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Thread: Sharing a shop

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Stockport, England

    Sharing a shop

    A couple of things have happened in the last few days that have got me reappraising my immediate future in my business.

    Firstly, it looks like the whole industrial area where I have my shop is going to be redeveloped in the next year or so. I'm going to have to find new premises for my shop.

    Secondly, my assistant has left, leaving just me and my finishing guy.

    So, what to do?

    I really don't want to have to find a new guy and train him up only to have to relocate the shop in a couple of years. What I'd really like to do is cut back and work by myself. The reason I've been an employer is to give my business the critical mass needed to cover my overhead and turn a profit. Out of choice I'd lower my overhead to the point that I can support it alone.

    One solution is to move my business into a friend's shop and share the costs. It is something we have discussed at length and the sums stack up. We wouldn't be partners - we'd each be working independently but splitting the costs of a workshop between us.

    Has anyone any experience of this kind of arrangement? What pitfalls should I be looking out for?

    Second question.

    If I were to move into my friend's shop, I would be forsaking my finishing room. At present I do his finishing in my dedicated sprayshop - his place doesn't have the space. I'm thinking that by moving onto water-bourne finishes we could manage without the specialist spray facilities that I currently have. What does anyone think?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Mountain Home, Arkansas
    Duncan, you asked....sounds like a forumla for losing a friend, IMHO.
    Too many 'what if's' in an arrangement like that. e.g. what if a tool (bandsaw, drill press, table saw, whatever, etc.) is set up to do a job for one of you and the other needs it? Do you go home for a day (or two) until it's free? Even married folks sleep on their own side of the bed. If the arrangement doesn't work out, then what. Or, more likely, where do you go?
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  3. #3
    Give it a contract
    That way if it looks like it is not going to work, will give you time
    to get your ducks in order

    WoodWorking, Crappie Fishing, Colts, Life is good!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Austin, Texas
    Quote Originally Posted by Duncan Cheslett View Post
    ...You have to remember that I've shared my shop (albeit with an employee) for years and situations like you describe occur all the time anyway.....
    There is a huge difference sharing when one is the boss, responsible for the productivity of both of you, and the other is the employee. When you are sharing John's shop, at best you will be peers, but most likely it will be John's shop, since he was there first.

    I recommend formally renting space, with the expectations and "privacy" spelled out. If you choose to be more casual about sharing some things, great, but at least you have a framework for starting out, and a framework to fall back on if there is "misunderstanding."

    As for waterbase finishes, I have almost completely converted, and love the improved results. There aren't huge differences in solvent finishes, but not all water-base finishes are close to equal. I found a very satisfactory brand, but have also tried some that I wouldn't use again. See for the story of my change.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Stockport, England
    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Plesums View Post
    As for waterbase finishes, I have almost completely converted, and love the improved results. There aren't huge differences in solvent finishes, but not all water-base finishes are close to equal. I found a very satisfactory brand, but have also tried some that I wouldn't use again. See for the story of my change.
    Interesting stuff, Charlie.

    You say you spray outside - does this mean you don't use a spray booth?

    Humidity doesn't seem to be a problem - but what about temperature? It can get cold here in winter. I am so used to having to take care using acid catylist lacquers, controlling temperature and humidity obsessively!

    I have played around with waterbase in the past but was not impressed. I will have to get some samples in. A free gallon from each of 20 potential suppliers and I won't have to buy any for months!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Houston, Texas
    Hi Duncan ,
    The sharing thing as mentioned could become a problem and since it starts out his place you may have to be receptive to being dual bosses. Then too if you can over look the idiosyncracies you both have it will be advantageous to have that extra set of hands to move a piece or load. You may think first of setting up the finishing shop at your home ( Shop) and sharing the work space with John. If the John thing doesn't make it , you have at least a space to call your own.
    Convince your Bride that she will benefit by your having a finishing shop/love shack where you can make and share your work time with her on all the projects she has always wanted. Then all you need do is PRODUCE!!!
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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Montclair, NJ
    I'm conflicted... For starters I'm currently sharing shop space with another woodworker. I'm a sub-let. No situation is perfect, always a give and take...but it sure is possible.

    But if I may ask... If there is no room for a spray booth, is there enough room for you and your machines and materials, not to mention works in progress.

    But... the finishing isssue. You should make the switch to waterbourne regardless. At least wherever possible, in my opininion. It's inevitable anyway, plus your insurance will go down.

    Moves are always a pain (and expensive, think down time...), you don't want to have to do it twice.

    So think of me as your best case scenario, It's working out... but I know it's only a matter of time before I'm doing it again. And I have a TON of work into this place.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Oak Harbor Washington on Whidbey Island
    What if you move into his shop & it doesn't work out & you have to move again? There is nothing worse than having this problem right in the middle of an on going project.

    I think what puts food on the table & pays the bills as well as making the remodel job possible comes first.

    I don't mean to be to blunt I grew up in a building & cabinet shop family & understand what some or most of the sacrifices

    Sorry I think the shop comes before the house remodel.
    "Forget the flat stuff slap something on the spinny thing and lets go, we're burning daylight" Bart Leetch
    "If it ain't round you may be a knuckle dragger""Turners drag their nuckles too, they just do it at a higher RPM"Bart

  9. #9
    Handle with care. I think that a shop share can work but you either need to be the very best friends who have already worked each other out to a fine edge or you need to be passing acquaintances with a good contract. Anywhere in between those points is a recipe for trouble as far as I can see. It is possible to get enough critical mass as a solo worker but maybe not with the kind of projects that you currently do. If you downsized would you be happy/able to modify your business aims? Bear in mind that the market that you work in is very different to the market that most of these colonial chappies () work in.

    As to spraying waterbased finishes - I very occassionally spray a water based paint effectively in outdoor conditions. I use a pop-up garden canopy to deal with showers of rain. If I spray in June-August the paint is touch dry in about 20mins. If I spray the same stuff in February-March it doesn't begin to dry for hours. This is a function of temperature and humidity. I suspect that this experience from Surrey is a closer analog to what you will get in Stockport than the climate of the southern USA will give you. If you want to spray year round you may be able to do the actual spraying outside but you need somewhere warm, dry and dust free for the drying phase or you need to hope that your wet finish survives for several hours outdoors without getting ruined.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    duncan, my gut says that you have to much equipment and your own client base to consider.....if you join forces with another carpenter then each of your clients could try to play one off the other....
    then you`ve got to think about material....if you`re friend runs short of hinges on a sunday afternoon and "borrows" a few pair from your stock to deliver a project on monday what does that do to your wednesday delivery?
    how about the equipment?........say you go to use your friends saw for one cut `cause it`s handy....and the motor decideds to go kaplooie...or the bearings start screeching.....who`s liable?
    on the finishing issues....i`m in the camp of "if it ain`t broke-don`t fix it"...i don`t know what government regs you have to deal with on your side of the pond, but over here if a fellow holds a manufacturing license then he`s assured of being able to purchase and use lacquers for at least a few more decades.
    look into all your options before you jump..
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

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