Steve, Gary Rogowski's Northwest School is local to us and he seems to
be successful with the classes. If you could get a couple to him and he
used them, his students would likely want them as well.
Do you have any contacts with anyone at the Oregon School of Arts and
Crafts? Could be the same situation as with Rogowski.
On Thu, 15 Dec 2005 00:18:22 GMT, "Lyndell Thompson"
got one now. I want to dump regular ebay as it hurts my prices. maybe
keep the store though. it does not cost much to keep the store going.
I have donated about 9 planes to schools I get rave reviews and then
affordable handmade wooden planes
Steve knight (in firstname.lastname@example.org) said:
| I like selling by word of mouth but sometimes it's not enough.
This makes me uncomfortable but I'll do it anyway - because I know
Rob, you've surely seen this situation before - would you draw on your
experience and expertise to offer Steve some guidance either on the
forum or privately (or both); or could you point him at someone who
has overcome the same difficulties and might be willing to offer
DeSoto, Iowa USA
Hi Morris -
Steve can bend my ear anytime.... he's got my email!
Have been following the same discussion on a number of boards - and he's
received a lot of good advice already....
If I had to pick just one thing - it'd be the deep discount specials....
keep'em to once a year (if at all).... he's trained his customers not to buy
on an ongoing basis, and while he get's a lot of work with the specials,
it's at a much lower margin than he needs...and there's an inevitable dry
If it was me - I'd do the following...
1) have a simple (from MFG/delivery standpoint) high utility introductory
product at a lower price point.... like a block plane...
2) Sell planes with a re-order coupon for a discount.... valid for something
like 3 months...
3) Try and make more small runs (and put a small discount on those (to
reflect economies of scale... say 10%)), instead of soliciting too much
custom work... and put a small premium on the custom stuff...
Not much else I could add without knowing the ins and outs of his
Making a living off your own labour is a tough thing to do.... no matter
what it is you do. Many undervalue their own work, usually by undervaluing
time, or not paying as close attention to how much actual margin an activity
generates (as opposed to how much gross sales are)...
Robin Lee (in eYeof.3556$ email@example.com) said:
||| I like selling by word of mouth but sometimes it's not enough.
|| This makes me uncomfortable but I'll do it anyway - because I know
|| Steve won't...
|| Rob, you've surely seen this situation before - would you draw on
|| your experience and expertise to offer Steve some guidance either
|| on the forum or privately (or both); or could you point him at
|| someone who has overcome the same difficulties and might be
|| willing to offer suggestions?
| Steve can bend my ear anytime.... he's got my email!
I know he does - but I strongly suspect he'd choose to not impose.
| Have been following the same discussion on a number of boards - and
| he's received a lot of good advice already....
| If I had to pick just one thing - it'd be the deep discount
| specials.... keep'em to once a year (if at all).... he's trained
| his customers not to buy on an ongoing basis, and while he get's a
| lot of work with the specials, it's at a much lower margin than he
| needs...and there's an inevitable dry spell after...
Hmm. I should have recognized that (but didn't).
| If it was me - I'd do the following...
| 1) have a simple (from MFG/delivery standpoint) high utility
| introductory product at a lower price point.... like a block
| plane... 2) Sell planes with a re-order coupon for a discount....
| valid for something like 3 months...
| 3) Try and make more small runs (and put a small discount on those
| (to reflect economies of scale... say 10%)), instead of soliciting
| too much custom work... and put a small premium on the custom
Wizard advice! I may take some of that for myself! :-)
[ I especially like #2! ]
| Not much else I could add without knowing the ins and outs of his
I've walked in Steve's shoes - sort of (different product but same
class of problems) and your suggestions make perfect sense.
| Making a living off your own labour is a tough thing to do.... no
| matter what it is you do. Many undervalue their own work, usually
| by undervaluing time, or not paying as close attention to how much
| actual margin an activity generates (as opposed to how much gross
| sales are)...
BTDT - and I'm still fighting the urge to give my customers a better
deal than I'm willing to take for myself. Sometimes it seems that life
is all about finding the balance points; and suspect that this is one
of the important ones...
Thanks for responding. I felt awkward putting you on the spot as I
did; but you've made me glad I asked.
DeSoto, Iowa USA
very good advice.
I think part of my problem was I did not have anything to fall back
on. so when it was slow it was bad. then I would have a sale and it
would get me behind and then the problems happen.
I have worked out what I sell the most atleast on ebay, purpleheart
planes sell more then anything else.
I need to dump ebay. it helped at first but now it just hurts me.
I need to get a part time job when work is slow so I don't suffer. (
my buddy who has a shop on the other side of my wall may help me
get to shows and show off (G)
affordable handmade wooden planes
Steve.. I would guess from the quality of workmanship on your planes that you're
good at other types of wood work??
I mention this from the woodturner's standpoint... few folks are lucky enough to
earn a living by JUST turning... so they build custom furniture, give turning
classes, or whatever... basically using 2 or more skills (not counting
marketing, of course), to even out the cash flow...
I feel your pain... if I only learned one thing as a Realtor/loan broker all
those years it was that "Cash is important, but it's cash FLOW that keeps you
Please remove splinters before emailing
On Mon, 19 Dec 2005 09:15:15 -0800, mac davis wrote:
You're cranking out planes even when orders are slow, correct?
Ebay is an efficient market. Any product is worth exactly what someone is
willing to pay for it. Ebay is telling you your price point. (I had
guessed that's why you sold there.)
This custom plane biz looks just like the custom software biz. I don't
know the economics term for this, but you're selling your time. Write a
book and then sell it over and over; make a custom item and you sell it
Can you tune planes more efficiently if you have a row of them in front of
you? Do one operation on all of them, then do the next op.
Mr Knight, meet Mr Ford.
well of course but ebay is not a real good indicator of value. not
when junk goes for more then new quite a bit.
not when a lower quality item sells for more because it has a
certain name stamped on it. ebay is good for some items and bad for
others. anything handmade really does to sell well on ebay.
that's too much like production. I do a bit of that but not for
affordable handmade wooden planes
I'm no marketing expert, but if you like I'd be willing to manage a display
at the Columbus OH woodworking show this Jan for free. I'm not sure how to
go about reserving a spot, or what it costs, but let me know if your
interested and I'll find out. --dave
On Tue, 13 Dec 2005 22:27:50 -0800, Steve knight wrote:
One thing you might want to do is check with the business programs of any
nearby colleges to see if they offer a class similar to one I took my
senior year "Entrepreneurship and new Business Planning" but not to take
though. When I took that class the prof divided us up into four or five
teams, four students each and assigned each team to a local small business
that had signed up to get help getting off the ground or expanding in some
way. The scope of what we did covered everything from securing financing
to marketing plans to bookkeeping. For the semester each business in the
program got a four person consultancy team for free.
My little group worked with a local independent finish carpenter (husband
and wife team) to get him setup to move from working more-or-less under
the table to being a fully legit operation that could get loans, bid on
government contracts and pay taxes. We helped them get their books in
order, develop a business and marketing plan, did some market research and
gave them step by step instructions for qualifying for help from the SBA.
Things would've worked out great if they hadn't told us at the end that
they couldn't do most of what we advised because his immigration status
was less than legal and they didn't want to pay taxes in any case. Still
got an A though :)
The other projects the class took on ranged in scope from feasibility
studies to marketing campaigns to complete business plan development from
nothing but an idea. So there would probably be a place for your needs in
a similar class.
If you were an Anchorage I'd go ahead and point you right at my old prof
and say go for it but I don't think that that's where you're located.
However if you can't find any similar programs locally but are still
interested let me know offline (the gmail address is legit) and I'll dig
up Gary's contact information for you, if you came recommended by a former
student he'd probably find a way to help you out.
the biggest problem is I am such a oddball that most of the info does
not really fit into what I do. I have such a limited scope to sell too
and tools are a odd thing to make anyway. they don't sell like other
Plus I could saturate the market and then be stuck too.
affordable handmade wooden planes
I don't think you're as much of an oddball as you might think. I work in the
slot car industry, talk about oddballs....
There are a lot of guys doing similiar things to what you're doing, making
very nice tools and parts for a limited market. The market for expensive
slot car parts is unbelievably small compared to wood working and planes.
Yet it keeps folks employed and making profits.
I think you need to take a hard look at your pricing and figure out how many
planes, marking knives, etc. you need to make in order to live in the style
to which you've become accustomed first. Then once you know that, find
someone to help you sell them. I wouldn't worry about saturating the market.
How many woodworkers out there even know you exist at this point?
I'd try to find someone who would be interested in selling your products on
some sort of consignment basis. You'd need someone who's already selling
something at the woodworking shows most likely.
The classes in marketing would be a good idea too.I think you'd find that
your're not that odd at all...
An interesting but true fact, Most craftsmen, Tradesmen etc. go broke
trying to run their own business within the 1st 2 years.
I took a small business course many years ago and this fact was
The business does not fail because the owner is not good at what he
does, it fails because he is to busy making items to market them.
This scenario often quite often with Mechanics. They start their own
business because they love what they do and want to be their own boss,
however, no one takes care of the books or marketing and down ya go.
Now that I have have spread doom and gloom, I wish all the best with
your planes Steve. I've only ever heard good remarks about them.
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