Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 15

Thread: Thoughts on Tooling up for a start-up woodworking business.

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    Posts
    5,533

    Thoughts on Tooling up for a start-up woodworking business.

    OK y'all
    help me 'spend' some money that I don't quite have yet.

    I'm 'between jobs' at the moment, and as a result of that I've got loads of time on my hands. As one Potential avenue of income I'm considering applying for a grant to start up a small business. I fully realize that this is not the best way to start a business, but it is where I'm at right now, so let's see if I can turn a neutral (I'm not looking at the job situation as negative in any way, so the worst it can be is a neutral) into a very large positive. My immediate goals are to find a new job, but also start up the business on the side and grow it so that I can build the side business into a primary income. In order to get a grant, I'll need a strong business plan and a budget to even be considered for assistance.

    for now I'm just trying to get a handle on a mod zero mark one generic woodworking shop. General use, with the intent to build cabinets, doodads, furniture, knick-knacks or anything I can do to make a buck. I know that specialty tools will come up once a better direction or scheme is realized. My intent here is to figure out where I'm at, to get short and medium range goals establshed.

    SO, here we go

    I currently have the following tools in my 'shop' :

    Ridgid 3612 10" Contractor saw. Excellent starter saw, which includes mobility right out of the box with its herculift system. I have upgraded the blade to a CMT cabinetshop unit, and it does a fine all around job. Yes I'd prefer a cabinet saw, but at least for now I have this to build around.

    Dewalt DW734 lunchbox planer. one half of the jointer/planer equation

    Delta 12" benchtop drill press model 11-990.

    Delta 10" CMS, folks honestly I don't know the model number, But it was my first 'honeydo' tool (honey I can build ____ if I buy this), pretty much like new even though it is about 8 years old. It is mounted to a chop saw/clamping station.

    Delta 16" vs scrollsaw.

    Porter Cable 690vspk kit. Plunge and fixed base, plus an extra fixed base for router table work. assorted bits.

    Porter Cable 5" ROS. virtually new in box.

    Craftsman Circular saw, old school tailed tool, hefty beast back when they built decent tools.

    Black & Decker 18v drill/driver and 12v drill/driver. both homeowner grade, but they do the job.

    Ryobi 18v 5 tool set, drill/driver, circ saw, sawzall, flashlight (does this really count as a tool?) mini vac (only listed because it is the 5th tool in the kit) plus 18v drywall tool and laminate trimmer. My dad gave me the ryobi set because he upgraded to a Dewalt. not sure how much use they'll be but I"ve got 'em so I'll list 'em.

    Jet 650 cfm chip collector. doesn't suck much, but it is what it is, and can handle one tool at a time.

    Add to that list above assorted clamps (never enough, of course) hand saws, a few hand planes (starter set which I have barely used)

    also add a fair amount of cherry, maple and other assorted timbers which I have on hand.

    Now, as you can see that is a fairly good starting point, and a nice enough hobbyist shop. All of which is currently sitting idle in here:


    I used to share a woodworking shop with a buddy of mine, we were 'Madison Woodsmith' we rented 1200 sq ft of shop space in a business incubator building near here. We split up the business when I took my last job. it was pretty much a really nice hobby shop space, masquerading as a business. Rent went up every year, and we weren't producing enough to justify continuing the rental.

    I know that space, or similar, is available should I be lucky enough to grow my business into something that needs that sort of space.

    for the sake of the business plan/budget let's assume I'm going to build a structure on site here at the house as an initial place to work out of. As my needs grow, I'll either add on, or we'll move to a better/bigger house and lot.

    For my proposed general duty woodworking shop, building furniture/object d'art/ etc... How do the following tools sound to round out the tool corral at least initially.

    Jointer 6", used. I've got my eye on a craftsman which I'm used to and is local.

    Bandsaw: I've been 'ready' to buy a g0555 with riser kit for quite awhile now. just didnt' have the shop to put it in.

    Router table (shop built) and a 3hp router, for table duty. Hitachi M112 or similar.

    6" belt/8" disc sanding station. I can get one very reasonable. , again, just no place to put it as yet.

    Air cleaner. Either squirrel cage shop built, or commercial kit/premade. Must have for health reasons.

    Along the same lines, I would upgrade my starter DC to a 'real' one, model and hp depending on budget and power availability, definitely would get a cyclone.



    All of the above 'needs' are items which I could get piecemeal as I go. If I get lucky enough to get a grant I'll be tooling up in a hurry. If I don't get the grant, I'll be looking for/earning my way through each of them as projects come in. The biggest 'need' of course is a building to put them in, but that's a whole other post. As is what I'm going to do with them once I have them.
    -Ned

  2. #2
    I've thought about going pro for a long time. I think the first question to answer is how much income do you need to generate and how much work would it take to generate that level of income. I know that as I've upgraded my tools over the past 30 years, the amount of time it takes to do quality work has dropped significantly. I'm just a hobbiest, and I now have a Sawstop saw which suits my status as hobbiest very well. I know that if I went pro where I live, it's likely that that I'd end up using a ton of sheet goods. While I have, and can do very nice work with a Festool guided saw and a a cabinet saw, I know that it's a ton faster to do it with a big slider saw, and the quality will be better in the end. If you are going to have to compete against shops that have this kind of equipment, you will likely need the same to make money. Now, my brother lives in rural Iowa and he is make $15 an hour with a shop like you are describing. I think if he were in Phoenix, he'd be luckly to make that. But where he lives, he's the one of the only shops at all, so if people need something custom, they live with the cost, and lower quality output...joe

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    The Heart of Dixie
    Posts
    4,265
    Ned, the best thing you can do is skip the day dreaming about machines and find the SBA web site, download their information on writing a business plan and be realistic. If you don't kid yourself and you put some serious time into the business plan it will be an eye opener. Might be good and might be bad. I have written two and it's a great tool. BUT I STRESS, you have to be realistic when you write the plan. Some of the numbers are guesses.

    And if you have Excel you can down load some great spreadsheets and play with What If's. It can be a lot of work but it's really a great tool if used properly.
    God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway,
    the good fortune to run into the ones I do,
    and the eyesight to tell the difference.


    Kudzu Craft Lightweight Skin on frame Kayaks.
    Custom built boats and Kits

  4. #4
    Steve Clardy Guest
    4 things come to mind, just scanning over your post.

    Skip the 6"belt,8" disc combo unit.
    Get you an edge sander. 6x89 at least. [Think edge sanding, cabinet doors]
    Trim router
    3hp shaper for raised panels

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    N.E. Arkansas
    Posts
    374
    I'll let you know in about 6 months, my retirement date from my day job is on June 30. I've been seriously working in this direction for the last 8 years. I have a pretty good customer list and plenty of work to keep me busy most eveings and every Saturday and Sunday. I just finished working today at 3:30 to rest up for going back on the day job tomorrow. I put in 10 hours yesterday and 7 hours today, kinda of a typical weekend really. I've been thinking this way for a long time and there are skads of ways to skin this cat but you've gotta do something that makes you the man. Why are people gonna come to you in the first place. I've decided that my customers are gonna come from higher end furniture and custom raised panel doors for contractors and custom kitchens. So far I get more rp door work than anything else but most people know and have seen my work in various places around town. The furniture and kitchens are great too but they are up and down like the flag.
    I once heard that cats and women will do darn well what they please and that men and dogs would do well to accept it and just go on.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
    Posts
    2,332
    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Horton View Post
    Ned, the best thing you can do is skip the day dreaming about machines and find the SBA web site, download their information on writing a business plan and be realistic. If you don't kid yourself and you put some serious time into the business plan it will be an eye opener. Might be good and might be bad. I have written two and it's a great tool. BUT I STRESS, you have to be realistic when you write the plan. Some of the numbers are guesses.

    And if you have Excel you can down load some great spreadsheets and play with What If's. It can be a lot of work but it's really a great tool if used properly.
    Ned, I'm with Jeff on this. It's not as much fun to think about business aspects as it is to think about tools, but that's what you should be doing. You have a good starter set of tools (but nowhere to put them). Once you figure out where to put them, what you are going to make, how you are going to sell what you make, then when you find you need an extra tool for a job, buy it.
    Cheers, Frank

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    Posts
    5,533
    First and foremost, Thank you All! I'm posting this here to get Exactly this kind of invaluable advice.

    I"m working on the 'exact' direction that I'd like to go with. and at this stage this is a 'design study' to see what I would need to overcome. I'll answer each you in turn. I harbor no illusions that this is an immediate fix to my current situation. It IS however AN option which I'm looking into. And it may wind up that I Don't Do this at all, beyond this study and having a well equipped shop for my own use.

    Joe
    I'm certain that I cannot line up against the big guns, there are several shops in town, and I've looked into working for them. THey pretty much told me I was 'overqualified' and thanks for applying. I'm going to build slowly and find my niche, when/if I get to that stage.

    Jeff,
    The SBA was on my list of contacts, thanks ! I'll be sure and set up an appointment with them once I have things a bit more settled. I still have to iron out the daily bills part of things. I'm excel friendly, so I'll be sure and pull down those spreadsheets and see what they generate.

    Steve,
    Edge sander, shaper , check. Trim router has been on my list for some time now. I have one, but I'll be getting a better one as I can pay for it.

    Jeff,
    all the best with your venture, that niche is a great thing to find. RP doors would be a terrific way to be 'the man' indeed. Quality is what will bring them back time and again.

    Frank,
    Aye there's the rub. I've got the plan on the building in place too, just a matter of time and getting rid of some of that nasty white stuff. somehow I don't think that starting construction here in central NY in February is a good thing. At least initially I'll likely wind up renting another shop space, once I get the whole business thing set up.
    -Ned

  8. #8
    Call me nuts, crazy or whatever.

    Forget the tools. Forget the business plan.

    Don't ever borrow money.

    Go and get the work first. Work on salesmanship.

    You ain't selling a chair or a table, you are selling yourself.

    Start small with what you have and realistic expectations.

    Take any commission and build it at a loss if you have to.

    Because what you are building is reputation, without it

    no magic tool or shop space or grant is going to keep food on the

    table.

    Figure a way to keep the tools you have now working and paying.

    Do not buy a new tool unless the job or commission pays for it.

    Find a market. Be it a brick and mortar store that takes commissions or local

    builders, architects and designers. Even a small piece in the coffee shop you

    haunt in the morning will get people talking.

    Take pictures, make a book of your work past and present. Glossy paper,

    have it bound at kinkos. When you work for your self, its all you do.

    24/7. Did I mention don't borrow a nickel?

    Be careful, shooting squirrl for stew can be taxing.

    Speaking of taxing, get started first, worry about the gubbimint later.


    I hope this helps you stay out of the ditch.

    Per
    Last edited by Per Swenson; 02-12-2007 at 09:43 AM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ozarks
    Posts
    4,992
    per offers very sound advice! make what you can with what you have and make it well enough that folks will talk. be available for the next job and bid it to slightly increase your tool inventory and still eat...
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Lakeport NY and/or the nearest hotel
    Posts
    5,533
    Per and Tod,
    I will NOT go into debt. Period. I've been on the strictly cash basis for several years now. I got into some pretty hefty debt awhile back, learned my lesson and don't use plastic other than a debit card for anything. If I don't have cash, I don't buy it.
    The grant idea was only mentioned because I May qualify if I can find one. I'm a 'displaced worker' at the moment, and If the gummint is going to have who knows how many programs to help those who wont' help themselves, I figure they darned well can help someone who Wants to help himself. If they don't or I can't get the grant so be it, but I won't lose anything but time (which I have ample amounts of currently) or fees to investigate.

    This whole excercise has been to help me focus where I want to go from here. It is obvious to me, (and was when I started this), that I won't be supporting the family from the get go on a new woodshop. That was not my intent, I did want to get a better direction to head in tool wise. That I can see, a Jointer shaper and perhaps a Performax are the only tools I didn't already have that I will want to get someday.

    JOinter because I will need it to dress timbers accordingly. That tool I need 'now' as it were. I have the other half of the equation, so I need the first part .
    Shaper for raised panels etc... and wide belt sander for panel thicknessing. THose two I can wait on until jobs pay for them.

    Again, I cannot thank everyone enough for being the 'voice of reason'. I wasn't going to run out and bet the farm on my business skills, but now i have better reasons not to, or am more in tune with why I should build slowly.

    I have a kitchen to finish, going to be fun getting that done in the next few weeks. Pics to follow!
    -Ned

Similar Threads

  1. woodworking as a business, profit margins?????
    By larry merlau in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 31
    Last Post: 08-25-2010, 01:55 AM
  2. some thoughts to start the New Year
    By Don Baer in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 01-02-2010, 11:59 PM
  3. Difficult Woodworking Tasks Thoughts
    By Travis Johnson in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 03-03-2008, 11:21 PM
  4. Alyson and Woodworking: Its a Start!
    By Travis Johnson in forum Off Topic Discussion
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 12-02-2007, 01:05 AM
  5. Think I am going to try a woodworking business
    By Jeff Horton in forum General Woodworking Q&A
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-05-2007, 01:55 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •