thanks for the suggestions and the detailed layout of your electrical facilities. i think you have some good ideas about separating different tools on separate circuits. but what do i know!!
also i didn't think about the air compressor. as i only have a small portable one now. but i will be upgrading to a larger one eventually. right now i only use air to power my guns. i don't do alot of finishing and when i do my dad and i have a turbine HVLP that i use. but i may be going with a kreg pocket machine and i am still trying to decide on the electric motor or the fully pnuematic version. and from what a friend tell me that thing eats some serious air pressure.
as i told marty i am very much leaning towards the 400 amp option. i need to talk to my service provider to get some questions answered so i can make an educated decision.
i also agree that more is better. well most of the time anyway.
I will be doing mostly cabinets, however i think you and i are on different ends of the spectrum. i will be doing face frame construction so my process is slightly different than yours. but still all in all having a plan and layout is definitely a good move. one thing i have going for me is my dad's shop is exactly the same size. so i have the oppurtunity to set up our tools in his shop first and kinda get a feel for what i like and don't like about it.
i will be drawing up some layout plans and posting them here for advice and critique.
oh and fun? this is gonna be great , i have been dreaming about this for years!!!
excellent post and great advice. ya know i been thinking about so much other stuff i kinda just put the biz plan on hold. I do need to do that though. the good thing about the market here is that housing is booming, of course the really unique and specialty housing isn't booming but the kind of housing that will provide me with the work load i need is crazy busy right now.
as it stands now, between now and March I have six complete houses to do, kitchens, baths, laundry rooms, the works. now the catch is if i don't go full time soon i will lose some of these houses. because it takes me 3 times as long to get a house done while working on the side.
i have a friend who is a builder who has committed to 4 to 6 houses a year. i am friends with another builder who does 30 to 40 houses a year. some which are really nice. i believe after doing a few houses for him he will have no choice but to use me from then on out. i plan to do my best to provide my customers with the best service possible. word travels fast around here, and it's either good or bad.
i am good friends with a cabinet maker (an ex-boss) who is so busy right now he can't keep up. he doesn't even advertise, nor does he even have his number in the phone book.
something alot of the shops around here do is hire big workforces to pump out more and more work. which creates bigger headaches and more overhead for the employer. i plan to stay small, mostly me and maybe my dad helping out. instead of hiring workers i will outsource to make things faster. i would rather do the work myself because i enjoy it, but the bottom line is i will be making the money to support my family.
i have a wonderful wife who has a very stable job as a nurse. she is very supportive about the biz and wants to see me succeed. so that helps a tremendous amount.
so to answer your questions, yes i do have a plan, is it on paper, no...but i need to do that. i like you am kinda jumping into this blind. i have no business experience. but i consider myself a pretty smart guy with a good bit of common sense. and since it is just me, that will make things much easier.
oh, one other thing i forgot to mention. when i started this whole idea, i made myself and my wife a promise, i would not put us our the business into debt to get started. so far my shop and all my start up tools will be paid for. and i plan to add equipment as i need it and as my budget allows. i want to be in a position where if something were to happen and i have to shut the doors, I could do it oweing no one a dime.
thanks again for waking me up a little. very good post and great advice.
that is why i love this site. thanks again to everyone who started this site and to all the wonderful people who make it what it is.
It sounds like you already are going into this with you eyes open….that is good. The fact that your wife has a full time job with medical benefits, I assume, is a blessing you could not believe. Having health care under control alleviates a HUGE problem.
I am not sure what it is like in your neck of the woods but I formed an LLC in order to separate the business from my personal assets. I would seriously look into it. General Liability insurance might also be a good idea but check out your home owners policy also as it may not allow for coverage of a business at your home. This also bring ups the issues of running an moderate industrial use in residential area. Again it may be different in your area but do check out the allowable uses in your zoning district. The last thing you would want is to be shut down or fined during your busiest times.
Electricity: I run my whole shop off of a 125 amp main lug sub panel which stems from my 200amp service for my home. I run a 15hp phase converter which powers a 9hp slider, 5.5 hp DC, 6.6 jointer/planer, 7.5 hp bandsaw & a 6.6 hp shaper. I also have some other machines running at 220 1ph, lights, AC ….. The rotary phase converter (RPC) I have will require a 125 amp breaker to run at full load capacity. I only have a 70amp breaker on it and I have run up to 4 of my 3ph machines simultaneously without an issue. I am by no means an electrical engineer or electrician (even though I play one in my shop) but it works for me. Before I had all of these 3ph machines I had the typical 1ph shop stuff and I had more than enough amps & volts. Do not forget on that 200 amp service for the house I still have all of its loads running also. My suggestion is 200 amps dedicated for the shop is plenty for your use. IF you want to be sure and it does not cost too much more than do the 400 but it does not seem to be needed based upon what I have experienced so far. Remember you are only one guy in there….
Machines: well there is a big can of worms. I like the European machines very much for their quality and accuracy but I paid for them dearly. In the terms of dollars and cents in starting up a company there are many ways to begin. I think you need to make a decision about how/what to buy: 1) buy cheap now to make money and maybe upgrade later 2) spend a bit more now and be done for a long time if not for ever. Only you can decide this based upon what you are willing to spend. From the sounds of it you will be making boxes and face frames. So you will need to cut sheet goods and rip face frames.
You can cut sheet goods, cheaply, with a circular saw and guide system (like a Festool or EZsmart). You could also get a vertical panel saw that will most likely be the quickest way to do this but a good one may cost too much. A slider offers a lot of versatility in that it can be used for sheetgoods and for solid stock but will also cost a bit more.
Ripping solid stock could be done with a power feeder mounted on a cabinet saw or even maybe rough rip on a bandsaw and then final feed those parts through a planer for final dimensioning. I would stay away from making the Cabinet Saw as the “center” of your shop as in my opinion it is an outdated design. Like I said fitted out with a power feeder though and it becomes a great low cost rip saw.
I hope this begins to help a bit as there are many other machines to talk about also
Chris, I might have a good suggestion here, well, a suggestion anyway. OK at least a random thought. Maybe one of our members who is in the "business" that's not too far away from you would invite you to come see their setup, so you can get a good feel of what you will need, without trying to get information from someone you will be in competition with. Maybe an overnight trip on a weekend with the wife, nice hotel, etc, etc. (brownie points!!!) Just a thought. Jim.
yes i am very lucky that my wife has our insurance covered. that is a huge weight off my shoulders.
that is very interesting to get your perspective on the power issue, especially since you actually know that you can run that many tools with your power supply. i should get to talk to the elec guy soon (waiting for them to come start running the overhead lines) and when i do i have a few questions for him that will help determine what i will ultimately do. but it is good to know that i could run my stuff on that 200 amp service. i'll keep that in mind
as for tools. i have not had enough experience with different types of tools to really know what i like. i have definitely not used anything european, although i can tell by looking at them i would like them. sliders for instance definitely look really nice and helpful, not to mention safer, as you have said before, they take you out of the danger zone.
my thoughts are to take option 1 you mentioned and to start cheaper and upgrade later. the reason being what i mentioned earlier about keeping myself out of debt. right now i work with minimal tools, i don't even have a bandsaw (fixing that later this week) and some of the tools i use are my dad's. my attitude is more of a what do i need instead of what do i want at this point in time. i wanna get what i need to get the shop going and make my life as easy as possible in the shop, without breaking the bank.
as for the cabinet saw. well i do plan to base my shop around a cabinet saw.....for now....and this goes back to the discussion above. i'd like to get a slider for sheet goods and a bad boy saw for ripping, but i just need to take it one step at a time. this way if something were to happen and the shop needed to close, all my tools are paid for and now i just have a really nice hobby shop!!!
i am always open to suggestions, especially from people who are making there living, or part of their living this way.
here is where we started 1 year ago with the property. it's old pasture land. we bought 4.5 acres and split it into 3 pieces, stuck a road down one side and each got about 1.5 acres. exactly what i grew up on and what i wanted.
my lot is 192x333
the shop will spring up in the back right corner of the property, where the road ends now.
my friend dug a pond on his piece to furnish dirt for the road and cut costs way down. pretty much in half.
and here are some shots of the road. the dirt work is now done and we put down a rock called flouralite. it looks like limestone but is breaks up into a powder and becomes a great foundation for the road. i need to get some pics of the road as it is now.
trying to get the guy out their right now to do the dirt pad for the shop and hopefully for the future house.
well it's official, I got my LLC certificate back from the state last friday.
Cutting Edge Woodworks LLC is official set up.
I still need to do some other things like get Tax id #'s and get permits from the city and sit down and talk with my CPA. but hey, i got a name....that means something doesn't it.
As soon as i can get all the legal and financial stuff sorted out, i am going to give my notice here at work. If it were up to me I'd be gone already just winging it, but thanks to my level headed and very structured wife, I am trying to actually plan this thing out. Can't wait too long, the work is beginning to pile up and this part time thing is running me ragged.
thanks, i can honestly say it does take guts. it is very hard to leave this comfortable desk job and strike out on my own. but doing both at the same time is just too much and the side work is getting too heavy to keep up with, i guess that's a good thing.
thanks, it took awhile to come up with that name. a good friend really wanted me to name it Mire'Acle Woodworks, but I told him I wouldn't be able to say it with a straight face. by the way my last name is pronounced meer, just like deer with an M, i know it's spelled wrong but we cajuns like to do that for some reason. another friend wanted me to name it Pre'Mire woodworks, kinda like Premier....but i didn't feel comfortable with that either.
everyone seems to like this name so i figured it was a good one.
Jim and Stu,
thanks, i'll take all the good luck you can dish out..
thanks...it definitely is scary, and i haven't even really gotten started, but the rewards far out way any of that stuff. i'm sure you know that.
the first of two shipments of my shop building is scheduled for this week, either thursday or friday I can't remember. This shipment will include all the sheeting and trim. the next shipment will bring the framing and trusses.
if this ridiculous weather would ever stop with the rain i could get my dirt work done and get a move on. luckily for me i have a great dad who is willing to let me take over his shop until mine is done so i don't miss out on any work. i guess he's used to it, i've been ruling his shop for the last year or more.
more to come later on all that. plus hopefully a few tool gloats very soon!!
Congrats Chris! You may be a little scared, but your probably way more excited. There really is nothing like being self employed. I think the benefit's definately outweigh the risks. Keep your focus on what you love and it will all fal into place and you will do well.
thanks doug, the plan is to stay focused on what i love doing. hopefully if i continue to be blessed like i have been recently that will be easy.
thanks for the kind words
thanks, there is a very small chance that those "old wood" cabinets will be featured in a small local home and decor magazine. well actually the house will be featured and the cabinets will be mentioned. if all goes well. that should be some good free advertising.