I've long dreamed of making concrete tables. Before I bought my current homestead in New Brunswick I tried once before with a workshop in Romania. It proved to be too steep a learning process. I want to make tables with wood legs, and solid GFRC tops. That's one idea I have for making money from my homestead. The other is to use the band saw mill I just bought last year. And one final option I'm considering, making concrete pavers and concrete tile. I've narrowed my options down to something with wood and concrete, just a matter of deciding what format.
Wondering if anybody else has done any of these types of businesses, and if so has it worked for you? I'm looking for some success stories and motivation, because frankly I jumped from my tech job without parachute so a little nervous about how the landing will go.
Location: Arkansas Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep loam/clay with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
posted 7 months ago
Our son has a bandsaw mill. He custom cuts and also knows and occasionally works with local tree trimmers so a lot of the logs are delivered straight to him....he's 'in the loop' in the wood world local to him.
The steadiest boards to sell are red cedar and also pine.
He also has a very large chainsaw mill (actually two of them!) that he uses to cut slabs of walnut, cherry, oak and pecan for furniture makers at an excellent price.
It has taken a while but business steadily improved. It took starting off slowly and gaining the skills and tools to do the job without injury and efficiently enough to make good money.
He makes furniture and is a builder and sometimes trades out with one of the tree service folks. I think diversity is key.
Up front and for extra cash consider doing some freelance on the side. I'm not sure what kind of tech work you do but try a site like Upwork. I hire freelancers all the time. You can build a small client base, choose your hours, and do the work you want. You may find that you like a mix of shop-work and desk time.
I am a maker and I have been for the last four years. I started out from ground zero. My experience, I started out as a working with wood found a niche and started selling more than I could make. Six months ago I started working on stuff that I can have manufactured. It's a tough road and it is bust ass work.
If I can say anything just get rid of any feelings you might have about it being romantic. You will sleep well at night. That said, start doing something, don't give up but be willing to pivot. Two years from now you will have found another avenue or a niche market. Find what you like and can make money at. Start tracking
expenses up front so you know your true value. Marketing, packaging, tools, materials, and etc. How much do your blades cost, how often will you change oil, what kind and how much finish will you use. How much can your body handle. Choosing something that is low out of pocket is the way to make money if it is in demand.
If you sell online you will want at least 5x ROI. It's a little scary but with freedom comes insecurity...soon enough she will be like an old friend.
A weed is but an unloved flower. Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Location: Saint Norbert, New Brunswick
posted 7 months ago
Thanks Judith for sharing about your son's milling and furniture building. Getting the logs delivered sounds good, I have some good trees but don't have the equipment to drag large logs. I had an Alaskan mill and 880 magnum myself last year, unfortunately mine was stolen before I ever finished cutting 1 slab! First time I used it, didn't tighten the chain bolts enough, chain came loose and snapped the tensioner. And while I was waiting to get in the tensioner I'd ordered, the saw was stolen! At least the thieves could not move my band saw, and I've gotten camera's since then. I'll check out his FB page later to see what he's making.
Scott thanks for your reply... I used to be on Upwork and Elance before it but that was a long time ago. As my career progressed, I found better paying and longer-term contracts outside of Upwork. Never any shortage of work in that field, but it's like they say, you can do the safe thing and still fail. Meaning if you find programming boring, and do it just because it's in demand and pays better than most jobs, there is still all the other potential work you could have excelled at that is never tried. Programming doesn't turn into a business unless you create an app or grow and agency, and both are rarely successfully. I failed in both those directions many times. I'm tired of trying the same things and hoping for different results. I feel drawn to concrete, not so much to woodworking... but some woodworking is needed to make the wood/concrete tables that I think are a great pairing. I think I'll do the woodworking in order to make some tables, and if it takes off then hire somebody else to take over the woodworking part so I can focus on the design and the concrete.
Would you say normally you aim to make a small number of higher quality items, which you then have to charge a fairly high price for? Or do you aim for high production, and keeping the price low? One concern I have is being in New Brunswick, it's the poorest province in Canada, if I'm going to sell locally, I think the market for expensive handmade items might be small. There is less than 1 million people spread out across NB, so that seems difficult compared to say having a shop in a city like Toronto or Vancouver where a much larger market is there. I'm not sure if it's cost effective to ship furniture yet?
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