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Forum topic by Hard_as_Wood posted 11-04-2018 10:16 PM 2207 views 1 time favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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37 posts in 2107 days

11-04-2018 10:16 PM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner new shop

My dad is interested in funding a wood shop for me and I’m trying to give him an honest price.

I’m talking SawStop TS

I need a good brand for the following
Router Table
Bandsaw – this could come later but now would be great.
Drill Press – later
belt sander for easy shaping parts

I want to build small items that would sell well. I’m thinking side tables, hall/wall tables, etc.

I had a shop before but I bought all cheap stuff and what a nightmare that was! so I had sold some stuff and now I’m starting over from the bottom up.

I also want a good vacuum air system as well.

any advice would be wonderful, thanks.

-- Ciao!

34 replies so far

View jonah's profile


2136 posts in 4464 days

#1 posted 11-04-2018 10:30 PM

I’d strongly urge you to come up with a full business plan if your idea is to make a living selling your work.

It’s a very hard way to make money. You have to charge a lot, which means you need to sell premium work to people who can afford it. That means it’s a very small market, and you have to connect with a very specific type of customer.

There’s a few guys on this site who do so, so I’d get some very frank advice from them before you start.

If you can’t be completely honest up front about the prospects of making a living building furniture, you’re not likely to succeed at it.

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1655 days

#2 posted 11-04-2018 10:43 PM

As an accountant in a previous life, I’d agree with Jonah about the business plan. I see that you already had a shop, but don’t any more. Did you quit to do something else, or was business just too bad, or something else? You should make sure you are capable of making a living before you start out. That means knowing exactly why you got out of it in the first place.

As for the equipment, there are plenty of good brands, but it’s helpful to know what your budget is, and how much of it can be picked up as used vs new. You may also want to make sure you have a drum sander and don’t forget the small stuff such as clamps, drill/driver, impact driver, bits, chisels and sharpening equipment.

View Hard_as_Wood's profile


37 posts in 2107 days

#3 posted 11-04-2018 11:10 PM

I know why I quit.

1. I went at it backwards. I tried to build a shop first and then didn’t really know what I wanted to make and I just piddled around do a bunch of nothing. I’m fixing this mistake by picking out two or three projects first then choosing my tools around that. For example, the first time I bought a lathe and a scroll saw. I ended up using those pretty much next to nothing.

2. I quit because I had cheap equipment. This lead to extreme frustration when parts didn’t “square up” and when I wouild try to adjust something it was very difficult and it didn’t hold well. I will fix this mistake by buying better quality tools.

3. I worked in a very tiny room about 220 sq.ft. and just didn’t have enough of room. What a nightmare was . I will fix that buy getting into a larger building.

-- Ciao!

View lumbering_on's profile


578 posts in 1655 days

#4 posted 11-04-2018 11:24 PM

So it was the shoe-string budget operation. Those type of businesses often don’t survive long.

What is your general budget for this shop? There are a lot of good brands that you can buy, but it’s going to be based on what you can afford to buy, and what you need it for. For example, do you need a 19” band saw, or will a 14” do? Are you going to use it to do a lot of resawing, or is is mainly for following designs?

The jointer also has a lot of things you could look at depending on what you think your future needs will be. A 6” jointer with a small bed may be good for small items, but if you think you’ll be getting into larger things, then you may need an 8” with a longer bed.

View JCamp's profile


1381 posts in 1716 days

#5 posted 11-04-2018 11:39 PM

well for good stuff and to buy everything on ur list you (or your dad) could be looking at $10,000 (or more or less) for tools just to “start up”.
If y’all can afford it then I guess go for it but that’s a long pay back time. Better quality tools don’t necessarily mean a better product. I got a uncle that has used old junk tools for years that constantly makes great stuff but he’s a heck of a craftsman.
There’s some good brands but most of my stuff is old craftsman tools so I don’t own any. The only other names that come to mind other than sawstop is jet and powermatic (or some brand like that).
Keep in mine if your a “professional” some of the tools of the trade require 3phase electric.

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View JAAune's profile


1971 posts in 3482 days

#6 posted 11-05-2018 12:55 AM

If you aren’t already fully equipped, I’d suggest getting started on some smaller projects besides furniture. 220 square feet isn’t enough to build furniture but with the right product, it’s possible to produce tens of thousands of dollars worth of goods in that space. Cash flow is important so wherever possible, try to land the paying jobs before investing in a bunch of equipment.

The only reason I was able to make custom furniture work was because I started out with a client base and had access to a fully-equipped shop. Getting my own shop and tools didn’t happen until two years passed and I’d proved to myself and potential investor/s that I could land profitable contracts.

Don’t be too quick to dismiss the cheap tools. One good strategy to grow a business is to take supplier contracts, acquire a few cheap tools then work massive overtime to compensate for the lack of equipment. The meager profits get used to improve the setup until the contracts become very profitable. At one point in my history, I was hand-sanding hundreds of small parts late into the evening until I was able to locate a used Grizzly edge sander. The edge sander was later replaced with a customized sanding station (using Horror Fright sanders). Someday I’ll replace those cheap sanders with better ones that have quick-release tensioning levers.

Improvements often come in the form of shop-built fixtures and machines rather than purchasing new machinery. It’s important to learn how to visualize production processes and figure out where all the time is actually going. It’s usually not the machines that create bottlenecks. Movement of people and materials is usually the culprit. I highly suggest doing some reading on lean manufacturing. If you’re the analytical type, the books Lean Thinking and The Strategos Guide to Value Stream and Process Mapping will help you gain the right mindset.

An inability to grasp the concept of value stream and processes leads to the purchase of unnecessary equipment which fills up the floorspace and causes bottlenecks in material movement. I’ve seen too many woodshops filled with unnecessary clutter and machinery.

-- See my work at

View WoodenDreams's profile


1361 posts in 1076 days

#7 posted 11-05-2018 01:25 AM

The size of the workshop will determine what you have room for. Grizzly has a “Shop Planner” that you could use to help you determine costs of equipment and lay out. As lumbering_on stated, visualize your shop and make a list of all the equipment (most woodworkers don’t consider a Edge Sander-I bought mine the same time I upgraded my table saw),power tools, & hand tools. (chisels, clamps, vises, saws, brushes, sprayers, air compressor, etc.). Air Filtration & Dust collection. Have you considered a separate gluing station, or a finishing area or booth. Are you making your own work stations and workbenches. Possibly $8 to $10,000 easily. This is just a start. Type of building, wiring & outlets for 110v/240v, single phase or 3-phase options. Additional costs of insurance, heating & cooling, phone, vehicle expenses, Don’t forget marketing (craft shows, yellow pages, types of advertising, vehicle decals, work shirts and jackets with your logo-, etc.). Business cards, EIN number, Separate Checking Account, Laptop & printer. This is only a start if this is a business. How serious are you.

View Hard_as_Wood's profile


37 posts in 2107 days

#8 posted 11-05-2018 02:39 AM

Well, I just got off the phone with my dad and he doesn’t want to spend more than 10k all in.

sooooooo… I’m thinking I better start learning some hand skills. I’ve done a little by hand before, but whew I’m not in the best shape. If I could get a good TS and a planer… that would help. I could shop cheaper cabinet TS than a SS. WE both agreed we need to start. You can’t make a thing without starting.

I also thought of building more rustic type of furniture where I wouldn’t need such high end equipment. At the same time I don’t want to buy junk.

the good news, is I don’t need to make a living right from the get go. My wife works and she has a great job so my first priority of course is to break even. Make just enough to pay the building rent, which I have no clue as to how much that will be. I’m going to be looking into that tomorrow.

-- Ciao!

View JCamp's profile


1381 posts in 1716 days

#9 posted 11-05-2018 03:02 AM

Well a ridgid table saw and a dewalt planer will be around a $1000. Before I’d pay rent on a place I’d get a enclosed carport and work from it…. so $4,000 and you’ll be set to go.
before I’d invest that kind of money I’d set down and figure out how to make and sell a $100 worth of stuff with tools I have then invest it and make a few hundred more dollars and invest it. Not being a jerk, and I don’t know your situation but you are married….. hopefully can vote, buy alcohol, guns and in some states pot….. you shouldn’t have to rely on your dad to fund you. I’d suggest start off small and work your tail off and build a small business. Stay away from loans cause the banks will want their money back (and rightfully so) and will continue to get it from you even if your business fails.
I sincerely wish you the best of luck but there’s a lot of guys that have tried and failed, just be mindful of that and learn as much as u can from their mistakes

-- Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might

View waho6o9's profile


9036 posts in 3742 days

#10 posted 11-05-2018 03:11 AM

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4814 days

#11 posted 11-05-2018 03:41 AM

It really depends on your business plans, specifically your expected workload. This could mean choosing between industrial grade vs. small shop grade. As well as the type of work you plan to make, cabinets, vs custom furniture would call for different tooling.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View DrDirt's profile


4615 posts in 4908 days

#12 posted 11-05-2018 04:42 AM

If you are borrowing $$ to get started….you already are in trouble.

You do need “Decent” equipment. But it neednt be new. Tons of “big shops” have gone under.. that had teams of craftsmen, marketing departments that went under.

IF you are planning to START a business doing hand tools, get a day job.

The only folks making money at that, have built up client bases over the decades, and got tied into the wealthy buyers. Starting out, you will need “bread and butter projects you can do in reasonable time, between larger commissions.
Without power tools, I don’t see how you would keep the doors open and food on the table. – -MAINLY because you are new/unknown. Need to analyze what you have sold before, and how much it sold for and how long you spend.

If you spent 2 weeks to make a 900 dollar coffee table…. you would make more flipping whoppers.

Avoid trying to compete head to head with all the Amish oak stores.

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View bruc101's profile


1492 posts in 4707 days

#13 posted 11-05-2018 05:05 AM

Business plan, operating capitol, a market for your goods, and a “well known name in your market”.

About the wife footing the bills. I know a person that did what you’re wanting to do with wife footing the bills. She came in one day and told him…tired of paying the bills by myself. You have two options, get a job making a decent salary or else.

The ,or else, would be putting him out on the streets paying child support and alimony. He went job hunting the next day and woodworking became his hobby, not saying that would happen to you.

Good luck.

-- Bruce Free Plans & Calculators

View jonah's profile


2136 posts in 4464 days

#14 posted 11-05-2018 03:50 PM

This topic comes up fairly frequently here. What I’ve gathered from the guys who have been there and done that like Jacob (JAAune above) is that you need to focus very closely on the specific niche where you can get work. It’s very difficult to do. If you can’t identify a niche in a business plan-type-document, I would make woodworking my hobby and find another job.

The other thing that I’d keep in mind is that making furniture for a living becomes, necessarily, a production thing. Even if you’re a fine artist type who makes one-off pieces for well-heeled buyers, you have to produce the thing for as little in the way of labor as possible, or you’ll never make money. If you try to make something more standardized, you quickly start competing with actual production shops who have much deeper pockets than you’ll ever have, more equipment than you’ll ever have, and consequently lower prices than you’ll ever have. Will your buyers accept 50% (or more) higher costs for your furniture?

I don’t mean to discourage you, but this is the kind of thing you need to go into with your eyes wide open.

View WoodenDreams's profile


1361 posts in 1076 days

#15 posted 11-05-2018 06:33 PM

The post I gave earlier was not to scare you off but to look at all your costs, Start up and on going costs. Consider used or less expensive but good equipment, you can always upgrade later. Have a written plan of attack (business plan). Review your business plan, projects and budget on a regular basis, and follow through. Talk to your suppliers for contractor discounts. Only get your lumber as you need it. Keep a part time or regular job that allows you some time in the day to contact & visit clients. I started as a hobby, turned into a over blown hobby, now a business. My shop is out of my home. This saves on outside costs. I have gone to craft shows to display the quality of my work armed with business cards & brochures showing what I do. My pick-up is Lettered and has decaled pictures of some of my work. The pick-up is like a billboard, I park it a grocery stores and shopping centers for 6 to 8 hours at a time.. I’m in the phone book yellow pages under woodworking and restoration. I offer small (15×15x24, Pine) toy boxes for free, for fund raising events at all the local churches (silent auctions). Advertise in Tidbit & Senior Center newspapers. I have a store that displays my work & takes orders. I also sell Urns to funeral homes in a 100 mile radius. I been fortunate and I have a waiting list of client projects. You could talk to local remodeling contractors, offer your services on custom shelfs and cabinetry. I wish the best for you. but it could be a slow process to start. If build what box stores offer, this just lowers price. So find your niche and maintain quality.

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