Woodturning Ė Hobby or Livelihood?

The 2016 Indianapolis woodworking show is in the books and it is on to West Springfield Massachusetts this week. We only made it part way on Monday as yet another case of contaminated fuel slowed us down a bit. We are grateful that we were not stranded by the side of the road, but made it to a nearby truck stop to obtain the necessary miracle elixir to heal our ailing vehicle. We did arrive safely in West Springfield, Ma Tuesday evening.

A subject which resurfaces regularly is that of woodturning as a fulltime source of income. Someone said that one of the reasons we donít attract more youth is because they canít earn a decent living turning wood. While I believe that it is difficult to earn a decent fulltime income turning wood and selling finished products, I know several folks who do just that. In analyzing our craft after many years as a touring professional, I have made some definite conclusions. These are true in general Ė there are always exceptions.

  1. For most of us woodturning is a hobby
  2. Most of us donít care to sell what we make, but would rather give it away
  3. Most of us fund our hobby from other sources of cash
  4. Although we like to compete with other turners, we usually just try to do better than we did last time
  5. Most wood turners are either retired or about to retire
  6. Most wood turners are over 50 years old
  7. Most wood turners who do sell turned items find it very easy to sell what we make up to a few hundred or possibly a few thousand dollars per year, but find it difficult to sell enough product to earn much more than ďbeer moneyĒ

I have more observations, but they will have to wait for another time. Although there a few folks who do well financially in the world of woodturning, they are few and far between. That is OK, this is a hobby. I love to bass fish, I could never make a living at it (I tried and failed).

A great approach for woodturning as a business would be as a lucrative part-time business. In other words, donít quit your day job just yet. Build your part-time business to the point that it forces you to either pull back or quit your other job because there is just too much demand and you are forced to turn business away. Donít be hasty! When you have consistently turned significant business down for a whole year, it might be time to go all in and do it for a living. If you are retired and financially secure, I would still encourage you to approach it as a part-time venture.

I attribute my success to many things, but some of the most important are:

  1. I have a business background and I operate my woodturning business like a business and not a hobby.
  2. I keep regular hours, set goals and track progress. I have a working routine.
  3. Iím flexible and listen to my customers. If something doesnít sell, Iím not married to it. I devote my energies to the things that do sell.
  4. I constantly bring out new items so my regular customers donít get bored and look somewhere else.
  5. I tithe from and sew into the business.
  6. I keep myself fresh and open to new ideas.
  7. I sign up for and take turning classes from others.
  8. I always remember that often I am not the most talented, or the smartest person in the room.
  9. I consider each suggestion, complaint and compliment I get from my customers. They are important.
  10. I give my business to God and listen to his direction in prayer.


A thought for woodturning clubs:

Since woodturning is a hobby mostly for the older crowd, if you want to grow and expand your woodturning club, perhaps you should direct most of your efforts toward recruiting from that demographic where your efforts will be much more productive. I am not saying we should ignore the younger folks; just that it seems to me that our efforts will be much more fruitful when aimed at our natural demographic. If we have 1% of the population with woodturning as their chosen hobby, what would happen if we grew that to 2%?

Here are my inspirations for this message:

Proverbs 4: 5-10 KJV  5 Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. 6 Forsake her not, and she shall preserve thee: love her, and she shall keep thee. 7 Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. 8 Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour , when thou dost embrace her. 9 She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. 10 Hear, O my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many.

This Week's Sale Items-Continued


If you are able to visit us at the Woodworking Show, we have added approximately 100 new turning items in our booth this year. I have finished samples of the Laser Cut Kits, etc. I have samples of Edge Lit Signs I will be adding to the line in May 2016

Show Sweepstakes

I would like to announce that this year for the first time, Ron Brownís Best, LLC will have a monthly sweepstakes drawing specifically for visitors at the various shows. You will have to enter at the show in our booth. Ask Sweet Janice for an entry form. First Prize is a $250 Gift Certificate for anything on our web site (we will have over 50 new items by the end of the show season). Second Prize is a $100 Gift Certificate for anything on our web site. Third Prize is a $50 Gift Certificate for anything on our web site. You need not be present to win. We will have different drawings for January, February, March and April. We will announce the winners on the web site and in one of the following newsletters.


As always there are tons of free stuff in the FreeDownloads section. Wishing you a Happy, Prosperous and Blessed New Year,


Ron, Janice & Chris Brown


  We will be leaving our Internet business in capable hands as we hit the road for 13 weeks beginning January 8th in Baltimore Maryland.  Here is a link to The Woodworking Shows schedule www.thewoodworkingshows.com

Show Change Announcement

The Detroit, MI show has been replaced with Chantilly, VA.


Feb 5-7, 2016

You may have noticed that some items have disappeared from www.ronbrownsbest.com, in the last week or so. I hate to admit it, but we cannot keep up with the demand for certain items and since it is the show season, we had to remove them temporarily. We will re-list those items and many more when we can fill your orders in a timely manner.

"Free Downloads HERE"