View Full Version : A Dream Shop Starting with Location

Andrew Joiner
03-24-2011, 2:27 PM
I want to build custom furniture again. I'm willing to move to any part of the USA and build my dream! I need ideas and feedback.

The ideal set-up would be in an rural area with plentiful Walnut and other hardwoods. I want to saw my own logs into lumber. I plan on having logs delivered,not cutting down the trees.

I'll build the shop and house myself.

What part of the country has the most Walnut? Low property and state income taxes would be a plus.

Chris Nolin
03-24-2011, 2:37 PM
Wow, tabula rasa, eh? Did you just win the lottery or something?

This ought to get you started:
(looks like China is your best bet :))

Andrew Joiner
03-24-2011, 2:42 PM
Wow, China has that much Walnut? I do like Asian food.

Gary Radice
03-24-2011, 2:44 PM
OK, I'll play: Brown County, Indiana.

Andrew Joiner
03-24-2011, 2:48 PM
Hi Chris,
I'm retired. I worked hard and invested with luck when I was young. Now I have the money to spent on my dream.
Mike Jarvi inspired me with his work. How cool would it be to have a mill IN your shop?

Victor Robinson
03-24-2011, 3:09 PM
Take me with you! :)

I don't have any location recommendations aside from, definitely NOT California. Best of luck in your journey - hope you'll keep us updated with lots of photos through the whole process.

Chris Nolin
03-24-2011, 3:14 PM
I just watched that whole video, Andrew. Incredible and very inspirational. I hope you find that kind of Zen in China. :p

Coincidentally, the mill in my shop is for sale in the classifieds section right this very moment. Not quite as large, mind you. :)

John TenEyck
03-24-2011, 3:46 PM
Interesting video. Cool how he used the bandsaw mill to do a lot more than just cut the slab. Actually, I don't quite now how else it could have been done so easily. But I trust you're not using this video as a guide to safety or, more correctly, lack thereof. I can't recall seeing one guard - table saw, wide jointer (OMG), minimal dust collection, no hearing protection that I could see. He did wear gloves putting on the finish, however, so that counts for something. And I was pleased to see it looked like he still has all his digits, so I guess he's aware of where his hands are. Still, not something to emmulate.

Good luck with the dream. Walnut is certainly nice wood, but there are many beautiful woods. I'd say it would be better to settle on a location where you want to live, first, and then use whatever woods are indigenous to that area, and truck in some logs for those that aren't. My 2 cents.

Mike Archambeau
03-24-2011, 4:54 PM

Mike Archambeau
03-24-2011, 4:58 PM
I just watched that whole video, Andrew. Incredible and very inspirational. I hope you find that kind of Zen in China. :p

Coincidentally, the mill in my shop is for sale in the classifieds section right this very moment. Not quite as large, mind you. :)

I am amazed the nobody jumped on that by now.

David Dockstader
03-24-2011, 5:13 PM
Maximum walnut, minimum taxes defines the Ozarks. Arkansas has the lowest taxes. Missouri actually has more paved roads. Incidentally, I live outside Chicago. I end up paying more for my wood, but I'm not milling it and civilization (such as it is) is relatively close by.

Brian W Evans
03-24-2011, 5:32 PM
Not sure about the walnut, but there is plenty of hardwood in New Hampshire. If I'm not mistaken, they have no income or sales taxes. Also, if you live near the border with Maine, you could pop over to Lie-Nielsen any time you wanted (for me this would cancel out any tax savings, though.:rolleyes:).

Congrats on the opportunity and best of luck to you.

David Weaver
03-24-2011, 5:51 PM

Yeah, somewhere near me so i can mooch time on your large stationary tools.

Frank Drew
03-24-2011, 7:08 PM
Andrew, don't move too far out into the boonies just to be near a stand of prime walnut; don't forget, for custom furniture, you have to have customers. Reasonably nearby.

John Lifer
03-24-2011, 11:12 PM
Arkansas not necessarily lowest taxes and hardwood is not really easy to come by, Missouri may be better. I'd agree PA is probably best pick but I couldn't stand the cold.:-)
You DO have to sell what you make.... A good road trip for the wood every now and then would not be too bad either.

Don Buck
03-25-2011, 11:09 PM
Don't let the raw material be your driving force. As a forester, woodworker and sales manager of a hardwood sawmill, I suggest that you need to locate your business near a population that will purchase your finished goods unless you have some creative idea like internet marketing or a traveling craft circuit. I think most buyers of furniture will want to touch and see prospective work without a multihour drive.

As much of our domestic furniture manufacturing has moved offshore, we ship walnut logs all over the world, primarely to China and Italy. I know many domestic sawmills that ship walnut logs interstate 500 or more miles on a regular basis. The cost of freight is rather small compared to what you will be paying for grade walnut logs. Walnut timber comprises less than 5% of the Appalachian forest and most hardwood mills will encounter and purchase walnut logs but not all hardwood sawmills saw walnut. Fewer mills dry walnut as it is an industry standard is to steam the walnut while the lumber is green to "bleed" the heartwood color into the sapwood and very few mills have walnut steamers.

You can easily befriend a couple of hardwood sawmills (even in another state) to save certain grade & size walnut logs for you and get a commercial carrier to bring the logs to your location. It will be a lot easier to bring the walnut to you than to lure the the customers to your business. Good luck with your dream.


John Sanford
03-26-2011, 5:35 AM
I'm kinda thinking along the same lines as Don, albeit for different reasons.

When considering locations, the question I think you need to ask is this:

Does this business need to turn a profit and provide a living for you?
Does this business simply need to turn a profit in its own right, but not provide a living?
Does this business need to pay for your hobby?
Is this a hobby that is going to masquerade as a business?

If the first, then you're best off looking at where your market is going to be, and locating there. Market location becomes less of a consideration as you move down the options, and you can choose to locate near the raw material instead.

Also, don't forget, there's a lot of Claro walnut up there in the Northern Cali and Oregon. You may not have to go anywhere.

Larry Edgerton
03-26-2011, 8:19 AM

I'm making the same transition right now. Getting away from construction. I sold my commercial building, bought some property out on the edge of nowhere[40 miles out my back door to the next house] will have my shop and home on the same property, Zero payments, so I don't have to make as much.........Putting in a small kiln and have circle mill at my disposal.

This is my second time around on the furniture only idea. The first time I owed on the shop and my tools, and just could not make enough to match the overhead and get ahead, so I went back to home construction.

I looked at Oklahoma, low taxes, not cold it the winter for the most part, wood not so far away but I have to stay here to take care of my parents, and other than the miserable cold, Michigan is a beautiful state. The hill country of Texas is another area of interest, lots of money, nice area, land costs are high, but there is money to be mined in the area.

I'm not sure how I am going to go about marketing. Designers can get you work but they beat you up, and then double or triple your price. Studios want 33-50%, but the stuff gets so beat up so fast if it doesn't sell right away because of all the drooling morons in the world, that didn't work for me. Word of mouth was my best tool but that is hard when you are new to the area. Thats the other reason I don't want to move, I have a solid reputation here, and that has a specific value that is hard to place, but it does provide some work. I have tossed around the idea of building a woodworkers co-op, staffed by woodworkers, but I see problems with individual personalities there, still thinking about it. You do need to be in some proximity to a wealthy clientell I think, unless you go for an internet business, something I wish I knew more about.

Would be interested to hear what you come up with, and your ideas for creating business.