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Thread: Need good tools for a woodworking career

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Location
    Millersburg (Holmes County - Amish Country) Ohio
    Posts
    200

    Need good tools for a woodworking career

    My dad is interested in funding a wood shop for me and Im trying to give him an honest price.
    Im talking SawStop TS
    I need a good brand for the following
    Router Table
    Bandsaw this could come later but now would be great.
    Joiner
    Planer
    Drill Press later
    belt sander for easy shaping parts

    I want to build small items that would sell well. Im 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 Im starting over from the bottom up.
    I also want a good vacuum air system as well.
    any advice would be wonderful, thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Peoria, IL
    Posts
    913
    Tools don't make the craftsman but they do help. Make your own router table, buy Italian band saw, joiner, and planer. Buy a vintage drill press, way better than anything on the market today. Running a business is at least half marketing, maybe more. Do a search on Etsy and get a hint of today's market. Over 2,000 items listed when you do a search for night stand.

  3. #3
    Meh, Italian stuff isnt all that and a bag of chips.

    Only ones that have impressed me are the old R9s and T160s.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Sommers View Post
    I want to build small items that would sell well. I’m thinking side tables, hall/wall tables, etc.
    I think you need a business plan before you need equipment.

    I can buy a side table at IKEA for $39. What can you build one for?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Between No Where & No Place ,WA
    Posts
    995
    Dan Friedrichs post # 6 is worth serious consideration.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    So Cal
    Posts
    2,099
    Out here near me a new family can buy a table with four chairs 499.00.
    The day of the furniture craftsman is over now is the time of the artist craftsman.
    Be ready to stay hungry
    Aj

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Northern Michigan
    Posts
    385
    Brian - you need to be able to manufacture in a competitive price range to others in your area. Since you are in Amish country it would be really helpful if you could determine what they get paid from the furniture stores they sell through. Here in northern Michigan we have purchased a lot of new furniture in the last couple months for our new house and it was almost all Amish made hardwood stuff. Yes I could have made much of it but not quickly and I can’t compete with their raw material prices. For example I priced my cost of lumber for a nice hutch and it was only $150 less than finished product from the Amish. I could not make a penny competing with them.

  8. #8
    I live in amish country, I have never tried to compete with them.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    black river falls wisconsin
    Posts
    737
    If your going to start woodworking business from ground up base it around cnc. That is the future anyway. If you want more spicific info tool budget helps.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Hughes View Post
    Out here near me a new family can buy a table with four chairs 499.00.
    The day of the furniture craftsman is over now is the time of the artist craftsman.
    Be ready to stay hungry
    Yes so true and even in the artist craftsman area you need to find a niche. I do not presume to say what is best in the OP's case, but in many of the possible niches finding that niche first with minimal tools may be best.

    I know that I paid for my tools with my sales as unexpected demand grew. Things kind of snow balled and a hobby tried to become a full time business. Since I am retired and want to spend most of my time playing with my grand children, I seem to have to actually work at keeping it from becoming a full time business and taking over my life.

    It is a funny thing how that can go. It is hard to say when or where lightning will strike let alone making it strike when and where you want it to. Good luck finding your niche.
    Last edited by Pete Staehling; 11-05-2018 at 7:32 AM.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    I think you need a business plan before you need equipment.

    I can buy a side table at IKEA for $39. What can you build one for?
    I have seen well equipped shops going up for auction.

    Building stuff isn't hard. You need to be able to sell it.

    During the 1991 recession, I realized I would be perfectly happy making toothpicks if it brought some money in. That was more exciting than beautiful furniture. I took a class in writing a business plan at a community college. That, an a visit to a (Federaly funded) small business development center, and I had sustainable business.

    Only get the machines that make money.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Concord, NC
    Posts
    2,207
    I have to agree with most people here, making a living in woodworking is extremely difficult. You need a niche and a target audience. There are some of us on this forum that have been successful making a living in woodworking but probably not many. I have family members that don't understand why I can't build something cheaper than Ikea, really?

    I think one key to being successful is this, you need one of the following; A skill that most people don't have, like carving or multi material use, like wood and resin or wood and metal, or in my case, ability to build stair and railing systems. The second option is to have equipment that most people don't have or can't afford, like a cnc machine or 3d printer.

    But even this mentality doesn't always work because people find a work around. Like craving is a lost art so now we have cnc machines that crave faster than any body can and probably better.

    Besides stairs, I have always loved making chairs, Windsor and Shaker style. Well about 10 years ago or so there was a big push in Windsor chair building, mostly thanks to Mike Dunbar and the Windsor Institute. Lot of people took his classes and loved working in wood and his chairs sold for hundreds of dollars, so they ventured into the field of building chairs. Lots of website pop up selling hand made chairs for $400 to $600 dollars. When you figure at best you could build two a week, it is still a modest income. Most of those websites are now gone, not many people want to spend that kind of money on a chair.

    Good luck with your choose.
    Richard

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2013
    Location
    Princeton, NJ
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    5,163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darcy Warner View Post
    I live in amish country, I have never tried to compete with them.
    This is my opinion as well, aiming for the lowest price is very much a losing battle.

    I have a close friend who spent the entirety of one evening working to convince me to knock out cheap things, fast. The more I refused this approach the more argument came my way. This is how many think a business should be run and Every industry already has that, plenty of it. A small one man shop with manual machines is not a high volume business and does not have a competitive advantage in that arena.

    Where a small shop can compete is in flexibility, between furniture work I take on jobs that the shops in my area don’t know how to deal with. I took on a kitchen job which the counter needed to stay in place, no other cabinet shop wanted anything to do with. I provided a competitive price and worked out an approach to make it something I could manage by building sub assemblies in the shop.
    Bumbling forward into the unknown.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    New Hampshire
    Posts
    124
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Friedrichs View Post
    I think you need a business plan before you need equipment.
    Spot on. Do lots of research and planning before buying one piece of equipment.
    Aaron

    Instagram - @lazarus.design.build

  15. #15
    I wont rain on your parade like some others, but i will agree that you need to figure out what will sell and tool up for that product versus buying tools and hoping to make what sells. The list of tools you mentioned is in line with what would be recommended to a starting hobbyist who intends to make some cabinets, furniture, boxes, etc. If i went full time, i could confidently make 45-55k in a year doing what i do. And i would do it without a router table, without a bandsaw, and without a drill press. I dont really care to make that income without benefits, and so i do 1/3rd that at a leisurely pace in my free time. Points being; one, you actually can make a living doing this if you are skilled and a hustler. Two, buy the tools that make you money. Honestly, if i were to do it all over again, i probably wouldnt buy a 10" cabinet saw. I would buy something 12"+ with 5-7.5hp motor. Dont get caught up in the "i need XYZ, because every woodshop has one" mentality. Anyways, plenty of one man shops out there making custom stuff, and im sure they arent starving. Also an influx of one man shops out there that quickly found out they wont make it and are now trying to parlay in podcasting, youtube, teaching to make ends meet.

    I would second the recommendation to strongly consider the world of digital making. One, multimedia has a bigger audience from a content perspective(if you need to go that route as i mentioned above), and two, I think that is one area that isnt fully tapped into from what i can see. I dont own a CNC, but i know of several guys running laser cutters and CNC's out of their garages that generate decent income.

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