Opening a Workshop in 2 years - Advice needed.

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Skottex

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Hello Everyone, I'm not from UK but I'm writing here because this seems one of the few European Woodworking forum in English.

Currently I'm hobbyist (yes classic DW table saw & French Cleat meme) but, in 2 years, I'm planning to open a small workshop as secondary job, doing mostly small furniture & home decorations. The initial goal would be just to repay expenses and machinery.

Since the low budget (~30K Eur) and been a secondary job (the machinery will not have to run 24/7) I have to make some compromises on the quality of the machines.
I would like to ask you if I'm making reasonable choices.

Here what I understood about machinery quality (for sure experts will correct me):
- Low Quality Chinese machines: Brands like Holzmann, Bernardo, Holzstar.... mostly for hobbyists and I wouldn't risk my budget on it also because the bad customer service.

- High Quality Chinese Machines: Laguna, Harvey, Sicar (I think in UK is rebranded ITECH), Jet (some models). The target for those brands is aimed to exigent hobbyists and semi-pro. From what I saw (from youtube & forums) it seems that in US many small and medium workshops are running on this machine's Tier.

- Semi-pro European segment: Hammer, Minimax (below Elite segment), some Robland models, Rojek, REMA, Kusing... Good Quality overall and good customer service. This segment can stand professional use but lack of the refinement and the productivity of industry professional models.

-Industry Standard: Felder & Format4, SCM (Elite, Nova, L'invincibile), Altendorf, Robland, Martin... used by most of European professionals.

After this long Introduction here are my choices:

Sliding Table Saw (Budget ~6000 eur): Since I'm not going to work with panels goods or on big furniture, my choice is on a short stroke slider (max ~1600). If I will find some good deal second hand European made machine, that it is still supported by the brand, I will go for it.
If I'm forced to buy a new machine I think I will go for a Sicar (Itech) Sega 300.

Planer/Thicknesser (Budget ~5000 eur): I want a machine 40cm wide, ~180cm (Or more) long with spiral.
Again here if I get a second hand Hammer/SCM/Robland with the possibility to upgrate to a spiral I'm good. If I need to go for a new one I would go for a Sicar (Itech) 400C.

Bandsaw (Budget ~3000 eur): The Laguna 18BX seems a decent machine, it is having both the quick tension/de-tension lever and the pedal break. Also the reseller is local one so no problem with warranty.

CNC (Budget ~8000 eur): there are several local workshops that produce CNCs for wood (2,5m x 1.25m) on that price tag so here no problems.

Drum Sander (Budget ~6000 eur): As it is a secondary job I would prefer to shorten the time I spend on sanding so I'm planning for a 800mm wide drum/wide-belt sander.
I saw vintage ones from the 90s at that price tag but I have no Idea if are still reparable.
The alternative for new is JET DDS-237 (sold by the same supplier of the Band saw).
Mitre Saw: I already have a OMGA T55 300 so no need to buy a new one

Dust Extraction ( Budget 600 eur): I already have a 1500m3/h Bernardo one, with cartridge filter, wich works really well so I will buy a second one.

Power tools: I already have everything and of professional quality.

Please let me know your thoughts. Thank you.
 
I'm planning to open a small workshop as secondary job, doing mostly small furniture & home decorations.
what are home decorations ?

it maybe worth watching some youtube videos , 2 come to mind , who have small UK workshops and make / install furniture
Peter Millard https://www.youtube.com/@10MinuteWorkshop
and
The London craftsman https://www.youtube.com/@thelondoncraftsman2026

there are many more , but those 2 i tend to watch each week/fortnight when video are produced

both have small workshops in UK, and both have used various tools and made benches - also videos on extraction

sorry i dont have any knowledge of the European makes you posted
 
30K Eur is about £25k.
This isn't low budget at all and many small businesses set up with far less than that in terms of kit.
Rent/premises and vehicle would be a much bigger cost issue.
So I'd be inclined to halve you proposed expenditure and start by leaving out things you don't need and concentrate on the core - which for me would be a combi machine (Minmax Lab 300 in my case), band saw, morticer, pillar drill, a lot of hand tools. Others would need different things of course. Do you really need a 400mm planer - there's a big jump in price as you go up in size?
You can always add new items as necessary if you get the work.
There are lots of stories of brave ventures getting heavily kitted up and then folding a few years on. I'd expect to grow the business before lashing out.
 
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what are home decorations ?

it maybe worth watching some youtube videos , 2 come to mind , who have small UK workshops and make / install furniture
Peter Millard https://www.youtube.com/@10MinuteWorkshop
and
The London craftsman https://www.youtube.com/@thelondoncraftsman2026

there are many more , but those 2 i tend to watch each week/fortnight when video are produced

both have small workshops in UK, and both have used various tools and made benches - also videos on extraction

sorry i dont have any knowledge of the European makes you posted
Hello Etaf, thanks for the reply.

As "Home Decorations" I mean wall pictures (made of wood) and sculptures.

I'm also following Peter Millard and I was already applying many of his methods, like Track-saw + MFT way of working.
The only remark I have is that both the channels seems to work mostly sheet goods and not much solid wood therefore are missing on machines that I repute a must have, like band-saw and planer/thicknesser.
 
30K Eur is about £25k.
This isn't low budget at all and many small businesses set up with far less than that in terms of kit.
Rent/premises and vehicle would be a much bigger cost issue.
So I'd be inclined to halve you proposed expenditure and start by leaving out things you don't need and concentrate on the core - which for me would be a combi machine (Minmax Lab 300 in my case), band saw, morticer, pillar drill, a lot of hand tools. Others would need different things of course. Do you really need a 400mm planer - there's a big jump in price as you go up in size?
You can always add new items as necessary if you get the work.
There are lots of stories of brave ventures getting heavily kitted up and then folding a few years on. I'd expect to grow the business before lashing out.

Hello Jacob, Thanks for the advice.
Regarding the budget I'm saying 30K is "Low" because when I spoke with professional woodworkers that I know (in Italy) they all kind told me that I need at least 50K to start.
Yes, renting would be the major issue as where I live (Slovakia) there is a big real estate bubble. 100 m2 production facility are going around 800 eur month. But let's see in 2 years.

I would prefer to work on stand alone machines but some, in the list, are not really necessary:
-Planer: I currently have a Brenardo AD 260 S. The machine is decent and the spiral works well but the tables are really short. I want a machine with long tables and the only one offering it are the 40 cm models.

-CNC: yes it can be bought in a second moment, its not strictly necessary at the beginning. But my idea was to have a CNC to put to work while I'm on my main job so when I finish I already have some job done, also I was was thinking to accept outsourced work from others.

-Drum sander: yes this one is just a nice to have and it can be skipped.

As for the enterprise risk. My luck is that I would not rely on this activity to live, I have a solid main job and in 2 years a better financial situation. If any emergency comes I don't risk to lose the workshop.
 
...

I would prefer to work on stand alone machines ....
For a one-man operation stand alone machines not so necessary as you can only do one thing at a time and a good combi only takes a few minutes to swap between functions.
But the bigger issue is the "footprint" and the amount of extra clear space you would need around each free standing machine, which you have to pay for one way or another and which could be used in other ways, storage, display, or just working space especially if you want to make big things.
I was talking about this only last week when I visited someone with a small workshop (50 m^2 perhaps) with free standing machines and very little room to move between them. A combi would have been much better for him.
PS ceiling height important too - it's hand to be able pick up and swing around an 8x4ft sheet without hitting the light fittings, and you get better lighting and air quality.
 
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What are you wanting o make that will drive the tool purchases.
You'll probably make more money not buying tools🤣
Finding your niche market is essential tbh.Trying to be a one stop joinery business again guys with 20+yrs experience is asking for trouble.
 
30k Euros is a very healthy budget for making small furniture and decorations and it will take you many, many years to earn back the cost if you spend all of that. I would think you could get what you need for a quarter of that if you look for good second hand deals.

If you're not cutting large sheet material then you don't need a sliding table saw. Also, they require a lot of space.
The benefits you want in a bandsaw are of little value. I'd bet you wouldn't find many on here that bother de-tensioning their bandsaw blade between uses no matter how easy it was to do.
A new drum sander with enough capacity to do what you want can be bought for about £1800, I don't know why you need 6000Euros.
 
....

The benefits you want in a bandsaw are of little value.
I use mine a lot, from firewood to joinery - tenons, curved surfaces, dimensioning, general cutting. etc.
I'd bet you wouldn't find many on here that bother de-tensioning their bandsaw blade between uses no matter how easy it was to do.
Never done it, never felt the need.
 
Some good advice on here . I'm only a hobbiest but if I were starting out in this game I would first secure the largest workshop possible as inevitably you will want room to expand down the road. It needs heating and if possible A/C in the summer. The second thing to decide is your power requirements. You can certainly get by with single phase power but it will limit things like dust extraction. I know a joiner who told me his dust extraction equipment nearly cost as much as his machinery. ! ( Everything he made was with Iroko )
Aim to extract every single piece of equipment including sanders. Lastly some things in woodworking have become easier like loose tenon joinery instead of expensive tenoners and morticers. There is usually a ' workaround ' for problems outside of traditional techniques. Regarding a table saw I would put money into a full sized saw capable of handling 8 x 4 sheets. You will need one after a few years anyway.
Have a look at Timothy Wilmots on the 'tube - he has set up a workshop to die for. ;)
 
@Skottex it sounds like you know what you are doing, that's some nice machinery you are looking at 👍

I would personally go for free standing separate machines, maybe I'm just not organised enough with my workflow but the swapping over part on a combi would drive me mad, I find it frustrating enough just swapping my PT between surfacing and thicknessing modes!

I have a panel saw with about 1600mm stroke, I love it and it's fine for 99% of the time but there is the odd occasion I wish I had a full size one, I won't be swapping the one I have but if I was buying again I would seriously consider a bigger one.
 
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Cant help with your question but note you skimp out on collection big time,
whilst seemingly happy to pay well and truly over the odds on some machines.
How about a big cyclone which is actually spec'd to Bill Pentz's standard,
i.e clearview might be worth looking at the impeller specs, (worth noting, seemingly no-one builds anything similar with a 50hz motor for the rest of the world)
Regardless of where in the world you live, big motors need the supply, have you been looking at digital phase converters from day 1,
this is to get cheaper used machinery of better quality, basically new stuff for way less money is what I'm sayin.

Just to mention, your perception of quality and standards absolutely needs reviewing,
and you have made quite a few in-correct assumptions on plenty.
Dat's good marketing for ya.

Look for some real Italian machines in detail, if you wish to get a fundamental understanding
on what looks "normal" or "the real standard"
i.e not skimping out on the bits which is of real importance, i.e only then, should one even be considering bells and whistles.

Sorry for the condescending post, but just felt the need to filter the water as such,
as I felt they were muddied, since there's other folks whom might be in the same boat.

All the best
Tom
 
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whilst I'm encouraged by your choices I would say the craft is in using poor or old machines to acheive a high quality outcome. if your specialising in certain work then buying the very best industry grade will allow you to manufacture quickly. but one man will struggle to compete with even a 2 man set up. if your making wardrobes say you positively need a 3.2 panel saw and edgebander. but you also need a second pair of hands.
 
Most proper wide belt sanders will also require a fairly good and big air compressor, and I would suggest much more serious dust extraction if you are planning on fitting ducting and blast gates (so you don’t have to move the extractor to every machine each time) also worth considering siting the extractor (and possibly compressor) outside if possible.
Don’t know which country you live in but heating/insulation is also an issue in the uk.
You will likely want to budget quite a lot of time in getting set up as you want and making workshop items (bench, assembly table, sawhorses, drawers and storage etc etc) I guess you could treat yourself to a bit of this type of work for every profitable thing you make, or just bite the bullet and do it all at the start if you can afford to.
 
My workshop would barely fit a skoda felicia in (OP will know the size, they are as common in Slovakia as they are here). I have a second hand Proma bandsaw that does the basic things I need it to do. A friend has the Proma PT which he is happy with. I have a track saw, a lunchbox PT, a 30 year old drill press that I had to repair with clock springs a few routers, a couple sanders and drill drivers. The rest is hand tools. I am able to make custom doors, bookshelves, bed frames, benches, garden furniture, and all the smaller stuff as well. I have a home vac connected to a cheap cyclone for when I do generate dust, and a 1kw oil radiator for when the temperature gets below zero. It keeps the workshop at a toasty six degrees, so all those hand tools are very useful for keeping the body temp up. I made the workbench myself (have a Record vise, rather than a Czech made York vice).
I am in the process of getting the Czech equivalent of a vat number, as a couple of people with their own businesses have expressed an interest in some of the stuff I make.
For the OP, the pertinent thing here is 'stuff I make'.
As you have a main job, start with a smaller set up, keep as much of the 30k Euro as you can, make a few smaller things and get good at them, develop your skills, rather than your arsenal of large tools, and put a few around work to colleagues. Sign them, so that they have your name on them. You will find that after some time people will approach you to ask 'if you can make something like this' and they will show you a picture of something from a website or magazine. That's how I ended up making two 'finger skateboard parks' one Christmas. Got paid for them too.
 
Just to mention, your perception of quality and standards absolutely needs reviewing,
and you have made quite a few in-correct assumptions on plenty.
Dat's good marketing for ya.
Hello Tom, Thanks for the reply.

That is what I really wanted to hear, someone saying that I'm wrong.
As it looks you have experience, do you have some advice to help me refine my "perception of quality and standards"?
I made my researches mostly on internet, searching manufacturer's websites or asking opinions on internet, so I may felt on some biases.

For example, which are the characteristics that defines the quality of a sliding table-saw?
This is a simplification of what I was told:
-Saw aggregate body: Steel made < Cast-iron made
-Lift mechanism: Pivot lift < Dovetail< Calibrated rods < Prismatic linear bearings
-Pivoting mechanism: Laser cut Steel < Machined cast-iron
-Sliding Table: ball bearings < cylindrical bearings < rollers on hardened rods < Prismatic linear bearings
Obviously there are more aspects than this and for sure manufacturer's client support is big part for me.
 
As it looks you have experience, do you have some advice to help me refine my "perception of quality and standards"?
No hands on experience for ya really compared to many on here, regarding sliders and whatnot,
though for bandsaws I see some strange things you wrote.
Take your high quality Chinese machines comment, as you're going on branding, which is totally
reliant on say Felder or Laguna's reputation from selling Italian machines for the last donkeys years, they still do sell ACM machines today.
I guess the budget versions haven't really had the chance to prove their worth yet, though some with good reports across the pond with the Laguna 14/12 for instance, likely one of the first Far Eastern machines to come from Laguna

How about actually looking at the specs of say Grizzly, and see how many bandsaws they offer,
as would be evident, the Far East do make good machines, but I guess there's not much difference in cost to something with a fimiliar logo, that makes them not so popular.

If you can see the badge from Italy on the machine, then you know what is/has been the standard for lots of machinery, never mind the brand.
Your perception of those brands will become clearer when you do that,
and you wouldn't be putting Hammer and Centauro/Minimax in the same boat,
and I wasn't aware of the company who bought Sicar producing anything, I think I may have read that recently enough, possibly the Creek, but wasn't sure it were Sicar.
(edit: I think it were another manufacturer actually, possibly Hema?, can't find that post)

One could spend a long time researching machinery in your case, seeing as you've got a lot of kit planned.
Deema here I guess would be someone who might have a lot of experience with most of that,
and by experience, would certainly be observant enough to make note of things, rather than merely shoving the timber through whatever machine.
He also does a good write up on stuff, so it might well be worth a bit of search.

All the best with the "new shop" :)
Tom
 
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You have written out an impressive kit list but have you really thought about what you are going to make and what kit/capacity you really need. Your budget figures are all based on new kit but have you considered good qulalit second hand nd if possible 3 phase. Have you allowed for tooling cost. A number of 12 inch saw blades easily adds up to £500 whereas a s good quality panel saw can be had for £2k. Router cutter particularly large ones are a major cost factor
Interesting you havent mentioned a router table (my most used machine) or a spindle moulder. You mention a cnc but what do you plan to use it for
The other very big factor is premices/ rent etc
 
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