Thinking about setting up a shop

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Forum topic by Rumely posted 03-09-2010 02:39 AM 1451 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 3511 days

03-09-2010 02:39 AM

This is my first ever post!

I am about 24 years old and considering doing a program that would require me to quit my full time job and have a 15 to 20 hour part time job plus the time required for the program. I have always loved wood working but have never found the time to focus on any project. I am considering setting up a shop in our barn in central Texas, and making furniture 20 hours a week. I know some but not a lot about the finer details of furniture building and was hoping I could get some of my questions answered here.

Question 1: Being in Texas our summers are pretty brutal with 100+ degree temps and high humidity. The barn I have is not air conditioned but does have plenty of doors to open for cross drafts. Will the heat and humidity harm any of my projects? We do have a paint booth for finishing so that is not a concern.

Question 2: What are the must have tools/machines that I will need to make say a mission style bedroom suit or a dinning table and chairs? We already have many basic tools and saws but imagine I have nothing, what should I spend my money on first? and then what would it be nice to have but not a must?

Question 3: How many projects could I anticipate completing in a years time? I have saved up enough money to not have any income for over a year, but I would be pretty upset if I spent all of it and didn’t make any money.

I do have some experience in wood working but just for simplicity’s sake (and so no one assumes I know more than I do) talk to me like I am a laymen. Thanks for any help and advice you give!

7 replies so far

View JuniorJoiner's profile


495 posts in 3950 days

#1 posted 03-09-2010 02:44 AM

if you have a full time job I say keep it. taking the leap to full time woodworking, without a setup shop, buisness plan, or experience, is a bad idea. keep it as a hobby until you have enough laurels to rest on and feel confident that you make a product people will buy, and makes enough profit to support yourself.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Rumely's profile


2 posts in 3511 days

#2 posted 03-09-2010 03:03 AM

The reason I am quitting my job is to be apart of a ministry program, not to be a full time craftsman. To me this is a opportunity to do my hobby, get better at it and maybe make some money on the side. Just to clarify my motives.

View ND2ELK's profile


13495 posts in 4284 days

#3 posted 03-09-2010 03:24 AM

I agree with Junior Joiner. Keep your full time job and build on the side. For nine years I worked my full time job and built cabinets on the side. It got to where I was working more hours in the shop than at my full time job. It was great money but way to many long hours. I finally started bidding the jobs double what I used to. It was less jobs, less hours and about the same amount of money.

As far as tools you can take a look at my shop and see what I feel is needed to build cabinets. I would get the tools in this order: Good cabinet table saw, power miter box saw, jointer, planer, shaper or router table, band saw, spindle/belt sander, drill press, drum sander and mortise machine. All the power hand tools you can afford along the way. A lot depends on what jobs you are doing. This order would change by what equipment you need to do a job. Good Luck!

God Bless

-- Mc Bridge Cabinets, Iowa

View JuniorJoiner's profile


495 posts in 3950 days

#4 posted 03-09-2010 03:26 AM

well, to make a bedroom suite , I’d say a bandsaw and jointer would be essential. good capacity for both would be money well spent, so say an 18” bandsaw, and 8” jointer at the smallest.

I caution you, getting going in woodworking(for a business) is a huge outlay of cash. just shop essentials, as in clean rags, finish, sandpaper, tape, clamps, drill bits, sharpening stones, proper lighting, proper workbench, assembly table, glue, router bits, blades, etc. is all very pricey when you add it up.
add to that machines and wood. and then hand tools, which is where your enjoyment will be, so don’t scrimp on those.

my advice would be to find one thing to make that will sell. learn how to make it well, and get the tools and setup to do that. you can expand as your money and skills/experience grow.
with building things in texas, I would advise using frame and panel construction when you can, and avoid making chairs.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4562 days

#5 posted 03-09-2010 03:55 PM

If this is an area the god is leading you into you need to consider it in that light more than on making money as a woodworker. Chances are that you will not make money for a while with your woodworking as you will likely need to plow anything that you make back into setting up a shop. If you are bieing called into the ministry then you have to trust that God will provide. He just might not use your woodworking income for a while.

-- Hope Never fails

View knotscott's profile


8338 posts in 3886 days

#6 posted 03-09-2010 04:16 PM

Sounds like a great opportunity for a young man to serve and learn! Many of us have too many financial obligations to pursue this. It’s not without risk to you, but it’s more doable for you than most. Tools can be expensive, but if you buy them right, they maintain value well….used tools are often a good option that have much less financial risk.

The humidity can increase rust on tools, but it shouldn’t harm your projects directly, though it may wreak havoc with your enjoyment of it. Tools can be treated to reduce the rust.

The key tools typically depend on your methods and what you build…there are always several ways to skin a cat. A decent full size table saw is a primary tool in most shops. For most projects, a method for flattening and straightening stock is very helpful, as straight flat boards help things turn out as planned…typically a planer and jointer are the most efficient tandem of tools for this, but there are alternatives. A router is also extremely handy for a number of operations….actually two is great, one for table mounting, one for hand routing. For mission style, I’d guess a dedicated mortising tool would be useful, but again there are alternatives. A bandsaw and drill press are also very “nice to haves”, but a jigsaw and handheld drill can suffice. You’re going to need a variety of clamps….I’m a fan of buying quality tools where it makes sense, and while I prefer the higher quality clamps, I don’t find it necessary to have a rack full of high end clamps as long as they’re good enough to do the job.

Depending on the complexity of the project and how well prepared I am, it typically takes me 20-60 hours per project, but I tend to work 30-45 minute increments due to family schedule…longer sessions improve efficiency.

A good book (in addition to THE Good Book) can help. Tom Hintz’s “The New Woodworker” is a good read that covers A-Z. Good luck!

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Jon Spelbring's profile

Jon Spelbring

199 posts in 4764 days

#7 posted 03-09-2010 06:55 PM

Question 1:
Yes, fluctuations in humidity will cause some wood movement. However, since you are focusing on Mission style, I’ll assume that you’re planning on working with oak for the most part? If so, I’d recomment sticking to white oak, quarter sawn if possible. It’s one of the more stable options. Also, as others have mentioned, watch out for the rust monster!

Question 2:
I’ll answer with another question: Do you have access to reasonably priced wood that is S4S (already flat, square), or are you planning on buying rough lumber and doing the doing it yourself? My suggestions would be:

For using pre-prepared wood: A decent 18” bandsaw, and a Festool Domino. Yes, I know it’s a bloody expensive piece of equipment, but considering the amount of mortise and tenon joinery used in Mission style furniture, I think it’s worth it. Another nice-to-have tool would be a dedicated mortising machine. Again, Mission style loves mortise and tenon. For the non-through joints, the Festool will make it quick. For the through tenons, a dedicated machine will be a huge time saver.

For preparing your own from rough cut lumber:
A decent 8+” jointer
A 12+” planer
A decent 18” bandsaw

In either case, as has been mentioned:
A router and a jigsaw will come in very handy
I would also suggest that you hunt for used tools – newer doesn’t always mean better. Check your local Craigs’ List.

Last thought here – even though money is tight, buy the best tools you can afford. Cheap (as in poorly made) tools will only cause you frustration, and in the end, will cost you more (both in time, and money – eventually, you will need to replace them).

Question 3:
I would not count on making money in a years time – especially if you are still in learning mode. At best, you may recoup some of your initial costs for the tools. I’m not trying to be cynical, or tell you that it can’t be done; I’m just being realistic.

I wish you good luck, and hope that at least some part of this helps.

-- To do is to be

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