I started woodturning as a hobby but when work stress began to take its toll on my health I came to rely on it as a means of relaxation. I was a Safety Manager for a large electronics, high tech company, originally responsible for all Product Safety and later the Occupational Health and Safety of some 2500 employees as well. Between the senior executives, the unions and the staff I was piggy-in-the-middle and to add to the fun the regulatory goal posts were moving all the time. As stress built up so did my weight and blood pressure and the warnings from the company doctor were becoming dire. I increased my woodturning to an hour or two every night and while I didn't fully get back to normal I did get myself back to within reasonably safe limits without any medication.
This much turning produced a lot of stuff so when the village Community Association decided to hold a Craft Fair I put my hand up. Now its one thing for friends and family to tell you how good your stuff is (humouring the old ***) but when total strangers are happy to give you serious money for it, then you start to believe in yourself.
Eventually the Company hit hard times with the world recession in civilian equipment and then the Soviet Union fell to bits and ruined our defence business. The Company with some asset stripping by its American owners then 'downsized' to 500 people and I was one of the 2000 made redundant but being over 50 with 33 years on the clock I got a good compensation package and a small pension, just as well because no new job was to be found. Before the money ran out I turned the woodturning hobby into a small business and went self employed.
Over the years the business has developed into a full time job and to fill the whole year I spread myself across all the subjects on my home page. During the first quarter I cut up trees, teach and do commission work. The wood is wax end-sealed and stacked for a year then loaded into my kilns to get down to the level of right-through dryness required by customers with modern centrally heated houses. By buying whole trees from local tree surgeons its cost disappears in amongst my labour costs so that I end up selling finished goods close to what it would cost an amateur to buy a seasoned blank at retail. My price however represents £15 minimum an hour to me, sadly this is eroded by things like Product and Public Liability Insurance, a van and wear and tear on the equipment but its a good way to live. My stress related health problems are now all gone.
Making for stock is an all year activity that stops only when its too cold to heat the workshop economically. Worthwhile Craft Fairs however don't start till Spring and reach a peak in profitability in August and September dropping to zero just before Christmas. During the winter after Christmas is when folk find themselves trapped indoors and is when Demonstration bookings and Beginners Courses usually get going.