Passion or Profit?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

petermillard

Established Member
Joined
2 Oct 2009
Messages
1,967
Reaction score
298
Location
West London
6X6 metre workshop is for hobby users and simple not big enough to run a business from. I have an 8x5m and there is simply no room to assemble anything and fit my machines in there.
I ran my business from a 6x6metre workshop for ~20years; it’s a question of taking on jobs that are appropriate for the space you have, and minimising the machinery you need. Of course more space is good - I’d have killed for 8x5 metres - but as always it’s a question of balancing what you’d like with what you need.
 

Joshjosh

Established Member
Joined
14 Aug 2017
Messages
122
Reaction score
12
Location
Leeds
I agree with Peter,

I'm 2 years into self employment running an 8x5m workshop from my property.
1st year was split about 50/50 between site work and workshop work.
2nd year i only took on workshop jobs and was more than busy enough.

It's definitely about thinking what type of jobs/tools will work with the space you have.
But so far I've built 4 and currently on with my 5 handmade kitchen. I have to plan my work flow well but I can fit that sort of work into a small space and make it profitable.

I've thought about renting a larger unit but with the price of everything rising atm I value my low overheads more than I'd value extra space.
 

doctor Bob

Established Member
Joined
22 Jun 2011
Messages
5,125
Reaction score
1,774
Location
Matching Green
But so far I've built 4 and currently on with my 5 handmade kitchen. I have to plan my work flow well but I can fit that sort of work into a small space and make it profitable.

The real issues as you grow is storage, you end up making maybe 3-4 kitchens at a time (overlapped) always in the knowledge that the chances are 1 will be delayed due building work. Trouble is they need to be made due to tight workshop schedules, I now have a 8x 7m storage space so we can just crack on and not have to worry about delays, however cash flow can be an issue if your not careful.
 

Joshjosh

Established Member
Joined
14 Aug 2017
Messages
122
Reaction score
12
Location
Leeds
The real issues as you grow is storage, you end up making maybe 3-4 kitchens at a time (overlapped) always in the knowledge that the chances are 1 will be delayed due building work. Trouble is they need to be made due to tight workshop schedules, I now have a 8x 7m storage space so we can just crack on and not have to worry about delays, however cash flow can be an issue if your not careful.


I've been fortunate so far that building schedules have been kept to or I've had smaller jobs I can work on while waiting to fit.
But yes I agree that was the number 1 reason for looking into bigger units. It may be that a build a 2nd building on my property for storage but understand that's a luxury of the particular position I'm in.
 

Keith 66

Established Member
Joined
5 Jan 2013
Messages
678
Reaction score
244
Location
Benfleet Essex
I was a boatbuilder for most of my career, had a 1500sqft workshop on a local farm, rent was cheap & i made a go of it for 15 years. Even with cheap rent it only took a couple of slack periods & i would be skint. As my trade was very seasonal this was usual! Local council caught up with the farm & announced we were all liable for business rates. I realised it wasnt viable & closed the business down. Three years later all the others who had stayed got a rates bill backdated to a month after i handed my keys back. Shutting it when i did was one of my better decisions!
Years later i started up again & with the benefit of experience & a burgeoning niche market thought i could make a go of it. I got an old redundant scout hut from the local authority that was due to be demolished on a years licence. Business started to go well & i thought for a moment i might have a chance. Then negotiating for the permanent lease they initially offered me at a reasonable rent, then a junior solicitor decided that the rent should be 5 times what they had initially wanted. They wouldnt budge so i closed it down & walked away.
You cant eat Karma & it dont pay the bills. Today i have a small 375 sq ft workshop at the bottom of my garden, no landlord with their hand out!
 

Buckeye

Established Member
Joined
12 Oct 2005
Messages
142
Reaction score
30
Location
Ballywalter, Northern Ireland
I have a day job. Reduced my hours so I don't work Fridays so I could do furniture/joinery. I have a large workshop attached to the (rented) house.

I have ended up doing a lot of fitted furniture and fill the Friday and week nights with work for folk but really want to do more hardwood and creative bucket list stuff. I have used the woodworking income to partially supplement the lost income and basically spend the rest upgrading workshop tools.

Eventually when the workshop is complete I will probably reduce/quit working (do enough to pay for wood) for other people and just work on the bucket list of my own projects or possibly as I get close to retirement (im close to 50) reduce the hours in the day job by another day.
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
5,441
Reaction score
2,407
Location
Edinburgh
6X6 metre workshop is for hobby users and simple not big enough to run a business from. I have an 8x5m and there is simply no room to assemble anything and fit my machines in there.
That entirely depend on what you make. My workshop is 3m x 2.7m with a very weird 67 degree corner for the back wall. I have access to a big SCM panel saw and a massive 12' CNC table if needed but not used much. In that space I have a 2m roubo bench, morticer, bandsaw, pillar drill, 2 x router tables 1 for 1/4" Katsu and 1 for 1/2" triton pemanently ready for use, Triton osc belt/bobbin sander, a 14 saw Till cupboard, a plane till, a large shelved cabinet for sand paper in every grit from 40 to 400 with leave for ROS both large and small the paper for delta and for Mirka hand block along with emery papers up to 1600. Then a large corner cabinet for holding all the vacpress kit and 5 routers the track saw and with drawers for 3 size of biscuits (0, 10, 20) with 1k in each. Then there is the hand tool cabinet and that is 1.5m x 1m high plus the drop drawers underneath for my chisels. I also have a 40" screen Brother laser A3 printer and the computer. Oh and the dust extraction, cyclone box and compressor. I have plenty of room for what I make even with all that taking up space, yes I have to move my machines into position to use them but it takes seconds. I have no problem preparing parts or testing assembly for things up to around 2.5m in length.
 

Spectric

Established Member
Joined
19 Feb 2015
Messages
3,895
Reaction score
2,053
Location
North Cumbria
Is all this a case of the small guy trying to compete with the big boys, once upon a time local joiners could run successful businesses because we had wooden windows and doors plus a lot of other opportunities but now you have UPVC, Ikea, Wayfair and many others but it also impacts others like local haberdashery where Dunelm has wiped many out and then lets not forget a lot of small local independant ironmongery type businesses where Screwfix and Toolstation have knocked out the locals.

It all comes down to cloning, all towns are retail copies of any other town with there Costa coffee, Starbucks, Screwfix, Toolstation, Mc Shieet, Ktucky dead chicken, B&Q and or Wickes, Homebase and the rest.

Then competing from another angle is online with the likes of Amazon so trying to make a go self employed in a trade may be enjoyable and fun but hard work and more like treading water. The insane aspect are these weirdo influencers on various platforms who make an absolute fortune with just one brain cell and a cult following pushing tack and daft ideas, handbags , clothes, chemical treatments for facial deformity, materials for decorating your face and preaching stupidity.

Perhaps this could be a way to fund our workshops and projects!
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
5,441
Reaction score
2,407
Location
Edinburgh
I'm hoping so and will be launching my new tikshok channel Celluschitte, where I make all the sawdust I mean wooden things you don't need but want to fill the modern home from the rubbish you chucked out last week
 

Daniel2

A Total Member !!
Joined
8 Jun 2020
Messages
772
Reaction score
495
Location
France
That entirely depend on what you make. My workshop is 3m x 2.7m with a very weird 67 degree corner for the back wall. I have access to a big SCM panel saw and a massive 12' CNC table if needed but not used much. In that space I have a 2m roubo bench, morticer, bandsaw, pillar drill, 2 x router tables 1 for 1/4" Katsu and 1 for 1/2" triton pemanently ready for use, Triton osc belt/bobbin sander, a 14 saw Till cupboard, a plane till, a large shelved cabinet for sand paper in every grit from 40 to 400 with leave for ROS both large and small the paper for delta and for Mirka hand block along with emery papers up to 1600. Then a large corner cabinet for holding all the vacpress kit and 5 routers the track saw and with drawers for 3 size of biscuits (0, 10, 20) with 1k in each. Then there is the hand tool cabinet and that is 1.5m x 1m high plus the drop drawers underneath for my chisels. I also have a 40" screen Brother laser A3 printer and the computer. Oh and the dust extraction, cyclone box and compressor. I have plenty of room for what I make even with all that taking up space, yes I have to move my machines into position to use them but it takes seconds. I have no problem preparing parts or testing assembly for things up to around 2.5m in length.

So, basically, what you have is some kind of Tardis.
 

heimlaga

Established Member
Joined
27 Sep 2009
Messages
1,465
Reaction score
221
Location
Österbotten, Finland
My experience is that if you are only after money and working in carpentry you should have as few tools and as little eqipment as possible. Minimal overhead costs.
However that will only work for a short while because for every job you have done your customers will find that the Bulgarians are cheaper. Then there are the trafficked illegals who work even cheaper. Your customer base schrinks quickly and after some years there is no work left for you. All those customers who hoped that your startup business would work for free has moved on looking for somebody cheaper or somebody younger who doesn't care if he carries 60 kilo brick loads up his home made wooden ladders or tears down asbestos insulation without any sort of protection 12 hours a day.
The only workaround for this problem is to invest in proper tools and equipment and learn specialist skills. For every investment and every new skill the customer base grows. Your cheaper competitors lack the skill and the equipment. You get access to customers with specific wants and some of them are willing and able to pay good money. You also giain the ability to pick jobs that aren't unhealthy and even the ability to pick jobs that don't interfere with one health issue or another. However your owerheads grow and your profits fall.

For me personally it is important to have a wide enough customer base to enable me to turn down unhealthy or illegally dangerous jobs and to pick jobs that don't interfere with some health issues I have.
Because of this my profit marigin is very very slim.
Even though my workshop is far from luxorious and my machines are all old wrecks which I have rebuilt in my spare time using my own money and not a penni in loans.
 

BrandonB

Established Member
Joined
12 Feb 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
11
Location
Bristol
Some really good responses on this topic once again! - Essentially the larger you go, the more overheads. If you're whipping out kitchens and large wardrobes you'll need the space and potentially some machines i.e if you're edge banding for example. If you're able to stick to using just your van and no workshop/workspace you're limited on the size of your installs, plus you can't prepare anything which will take you longer on site/clients home...But you don't have the overhead of a workshop/workspace. It's such an under appreciated industry, time and time again I have seen good quality builders/carpenters make a loss because there's an unforseen extras or have under charged for additional work.

Places such as Ikea really don't help and all the articles published in 'good homes' and other magizines advertising 'We built this wardrobe for just £60!' and when you begin to read the article it's made using pallets and the husband has trade experience and a can of dulux....I don't know where this industry is going, we can't operate with such small margins for error/profit.
 

baldkev

Established Member
Joined
29 Apr 2020
Messages
1,513
Reaction score
672
Location
devon
Equally, having work done is expensive.... not sure what the prices are like elsewhere, but my q.s says everyone here is £30 an hour now ( and a lot of them are plus vat )
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
9,519
Reaction score
1,915
Location
PA, US
Places such as Ikea really don't help and all the articles published in 'good homes' and other magizines advertising 'We built this wardrobe for just £60!' and when you begin to read the article it's made using pallets and the husband has trade experience and a can of dulux....I don't know where this industry is going, we can't operate with such small margins for error/profit.

The people into the something for nothing gimmick were never going to be a hand made customer, though. The difference here vs. when I was a little kid was the middle class and upper middle class folks would (as their kids got older and their financial obligations were met) either buy antiques or sometimes buy cabinetry and furniture from a local builder. My grandparents did this (they were farmers), and the net effect was something like $20k current equivalent went to a clock and furniture maker.

People would consider this too expensive now and go buy a station wagon that sits a little further off the ground than a station wagon does and pay an extra $20k for it over what a station wagon would've been (and eat at a restaurant 3x a week instead of once saturday afternoon).

I'm not sure too many kids/young adults coming up now could handle the lack of stimulation combined with strong focus and productivity that the local clock and cabinetmaker had, though. Nobody shows that kind of thing on youtube unless they're trying to sell a "focus pill" link to amazon.

The very top end of the market still exists here, but I don't know how many people it employs (and other makers in between, there are a couple, but I think they tend to get problem solving jobs - as in, a small fourth bedroom for an "oops" child and the need to get a bed , chest of drawers and a desk in a room the size of a closet where the other option is to lose $100k on moving up to a slightly larger house.
 

Krippers

Member
Joined
28 Jan 2022
Messages
10
Reaction score
2
Location
Swindon
I've worked from home (til the bylaw officer visited), rented commercial space and watched my rent rise, rise , and rise again; been locked out by bailiff (not my fault) and needed a space to work out of.

I'm older and almost retired, but still do smaller projects, so went looking and found a makerspace (Protospace Wiki)

take the short video tour it's 6000 sq ft, with every tool I had AND MORE.


Now if you've rented commercial space you got an idea of what your utilities cost (light, heat, etc)

My Membership costs are 55$CDN/mo, and ya there's rules, and sometimes the machinery is trashed, but my semi-retired status gives me the time to make it functional, and with dang near 200 members, I actually enjoy teaching newbies (20 year olds whom have never used a TS for example) and imparting what knowledge my older pea-brain still retains.

Really 55$ a month membership is a pittance for anyone whom has their own shop.

Ja, it ain't yer own place, but let me ask you if you could afford a 5x10'CNC router and get training on it (40 CDN$) with no rental fees???? Well we just got one!

Moreover, Protospace has 2 laser engravers,3d printers, metal lathe and bridgeport type milling machine and a cnc milling machine, a welding shop, and electronics shop a space for light car repairs....

all stuff I often lusted after but could never afford purchase, rationalize space, let alone available time and training cost at local colleges.

I wish I had found the space earlier

Ero,if you don't investigate makerspaces in your area, you may be missing out bigtimenot just financially, but also opportunity and gpersonal growth opportunities

Eric @protospace
In Calgary


I was in Canada 93-95, Loved Calgary (I was in Med hat) Spent every Friday night there before drifting up to Banff for skiing :) Love that you found that resource, we have one in Swindon, not sure what it has for wood, but I will check it out. Thanks for the reminder.
 

Spectric

Established Member
Joined
19 Feb 2015
Messages
3,895
Reaction score
2,053
Location
North Cumbria
I don't know where this industry is going, we can't operate with such small margins for error/profit.
Probably down the same route as dairy farmers, so much pressure from the big retailers who set the prices that they end up going bust but it is the customers at fault because they want cheap milk and put cost over quality these days.
 

BrandonB

Established Member
Joined
12 Feb 2021
Messages
41
Reaction score
11
Location
Bristol
Equally, having work done is expensive.... not sure what the prices are like elsewhere, but my q.s says everyone here is £30 an hour now ( and a lot of them are plus vat )
The thing is plus VAT is a killer for the domestic market but it is the cost of doing business. It's standard if you're contracting and in with developers etc. £30 an hour is expected given the amount of experience and investment into the industry.

Another thing is, alot of people are leaving school and not training to become a trade/carpenter. It's not appealing and I don't blame them given the hard work vs the return. Alot of people I know who retrain and go into the trade later down the line, basically become an electrician because of the money. I can't blame them but there isn't a wow factor becoming an electrician. You don't really build anything, more of connection things together and working out how you're going to get a cable from point A to point B and make a mess.
 
Top