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Starting a joinery firm from scatch

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flanajb

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I keep thinking that my dull IT job in the City will one day come to an end and I will have to move on to pastures new. I have always wanted to have my own joinery business making windows, but given that I don't have a client base and the business will require at least 40k worth of machinery I wonder how you go about getting established ?
 

MickCheese

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This is just my hobby. I have a full time job that pays the bills so I may be talking tosh but here goes.

Think long and hard before investing that sort of money into any business you have no real experience of.

before taking that jump of blind faith I would suggest you try to get some experience with a professional joiner even if it is unpaid. They will hopefully be honest and tell you if you have what it needs. I would guess to make money you need to be accurate, economical with your time and knowledgeable.

But what do I know.

Just don't do anything rash.

Mick
 

Karl

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Well my first thought is why you need £40k? I'm sure that you could get away with a fraction of that if you went good old 2nd hand, and then invested in more esoteric stuff once the money had started to roll in. By ploughing the cash in at the outset is putting all the eggs in the basket. Unless you've got £40k burning a hole in your pocket?
 

Jacob

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flanajb":2wd3hyg9 said:
I keep thinking that my dull IT job in the City will one day come to an end and I will have to move on to pastures new. I have always wanted to have my own joinery business making windows, but given that I don't have a client base and the business will require at least 40k worth of machinery I wonder how you go about getting established ?
10k surely more than enough! To get established you just have to advertise - anywhere and everywhere from shop windows to colour supplements - plus a website.
 

Mr Ed

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I've always thought that building up the skills and machinery whilst doing a paying day job is the way to do it, which is loosely what I've been doing for a while although not entirely sure where I'm going with it :lol:
 

Shane

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As others have said, you don't need anywhere near 40k, how automated do you want to go and how many staff did you have in mind? :lol:

I'm assuming you have a good knowledge base for what is required of making windows etc?

I walked out of my job three years ago pennyless and with no clients, but I did have 17 years experience in most aspects of the woodworking trade, even so I was still a little freaked! The first thing I bought was an old multico planer/thicknesser/tennoner, a horrible SIP site table saw, and a router, along with basic handtools. with those I could just about make whatever I wanted and I bought more stuff as and when I could afford them and only as each job needed it. I would agree with Jacobs figure, as I reckon I've spent about that over the last few years. I still have a few items on the list to get, but I think that will always be the case
 

doctor Bob

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I speak as a pro and I'd say the learning curve between hobby and pro is huge, not on skill levels but on speed.
I look at projects shown on here which are fabulous, but the time taken is ridiculous from a business point of view.

For example if I'm doing dovetailed drawers I'd hope to do 15-20 in a day, painted doors (MDF) up to 40 in a day from scratch. A table is a days work etc.

The hard part though is finding the work, no point in being able to produce the best furniture in the world if nobody orders anything.
Think hard about how you will get business coming in.

I have a good set up now but started with an investment of about £15-20,000.
 

ProShop

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I'm a great believer in that if you want to really do something then do it, but making windows has changed a lot over recent years and unfortunately the bureaucrats have got their stranglehold on the industry now.

I've been making doors & windows for well over 30yrs and if you'd posted say 5 years ago I would have replied and told you to forget it................... but the last 5 years have been good, timber windows are making a comeback for various reasons (I'll not go into them in this thread).

The market these days is for high quality, high performance windows and conservation replacement.
But the days of making any old windows & fitting them and walking away are long gone. You have to register them, pay your fees, get them approved pay more fees............it goes on & on. Make a small mistake with construction or design and you fall foul of building control & Fensa etc and it costs you even more. This year 2010 the rules change again making it harder for small firms to manufacture windows.

FWIW 40K is way to much to be spending on machinery imho especially to start out, I'd halve that.

As I said at the beginning if you really want to do it then do it and good luck, you never know until you try. But don't just make windows, be flexible and make just about anything.
 

flanajb

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I forgot to add that I trained as a furniture maker before going to university, so I have a good idea about stuff. The only reason I say 40k, is that if you make windows you can either be tooled up for the job and be able to be competitive OR not be tooled up for the job, and therefore make very little money.

On reflection, I suspect you could be setup for ~ 15k

Spindle + tooling = 9k new, maybe 6k 2nd hand
PT - 1.5k
Saw Bench 2k
Extractors - 1k

Ideally you would have a 4 sided PT so as to save manual labour time machining timber. A 4 sided PT and a proper spindle with correct tooling will put you on par with the bigger joinery firms and therefore give you a decent chance of being competitive without having to work for nothing ?

Maybe my approach is wrong, but unless you can earn a wage I suspect it would become rather disheartening after a while.
 

flanajb

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ProShop":tczokmvu said:
I'm a great believer in that if you want to really do something then do it, but making windows has changed a lot over recent years and unfortunately the bureaucrats have got their stranglehold on the industry now.

I've been making doors & windows for well over 30yrs and if you'd posted say 5 years ago I would have replied and told you to forget it................... but the last 5 years have been good, timber windows are making a comeback for various reasons (I'll not go into them in this thread).

The market these days is for high quality, high performance windows and conservation replacement.
But the days of making any old windows & fitting them and walking away are long gone. You have to register them, pay your fees, get them approved pay more fees............it goes on & on. Make a small mistake with construction or design and you fall foul of building control & Fensa etc and it costs you even more. This year 2010 the rules change again making it harder for small firms to manufacture windows.

FWIW 40K is way to much to be spending on machinery imho especially to start out, I'd halve that.

As I said at the beginning if you really want to do it then do it and good luck, you never know until you try. But don't just make windows, be flexible and make just about anything.
Thanks for the insight. I hope timber windows do come back in fashion as I have always loathed those nasty plastic ones. My neighbour must have shares in UPVC as he uses it for evertyhing that should be timber!
 

Shane

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ProShop":9uh8kkb7 said:
This year 2010 the rules change again making it harder for small firms to manufacture windows.
You mean 2012? what are the changes taking place?, I don't use fensa, and put in a building control application each time. Fensa registration wouldn't be worthwhile for me.
 

ankledeep

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Well, Well, must be the season/year for it, cos thats what I'm thinking of doing, well...not windows (unless someone Really wanted them) but garden furniture and pet housing...
I'm lucky I suppose because i have a 5m x5m workshop, already equiped with most every thing I should need (as opposed to what i would LIKE)...I'm just wondering if I have the nads to buy and USE the axminster combination machine (eeeeek...its got a spindle moulder). Some of the gear I have will I suppose sadly have to be retired sooner rather than later if I'm to keep mr nasty (elf'n'safety) happy...cos whilst good, solid and sound...its erm ...a bit legacy if you see what i mean...like a coronet major (the full monty ) I will keep that as a wood turning lathe/milling center but the table saw will have to go, since it is impossible to dust extract sucessfully..or even unsucessfully. And the same with the 7 inch planer attachment. However the rest of my kit is ok, Just need to uhmmm...improve the leccy a bit.

I'm really too old to be changing trades....I'm 57...and was an electronics engineer, but wood working has always been a "secondary skill" (my father was a C&G joiner and wheelwright) and I have done a fair bit of stuff over the years, and...now, I'm out of electronics for a number of reasons and with time and ability to use (and of course a need for the readies)..and there is NOWAY i am ever going to "work for a boss" again....noooo way . Once I can post piccies, I'll put some up of things I have done....

Yes making the switch from hobby speed to business speed is going to be something of a learning curve...and a sever shock to my normally laid back demeanour, but hey ho...we are a learning creature....so I'm told.
 

Shane

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Ankledeep - if you will be working on your own you wont get too much bother from elf + safety. I would recommend doing some sort of training course before using the spindle moulder though
 

ankledeep

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Shane":377jk9iy said:
Ankledeep - if you will be working on your own you wont get too much bother from elf + safety. I would recommend doing some sort of training course before using the spindle moulder though

OH YESSSS...those things scare the cr*p outta me
 

RogerS

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As the others have said....£40k way way too much. Even your revised figures are OTT IMO. Yes..prepping timber is/can be a real pain but when you're starting out cashflow is key...and while you're building up your client base, you are time-rich but cash-poor (unless you really have a lot of spare cash!).

Windows..do you want to just make and others install? Do you want to go down the renovation/repair side of things? Making new openers is classed as a repair and so two-fingers to Building Control. But stick a completely new window in including the frame then BC officially should be involved. But if you just supply then you don't get involved with all that. Do you want to supply builders ? I wouldn't..especially in today's financial situation. Also chances are that if they are established then they already have their joinery suppliers sorted out. The only way for you to compete is on price and believe me you don't want to go there.

I have found that many customers want someone to come along, repair where necessary and do it all for them. Good money if you don't mind getting stuck in.

I do a lot on Listed Buildings. For much of the time it is classed as a repair even if I make a new opener and so no Listed Building approval needed (although out of courtesy I do inform the local Conseravtion Officer as you can guarantee that there will be some nosey sod who will go and complain to Listed Building Control about the 'unauthorised work'. Letting them know helps Conservation out). If there is a material change then I offer the client a turnkey service and do all the Listed Building application stuff, drawings etc - chargeable naturally - its all about removing their hassle. Even paint the windows prior to installation sometimes ...much as I hate doing it and a rubbish painter. BC tend not to get involved as much with LB work although they can do if you are putting in place windows that, say, go from single glazed to double glazed (with the Conservation Officer's approval naturally).

Normal windows? Don't get put off by all this Fensa/WER cra p. Just make sure your double glazed units meet 1,2 centre-pane u-value (easily done) and you're done. Unless you have an ar sehole for a Building Control officer who insists on calcs...most don't. If it's windows for a new extension then some BCO's also get peachie and say that the clause 4,19 get-out (ie 1,2 centre-pane value) clause does not apply and the windows have to be proven to meet the WER boll ox. It does not help your case telling the BCO that you lose more heat in a fart then in putting in all the WER rubbish.

Hope that helps
 

Shane

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All good stuff there Rog, also don't forget min opening sizes for fire escape and toughened glass for panes that are below 800mm, on doors or right next to doors. I normally chuck in toughened for everything as the price difference isn't that much and I'm less likely to scratch/break it, and they are safer to handle with linnished edges :lol:
 

RogerS

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Shane":u5ilzs99 said:
All good stuff there Rog, also don't forget min opening sizes for fire escape and toughened glass for panes that are below 800mm, on doors or right next to doors. I normally chuck in toughened for everything as the price difference isn't that much and I'm less likely to scratch/break it, and they are safer to handle with linnished edges :lol:
Fire escape regs only apply to new windows in new builds or extensions is my understanding and not replacements or renovations. Agree re toughened..only thing is having to factor in the time to get the stuff toughened. Also just found out that my local dgu supplier will for a tenner putty in all my glass in one opener...single glazed, obviously...but puttying up a 12 pane sash....getting them to do it is a no-brainer!
 

Benchwayze

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Flanajab,

You won't know until you try, and if you follow Jacob's advice, you probably won't regret it.
But as Henry Ford said, 'Whether you think you CAN or whether you think you CAN'T, you will be right.'

Certainly if you DO NOTHING, you'll know you CAN'T.
There's lots of luck involved, but in my experience, the harder you work, the luckier you get.

Go for it.' At least if you end up on the dole, no one can say you haven't tried.
You probably heard it all before, but it's true nonetheless.
HTH

John :)
 

Shane

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RogerS":1i0isy9m said:
Fire escape regs only apply to new windows in new builds or extensions is my understanding and not replacements or renovations.
Our BCO checks fire opening sizes on existing house replacement windows, that was all he was interested in the last time I had some signed off, but I know that will be different on listed buildings
 

RogerS

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Shane":go3lcv1v said:
RogerS":go3lcv1v said:
Fire escape regs only apply to new windows in new builds or extensions is my understanding and not replacements or renovations.
Our BCO checks fire opening sizes on existing house replacement windows, that was all he was interested in the last time I had some signed off
As long as the replacements aren't any worse then the originals then that's OK. He can't make you make them bigger than they were or make them be hinged at the top if the originals weren't.
 
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