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cowfoot

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I’m not sure it is a particularly great or original idea, just (as I’ve already stated) thinking out loud/typing stuff on the internet.
There are millions of people making stuff in batches then selling it, from butchers to bakers via candlestick makers.

“(batch production) can be a very rewarding and satisfying way of working and running a craft workshop, and the challenge of competing more directly with industry and involving a wider public is an exciting one”
Alan Peters, Cabinetmaking - The Professional Approach, p.107
There’s a whole chapter on it, including the design and making of standardised parts.
 

Jacob

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woodbrains":7ikxth5c said:
.....The handmade dovetails and drawer slips was really only to illustrate Jacobs bunkum business model based on his assertion that Custard's side table (which had drawer slips and hand cut dovetails) could be made for 250.......
Only an silly person would make one (except as a costly demo or prototype). Drawer slip are no problem - just one more little glue job. Hand cut DTs could be - but anybody serious about making money would rapidly discover ways of speeding this up i.e. traditional freehand. For many this would be the only craft process needing a bit of development to get up to speed - the rest is simple basic stuff.
 

tomatwark

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Jacob":3o4otaga said:
woodbrains":3o4otaga said:
.....The handmade dovetails and drawer slips was really only to illustrate Jacobs bunkum business model based on his assertion that Custard's side table (which had drawer slips and hand cut dovetails) could be made for 250.......
Only an silly person would make one (except as a costly demo or prototype). Drawer slip are no problem - just one more little glue job. Hand cut DTs could be - but anybody serious about making money would rapidly discover ways of speeding this up i.e. traditional freehand. For many this would be the only craft process needing a bit of development to get up to speed - the rest is simple basic stuff.

It is simple buy a dovetail jig, run grooves directly into the drawer side, nice and quick.

As for batch part production it does work, the firm I served part of my apprenticeship with did it, although we did end up with parts left as designs changed and developed, which ended up heating the workshop, so there will always be some wastage.

You have to have the sales to make it worth while, there is no point in coming up with a designs which you think might sell, make loads of bits and then find there is no demand, this is where market research is called for.

You need the volume to make it worth while though, and only really start to ramp up the stock when you know it is a sound product.
 

Jacob

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cowfoot":2o3qe9of said:
I’m not sure it is a particularly great or original idea, just (as I’ve already stated) thinking out loud/typing stuff on the internet.
There are millions of people making stuff in batches then selling it, from butchers to bakers via candlestick makers.
It's the normal way of making almost everything
“(batch production) can be a very rewarding and satisfying way of working and running a craft workshop, and the challenge of competing more directly with industry and involving a wider public is an exciting one”
Alan Peters, Cabinetmaking - The Professional Approach, p.107
There’s a whole chapter on it, including the design and making of standardised parts.
Stone me who'd a thought it! One of the gods of the aesthete/artist/craftsman cult! I wouldn't even thought of looking but there it is; Chapter 7 Batch Production and very sensible too.
 

RobinBHM

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Batch production requires a level of marketing and almost certainly retail selling.

As soon as you get into retail, the price structure changes and you have to be thinking in terms of sizeable batches to get the unit price down.
 

Jacob

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RobinBHM":3seiope1 said:
Batch production requires a level of marketing and almost certainly retail selling.

As soon as you get into retail, the price structure changes and you have to be thinking in terms of sizeable batches to get the unit price down.
You mean wholesale?
2 is a batch. You may get economies of scale even when making just two items rather than one.
 

Mr T

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Jacob":1ap75dfm said:
cowfoot":1ap75dfm said:
I’m not sure it is a particularly great or original idea, just (as I’ve already stated) thinking out loud/typing stuff on the internet.
There are millions of people making stuff in batches then selling it, from butchers to bakers via candlestick makers.
It's the normal way of making almost everything
“(batch production) can be a very rewarding and satisfying way of working and running a craft workshop, and the challenge of competing more directly with industry and involving a wider public is an exciting one”
Alan Peters, Cabinetmaking - The Professional Approach, p.107
There’s a whole chapter on it, including the design and making of standardised parts.
Stone me who'd a thought it! One of the gods of the aesthete/artist/craftsman cult! I wouldn't even thought of looking but there it is; Chapter 7 Batch Production and very sensible too.

So you do have his book then Jacob.

Chris
 

Jacob

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Mr T":1gerz6u2 said:
Jacob":1gerz6u2 said:
cowfoot":1gerz6u2 said:
I’m not sure it is a particularly great or original idea, just (as I’ve already stated) thinking out loud/typing stuff on the internet.
There are millions of people making stuff in batches then selling it, from butchers to bakers via candlestick makers.
It's the normal way of making almost everything
“(batch production) can be a very rewarding and satisfying way of working and running a craft workshop, and the challenge of competing more directly with industry and involving a wider public is an exciting one”
Alan Peters, Cabinetmaking - The Professional Approach, p.107
There’s a whole chapter on it, including the design and making of standardised parts.
Stone me who'd a thought it! One of the gods of the aesthete/artist/craftsman cult! I wouldn't even thought of looking but there it is; Chapter 7 Batch Production and very sensible too.

So you do have his book then Jacob.

Chris
I'm a compulsive book buyer. I just bought "Woodworking in Estonia" :roll:
 

woodbrains

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Mr T":1dgy5kw1 said:
Jacob":1dgy5kw1 said:
cowfoot":1dgy5kw1 said:
I’m not sure it is a particularly great or original idea, just (as I’ve already stated) thinking out loud/typing stuff on the internet.
There are millions of people making stuff in batches then selling it, from butchers to bakers via candlestick makers.
It's the normal way of making almost everything
“(batch production) can be a very rewarding and satisfying way of working and running a craft workshop, and the challenge of competing more directly with industry and involving a wider public is an exciting one”
Alan Peters, Cabinetmaking - The Professional Approach, p.107
There’s a whole chapter on it, including the design and making of standardised parts.
Stone me who'd a thought it! One of the gods of the aesthete/artist/craftsman cult! I wouldn't even thought of looking but there it is; Chapter 7 Batch Production and very sensible too.

So you do have his book then Jacob.

Chris

Hello,

And if you read it closely, is tells of the dangers of having capital tied up in stuff you may not easily or ever sell, of coming up with a design that can be batched efficiently and still have the unique mark of the maker, of getting the order books full of takers before commencing the batch so as not to tie up capital and that this difficult line might not be for everyone. It seems Peters didn't do many batches until all the units had a buyer lined up. And he also talked about the sort of batch production we all do, like multiples of dining chairs in a set. Also Peters employed people, he was not a one man band, he had economies of scale not available to a sole craftsman. Also, and this is not without still admiring Peters a lot, his book is horribly out if date. Business models just do not work the way he started his business. Firstly, how many teachers these days can afford to buy rural property with land and outbuildings for premises to start the business without great overheads? Something he says he did, impossible now. Or writing promotional articles for journalists (to save them the job) to get free advertising in newspapers and magazines. This sort of 'advertorial' is big money for publications now, and cost a fortune who ever writes the article and never free. His idea of competition from production makers was G plan and Ercol; high priced first world made stuff. If his competition was Oak furniture land and IKEA he might have said something else. I could go on but it has been a while since I read it and forget much of the things that I identified as being not relevant to the 21st century. His book was written in 1984 for a business in the decades before this. Post was Britain it is not anymore.

I say again, look at Just in Time manufacturing. Not even Ford keeps batches of stuff waiting, taking up space and tying up capital, it is just not done these days. And citing bakers as an example of how batch production works is really spurious. Incidentally, bakers NEVER make more than they have the market to sell to, anyway. Why are they always out if stock of loaves at about 11.30? They would rather only make what they have sales for, rather than speculate and have left overs at the end of the day.
Mike.
 

beech1948

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Woodbrains,

I have had a laugh or two reading through this. While sounding Ok some 50% of the advice has been poor. I think Custard and one or two others have been close and useful.

Me I'm 69, have 22 yrs in a self employed capacity and in my first year earned £500. In my second year I exceeded £100,000. The difference was this:-

1) I stuck to my knowledge base and did a lot of learning and exploring. I spent 20% of my time out talking, meeting having exploratory discussions with everyone. My possible customers, my competitors, advisors ( lawyer, accountant etc the accountant was most useful by a wide mark.) family, friends and BECAME UNAFRAID OF MEETING AND TALKING ABOUT ME AND MY PRODUCT.

2) I learned to cut out all the time wasters and by cut out I mean ignore

3) I understood what I could offer, what I wanted to offer and why I wanted to offer it.

4) I earned £20k + coaching others who asked me to. The first one was a shock to the system that they even asked but paid well.

5) My marketing consisted of a business card and a sort of flyer but very pointed at the function, solution and problems I could solve. eg Fitted alcove units not Master Cabinet Maker.

6) I learned that people buy from people based on trust, empathy, shared values.

7) I also learned that a JFDI attitude paid off in spades

I went on to earn a very good living with woodwork as a very frequently practised hobby. A family crisis left me retired and a widower and bored out of my skull at age 62. You can get in a lot of trouble when you feel like that.

I became interested in boxes. Not £10 cheapies from the orient but £600 to £2000 masterpieces in exotic woods.

I made the first one and gave it to my daughter full of mistakes, issues and errors to my eyes but she did not see these. I made 3 others to stretch myself and made each one better and more attractive.

10 months after I started doing this I sold one. By accident to someone I had met who liked the photographs and desperately needed a prize for a motor rally event. I made £350. Yes I was greedy but the box was quite good, great design ( stolen off the internet and modified by me). I went on to make 3 a year for him for 4 yrs. All different.

So I would say if your workshop is too small then make small things.

Forget the Cabinet Maker Master Craftsman ideal as it is not viable except for a very few and very hard to make money from. Just put it too one side.

Ignore manufactured solutions as you lack the background.

Given your training ( College of the Redwoods...good grief) trade on it. Consider boxes maybe.

Stay employed but talk to people..move up the line of contacts towards those earning much more than you. Always be selling yourself, capability and confidence that comes from that. Not in a flash way just quiet utter confidence.

You can panic later.

Stay employed for now. Maybe move to a private school. Meet a few parents. Make a stylish box for a prize and give it away but make a production of it. Pupil in the local press receiving award with you as maker in background. Yes the press will be interested.

Your first change would be to breakout of the furniture maker timewarp into something that can be done NOW. Take action.
 

[email protected]

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previous post by Beech is more like it and I would warrant that the poster has good people and networking skills. The repeating theme with successful businesses is the person behind it - mindset, personality, motivation and stickability. Thats not to say an introvert will fail but it will be much much harder for them...
 

HappyHacker

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I also am in agreement with Beech. I have run my own businesses for for over 30 years including some short periods of employment by others. I have started and run a few companies with varying degrees of success and had one fail spectacularly. None in manufacturing but with many similarities. I have worked with and for some of the smallest and largest companies both nationally and internationally.

I would suggest while staying on your job while you develop your business and business skills. One thing that helped me considerably was sales training, I should say I am by nature an introvert. One training film by John Cleese called "Who sold you that then" contained all the mistakes I had made as well as the solutions and I can still remember it nearly 40 years later. While I never become excellent at selling I became reasonably good, the same with marketing.

Plan your business, try different things, get publicity, get networking and see what works while you are still working.

Good luck, we all need a little bit of it to succeed.
 

MarkDennehy

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More a question than a suggestion, but have any of you guys tried using kickstarter or something similar to get past the batch production overhead problems? It works pretty well for artists of the "draw stuff" variety, it would seem to be a reasonable fit for fine furniture. Granted, you would have to be shipping to everywhere, but that's worked into the price and sod it, what's the point of a postal service if you don't use it? :D
 

woodbrains

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MarkDennehy":p8apph3u said:
More a question than a suggestion, but have any of you guys tried using kickstarter or something similar to get past the batch production overhead problems? It works pretty well for artists of the "draw stuff" variety, it would seem to be a reasonable fit for fine furniture. Granted, you would have to be shipping to everywhere, but that's worked into the price and sod it, what's the point of a postal service if you don't use it? :D

Hello,

Crowdfunding, I'd be interested to see if anyone has used it for furniture, too.

The link cowfoot posted earlier has a crowdfunding element, but not on the furniture as such but on an innovation thing, Lab. httpebastiancox.co.uk/shop?category=Bayleaf

Mike.
 

Smithy

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What a great thread this has been with so much interesting and useful advice. I have a great deal of sympathy with the OP. I spent 31 years in working shifts in a job I hated, but was caught in the mortgage kids to feed trap. On reflection that was a poor excuse. I now supplement my early retirement with a bit of simple woodworking selling at craft fairs. In hindsight I should have had the balls to attempt a business years ago, using my job as a safety net whilst I searched for the best business model for me. I urge the OP to give it a go. Keep your job and build up slowly. Keep it simple without a big investment. Build up a following on the Internet/social media and see how it goes. Hope it works out for you.

Mike
 

Jacob

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woodbrains":ejsyhy6r said:
MarkDennehy":ejsyhy6r said:
More a question than a suggestion, but have any of you guys tried using kickstarter or something similar to get past the batch production overhead problems? It works pretty well for artists of the "draw stuff" variety, it would seem to be a reasonable fit for fine furniture. Granted, you would have to be shipping to everywhere, but that's worked into the price and sod it, what's the point of a postal service if you don't use it? :D

Hello,

Crowdfunding, I'd be interested to see if anyone has used it for furniture, too.

The link cowfoot posted earlier has a crowdfunding element, but not on the furniture as such but on an innovation thing, Lab. httpebastiancox.co.uk/shop?category=Bayleaf

Mike.
Crowdfunding. Another good way to postpone action and take no risks. And if it doesn't work you can blame the crowd!
Much safer than JFDI :lol:
What about taking up another hobby and getting away from woodwork at the weekends?
 

MarkDennehy

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Jacob":1ww4svak said:
Crowdfunding. Another good way to postpone action and take no risks.
Actually, yes, that's the exact point of it. It takes you away from the risk of building a batch of furniture that might take you a year to sell - a year during which you have to pay rent on the space used by stock, a year during which you have money tied up in the materials and time you spent making them, and so on. That was the entire reason they started the kickstarter thing - you put out a kind of ad for what you intend to make, and you don't invest in making it until you have enough buyers lined up who've put down money (in one way or another, whether directly or via escrow or what have you), then you buy the materials and start work.

I'm curious as to why you don't see more small manufacturers using it; is there an actual problem when applying the idea to woodworking or the like? Or is it just "never seen that before, it can't possibly be good" (which is only correct 95% of the time).

Granted, it's biased towards the internet-using IT crowd in the US, but on the other hand, they're people with a dung-ton of disposable income and no dependents, who like the shiny shiny. They will literally pay $95 for a lump of wood. Not a piece of furniture, a length of 1" hardwood the length of your keyboard: http://www.stochasticgeometry.ie/2017/03/09/wristrest/
Hell, some guys are targeting them already - look at the deal for Apple HQ's new meeting room tables.
 
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