full time for a number of years, so I work hard in my current career so that I am financially secure in my retirement. That way my retirement is woodworking without stress and any money earned is extra money for my family’s fun and future.
There are other changes I’ve made less related to woodworking but still part of my deliberate plan to live well: a focus on renewing my faith (thanks Timberlake Church) and an investment in family fun and memories with our vacation condo in sunny Eastern Washington.
Upper Cut Woodworks has been a great way to accelerate my woodworking in every way: learning to start a business from scratch, building a customer base, learning new skills when a project demands them, and connecting with other woodworkers. Especially connecting with other woodworkers. The woodworkers I’ve met online, at Woodworking in America, or the few visits to my shop have become such great friends. Having a burger with Steven Taylor was fun and delicious, and having in my shop to work on the Gottshall Block was fun. Always helpful, always encouraging, always welcoming, and always fun. The time I spent with the rowdy woodworkers at Woodworking in America 2011 is one of my all time greats. I remember a direct tweet from Mark Hochstein (@Loogie) “Dude, where the *bleep* are you?”
I enjoy the connection with woodworkers so much I decided to find ways to contribute, and this fall a group of us rebooted #woodchat every Wednesday at 6pm Pacific/9pm Eastern. This has been so fun and I look forward to it every week. The people that show up are just like the other woodworkers I’ve met: fun, welcoming, helpful, and encouraging.
So thanks to my small but awesome customer base, and thanks to all my woodworking friends, here’s to many more years learning and building together.
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