The conceptual part of woodworking is great fun. Planning and designing is a very interesting and a challenging aspect that most woodworkers enjoy. Unfortunately, as a new woodworker, you will likely not get to do this part, unless you are self-employed.

As an employee at a wood shop, most likely they have someone else doing all the thinking and designing. Your job is to build what they have drawn. What that means is that you will be loading and unloading wood, carrying cumbersome heavy 4 x 8 sheets to the panel saw or CNC machine, and doing very repetitive tasks like jointing, edge banding, sanding all day long, assembling cabinetry, doors, and drawers etc.

To make it worse, the atmosphere of a workshop is not very conducive to socializing and relaxing. When that bell rings, so to speak, it is time to work. Even when doing simple tasks like sanding, the noise of the machines makes it very difficult to have a conversation with a neighboring woodworker.

Not every woodshop is the same obviously, but at some point in your woodworking career you will come across situations where you are quite bored with the work you are doing. This of course is counterbalanced by times where you will be working on such an interesting project that you just can't wait to get to work.

It does get easier as you go along though. Everyone has to pay their dues when they start out. Doing the more labor intensive physical or tedious woodworking tasks is normal, and although it doesn't seem that you are learning anything by sanding for three days on end for example, stuff does sink in. You are a better woodworker for it.

Ultimately, this is not an office job, it's more of a factory job for many woodworkers. You'll be on your feet for the better part of the day, doing very physical work that does involve some risk due to the nature of the machines and or air quality. It takes its tole, and by the end of the day you will be tired, by the end of the week you will probably be exhausted. Ask yourself, can you honestly see yourself doing this kind of work for years and years?

Again, I am not trying to be negative here. But if you do go into woodworking and will be working as an employee, this is the reality of the woodworking job market. Eventually after paying your dues and learning a whole bunch of good woodworking skills you might try your hand at becoming the boss, being the the owner of a woodworking business. This might get you time off the shop floor but it does pose other challenges.

Woodworking is  a rewarding skill to have (no matter what kind of woodworking you are doing). The physical nature of seeing something tangent that you have built is great. And although job security may not be as high as one would like if you are aiming to stay in one company for long, there is a need for woodworkers in any area of the country, (or world for that matter) so it is a very portable skill to have.

Yan G.
Author: Yan G.
Professionally trained/educated cabinet and furniture maker, with over 20 years of woodworking business experience.