As with many industries across the country, woodworkers meet challenges that threaten their success. Here are the biggest threats for a woodworker’s livelihood.
Increasing Cost of Wood
With the housing market on the upswing, the price of wood has started to rise, especially as of February 2013 when lumber prices reached another milestone with the price being the highest in eight years. The cause is threefold: demand for construction lumber has increased by 30 percent over one year ago, China has increased its need for soft-wood imports by 16 percent, and many previously-closed saw mills are not being reopened. Opening these saw mills is expensive, so rather than reopening these mills, existing mills are increasing production to try and meet demands. Demands, however, are not being met, causing an increase in price.
Injury and Safety
Safety is a big issue when it comes to woodworking. This typically comes from not being thoroughly trained on a machine, using it improperly, or not using the standard safeguards. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), common injuries include severed fingers, amputation, laceration and blindness.
These are definitely issues that need to be taken seriously, and time should be take every six to 12 months to review safety standards so that machines are used properly while wearing proper safety protection. If injury does occur, it may cause loss of work for woodworkers, who rely on their hands and sight to do their job.
Found within the epifamily Termitoidae, there are estimated to be around 4,000 species of termites. About 10 percent of these are pests that can cause costly damage to forests, buildings and crops adding up to billions of dollars in damage each year in the U.S.
Of these, dry wood termites are the biggest threat for woodworkers. These termites establish colonies in wood that is very dry, such as attics or lumber. They consume both soft spring wood and harder summer wood. For woodworkers, having an infestation of termites can ruin the whole supply of wood causing them to lose costly materials.
Meeting the Needs of Customers
For woodworkers that deal with customers directly, such as creating custom wood furniture, meeting customer needs is a big issue. It’s possible for a woodworker to spend hours laboring over a rocking chair just to have the customer change his or her mind about wanting it in the first place and therefore not being willing to pay for it. Or it’s possible for a customer to decide that the finished product wasn’t exactly what they were looking for and asking for something new.
When this happens, woodworkers not only lose out on the money made from not selling the product but also on the cost of the materials. The most they can hope for is another customer deciding to purchase the already-made product.
Woodworking can be a rewarding profession, especially for those that use wood as their medium to create beautiful works of art, whether furniture, instruments, or sculptures. Luckily, for many the rewards outweigh the problems.
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