How to Grow a Successful Woodworking Business
Not long ago, we talked with woodworker, Jeff Derosia. He’d just lost his job as a Mechanical Engineering Technologist and was starting a woodworking business with a Woodmaster Molder/Planer. Read Jeff’s start-up story here.
Some time has passed, and Jeff’s added a Woodmaster Drum Sander . We figured his business must be going well. (We were right.) Read the latest news on Jeff, his growing production business, and his Woodmaster equipment.
“I know things are good when I look at the calendar and see I’m booked well into next year. My phone rings steadily and my woodworking business is growing. Most of my business is through word of mouth from past customers. And past customers come back, too. A guy I did some work for a year ago came back and asked me to bid on a full kitchen remodeling job – cabinets, an island, and more. I got the job.
I started with a 25” Woodmaster Molder/Planer. Now I’ve added the Woodmaster 50” double drum sander. My work ranges from small projects to full kitchens and I do it all turnkey, all in house.
It’s all about working efficiency and quality
In my business it’s all about efficiency and quality. When I run workpieces through my drum sander, that’s a lot less time I have to spend hand sanding. For example, if I build a door from scratch, I may have to hand-sand it for as long as an hour. If I plane the pieces first to get a good surface, then sand them in my drum sander, it could take just 5 or 10 minutes, maybe 20% of the time hand sanding takes.
Sometimes, sanding a door or a wide panel by hand, I end up with an offset, or slightly different thicknesses across the surface. But when I sand a wide panel with my Woodmaster Drum Sander, I sand the full width all at one time and eliminate any offset or human error. So when I build a door or a wide panel, my Woodmaster lets me work 50% faster than by hand. The time savings depend on the situation so in some situations I may save even more time.
Faster production runs
Where the Woodmaster is really an asset is when I’m building 30 cabinets and doors. I can stack the pieces up and run them through one right after the other. In my small operation, I can do in one day what would take me two or three days by hand.
I chose Woodmaster’s Drum Sander based on the experience I had with my Woodmaster Molder/Planer. I did a lot of research and wanted the biggest bang for my buck. I realized that to get a wide belt sander as wide as this one, I’d have to have 3-phase power, a larger shop, and in some cases twice the money. Or I could have gone with used industrial equipment at an auction, with no warranty and no support.
Cost is a big factor, of course. And since I could get the same quality as a more expensive sander at half the cost, why wouldn’t I get a Woodmaster? Being able to buy a Woodmaster at a good price point, and having worked with them before helped me decide.
I chose the 50” drum sander based on my work, efficiency, and quality. I tend to go big with equipment. I’m a one-man operation and if I can increase efficiency with big equipment, that’s a big advantage. I make all kinds of projects of all sizes and I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner with smaller equipment. For example, it’s great to be able to sand something 4 feet wide like the custom barn doors I made recently.
2 drums – 2 sanding passes in 1
I chose Woodmaster’s double drum sander because I want a paint-grade finish on my projects. I set up the sander with staggered grits in a 120/220 configuration. I mount the first drum with 120 grit paper and the second drum with 220. That gives me the equivalent of two passes in one and I get a finish-ready surface. That puts me ahead of the curve with less time, more efficiency, and great quality.
Another way to set up the double-drum sander is to mount half the width of both drums with one grit paper and half the width of both with another grit.
Also, I can adjust the height of the drums independently. That means I can sand with just the front drum, or just back drum, or both drums with each pass. Depending on the project, that flexibility can be an advantage.
I’ve had others…
I’ve had other drum sanders. I had a Jet one-drum sander. I have a mechanical background and I could not get it to sand flat. I used a machinist’s level and I couldn’t get it to sand flat .Its drum is cantilevered – not connected to the machine at one end. You take one pass to sand half the width, turn your workpiece around, and sand the other half of the width.
I called their customer service department. Their answer was, “It’s made overseas and it may be somewhat out of square.’ It was disheartening to hear that’s what Jet customer service thinks of their own machines. And the manual that came with it didn’t cover the model I bought.
My Woodmaster tools – molder/planer and drum sander – are made in the USA. They help me achieve the quality standards I demand. These tools have changed my perspective of what I make and how I make it. It’s all been for the better.
Going forward, I have a good foundation with Woodmaster equipment. I want to get a larger dust collection system. I’d like to get Woodmaster’s dual-router setup for my molder/planer. And a second, smaller planer, too. I’ve also been thinking about getting a TimberKing sawmill someday.
I laud Woodmaster their functional, well-built equipment, and for their customer service and promptness. They’re really good people to work with.”
— Jeff Derosia, Woodmaster 50” Drum Sander owner, The Stump Company, Gonzales LA
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