Build On What You’ve Learned

canoeYears ago, I had a customer right here in the Cincinnati area for whom I was building a piece of furniture. When she ordered the piece I told her it would take a year and a half to two years, which was the standard wait for a piece at the time. Every month I’d get a nice little note in the mail telling me she wasn’t getting any younger (she was in her late 70’s or early 80’s when she ordered the piece) and that she’d appreciate it if I could speed the building process along if possible.

One month I received my standard envelope in the mail (email wasn’t quite as prevalent as it is today and did I mention her age?). Enclosed was a single sheet of paper with the sketch at the beginning of this post attached. Across the top of the page was scrawled, “Please don’t let THIS happen to my table.” She got a phone call assuring her all the legs would be pointing in the same direction.

Needless to say, I made the table and delivered it (my son still remembers the delivery where the little old lady stuffed him full of homemade Boston cream pie). But I took more away from the relationship than a check for a table. For me, the sketch sent by this little lady from Cincinnati drove home several points: haste makes waste; there’s always room for improvement; and it’s never too late to make a change.

As they say here in Cincinnati, “All y’all” have been visiting for nearly two years now. And while the website was built in relative haste, it isn’t all bad. But there’s room for improvement. And, to that end, you might want to drop by throughout this coming weekend, because it’s never too late to make a change.

— Chuck Bender

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8 thoughts on “Build On What You’ve Learned

  1. Whereas there may be improvement needed in every aspect of life, I can assure you that there has never been any disappointment in ANY version of the site on my end.
    Keep up the great work.

    1. Nicholas,

      Glad you like what’s been built. Hopefully, you’ll like what’s in store even more.

      And as a Fanatic, the coming changes aren’t just appearance – that’s just step #1. More to come about that first step as the week unfolds.

  2. Good article Chuck. I think that brings up another topic to discuss. Wait times for work. I know when I first started in the furniture restoration business I had little expectation of what the rest of the industry was doing in regard to backlogs and wait times. I stressed myself out needlessly to try to keep what was an unrealistic turnaround time for work. I soon learned the steps of the dance to try to balance this dilemma for my business but I always love to discuss that with other professionals. Of course a refinishing business will be somewhat different than a restoration company and again from a custom furniture shop and then to a custom cabinet shop. Many other variables such as size of shop, complexities of job, and backlog all factor in as does wanting to get that final payment once completed. Perhaps a decent subject for the 360 crew to throw in the hopper. Cheers, JB

    1. JB,

      Thanks. I always stressed over scheduling whether I was working alone or when I had 5 other guys in the shop. And, you’re right, building custom furniture for people always had a much longer lead time than doing antique restoration for collectors and dealers. And having period furniture in the shop always stressed me out even more than the backlog because of the sheer monetary value sitting around the shop waiting to be damaged. Most of those customers wanted their stuff back ASAP (and I, obviously, wanted them to have it back too). If my “new” furniture orders dropped to the point where I was closing in on a 1 year wait, I would panic and start beating the bushes for work. Some of the local refinishers I knew were stressing when their backlog got over 3 weeks. Different strokes for different folks.

      Definitely sounds like a topic for a podcast.


  3. Looking forward to seeing what other changes are in store for Fanatics.
    I think this is my best “Bang for a Buck” in woodworking.
    You guys explain things in easily understandable language and I like the way you let your experience do the talking.
    I know when you or Glen suggest something, it comes from guys who’ve done it enough times to know it works, or doesn’t.

    Keep up the good work, and I’ll keep subscribing.


    1. Thanks Eric. And going strictly by your comment, we would never suggest something that doesn’t work. 😉

  4. Looking forward to seeing the changes, Chuck!

    1. Me too. I hope it works out. 😁

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