Starting A Woodworking Business

Hey Group!
Anyone currently in the process of starting there own furniture/cabinet/woodworking business?
I'm beginning the planning stages of getting my own custom furniture business started and would like to hear from folks that are doing the same.
Would entertain the idea of forming a discussion group to exchange ideas and "best" practices. Thanks, Sev
"I'd rather be a woodworker than anything else!"
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I thought this was what this group did.......Brian ;-)

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I'm working on it. I started out renting space in a cooperative shop. $300 a month, 10x10 bench space, wood storage space and access to all the equipe 24x7. They wanted artisan type people, no big cabinet or production work. Kind old and sparse equipment but a real nice Powermatic 66 setup in a 10' square table.
Then I found a newly opened cabinet shop right near my home. Cut a deal for basicially the same price, only allowed in shop on off hours & weeekends but top line equipement and lots of it. Every time I sak about a hand tool the guy has three different versions, two still in the package and wants me to try them all.
I'm doing short run products. Some furniture but mostly smaller pieces like wine racks, plantstands, shelves. I'll be doing kits too. Basically unassembled verisons of my products that I'll assemble later if the kits don't sell.
Did eBay last year. I'm going to try the local art fair circuit this year. With hopes of getting my own space and equipment next year and transition into a fulltime manufacturing gig selling to retailers rather than end customers.
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If I am starting a bus. I will have 24/7 access to it

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Wed, Jan 12, 2005, 9:32am (EST-3) snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Sev) claims: <snip>I'm beginning the planning stages of getting my own customfurniture business started and would like to hear from folks <snip>
Don't quit your day job yet.
JOAT Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get. -  Dale Carnegie
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I built furniture in my garage for 15 years. I had the best tools and honed my skills without customers looking over my shoulder or worrying about cost or mistakes. I took jobs when I wanted to buy more tools. A friend started coming over to use the tools and we would up in business together. We didn't make much money for the first few months. Our landlord was a contractor and he would give us some work. He knew architects who would send us work. Within a few months we had a 6 month back log. I would suggest that you make friends with home remodelers, designers, architects that specialize in working with homeowners and interior designers. I had a book of my work and I went through the phone book under these categories and phoned each contact and tried to arrange a meeting. We had way more work than two guys could handle. max

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Thanks for the encouragement.
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Well that is the plain truth. Way too many people do not appreciate furniture that does not come in a box ready to be assembled. Good furniture is expensive and most people can live with particle board. I started serious WW as a stress relief hobby in 1978. In 1995 I retired at 40. I started WWing professionally shortly after and stay busy but I certainly would not have wanted to depend on this profession for my main income in the beginning. 99% of my business now is by word of mouth. The customers are pretty much sold by the time I meet them.
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The woodworking is the easy part. The making money part can be difficult.
Know what you want to make and can make well. Target people that have money and can appreciate custom work. Don't bother handing out your business card to the people coming out of IKEA.
Evaluate your skills. If your hobby is making reproductions for museums, you have a good start. If you made a bird house and a planter and thought it was fun, you have a long way to go.
Assess what you have to invest. What tools do you need? Check around for shop locations if you can't do something at home. Rent? Fix up? Bring in power?
Decide how much money you want to earn. Then take a look at your skills and abilities. If you think that coffee table can be sold for $500, you know it has 180 in material, can you make three a week? Knowing you HAVE to make three tables this week to support yourself, will it still be as much fun as it is now as your hobby?
I hope it works out for you and you enjoy your career. Once established you will always have an income if you sell to people that have money. No matter how bad the economy gets, the rich usually remain rich and continue to buy nice stuff.
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I started a business on the side making niche products (see the nav instrument web page below). I got lots of orders. And filled them...and found myself not enjoying the process at all.
Now this was a side business - I still worked my regular job. So that was a little different than what you plan. Still you want to watch out turning an avocation into a vocation:
there's a risk of not enjoying the work anymore.
Good luck
--
Saville

Replicas of 15th-19th century nautical navigational instruments:
  Click to see the full signature.
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snip

enjoying something is to do it for a living. Er, don't let that stop you, though :)
-Phil Crow
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If they are coming out of Ikea empty handed, they might be a good customer. I went to Ikea once and wouldn't buy 99% of the junk they sell. Half the particle board production in Taiwan must go to Ikea.
Brian Elfert
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As long as they realize the $100 table is going to cost them $600 with quality.
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