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RJL73

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RJL73

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24 posts in 209 days

Location: Vermont
Website: vtmodernfurniture.com

Well, Im from the small state of Vt and like a lot of other woodworkers here i love making furniture. I was in the Commercial construction industry for 10 years after working in residential construction since 1992. I guess i had an easy time learning most of the things needed to build whatever, although every year a refresher course or testing was necessary to keep up with the industry standards/code requirements.

That eventually led to Union Journeyman work, Gov contracted work etc. Ive worked with just about every type of substrate, wood, STC rated materials for soundproofing studios, welding, built 5 professional recording studios by myself etc etc. I know what adhesives and wood do at 20 below zero, how to read and grade wood regarding its structure and milling procedures, and know very well the process from the tree all the way to the table, I've done that by myself as well.
But- the whole time in that field of work i had worked on little projects of my own, a small coffee table, a side table for my Grandmother. It was my passion but had no real machinery of my own or a place to make things. And i was done with working commercially in the sense that i was routinely making and designing things for an hourly rate.

A normal set of Commercial staircases in one day- $120 per tread at 17 treads per, the client gets billed $4k and had me at X amount an hour to make it. My rate worked out to $220 after taxes per day. Not worth it at all. I've built F-16 maintenance hangars with commercial companies, worked with the Local Union 1996, and was their main Trim Carpenter for 2 years, we built dept stores like Lowes, renovated Post offices, you name it. If i talk about things on this site its because I've done it, and was good at it. Slinging concrete off of a trowel 2 feet away into cracks in block walls, couldn't do it to save my life. Singing and playing guitar at the same time- nope. But woodworking, a different story.

Now I'm doing what I've always wanted to do, to be self sustainable and grow my own business.
It was a gamble to start, long story short. The transition between construction and woodworking was a journey i wasn't sure of. Most of the woodworkers here keep to themselves. I have my own shop, that i luckily built myself and its attached to the house. Again, a huge gamble. The biggest risk is not taking one to begin with though.

So being a one person setup, all of it is difficult, marketing, admin work, photography, you name it. Dealing with customers in California who want to talk for an hour about a project at 8:30 at night because its 5:30 there....An incredible amount of work actually, but its worth it. No more driving all over the place to different jobs.
On a different note: 90% of the guys i used to work with would spend their money on beer, i bought my own tools instead. One thing at a time. It all added up over 20+years. Nobody bought or gave me anything, i worked for every single bit of it. I went from normal construction tools to specialized woodworking tools, and each purchase was just making it by from the profit of sales. Needed a Domino jointer- no more screws/hardware ($1100-what??). The concept of buying a $225 orbital sander to me was ridiculous. The concept of having it collect dust the way it does is not. I was used to cutting plywood in bare rooms with no ventilation, i could go on for hours about OSHA safety requirements that have wonderful stories of people that didn't like to use respirators because they thought they were all tough enough to not have to need them. Stupid. Safety first, always. Know how to use your PE equip properly, or don't wear it at all. You can really mess yourself up that way. Fine dust is classified as Toxic. It will clog your alveoli, (Sheetrock dust and silicate dust is the highest at over a million particles per cubic foot. )
Wear a Mask, always. Even if its uncomfortable in an hour. Dont be "that guy"..

Tools i use:
Planer, Jointer, Dust collector, Unisaw, Bandsaw, all bought one at a time. The bandsaw is a belt-driven 1936 Delta, the first one they sold with wheel covers. All metal construction.
Other Tools used :
Festool: Ets 125 sander, Rotex 125 sander, Domino Jointer.
General Cabinet saw, 54" fence.
Powermatic W54 Jointer.
Steelex (or WoodstockINtl, Jet, Shop fox, all the same) ST 1002 15" planer, 220v
Dust collector i got from Northern tool for $209, 4" works perfectly

Bosch Power hand Planer- best tool ever ! An absolute asset...

Bosch 2-1/2HP Var. speed 1/2 router, in a Kreg router table

Drill press from Tractor supply, works flawlessly.

Dewalt dust-ported circular saw. I won't at the moment show how i do it but this is used to cut perfectly round table tops.. I have the commercial duty one that will cut through wet PT like butter, the first Magnesium Circ saws that Milwaukee made, and 2 other light weight saws.

Hobart handler 140 welder.

Clamps: Jorgensen pipe 3/4", JLT Clamping system, Bessey

FINISHES: General Finishes, Rubio Mono Coat, Festool Surfix- HD and One step, Formsby's Tung oil, Minwax spray Lacquer, Minwax spray urethane.
Target Coatings WVX cross linkers, and I use a Fuji Semi-pro HVLP system. The rest is hand wiped, or back brushed. Im a big fan of the Blue towels also.

So over time, i now have just about every hand tool you'd think of. I had enough tools to run a 3 person crew, which i did when i worked for myself for a couple of years. I am very diligent about taking care of my tools, so when it comes time to trade them or sell them, it shows. Aside from the power tools, it all started with collecting my own chisels at yard sales, a draw knife, saws, etc etc. I spent a good amount of decades carving wood also.

But overall, I'm not better than anyone else at anything, just different. People see my furniture but don't realize that i have my own problems too. Like pouring epoxy into a bark inclusion on a 10 foot by 40" wide Claro_walnut slab, and having it seep through a pinhole that almost permanently adhered itself to my work table, yea, things get screwed up too. Whether I had anything to do with it or not...
Things happen every now and then to us all.

The woods i normally work with are figured woods like Sapele, Maple, Walnut and Walnut burls, flame Mahogany, flame Oak, Cherry, Big Leaf Maple and their Burls, English Elm and their Burls, White Oak, etc etc.

If you have a question chances are i might or might not know how to help but we're all here to help. Dont be afraid to ask..

Enough about me, lets work on some stuff...

-- VtMod

Latest Activity | view all »

replied on Replacement General Table Saw Fence 06-24-2017 02:37 PM
commented on The beginnings of my woodworkings.. 04-28-2017 12:53 PM
commented on One of a kind White Oak Mid Century Modern Dining table 04-26-2017 01:57 AM
commented on One of a kind White Oak Mid Century Modern Dining table 04-26-2017 01:55 AM
commented on Walnut Dining table base 04-25-2017 01:08 AM
commented on Big Leaf Maple Burl table, Mid Century style 04-25-2017 01:01 AM
commented on Big Leaf Maple Burl table, Mid Century style 04-25-2017 12:59 AM
commented on Big Leaf Maple Burl table, Mid Century style 04-25-2017 12:58 AM
replied on Plain old wood oil 04-24-2017 07:12 PM
commented on One of a kind White Oak Mid Century Modern Dining table 04-24-2017 07:06 PM
commented on The beginnings of my woodworkings.. 04-24-2017 06:59 PM
commented on Mid Century Modern Sofa, Bench, Walnut 04-24-2017 05:45 PM
commented on Murphy Bed | Mission style with bookcases| Custom 04-24-2017 05:43 PM
commented on Built-in Bookcase | Making individual bookcase look built-in| Custom 04-24-2017 05:39 PM
commented on Stop Man Cell Phone Holder 04-24-2017 05:38 PM

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