Where you’re likely to be woodworking and what you may be working on

home improvement couple

In May, in conjunction with our annual Small Shop Issue, Canadian Woodworking & Home Improvement posted a voluntary online survey for woodworkers. We wanted to tabulate a profile of the typical woodworker. We asked where your shop is located, its size and what you make in it. You could think of it as the Canadian Woodworking census (but unlike the Canadian government, we didn’t ask about age, language or gender). We were delighted to receive 4,898 responses, so it makes for a good profile. Thank you!

home improvement couple

We did ask whether woodworking is a hobby or profession, and then tabulated the responses separately for the two resulting cohorts – the 94% who say it’s a hobby and the 6% who say it’s a profession. So while we appreciate that woodworking can be a solitary activity, the results let you see how your circumstances fit in the overall pattern.

Hobbyists in their garages

Most hobbyists (83%) say their shop is at their home. Another 4% say it’s at another location and 2% say they use a portable toolbox. About 10% told us they did not yet have a shop, but hope to someday.

For the woodworkers who said they have a shop at home, we asked where it’s located. More than half use their garage and 27% are in the basement. We show the breakdown of where woodworkers at home have their shop in the pie chart below.

chart of where hobbyist woodworkers have their shop

Small shops for most

You might think that workshops can be pretty spacious, but more than one third of respondents (36%) work in shops that are under 150 square feet – about the size of a one-car garage. Another 35% have between 150 and 300 square feet (a double-car garage). Only 20% work in shops between 300 and 500 square feet. Those with the most elbow room are the 11% with shops over 500 square feet.

What you do in your shop

We asked about the kind of woodworking you most often engage in and only allowed one choice. We probably should have somehow subdivided the “home improvement” category, because it was picked by 42%, followed by 18% for furniture making and 17% for craft making (see pie chart below for the first choices picked).

Of course, many woodworkers engage in more than one type of woodworking. Our survey likely reflected the fact that home owners who are also hobbyist woodworkers were undertaking home improvement projects in May (especially those impacted by “stay at home” pandemic restrictions).

Kind of woodworking for hobbyists

Winner of survey draw

We thank everyone who took the time to participate in the survey. We offered a prize for participating with a random draw from all eligible entries. The winner of the Small Shop Survey draw is Len B. of Courtenay, British Columbia, who gets a Milwaukee 2462-22 Impact Driver Kit. When we asked Len about his woodworking, he said he has done a range of woodworking crafts over the years, but now he would be in the 10% who answered “other” for kind of woodworking. His focus today is on intarsia. He would love to see a scroll saw project or two in a future issue.

Profile of a professional

Compared to those who say woodworking is a hobby, one of the big differences for those who say it is a profession is that 64% say their shop is at home while 22% say it’s at another location and 5% share a space with others. Also, 41% say they have more than 500 square feet. Among the professionals, the breakdown of kind of woodworking was only 26% for home improvement, 25% for furniture making, 20% for cabinet making, 13% for other and 10% for craft making.

2 Comments

  1. I appreciate your effort to show where and how we compare with each other. I believe we have varied experiences and needs and an opportunity to compare brings us a little closer to each other. No COVID. No racial intolerance. No politics.
    Thank-you.

  2. Thank you for this article. I am opening a makerspace in the Montreal suburbs and found the statistics in this article very helpful in drafting the demographics portion of my business plan. We will be providing an 1100sf woodshop with traditional shop tools and digital tools such as a laser cutter and CNC.

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