Amateur Woodworker

What is an amateur woodworker?

One man's answer: Those who love the material and the work of their craft more than anything else about it. (Krenov, 1977, page 6)

For professional woodworkers' satisfying clients is the "bottom line". For amateur woodworkers, the client is the "self". Thus, if the amateur woodworker has a degree of self-respect, he/she will not be satisfied with amateurish results. Indeed, it is not difficult to visualize that frequently amateur woodworking is equal -- not superior -- to professional results.

The periodical, Amateur Work, Vol 1, 1902, page 64, says this about defining what is "amateur work".

Amateur Work's motivation for this discussion of the meaning of amateur in that magazine was generated by the unexpected accolade that it received in an issue of the professional trade periodical, Modern Machinery.

In the review of Amateur Work published in the December 1901 issue of Modern Machinery, the article's anonymous author defines as amateur

"a lover of any art or science, though not a professor of it."

Ostensibly,a person who engages in woodworking purely for pleasure, as a hobby. Nonetheless, defining what is an "amateur" among woodworkers is tricky. When, for example, does an amateur become a "professional", that is, earn enough from woodworking to be eliminated from being considered an amateur? Because, in selling his projects, he earns money? However, if a woodworker cannot sustain he and his family on the earnings -- say it was $12,000.00 per year -- would that still make him a professional woodworker? And what about somebody, say like Wallace Kunkel, a teacher of woodworking techniques, who made the odd piece for himself? Is he a professional?

A master craftsman, a product of years of self-indentured training under as an apprentice under an earlier generation of "masters", was of course a "profesional" woodworker, but not -- in my opinion at least, in the same sense as a professional today.

[See discussion in later issue of Home Craftsman C 1939, for an account of formation of professional woodworkers and annual show, starting in 1938. Shortly thereafter, in January, 1940 a letter from a Maine professional woodworker, L. H. E. lamented that, while in the account of the Connecticut Craftsmen, professional groups at New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Massachusetts were mentioned, Maine was not. L H E continues:

In Maine about a year ago the Dept. of Education appointed a man to head the Maine craftsmen and later they formed what is known as the "Maine Craft Guild". A fine building was opened on No. 1 trail called "State of Maine Industries, Inc." A grading and pricing committee meets here to inspect and price the merchandise placed on sale by any member.

Sometime within a few months they are going to have a showing of merchandise of the craft members so that the owners of gift shops can see what is being made here in Maine and to place their orders for products. During the holidays they had a display in several places and some of my merchandise was in both displays. This past summer have had articles on sale in four different parts of the state. One was a large order for cash, the others on consignment.

I bought my first power tools in May, 1936 and have been adding to them since. My shop is in the basement 23 feet long, 13 feet wide with a board floor, sheathed walls, three full size windows to the south and a full-size window and door to the east.

A year ago last spring my son wanted me to build him a boat and he sent for plans of Horizon. Completed it looks just like the picture in your magazine.