These guys learned the hard way—over time and on the job—but you can skip ahead and simply reap the benefits of their labors.

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Man at the saw

You don't have to be a professional woodworker to work like one. And you might be surprised to learn that the differences between you and someone making money in the shop are surprisingly few. As it does with you, efficient use of time and materials plays a daily role in every pro's routine. They perform regular tool maintenance, just as you must. And they crave the same things we all do: lower material prices, spectacularly figured wood, newer and better tools, get-there-quicker finishes, and less time spent sanding. To let you in on some of their secrets, we visited four accomplished makers of custom furniture and cabinets. We learned a thing or two, and so will you.

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