Booked for the Year

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One of the biggest fears when you work for yourself is that the work will dry up. You will suddenly go from eating ricotta to ramen. And then you will call Mike Siemsen to get his recipe for “wiener water soup.”

As the last few days of 2017 drop off the calendar, I’m taking stock of the commission work I have booked for the coming year. I am pleasantly surprised at the amount of work I have in the works.

Most of the pieces are what you would expect: a couple Welsh chairs, a tool chest, a Shaker cabinet, some sawbenches, a Roorkee chair and a campaign secretary. But I also received a commission that is a gift for me as a designer.

A young customer asked me to build a chair that would further my work from “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” For the last 12 months I’ve struggled (and failed) to design a staked armchair that I’m happy with for the revised edition of “The Anarchist’s Design Book.” This commission will allow me to take a good three weeks of time to nail down a design that has remained slightly out of my grasp.

So it’s also a gift for anyone interested in staked furniture.

I know there will be lean years ahead. It’s the natural cycle of things. But I plan to fully enjoy every bit of 2018 and make the most of the salad days.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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12 Responses to Booked for the Year

  1. I am one of those guys who has a hard time enjoying the good years because I worry they won’t last. It keeps me up at night. I’m not a pessimist about other things, but when it comes to my career, I fear that each year of success will have to be paid for some day. I’m always certain that someone out there is working harder than I am, no matter how hard I work. It’s exhausting, sometimes.

  2. Andrew Brant says:

    So very excited 🙂

  3. hgordon4 says:

    Having owned my firm for 23 years, my experience (personally and from watching clients) is that if you do good work word will get out and you will always have more work than you want. The hard part is finding and retaining people that share your work ethic and your values. And from what I, as a distant 3rd party, can observe you are truly blessed in that regard. You have some fine people there at LAP and Crucible.

  4. John says:

    It’s not just you. I recently finished my undergraduate studies. I work as a software developer, and sometimes I wonder if this is going to be it, and I’m going to get laid off and not find work for a long time. I’ve been bounced back and forth through 1yr contracts, a downsizing, etc.

    Now I have a bit more confidence, as it’s been a bit longer since I’ve been out of school. But it’s always been a fear of mine, as I try to stay debt free and grew up quite poor.

    But we just have to have faith in our skills and abilities and that people will recognize them.

  5. sawmillman says:

    Good to hear business is good! But I am anxious to see the chair plans!
    I gave up waiting for plans on a long bench and designed my own… They turned out good and sturdy. Made two for the wife!

  6. Anthony says:

    Enjoy your bounty, good things Are coming your way.

  7. Brian G Miller says:

    As a seasoned veteran in my trade (fine wood finishes) with it’s ups and downs I can tell you with supreme confidence the key to a great wiener water soup. It’s all about the seasoning.

  8. Mike Siemsen says:

    I also have a recipe for sawdust grits!

  9. Tim Null says:

    My business is client based. I do analysis for attorneys and claims adjusters. My day is based in the requests that came in the day before. So I am literally working day to day. Have been since 2005, when I started my own consulting firm. Always thinking of slow cycles. But I am good enough at what I do and have enough clients throughout the State of California (where my clients practice) that down times are very rare if at all. Quality work in any area is rare and if you do quality work people tend to find you and you will always be in demand.

  10. chucknickerson says:

    This commission will allow me to take a good three weeks of time to nail down a design that has remained slightly out of my grasp.

    We can do that? It’s sure better than whatever else I’d do with the money.

  11. Bob Jones says:

    Glad to hear it. I’m in the thinking stage of the same project and I’d like how you manage it first!

  12. Scott Taylor says:

    Three plus decades involved in various businesses and one thing is certain, you have zero control over the external forces. But, you control what you can. No debt, stay flexible and fast and above all become anti-fragile, (a recent term for an old concept). Those who fail tend to believe the current situation is THE situation, you may not (will not..) know what change is coming but you know that change will come.

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