Some time ago it became necessary to seek a side line to supplement my income. I’m one of those school teachers with a wife and two sons. Need I say more?
I have always been interested in crafts, so I directed my talent to woodworking. First I purchased an inexpensive 7″ bench saw, a small drill press, a 12″ jig saw, a small electric drill, two one-third horse power motors and carving knives, and I borrowed a lathe. These tool have earned me $600 in the pas’t seven months, working only Saturdays and a couple of hours on Sundays. (note: that $600 is in 1950’s money – imagine how much you could earn today!)
Through a friend who is the manager of a large sawmill I am able to purchase at reasonable rates kiln-dried mahogany, walnut, cedar, oak, maple and cherry lumber.
When I was ready for business ,I spoke to my friends about this new venture. Some became customers and they in turn brought more customers.
My first job was a record cabinet of solid black walnut. The design was original in simple four-leg commode style with an overlay design of satinwood on the doors. This piece was finished natural. The next major job was a large cherry drop-leaf table of antique design with a hand-rubbed finish. These two jobs set me up in business . They are my best advertisements.
Countless other orders of similar nature have come from them.
My largest order was from a local church for a communion table of Gothic design complete with cross and candlesticks. It was constructed of solid three-quarter-sawed Honduras mahogany, stained to match the rest of the church furnishings and hand rubbed.
I make items to order only. My customers either have their own idea or I draw up several illustration and they choose the one they like. This gives them great satisfaction and they don’t mind paying for it.
Some of the other work I have done includes end tables, radio cabinets, knee-hole desks, coffee tables, step tables, rocking horses and jewel boxes. Some of the items have hand carving, some have inlays or overlays of satinwood, while some tables have hand-tooled leather tops. I als0 repair and make missing parts for antiques. I do my own finishing and make my own stain to suit the desire of my customers.
My greatest difficulty has been in knoing how much to charge for my work. Experience seems to solve the problem, especially as one gains more confidence in one’s ability as a craftsman.
I am now in business and no longer a dabbler. It gives me great satisfaction and a feeling of well-being and security I never had before. Future possibilities are unlimited and my great ambition is to have a well equipped shop where I can design and build custom items for large stores.
– A lvin J. Spader (1940)