How Much Does Woodworking Cost?

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doctor Bob

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I have a small cabinet making business, I'd have thought I've spent well in excess of £100,000 but that's pin money really, start getting into big boys CNC's and you're looking at £50K plus per machine
 

deema

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I think it's a very cheap business / hobby to get into when taken as an overall cost. Very controversial statement, I'm sorry!

For a new business, an investment of say £10K that can be spread out over time as work comes in is I believe a very low cost entry.

As a hobby, it's rather unique. A lot of tools and equipment are often accumulated by doing DIY and avoiding paying trades people. You don't actually need to do many things before a few thousand can be saved. Equally as has been pointed out, if you buy good quality tools especially secondhand it's one of the few hobbies I know where when it comes time to either scale it back / give it up your likely to recoup most if not all of your investment. I recently sold my very first table Saw I bought secondhand for £400 (I'd stored it for a while as it had sentimental value!) which at the time seemed like a kings ransome for £1,800. I'd spent c£200 on 'improving it' over the years, but even taking that into account, if I'd put the £400 in the bank I'm not sure after all the years I'd have got that kind of return.......not to mention the work it's done and the pleasure it's given me.
 

graduate_owner

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I think Brian is correct when he says you don't need to spend thousands to start making things. In my case though, I have spent thousands and am still pretty [email protected] at making quality stuff. I make stuff like garden furniture, rabbit hutch etc ( all for own or family use) but when it comes to furniture, well I am not even at first base.
As a matter of interest, I have:-
Axminster planer thicknesser, bought new for about £500 a few years ago
Scheppach 10" table saw with sliding table ( s/h £630)
Startrite 351 band saw ( s/h £300)
SIP mitre saw (£150)
Viceroy lathe (s/h £300)
Union graduate bowl lathe ( s/h £150)
Plus assorted wood turning chucks and jaws (£350?), Basic scroll saw (£50), dust extraction (£550?)
So comfortably over £3000, without normal hand tools, hand held power tools ( mains and cordless), measuring tools, turning tools, vices, clamps etc.
Finally I have also got into metal mangling, and have a Colchester master lathe, a floor standing milling machine, a surface grinder, MIG welder, and the inevitable angle grinders etc ( again there's an etc, there's always an etc).

I think I must be addicted to tool collection rather than tool use. I have 2 Myford lathes that I need to sell on - one of these days, but it's difficult to part with them. One of these days I hope to have the time to really use my kit to full advantage but in the meantime it's back to garden planters. When I look at some of the cabinet making results on the forum, my mind just boggles. Like I said, not even at first base, and never had a woodwork or metalwork lesson in my life, apart from a weekend wood turning course.

Of course this expenditure is offset by savings on tradesmen, and you can't put a value on the enjoyment I get. Plus, as has been said, I can sell on kit and recoup a goodly proportion.

Just some personal rantings which no-one else is likely to find interesting.

K
 

Mark A

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I bought my first power tool when I was 9, a B&Q Performance Power bench grinder, which I used to put crude edges on anything I could find.

I'm in the middle of my second major house renovation project, and as I'm doing most of the work myself I now own many, many more tools than any tradesmen I know. It seems everything you need to be in the trade is a SDS.

Regarding costs, I really couldn't say for sure as I've been buying tools for the last 15 years - some hand tools, but the majority are power tools because of my bias towards building work.

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skipdiver

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It's not something i think about too much as my tools earn me my living, so the cost is almost irrelevant. I built up my tool kit over many years as most tradesmen do after an initial outlay on the basic toolkit, which believe it or not came from Grattans catalogue. A big wooden tool chest full of stanley planes, chisels, saws etc etc, and which i paid for weekly out of my meagre apprentice wages. These were replaced over the years with better stuff, though some of those tools are still with me and still going strong

I then built a workshop when i got my first house and started to buy machinery and other stuff, but this was mainly for my own use in renovating the house and making most of the stuff to furnish it. This obviously saved me money, so all my purchases have been to save money, or earn money. Now i no longer do site work and work from home in my little workshop making and selling a product to one particular customer, so the machinery i bought to use for pleasure and renovate my houses over the years is now used to earn my living and the mainly hand tools i used to earn a living with as a jobbing joiner don't get a lot of outings nowadays.

I've also built four workshops at four different houses but made sure they worked as garages for when and if i came to sell, so although they alone have run into thousands, they have added to the house value and paid for themselves.

So the answer is that i have no idea how much i have spent over the years but it's all paid for itself several times over and given me a decent standard of living. If i had bought all of it purely for hobby/leisure purposes, i would still think it a good deal as i love making stuff and i know people who spend far more on boring stuff like designer clothing and expensive cars, which i have no interest in.

Woodwork can be as cheap or as expensive as you want to make it as a hobby but if you want to make money at it, then you need machinery to speed up the process; not always but in most cases. This then becomes a financial investment to earn a living and pays it's way.
 

Mark A

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graduate_owner":1nkx19tw said:
I think I must be addicted to tool collection rather than tool use. I have 2 Myford lathes that I need to sell on - one of these days, but it's difficult to part with them.

I lived in a rental house up until 7 weeks ago, and as most of my tools were stored at the back of a garage and inaccessible I went through a phase of tool restoring. I now own 11 circular saws... Some I use regularly (cordless Makita, Festool track saw, Skil wormdrive), others I don't really have a need for but I sunk a lot of effort into them and they're not worth selling as there's no market for old power tools.




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DiscoStu

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Blimey I just started to add this up. I started 3 years ago and I think I'm about 10k in. Better to not work it out!


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Phil Pascoe

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Many of my first tools were bought with cigarette coupons - there was a local junk dealer who used to buy them for 2/- and sell them for 2/6 (100). Decent tools were about half the retail price this way, we just looked in the catalogue and if a plane was i.e. 800 it cost me a quid in coupons for a two quid plane.
 

Alexam

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As woodwork is a hobby for myself, I tend to buy what I 'think' I will need, but probably buy more than I need in terms of better equipment than I could manage with. Working within half of out double garage for my 'workshop', I can still fit my own car in there when needed with machines positioned correctly.

Many woodworkers have possibly never considered the overall value of their tools and equiopment to the extent of appropriate insurance. I checked and have suitable cover within my household policy which covers me at home or if I take tools elsewhere, but have others also considered what is actually protected with insurance in case of fire or theft?
Worth thinking about.
Malcolm
 

Marineboy

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AJB Temple makes a valid point re the money you can save by investing in tools when undertaking home improvements. My track saw and vacuum cost £800 but enabled me to refit my kitchen with custom made drawer boxes and fronts and walnut worktops to millimetric accuracy. This saved say £2k on bought in units, as well as providing the indefinable satisfaction of doing the work itself.
 

wallace

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As far as machines go I think I have spent £3000 on some of the best machines ever made admittedly most people would not entertain them when they first arrive, and if you add up maybe 150 -200 hours per machine to restore. But then again machines are half the attraction to the hobby.
 

Woody2Shoes

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An interesting thread.

"Investment"
I've bought (or if I'm honest, sometimes justified the purchase of!) quite a few tools for specific jobs/projects in the expectation that I will be able to sell them again if I decide I no longer need them. Obviously the "profit" you make on resale depends on the quality of the tool and how much you paid for it new/s-h, as well as where/how you market them, but tools generally do retain a reasonable value (looking at the For Sale part of this forum anyway). I imagine Custard's pal could sell his tools, if he had to, for a reasonable sum - it might be illuminating to do the arithmetic on that and compare.

"Time"
It's also easy to say to yourself "I've saved myself from having to pay someone else to make that window or to clad that shed or make that cupboard etc." as long as you don't put too high a price on your own time (I know that for lots of good reasons I'm way slower than a "pro"). Some obvious counter-arguments being that you're having fun learning/honing new skills and expressing your creative instincts as well as "saving" cash and getting a unique product tailored to your specification.

"Security"
For me, the biggest downside of owning tools is the cost/effort/worry/space requirements in keeping them safe from rust and from thieving dirtbags (secure storage, insurance etc.).

Then there's the cost of materials of course....

Cheers, W2S
 

AndyT

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Fascinating to see the spread of what people are willing to spend. Clearly, equipping a business is always going to cost more than taking up a hobby, but I wonder if there's a lesson to learn from the restaurant trade?
I've seen it reliably stated that a very high proportion of new restaurants fail, usually in the first year. For many of them, they had spent so much on new kitchen equipment and furnishings that they could not hope to get enough profit to keep up with the repayments and loan interest.
So there was an opening for anyone interested in buying up kit from failed enterprises and starting over, with much reduced capital costs. I think it was Cafe Rouge who successfully followed this formula nationwide. Slightly scruffy interiors (looking like long established family businesses) meant much reduced overheads.

In a similar vein, I am ensuring the long term viability of my basement workshop by mostly buying tools which are old, rusty and cheap! :)
 

Cordy

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The day before this thread started my 9 year old niece asked me how much all my tools cost
Without thinking much I replied 'About £4,000'

Niece replied 'Sell them then'

'Nay lass' said I 'I would be lucky to get £1500 for them'
 

MikeK

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Woodworking is a hobby for me, and as I'm approaching retirement, I plan on making this my primary hobby. I sold all of my pro Nikon camera equipment to mostly offset the cost of my new workshop and equipment. The photography Muse left me a few years ago, so I sold the Nikon website I owned, unloaded my equipment, and have not regretted it (I have a Sony A7II and some prime lenses in case I get the itch).

With my ongoing basement renovation, as well as the equipment and tool purchases, I think I am at the equivalent of £15-20K so far. My most expensive purchase was the Minimax SC2 Classic sliding saw, which will be in the center of my shop. Moving the saw, as well as the rest of the bulky equipment to the basement via a wooden spiral staircase, was a challenge, but I managed it with the help of a couple of friends, some shoring lumber, and a chain hoist. Disassembling the saw to the basic assemblies also helped!

The next expensive purchase was the dust collection system. I designed my shop around the DC, and because it is in the partially finished basement, I paid particular attention to the filtering. I can't vent to the outside, so I am using a pair of Wynn MERV 15 filters attached to my 3HP blower and Oneida Super Dust Deputy cyclone. The filters have a separate MERV 16 collection pan on the bottom, which gives me a total of 504 square feet of filter surface in a compact space. I've invested about $950 just in the filters. When I partitioned off the basement for the shop, I included a 1x2 meter closet for the DC and air compressor. This will provide some noise reduction.

When everything is finished I'll add up the expenses. :shock:
 

custard

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A few years ago there was series in one of the American woodworking magazines which looked at "dream" workshops, it was the normal tool porn and not to be taken seriously. However one article really stuck in my memory.

It was about a guy who genuinely did go the extra mile! As I recall he had a very well paid job and he had a good amount of property. So he planned and had built a very big home workshop, maybe 150 square metres. I can't remember the exact dimensions, but it was bordering on being too big, where the inefficiency of commuting around the workshop would start to outweigh the advantages of all that clear space.

But the really remarkable thing was what he put inside his workshop.

He spent a long period, maybe a couple of years, researching what was the absolute finest woodworking machinery available. He attended trade shows all over the world to gather the information. He planned in meticulous detail how it should all be laid out, and then he pressed the button and put it all together. The result was amazing. I've seen a fair few top end commercial workshops, but they've always got at least a couple of not-so-great bits of kit. This guy's workshop was brand new, top of the range Altendorf and Martin throughout! At a guess I'd say he spent well over a quarter of a million dollars.

The article was at pains to emphasise that he was really using it all, and pointed to a couple of drawer chests that he'd made. I'm sure they were very nice drawer chests, but they looked like the sort of straightforward, rectilinear pieces of furniture that you can get in any high street.

I felt a bit conflicted reading the article. On the one hand it's his money and his time, so good luck to him. After all, no one is better placed than this guy to decide how best he should spend his own money in order to give himself the greatest pleasure and satisfaction. On the other hand, I couldn't help but feel it was all a bit out of balance? That the furniture produced was in no way proportionate to the resources invested. I did wonder if his real motivation was the pleasure that comes from specifying and equipping the workshop, rather than actually using it? And if so, I wondered what would happen a few years down the line? There'd be no more excitement from planning and buying, so would he suddenly look at the $250,000 of equipment and question if that was appropriate to make $2,500 of furniture?

I guess where I'm coming out is to think that for really enduring satisfaction, there should probably be at least some fit between what goes in (in terms of money, time, tools etc), and what comes out (in terms of number, quality, and complexity of finished projects).

I wonder if the most contented furniture makers are those who achieve the most from the least? But if so there's a hurdle to be overcome in getting to that happy situation, "the least" is the easy bit, it's achieving "the most" that's the harder part!
 

g7g7g7g7

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custard":mgpcoqeo said:
There'd be no more excitement from planning and buying, so would he suddenly look at the $250,000 of equipment and question if that was appropriate to make $2,500 of furniture?

I guess where I'm coming out is to think that for really enduring satisfaction, there should probably be at least some fit between what goes in (in terms of money, time, tools etc), and what comes out (in terms of number, quality, and complexity of finished projects).

I wonder if the most contented furniture makers are those who achieve the most from the least? But if so there's a hurdle to be overcome in getting to that happy situation, "the least" is the easy bit, it's achieving "the most" that's the harder part!

My first woodworking project was turning a 2x3 into a fretless guitar using a £3 imported chinese spokeshave, a found blunt chisel sandpaper and a combi drill, it works, it sounds good and it's fun to play, might not last 100 years with no steel bracing in the neck but oh well. If I had gone to a professional woodworker and asked about making instruments how much kit would I have been looking to buy before I got started, probably a least the few thousand we were talking about at the start of the topic.

Woodworking can be as cheap or expensive as someone wants, I think that the wealth of experience in this topic might be railroading it down a very specific idea of what a woodworker is and does and what he needs to do that job. Just look at some of the workshop build topics on this and other forums and see total beginners get encouraged towards spending £5000+ soundproofed water tight climate controlled insulated workshop, when they'd probably be just as happy under a parasol working at a picnic table.
 

MikeK

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custard":3k6skhn6 said:
I guess where I'm coming out is to think that for really enduring satisfaction, there should probably be at least some fit between what goes in (in terms of money, time, tools etc), and what comes out (in terms of number, quality, and complexity of finished projects).

Sometimes it's the journey that is more enjoyable than the destination. Towards the end of my photography run, I realized I was spending more time on the technical process and less time on the creative aspects. I took lot of images, but wasn't interested in selling anything and gave most of my work away to family and friends.

This is the opposite of when I started with photography while in my early teens. I used equipment given to me, or purchased at flea markets, and cobbled my own B&W darkroom out of an alcove in my parent's basement. I sold the prints at school and was a stringer for the local newspaper. The money I earned selling my work allowed me to buy more film, paper, and developing chemicals, and eventually slightly better second-hand equipment. At the time, money was the limiting resource and I had an abundance of time, enthusiasm, and the ability to learn the technical aspects of exposure and composition on my own.

Somewhere, in my mid-teens, but before I left home to join the Army, I apprenticed for two summers for a cabinet maker who likely meant well, but was brutal in his approach to teach me how to turn wood into something beautiful and useful. I had to make my own tools from misshapen chunks of wood and bits of scrap steel, and use them to practice on scrap planks until I could convert a rough board into something mostly flat and smooth. I don't think I ever made anything that could be used or sold, but I did learn a lot about the process. At the time, I didn't appreciate the meaningless repetition and sometimes watching my "finished" piece being tossed into the woodstove after a faint grunt of approval, but now I would gladly repeat the process if a similar tutor was available.
 

cowfoot

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Custard - take a look at the relative number of posts on here discussing which tools to buy/how to set up a workshop vs. actual WIP/completed projects!
Looked at sympathetically - for most of us time in the workshop is limited, but we can spend a few hours of an evening checking out different products.
Less sympathetically - most people prefer buying stuff to making it, no matter what they tell themselves...
Anyway, the more time and money I spend the more it becomes apparent that it's the former that counts, and that first plane I bought and fixed up worked just as well as any I've bought since.
 

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