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Biggest Potential Order Yet

by krisrimes
posted 09-05-2013 03:43 PM

30 replies so far

View UpstateNYdude's profile


917 posts in 2188 days

#1 posted 09-05-2013 04:09 PM

Damn you’re going to have to crank out a minimum of 2-3 chairs a day to keep up with that, you might want to take some vacation from work to get the jigs built lol…good luck I hope you get it.

-- Nick, “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” – Vincent Van Gogh

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 3149 days

#2 posted 09-05-2013 04:57 PM

My suggestion is to see about farming out some of the work or having someone else make the sub-assemblies. Since you already have a full time job, you need to think about the most efficient way for you to do this by using others.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View krisrimes's profile


111 posts in 2740 days

#3 posted 09-05-2013 06:17 PM

I hear you, I already have someone lined up to do the canvas for the seats. I will be looking for ways to make this work.

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2318 days

#4 posted 09-05-2013 06:23 PM

Congrats, if you land it it could lead to a lot more work from word of mouth. Think long and hard about pricing try to be fair. Make sure you have a well written contract that covers all your bases, payment terms, storage, lead times, and any deposit. Buying lumber, building chairs and waiting 60 or more days to get paid can raise your blood pressure a couple notches. 1000 chairs a year is 2.7 chairs per day 7 days a week, you might wanna look into some vacation time from work.

Hope ya land it!

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3853 days

#5 posted 09-05-2013 06:25 PM

Start looking for a pin router.

View Nygiants77's profile


57 posts in 2162 days

#6 posted 09-05-2013 09:55 PM

If all goes well you may just be quitting that job good luck

View tncraftsman's profile


93 posts in 3344 days

#7 posted 09-06-2013 12:49 PM

Congratulations! Welcome to the wonderful world of production woodworking a.k.a. wood production manufacturing.

Making multiple items in a production setting is a different animal than making something in your workshop on the weekends.

Accuracy in your jigs is key. Forget about making them out of wood, use steel. Wood will wear easily and something that is 1/64 out of alignment on #74 could add up when you realize it on #235 and you are 1/4” inch out of alignment.

Good luck and keep us posted on how it goes.

View waho6o9's profile


8525 posts in 2782 days

#8 posted 09-06-2013 01:20 PM

Good luck and congratulations.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile


15703 posts in 2823 days

#9 posted 09-06-2013 01:24 PM

Wow, an incredible opportunity. If that’d happen around here, I’d talk w/ the local cabinet shop (does production work) and ‘team’ with them on repetitive cuts and parts fab. I’d concentrate on assy and finishing. So much work there, good luck definitely!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive --

View bowedcurly's profile


519 posts in 1934 days

#10 posted 09-06-2013 01:31 PM

sounds like pneumatics with a large air compresser and clamping rack are in the future I seen a clamping rack on C list for 2500 in nashville

-- Staining killed the wood<<<<<>>>>>Dyeing gave it life

View yrob's profile


340 posts in 3857 days

#11 posted 09-06-2013 01:32 PM

good for you if you get the job. I never had to deal with large scale production for woodworking but given the numbers you are giving this seems very hard to do for a one map shop who has another job. Just the logistics do not add up. how are you going to store hundreds of chairs before
delivery, store the wood required to build them , etc.. Sounds like you may
have to setup a business with a few people and sufficiently large rented space. one guy to cut parts, one to assemble and one to do the finishing. also will you have to outlay the thousands of dollar in material before you deliver and get paid ? Still despite all these issues it is a great opportunity and i wish you success.

-- Yves

View Makarov's profile


102 posts in 2010 days

#12 posted 09-06-2013 01:57 PM

If you have not done so, look at incorporating your business as an LLC (limited liability corporation) if one of your chairs breaks and someone gets hurt, you could loose everything you have ever earned. An LLC is inexpensive and easy to set up in most states. Good luck with the contract looks like your on your way.


-- "Complexity is easy; Simplicity is difficult." Georgy Shragin Designer of ppsh41 sub machine gun

View Nygiants77's profile


57 posts in 2162 days

#13 posted 09-06-2013 02:25 PM

I would take Eric’s advice. When something goes wrong businesses are ready to pass down the blame. So even if something lands on you the LLC will be a nice cushion.

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 3508 days

#14 posted 09-06-2013 04:25 PM

Sounds like you are trying to dump a great hobby. ...don’t forget to pay employee taxes quarterly. Good luck.

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3853 days

#15 posted 09-06-2013 04:41 PM

They may have unrealistic expectations in terms of price. If
their guests have been breaking China-made chairs,
they may be looking for much better quality at not
a much bigger price.

Some business that rents “furniture” for events approached
me to build “benches” (upholstered boxes). They wanted
them super cheap. Know why? because they would throw
them out after the rental. They were looking to build
a business around not storing the stuff and the miracle
shop that could keep up with their demands for speed,
delivery and rock-bottom pricing would be a godsend to
them. As I saw it, they wanted to pass all the warehousing,
labor and headaches to the manufacturer.

View Tim's profile


3812 posts in 2166 days

#16 posted 09-06-2013 06:14 PM

An LLC is a good idea, but it won’t protect you from product liability, it has limited protection too. A general business liability policy is more what would cover product liability, check the fine print though.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3490 days

#17 posted 09-07-2013 12:15 PM


Sounds like an awesome opportunity to take your woodworking to a whole new level.

You’ve been given some great advice and hope you will take your time and work out every detail. It’s one thing to make a mistake on an individual job and you end up not making any money or lose money, but a contract as large as this could be very hard for a one man shop to absorb a loss.

I don’t want to scare you, but like so many have already mentioned; 800 – 1,000 chairs is a tall order to fill.

Ordering, handling, processing and storing enough materials alone will take a lot of money, time and especially space to keep things flowing.

There will be a huge difference between building one chair at a time to making an assembly line and running 50 to 100 chairs at a time.

Finishing will need to be another consideration; can you put finish on 50 chairs at one time and still be able to use your shop to build another 50 at the same time?

As mentioned; maintaining and warehousing an inventory of chairs also has to be taken into consideration.

Product Liability will have to be a major priority. Make sure you have a policy that will cover you.

I would suggest you have a lawyer help you with a simple but effective contract that will spell out everything very clearly and very firm terms on delivery commitments and especially payment terms,

This type of manufacturing is not for a hobbyist, so make sure you treat it like a business and cover all your bases.

Don’t be afraid to go for a contract like that, but make sure you’re honest with yourself and the customer that you can handle it and fulfill your end of the deal.

Good luck and keep us posted.

-- John @

View SteveMI's profile


1124 posts in 3499 days

#18 posted 09-07-2013 03:15 PM

I have never even considered taking a job of that volume, but having a smaller shop there are a few things that I do to help with “my” bigger jobs besides what has already been mentioned.

  • Get your wood as close to being ready as possible. Every hour you spend prepping the stock takes away from the real value you are adding. I get my wood from a mill that will joint, plane and sand 80/100/120 grit to thickness for $0.75 per board foot (100 bd ft minimum). That may sound high, but I can start cutting to length, joinery and assembly as soon as it gets in the shop. 800 chairs would seem to be a lot of processing. I still have to pick the rough cut boards for maximum usage based on widths I want. Their jointer and planer and sanders are 24” width, planer is 48”.
  • If you are going to use parts from sheet goods that have holes and shapes to them, look for a mill that has CNC available. In my area it is $70 an hour and that can cover a 4’ by 8’ sheet with 30 parts. Again, “your” time you can save is what is important. Also, if you are not really set up for sheet goods, it is even more important.
  • Think about one of those portable storage containers they can put in your driveway to store finished goods in. Customer probably wants them delivered in 50% of the order lots if not more. Last thing you want is damage to a finished product. Might even have them delivered in the container.

Get quotes on these options and balance that against how much time you can save to get the order done. Maybe even give the customer both costs with the timing difference.


View mingfrommongo's profile


10 posts in 2454 days

#19 posted 09-07-2013 03:46 PM

As a wise man once told me when I was contracting work in the trades, ” The first thing you ask is how and when are you paying?” If that answer is satisfactory, then worry about how to do the job.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3490 days

#20 posted 09-07-2013 06:49 PM

Steve makes a great point; I’ve known cabinet shops that product face frame cabinets and they order all their face frame stock already sized as far a width, thickness and sanded.

All they have to do is cut to length and assemble face frames. A one man shop can spent a lot of time processing stock and that’s fine for a hobbyist or the shop that custom makes everything and everything is a different size, but in this situation, that is probably a good way to consider.

Check with different suppliers and see what they offer.

-- John @

View krisrimes's profile


111 posts in 2740 days

#21 posted 09-10-2013 01:40 AM

Not much to update as of yet. I talked to my potential client today and it looks like I will know more on Thursday or Friday. I appreciate all of the advice so far. I feel like I could manage an order this size, it is just going to take some dedication and serious planning. I know some might cringe at the idea of making a large amount of the same thing, but I actually prefer it to custom work. I like figuring out the optimum way of doing something and then getting it done. We will see where it goes.

View JAAune's profile


1853 posts in 2522 days

#22 posted 09-10-2013 06:51 AM

I haven’t seen the project but if I were in your position, I’m pretty sure I’d want CNC equipment and probably some sanding machines to do that job. I’d also make sure I actually have money in hand before investing too heavily in new machinery.

-- See my work at and

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1956 days

#23 posted 09-10-2013 12:57 PM

Once the money is flowing, buy a “point to Point” CNC with a tool changer, some good CAM software like AlphaCAM or MasterCAM, and set up a fixture to do as many parts at one time as possible. That will cut to shape, contour edges, drill holes and basically leave you with a bed full of finished parts in 15 to 20 minutes. It would take several hours to do that by hand, even with jigs already set up. Keep in mind that if there is competition, this is probably how they will be machining parts. There are a lot of shops with CNC capability out there that are still hungry for work these days.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 3166 days

#24 posted 09-11-2013 10:39 AM

Check with an attorney on the LLC. My father and I had a business here in TN and were advised that a corporation is subject to taxes plus we would be paying personal income taxes. Nothing like paying twice! My biggest concern would be if someone sat in your chair it and it collapsed, causing injury. Even if no injury, you are subject to a lawsuit. Liability insurance can be costly.

View krisrimes's profile


111 posts in 2740 days

#25 posted 09-19-2013 01:59 PM

Well I finally heard back and the news was not what I was hoping for. The hotel has decided to delay the purchase until spring time. I feel like that is going to take me out of the running for the job. In the original discussions I had with the client it sounded like they were going to purchase a large quantity and then let me work on it over the winter to have it ready for the spring. It now sounds more like they are going to expect a fast turn around time. With an order that big there is no way I could get them cranked out fast enough.

This whole experience has kind of got me thinking about what is out there in the way of money to be made. Could a production shop make money in this type of venture? I looked at the same chairs that are made overseas and they can crank them out for $50 appiece. I would have more than that in just material cost. I think that the one saving grace is that there seems to be a shift in mentality to buying made in the US and made locally. I know that production wood working is not everyones bag or idea of a good time, but the few big orders I have gotten I had a good time doing.

View firefighterontheside's profile


19458 posts in 2061 days

#26 posted 09-19-2013 02:27 PM

Well that sucks, but you never know. The US made theory may be still be in play. If they were only interested in the bottom line they would probably never have considered you in the first place.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

View SteveMI's profile


1124 posts in 3499 days

#27 posted 09-19-2013 02:41 PM

” I would have more than that in just material cost” One way larger manufactures, regardless of country, have lower costs is that buying in 1,000 board foot lots the wood is probably 60% of what you pay at a smaller mill and 30% of the cost at a big box store.

These prices are from a larger mill in my state. The 1,000 price is 65% of the under 100 price. They probably have another price scale for larger volume purchases. Make sure your material costs are as low as they can be without sacrificing quality.
RED OAK BF: 1+ 100+ 500+ 1000+
1” Sel&Btr 10”&W 4.13 3.17 2.92 2.69
1” Selects 6’-7’ 2.97 2.28 2.10 1.93
1” Sel&Btr 8’ 3.46 2.66 2.45 2.25

A large company will even skip the regional mill and buy direct to save another 10% or more. Of course you need a rail head, forklifts, warehouse and buy 10,000 bd ft at a time.

All that said, the big manufactures are not able to make anything “custom” or personalized without serious price increases. You might want to try marketing you customer with the hotel name in the seat back or adding some portion in the hotel color.


View HowardInToronto's profile


77 posts in 1907 days

#28 posted 10-19-2013 01:30 AM

You’ve been given some mighty good advice here. Especially by Huff and Knothead62.

There are plenty moving parts to this venture. It might seem intimidating. But it’s not. Chunk it down to individual steps. Then just get them done. Step by step by step.

The most expensive information is wrong information. Make no assumptions. Find out what you need to know, then find that info.

Pay for an initial consultation with the holy trinity of professional services – lawyer – accountant – insurance agent. Their fees’ll be a pittance compared to being unprepared.

This sounds a great opportunity. Good luck on your bid. And make sure to keep us posted.


View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30070 posts in 2543 days

#29 posted 10-19-2013 02:00 AM

I just missed a potential large order of some small items. I was thankful for the opportunity to have to prepare such an order. I learned a lot from just having to analyze the process to that degree. Also, I believe that I will make a run at this company again. I do not believe that all is lost. Good luck in the future.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View jumbojack's profile


1685 posts in 2829 days

#30 posted 10-19-2013 03:04 AM

I can feel your excitement. Me, not so much. I made four jewelry boxes exactly alike one year. I nearly took to the bottle. Production work is well…... work. I like my hobby.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

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