craigWoodworker Craig Thibodeau is a maker of fine furniture and a writer for Fine Woodworking Magazine. His work is known for its incorporation of marquetry and other intricate veneering. A mechanical engineer by trade, Craig started a business that failed before making the jump to woodworking full time — and he’s been doing it ever since. Join us as we talk to Craig about:

  • His early affinity for shop class
  • The disconnect between studying engineering and being an engineer
  • Starting a business with his friends and watching it fall apart
  • Supporting a family through woodworking

“My first engineering job, I didn’t do anything related to what I studied. All the calculus and non-linear mathematics I learned? That was a total waste of time. It’s great to have taken those classes and suffered through all those classes, but I have never used any of it. Couldn’t solve a differential equation now if I had to.”


“Even with today’s equipment, the mechanical complexity of some of these pieces is astonishing. I’ve seen pictures of them, and still have difficulty understanding how they were able to do that with no CNC, no computer control; no computer drafting programs — just a pencil and a piece of paper.”


“If you’re not making enough money to pay for insurance, you’re not making enough money. Like, if you’re not making enough money to buy food, you’re not making enough money. You’re not really self-sustaining. You’re not going to be in business for very long. If $100 a month of insurance money is going to make or break the bank account, then you’re either not charging enough or not selling enough.”


“[School] doesn’t teach you how to be an engineer. It teaches you how to learn, or how to read, and how to study, but it doesn’t necessarily teach you how to be an engineer. Because in the number of engineering jobs that I had, I never used any of the stuff I learned in school.”


“Maybe it’s good for everybody to do that – to try it and fail at some point. But it can be really expensive, you know, and you lose friends, for a long time, forever. Friends that you’ve had for a long time are no longer friends because business went south.”


“Without marketing, doesn’t matter how good the product is. Because nobody’s going to know it’s there.”

Connect with Craig:

CT Fine Furniture



Music: MANUFUTURE by DJ Derk Jickface

Wordsmithery: Bill Livolsi

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