WT243 – Where Would You Build Your Woodworking Business

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On today’s Wood Talk “Weekend Edition” we’re talking about where we would locate our woodworking businesses and why.

This topic was inspired by an email from Bobbie who had this to say,

If you could locate your woodworking business or hobby anywhere in the US; where would it be? For me there are several factors, availability of lumber, reasonable cost to purchase shop space, a place to sell the furniture, and personal safety. I am sure there are many other factors.

How about you?

Where would you put your woodworking business. And don’t say next door to Marc, cause Shannon already called “shotgun”.

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10 replies on “WT243 – Where Would You Build Your Woodworking Business”

There are people with ‘Maker Spaces’ or ‘Artist Spaces’ available in the area, that are used nicely for business spaces (My son uses ‘Artists Asylum’ in Boston area for work space.)

A friend in Houston purchased a bit of land about 20 miles out of town and built a pole barn for his blacksmith ‘retirement’ shop. (He did retire from the health/safety dept for a big oil company). His shop is in a semi-rural space with ‘lots’ being 2 to 30 acres.

I am near Nashville and have an un-conditioned log building that isn’t really enclosed. So I tend to work mainly on a large porch (that is still not large enough šŸ˜‰ ).

Also, check out a ‘book’ (you know, the thin pieces of wood with printing on it) called ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’

It is basically a book that helps you question what and where you live and work. If someone it truely questioning their life, that is a great book to help review. There is a new version annually, but they are about the same for the base content. So check one out from the library, and read it and use the workbook! (Just don’t write in it unless you buy it instead of the library!)

I’ll second (or is it third) the thoughts that competition in an area says that there is a market. Zero competition means you’ll have to create a market. Which is a very tough and long-term thing to do, if it is even possible. Unless you make small, readily shippable items it is nice to have a local market even if you plan to use the Internet to broaden your reach.

more regarding market:
a good friend is an outstanding designer/woodworker in southeast Michigan. He did the shows in that region both juried and open, but once he did a few Chicago area shows he realized that the Detroit and Michigan area was just not a viable market for his work. There is money in Michigan but they don’t seem to wish to spend it on our fine offerings. Chicago is a bigger market and there are even some competitive forces working between collector types. Selling at a distance takes more work on installation and followup, but was worth it for a while. The latest (?) financial big dip has made things difficult even in that market.

I don’t know about furniture but a brief time in Dallas area revealed a rather vigorous competition between the high rollers to out finance their buddies for supporting museums, new and old, big and small. Must be some way to play that attribute.

I’d also give big check mark to being in an area you are familiar with and connected. That gives support, both directly business related and also for personal support. Like free meals when times are tough.

In my book there are three big must haves: know your craft/business, have the financial backing to get through the startup and begin in an area where you are known and you know the lay of the land and where to find support. When starting my own (non-woodworking) business in 1974 it was in a town (cross country from “home”), I had zero money (but no debt) and did not know anyone other than a cousin, and all I knew about the trade I choose was from one Mother Earth News article (back issue with outdated information at that). Luckily I was young, foolish and did not read my own book. All worked out and I like the community and family that developed around my life and business.

The take away is: it is possible to overcome all types of adversity if you are driven to make it happen. And have a lucky charm in your pocket at all times.

Thanks for the shows, Marc, Matt and Shannon
and now back to the driveway workshop

p.s. if you are going to work in a driveway workshop, don’t work in a place that gets much rain…like yesterday. A rain shower in May. WTF, who ever heard of such a natural disaster!? Almost a quarter of an inch.

Kick back on #243

Hi Guys,
I just wanted to chime in on the question about where to locate your woodworking business.

If you are a woodworker or furniture maker, New Hampshire is the place to be.
Especially if you are an up-and-coming furniture maker for several reasons.

NH is blessed to have a three tiered system.
For the beginner to pro, there is the Guild of NH Woodworkers. http://www.GNHW.org
The Guild is a 550+ member organization that is all about learning and sharing knowledge and information centered around 6 focused subgroups, from wood turning to period furniture and boat building. Whatever your interest area, there is a subgroup focused on that.

Second is the League of NH Craftsmen. Once you reach a certain level, you can apply and be juried into the League. http://www.nhcrafts.org The League is the oldest group in the country and provides the marketing and promotional support plus several League shops that will sell your work for a fee.

If you get really good, there is the NH Furniture Masters organization. http://www.furnituremasters.org Guys like Garrett Hack, Jerry Osgood, and David Lamb, just to name a few, are all about supporting each other and the promotion of their work and the fine furniture craft in general.

Couple all this with many co-op shops spaces where multiple furniture makers share space, equipment and talent, and you have the perfect storm to make great and talented furniture makers.

Of course, NH and New England is where the origins of furniture began in this country and our rich history lives on today.

Bob Couch
Past President, GNHW
Juried member of the League of NH Craftsmen
Bow,NH

It’s not up to me, I’m a native I know how awesome it is here!
Marc, I’ll try to find some room if you want to collaborate on a project.( dude, bring a bank roll it’s not cheap here)

Regarding insurance, if you plan on operating a woodworking business from home, be aware that most homeowner’s policies contain an exclusion for damages arising from a home business. There are endorsements available (for an extra premium) to get coverage for a home business, but you may not be able to find an insurance company willing to sell you one for a business with serious safety risks, such as woodworking (I believe they typically are used for home daycare-type businesses). If you can’t get coverage under your homeowner’s policy, your only option may be to get a business owner’s policy, which is likely to be very expensive.

Great show guys I think Matt should have been a comedian. Keep on doing a great job. Just a question what’s up with the 70’s lounge music. Thanks for your time.

Joe

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