ONE DOOR CLOSES AND ANOTHER DOOR OPENS — He lost his job and became a full time pro woodworker
They say when one door closes, another one opens. That’s Jeff Derosia’s story — his full-time job gave him the boot. That spurred Jeff to up his game from hobbyist to full-time woodworker. Today, business is strong and growing….and Jeff’s doing work he loves.
“I’m a hobbist-turned-pro woodworker. I started out doing woodworking as a hobby and making things for my family and friends — furniture, shelving, mantles, and more, and it just took off. I had only a few basic tools but I got a ‘kick-butt’ setup when I bought my uncle’s entire, fully-equipped shop. I got his lifetime supply of tools and equipment.
Just about then I lost my full-time job as a Mechanical Engineering Technologist! Turns out that was the best thing that’s happened to me. Sure, I had a slurry of emotions but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I started my woodworking business in earnest. Today, I’m doing what I love and I’m at the pivot point where my business foundation is built and I know I can increase production and generate more income. It’s very gratifying work and I enjoy seeing my clients’ reaction to what I’ve built for them.
Turnkey furniture shop – concept to installation
I run a turnkey, one-stop furniture shop. I work with customers from brainstorming their kitchen or whatever project, all the way to installation. They don’t have to work with a bunch of people, and I can maintain the quality I want all the way through. Plus, I don’t have to worry about someone coming along and goofing up my work when they paint it, for example!
I have computerized design software so I can do 3-D modeling with high-definition rendering. People are visual and that really helps. Right on the screen, I can change colors, trim style, door styles, and more, like you’re standing in the room.
This is a full-time business for me. Actually, it’s more than full time. Anybody who owns a business knows it doesn’t stop when business hours are over.
“I had to up my game”
I started with the best 110V equipment I could but soon saw I had to up my game. For example, I got rid of a 12” Delta planer and got a small DeWalt planer instead. It’s supposed to be the best planer in its class but I burned it up the first day I used it!
I visited online forums to learn about heavier-duty equipment and a guy from South Carolina turned me on to Woodmaster. I started seeing that anybody who had a Woodmaster has had it 10, 20, even 30 years. That means it’s really reliable equipment.
So I’d burned out my 12” planer and I had a big job to do. I called Woodmaster and, honestly, I was nervous. This was going to be the first really big 220V machine I’d ever bought. I got a quote on a midsize Woodmaster with a Pro Pack. Then I got really thinking about it and the money I was going to put into it and decided I’d better go big or go home. I decided the 25” 725 model with Pro Pack was a better choice. Sure, it’s more money but nobody ever regretted having bigger equipment.
In fact, I knew I’d made the best choice when a client brought me an 18” wide piece of wood for a project and I handled it easily with my 725. Going up a machine size was the right thing.
I got the 725 with a Pro Pack. I had a drum sander already so Woodmaster swapped out the sander part of the Pro Pack for a C2 corrugated molding head. Its corrugations mate with the corrugations on molding knives. It’s indexable so it’s easy to set the knife depth. And it’s very robust — I can set 25” of knives straight across the molding head. Next on my wish list is Woodmaster’s Spiral Cutterhead and your 3-Side Router System.
“Only wish I’d done it sooner”
I do use all the functions of the Pro Pack; planing, molding and gang sawing. My only regret is I didn’t use the gang ripsaw and molding features sooner. I was so backed up I used the Woodmaster just as a planer at first. One day, I told myself, ‘I’m going to hook up the gang rip and molding features.’ I did it and actually prepped all my material for upcoming jobs, made the trim, and created over 110 gallons of sawdust…all before lunchtime!
Who’s my customer? Anybody. Anybody from CFOs of large corporations to a friend who wanted a custom wine rack. That was a $100 job — many woodworkers wouldn’t get out of bed for a job like that but I do jobs from $5.00 to $5,000.00 dollars. Consequently, I haven’t had to advertise or go looking for work. Work has found me. Right now, I’m booked out for the next month or two.
Future growth plans
Looking ahead, I want to grow the trim side of the business. I get calls for custom molding and trim already and I’m talking with a builder about supplying all his trim. I’m going to get more molding knives.
What I’d really like is a second Woodmaster Molder/Planer. It’s not that changing it from one function to another takes a lot of time but it really would be nice to have one I could leave set up as a planer and the second one as a molder.
The Woodmaster is a well-rounded machine. Everything’s good and I’m very pleased. I’m very mechanically-inclined but this machine is simple enough that I showed a helper how it all worked and he understood it right away. Thinking long term, I’d like to get a sawmill from TimberKing, Woodmaster’s sister company.
Never look back
By the time people are wondering whether they should get a Woodmaster, they’ve already pretty much decided to do it. I’d say stop thinking about it and do it. From my standpoint, it’s one machine, one footprint in my space-restricted shop that gives me all the versatility and quality I need. If you’re willing to take the plunge, you won’t regret it. The first time you turn it on, you’ll never look back.”
— Jeff Derosia, Woodmaster 725 Owner, The Stump Company, Gonzales LA
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