Woodworking: A Lucrative Business?

Post - October 26, 2009

BarbaraThis is a post by a guest author, Barbara Howell. She is the author of a new book called Splinters: The Pain, The Passion, The Point. Its a true story based on her life as a woman trying to survive in a “man’s profession”.

My business, Southern Ladies Showcases, was still experiencing growing pains when several guys started asking me to build shelf display cases for their model NASCAR collections. As a woman, being new to this woodworking business, I had branched out into several markets: trade shows, festivals, craft fairs and flea markets. But, I was mainly building shadow boxes that displayed knives and arrowheads.

LewisCarsThese guys were requesting oak display cases with shelves and sliding glass, and that could be hung on the wall of their homes. To be perfectly frank, I was as lost as a goose in a snowstorm!  For one, the world of NASCR was new to me. I had never been to a Daytona bush race. I didn’t have a clue who Dale Earnhardt was. 

I wasn’t at the races when Casey Atwood slid on his top for a quarter-mile down the front stretch. But I had a potential customer who was there. And not just as a spectator, but he had raced against Mr. Atwood, and had a replica of the car to prove it.  And more than that, he was willing to pay a good price for a display case to house his car on its back in memory of his race.

CharlieDickWithTuckerI was clueless as to what the rare Tucker car looked like, that the great country music star, Patsy Cline’s husband owned, and wanted to display, with other replicas cars he had owned and driven.  Well, at this particular time, I may have been new and green on woodworking, but I wasn’t short on business sense. I figured out real quick, THIS could become a lucrative business.

While I was visualizing in my mind how to build these shelf cases for the guys, a man came into my show booth at the Nashville, Tennessee fair grounds. This friendly fellow had worked with a pit crew for years. He and his crew had maintained and hauled their car all over the nation. They worked all the NHRA drag meets. He had recently retired and had a closet full of cars, and he wanted display cases.  Now the grand thing was, this guy was familiar with a tape measure and didn’t mind sharing his knowledge.

CarCasesI caught on real fast, motivated by all that green stuff that was soon to come my way. Within a short time, I was producing a full line of shelf cases for all my racing fans, and drivers. And yes, it became a lucrative business. 

After working in the shop for more than 14 years I have most recently taken to penning my tales per the request of many of these customers that have become such good friends. My first book was published in March of 2009: Splinters: The Pain, The Passion, The Point. In this book, I tell my story of winding up in a seemingly abnormal profession and several of my customer’s stories and pictures of their cars displayed in my cases are included. For more information on Splinters you may visit my Web site at SplintersBook.com

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