I worked part time for my father from the age of seven until I graduated from high school. Part time is defined as: after school, on the weekends, and throughout the summer months. Although I didn't appreciate it at the time, my father taught me a lot of things about carpentry, plumbing, digging ditches, and pouring concrete.

     Thanks largely to his training, I enjoy designing and building furniture in my workshop. Having labored in the hot sun and in below freezing temperatures while helping my father, I decided to splurge and install a heat pump in the workshop. (One of my smarter decisions!) Here are pictures of the workshop.

     This web site is dedicated to describing furniture and other items I have designed and built. The pages are organized into logical groupings. These groupings are:

     Each page contains a brief description of hand-built items and a representative picture. In some instances, there are multiple pictures and drawings. Links to these additional pictures have been provided.

     I hope you enjoy reading about my furniture and seeing the pictures.

Picture of Joe's Workshop
Joe's 20' x 30' workshop

How do you furnish a workshop?
     Some woodworkers prefer using hand tools and eschew using any power tools. They are the purists. I ain't one of them. I've often told friends, "I do better work with better tools." In the pictures below, my larger tools stay on the shop floor. Notice that several are equipped with rollers which offers greater flexibility within the shop. Additionally, there are hundreds of smaller tools stored in drawers, cabinets, and tool boxes.

     Woodworking tools are expensive as are power tool components. Examples of power tool components include router bits costing from $11.00 to over $50.00 each, a table saw blade costing over $125.00, and a set of carbide tipped knives for a planer costing over $225.00.

     What tools am I lacking? I don't have a wood lathe ($4,500) or a 22" sanding drum ($2,550). Ummmm, maybe next year?

     Whoa, nobody ever said woodworking is an inexpensive hobby. In fact, woodworking can be just as expensive as bass fishing, owning sports cars, or collecting paintings, stamps or coins.

Inside Joe's Workshop
Spindle sander, 12" disk sander, and router table
Inside Joe's Workshop
13" Planer and 10" table saw

Inside Joe's Workshop
Cabinets, shelving, bench top drill press, floor stands, and work bench
Inside Joe's Workshop
12" Miter saw and wood storage rack

Inside Joe's Workshop
Router table (again), more shelving, and 14" band saw
Inside Joe's Workshop
More storage shelving, mortiser, and floor-mounted drill press

You might have noticed that my shop is dusty and has wood scraps strewn around the floor. Mea culpa - I'm a messy person.

How much should you charge for building custom furniture?
     In addition to tools and tool components, you need supplies such as paint brushes, filters for the shop vacuum, bolts, screws, nails, staples, pre-stains, stains, sealer, paint, glue, wood filler, sand paper, and lumber. Lumber is a big expense.

     And if you're calculating operating expenses, you must include electricity, filters for the heat pump and air filtration unit, blade and bit sharpening, tool and component replacement, equipment depreciation, building costs, taxes, insurance, and truck expenses.

     Here is the selling price formula:

  • Labor (number of manhours times the cost per hour) plus
  • Prorated materials and supplies (see above) plus
  • Prorated operating expenses (see above)
     Sounds complicated? If you're building furniture for a living, you're running a business and you must include all costs when determining the selling price for your products. Woodworking for profit is just like any other business. If you don't include all expenses and sell your product for too little money, you'll run out of money and have to close shop - literally.

     Well, what about building a single item for a customer? Are your expenses less? Should you charge for your labor? These are great questions.

     What irks me is someone complaining about having to pay $12.50 for a cork trivet which takes me over 2 hours to build! This is the main reason I'm not out trying to sell my furniture creations. It's hard to find people willing to pay for well-designed and built furnishings because most folks prefer, "cheap but nice looking."

     I remember my father talking about customers who complained to him about the cost of their custom-built homes. After years spent earning a minimal living, he finally switched into water and sewage treatment plant construction where he could deal with engineers, prime contractors, and other professionals who knew the value of a good product and were willing to pay for it. After he transitioned into commercial construction, I heard my father say, "I don't care if they have to live in caves - I've built my last house!" That sounds cynical, but I fully understand his sentiment. Luckily, I'm retired and don't have to depend on my workshop for a living. I can work at my own pace and build whatever and for whomever I choose. Ain't life grand?

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Updated 02/18/2018
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