Wood workers?

Discussion in 'Hobby/Travel Forum' started by av1611jim, Nov 4, 2006.

  1. av1611jim

    av1611jim
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    I see many threads about TV and travel. A couple about photography.

    Are there any woodworkers out there who love working with wood?

    What kinds of things have you built?

    What is your shop like?

    What one tool do you most need or want to get next for your shop?

    What one tool would you least want to be without?

    I love working with recycled wood. any wood I find, I drag it home with the intent of turning it into something beautiful.

    My last projects were a pulpit and sign for a little Mission church up in NE Montana. They were really pretty, unfortunately the church failed and is now a Pentacostal Church. they didn't keep the sign. (Hi-Line Baptist church) And I don't even know what happened to the pulpit.

    I built a china hutch out of Western Red Cedar one year for my wife for Christmas. She still loves it.

    Anybody like me who love wood?
     
  2. Benjamin

    Benjamin
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    Yep, love it, wish I had more time to build my own things though.



    Lots of kitchens, vanities, laundry rooms, entertainment centers, beds, bars, lots of commercial laminate projects such as doctor’s offices, laundry mats, pizza places, and other retail stores. Built my own home, 5800sf, thought of it as a large cabinet.



    I work in a 2000sf gambrel type barn, but a bit crowded because of overgrowth, full of tools, blades, bits and jigs.



    A lathe would be fun, but I don’t have much call to use for one in my business.


    Hands down my table saw would be the most used tool; it has a 6ft x 12ft top with a 7ft fence. It has under cabinets all the way around for storage. Many would be surprised with what can be done on a table saw.

    Other than that I would really miss my molding machine, shaper, router tables, and my drum sanding machine would be considered worth its weight in gold.



    You would probably love picking through the scrapes that I end up having to throw out.



    I built all the cabinets for our church, built a large mantle cabinet for another with carved doves, 3 crosses built into the raised panel doors and a halo above the center door, also did the ceiling in panels for a church.



    My wife says she doesn’t like to have to dust everything but is waiting for several more projects to get done and she will be trilled as she gets them. I can dust about 10 times as fast as she can anyway.



    When it’s a job it can be tiring and same old thing boring, but I love projects for our own home when I get the time. There is a saying that the shoe maker’s kids are the last to get the shoes. I enjoy very custom and different projects that customers might come up with and tell people if I can envision it, it is out of wood, and the price is right I can build it.
     
  3. av1611jim

    av1611jim
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    How did you get started in your own business?

    I have been thinking of venturing out on my own. getting tired of the "no work" syndrome. Mostly because employers I have worked for are either too lazy to hustle up the bids or they think they can sit at home and the work happens by magic.

    Any tips for a guy to round up his own work?

    BTW;
    I used to livein the Phoenix area, Glendale and Peoria.
     
  4. Benjamin

    Benjamin
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    Kind of a long story, but I worked hard and fast as I could from a young age for several different employers in the area (not so much for them but for me), I moved around from shop to shop looking for opportunities to learn and be promoted, if I became dismayed because of my employer or job position I would simply quit as I found that I could start in the phone book under cabinet makers beginning at A and call or go by and at the end of the day and before getting to Z I would have a new job.

    At one large shop that I worked at three different times in which I went through every phase of the production lines dominating my position I was then moved into the custom shop at 22 years of age (every one else in there where in their 30’s or 40’s) There was another man in his 60’s that worked nearby on very special custom projects and often asked for me as a helper and he sort of took me under his wing and taught me a lot.

    Soon I was working circles around the other men in the custom shop but yet they were making twice as much money as me. My employer then started a custom laminate section and put me in charge while promising me a dollar raise, soon! This employer was going out and buying tons of new equipment, trucks and such, and living like a king; he was no doubt making lots of money off of my labor but was afraid if he gave me a raise several others around my age would expect the same. He charged $50 an hour to his customers for my custom work and paid me $6.75. After I made him 150 laminate vanity aprons for a motel in one week, which probably from his profit he could have paid my wages for a year, I asked for my raise, later he came back and said all he could give me was 25 cents. I quit with a vengeance to go out on my own knowing I could build a vanity in a week and make more money than I did there; he had to hire 5 guys to replace my positions.

    I had bought my own belt sander a month before, my Grandma gave me a skill saw which I mounted upside down in an old desk for a table saw and I made myself a fence with a block of wood and a bar clamp, and a girl friend bought me a router, other than that all I had was my hand tools, but I set up shop on the back of my Mom’s patio, LOL (she wasn’t happy about that!) I built a $400 dresser for a coworker of my girlfriend which after seeing it and him telling others I built two more, then a parquet living room set for one of my dresser customers, then an oak kitchen for a friend of my Moms, a white laminate kitchen for a friend of my grandmas. Word of mouth, feast and famine for a while but soon hooked up with a contractor that moved me off of Moms porch (she was about to kick me off anyway) and into a small metal building and he provided some jobs but took half the money with me doing all the work, except the paper work.

    The contractor was a rowdy drug addict and we had a lot of falling out so every time I got paid for a large job I saved the money in hopes to buy some land and build my own shop. After 3 years I bought 5 acres in the middle of nowhere. I built a shed on the property and whenever I got paid I bought materials to fill the shed for the shop. One day the contractor’s wife came up to me and said they were getting a divorce and I needed to think about moving. I had just been paid for a large commercial job and was already fed up and so moved out that day and started building my shop the next, although smaller than I had hoped. I was up and running in 2 months and had 2 other contractors offering me custom cabinet jobs for 2 large homes that had to be done in 6 weeks and I took them both and never really looked back again where to find work as word of mouth has always been my source. The phone seems to ring when I need the work; I’ve been very blessed.

    I always bought needed tools for faster production along the way whenever I could and expanded my shop size after I got rolling. My Grandmother (mentor) taught me to be professional and reliable and that along with the quality of my work, I think, has kept me going.

    I grew up on the Phoenix/Glendale boarder. The 5 acres I bought which was first only county in the middle of nowhere is now the city of Surprise and houses are going up all around me. It's a booming place.

     
  5. Benjamin

    Benjamin
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    Something else is that I’ve tried a few times to come up with some custom production line products to sell in a retail setting but with very little success. I enjoy setting up a shop for a mass production of a specific item but just haven’t found that thing that everybody wants.

    I’ve found people want what they want and if you can give it to them they are willing to pay. Often people can not find what they want in the stores and also I think they enjoy planning and designing the wood items just the way they want it, along with some suggestions I will make, and seeing the results when they come to reality. I try to keep the custom work affordable and have done jobs at a lower price just to get in the door or get my name out. It is nice when enough inquires are coming in for jobs because then I get to pick and choose which jobs to take without cutting myself short and I get to pick which customers I prefer to work for.

    BTW, if you start messing around with new equipment remember you only get one set of fingers, never give chance to slipping into a blade, the project piece just isn’t worth it. FTR, I do have all my fingers, although one thumb is 1/8 inch shorter now, I use to have a messed up finger tip that I made spaghetti out of but oddly after about 8 years and lots of peeling off of dead skin it looks normal now. :smilewinkgrin:
     
    #5 Benjamin, Nov 7, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2006
  6. av1611jim

    av1611jim
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    Yikes!
    The closest I came to losinga fingerwas in Jr.High shop. I had a disagreement with a bandsaw. It won, my thumb lost. I got a nasty cut to the knuckle but the thumb is still attached and works fine.

    You are right about safety rules. One day i needed a very small piece for a project and having very few tools at the time, I tried to cut it on my table saw. It kicked back and gave me a nasty gash to the other thumb! Lost the fingernail and it took months before it worked right. Never again will I try that stunt. Now if I need somethinng small I will use a different tools or make a sled to carry it.
     
  7. NateT

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    I was an amature woodworker. I had made the requistie bookshelves :) Then I made a kitchen table, a chest and finally a bed. We have the bookshelves and chest. I sold the table and the bed collapsed :)

    I recently sold all my tools to pay for us to fly back to my wife's family reunion. They'd been in storage 2 years with about 2 years left at seminary it's going to be a while before I can use them anyway.

    I enjoyed it. But I enjoyed the designing and constructing a lot more than I did the sanding, staining and varnishing etc.
     
  8. av1611jim

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    Thanks Benjamin;
    Some very useful pointers. I love custom work and will try to incorporate some of the tips you have given me. I was thinking of 'onsite' type of stuff versus 'shop' stuff. My shop is much too small right now to try very much fine furniture, but things like built-in cab.s and mantles, (things like that) would be fun to do. I realize that wood working for profit is very different than wood working for one's own home. That is like cooking or anything else I suppose. When I was an Italian food saute' chef, it was very stressful but I still love cooking at home.

    Like you say, "The shoemakers kids are barefoot".
     
  9. Benjamin

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    I knew of some old timers that used to build cabinets onsite out on the driveway, but the quality wasn’t that great and although possible I would find it difficult to set up and produce that way. I like having everything there were I need it and my money is made on my time in the shop. I have had lots of people ask me to put crown moldings around their ceilings, base, door, and window casings and do closets, pantries and such. A think a guy could pick up a decent 12 inch miter saw with a, say, Delta stand with adjustable out-rigging arms, finish nail guns, and maybe a small table saw on locking wheels and jump into that kind of finish carpentry.

    Yep, we are about to be in our house 2 years, but it is pretty empty, we have a large kitchen that I completed right away, and I put fancy trim and casings all around inside and out, 26 windows, 21 doors, a 16 inch crown molding profile around the exterior eves, but by the time we moved in I was about broke, burned out, and really needed to get back to making some money and get back on my feet.

    I finally finished the wife’s 8’ china cabinet a few months ago and I am working on a large dining table with 10 chairs now, hopefully will be finished for Thanksgiving. We have a 24’ long laundry room/sewing and crafts, with 2 washers and 2 dryers but no cabinets and sink in there yet, that is next. Then my list goes like this: a 12’ entertainment center, 30’ of garage cabinets, plate rack above the bay window, new bedroom furniture for Master and guest room, and desks/dressers for the kids, chess/game table for game room, glass display cabinets and antique replica furniture for living room, built in cabinets and book shelves for the office. That ought to keep me busy for a while!

     
    #9 Benjamin, Nov 11, 2006
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 11, 2006
  10. gb93433

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    When you work for profit you need to charge a minimum of 2 times what you need to make. When you have employees that goes up to 3 to 5 times.

    Sometime go to www.taunton.com and read the posts in Knots Discussion.
     

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