Working for yourself…

… is not the same as working on your own

Well, that may be obvious to many, but not necessarily to everyone. 

Over the years we’ve met a good number of cabinetmakers, many of whom trained at Rowden, who set up workshops for themselves. With wonderful, compact workshops, sometimes no bigger than a double garage, they have created tiny efficient businesses with the minimum of overheads. 

There is no doubt that keeping your costs down is a great way to keep your head above water, and many of the owners of these small workshops have gone on to have very successful careers.

But it sounds like a very solitary existence. One that for many is a very conscious decision.

But it’s not for everyone. And for me, I couldn’t imagine a workshop that didn’t have other folk working there or passing through from time to time.

The Benefits

There are so many benefits to a shared workshop, so long as you find good people to share your space with.

Maybe most importantly, though not very excitingly, it is safer. Accidentally cut off some fingers on the table saw and it’d be really handy (…handy!) if someone else could ring for an ambulance or even drive while you concentrate on stemming the flow of blood from your hand.

Then there is the common sense of purpose, mutual support and offering of advice. You can work through design and making challenges. Trust me, two heads are better than one when coming up with solutions to technical issues.

Heavy lifting, pretty self explanatory. Wood is never light and with many standard boards weighing over 30 kilos it’s always better to share the load.

Better machinery, more space, probably a kitchen… all things you can expect in a larger shared workshop.

And let’s not forget, one example of a large shared workshop used by ex-students of Rowden is Rowden! 

Many students stay on after their year’s training to continue to develop their skills while bench renting there. This way they continue to benefit from the shared experience, from the knowledge of the tutors, with the heavy lifting, and the endless cups of tea and biscuits that are  a constant part of Rowden life.

What’s not to like!

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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