Building cabinets as a side job!

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Forum topic by Beginningwoodworker posted 08-22-2009 04:33 PM 2854 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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13345 posts in 3695 days

08-22-2009 04:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Since I am close to finishing my building constructon degree, I been thinking what kind of job I might be able to get, but its hard the way things is. So I been thinking about building cabinets as a side job, I done built a lot peices all ready. I also have my Specialized Training Certificate in Building Construction Technology, emphasis cabinetmaking and carpentry.

23 replies so far

View a1Jim's profile


117114 posts in 3599 days

#1 posted 08-22-2009 04:45 PM

Hey Charlie
Sounds like a plan go for it.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View lew's profile


12099 posts in 3777 days

#2 posted 08-22-2009 05:25 PM


While the economy is tough right now, with your determination and skills I believe you will be able to pick up work. You have shown us lots of great projects. Spread the word among your family and friends. Get your teacher to give you a professional recommendation as well as some leads for possible work. Don’t try to make a killing on the first couple of jobs. Get your work out into the community and let people see your craftsmanship. Find some contractors in your area and see if they can sub you some jobs- it will get your work into more places. Anyone with your drive and abilities will certainly make it!


-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View Napaman's profile


5526 posts in 4099 days

#3 posted 08-22-2009 05:33 PM

i would also add…consider working in a shop…this way you have no expenses, work with experienced people and learn more…and you get to do the wood working rather then the business side—-which is what sounds like the ugly side from all the WORKINg LJ’s…

Then once you have some time in…go on your own or pick up some side jobs…

On another note—-you have clearly shown an amazing ability to re-hab old machines and turn them into beautiful working machinery…that has to be a selling point for your skills to potential employers…

good luck…


-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#4 posted 08-22-2009 05:59 PM

Yes I love re-habing old machines!

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10519 posts in 3450 days

#5 posted 08-22-2009 06:21 PM

I made a ton of $$ in the late 80’s building “point of sale” laminated MDF cubes for NAPA stores in my area. Not fine cabinetry but easy and quick.
The machine rehab/repair could be profitable, too. Not many guys around (here, anyway) doing that.
In this economy, not sure where I’d begin looking, but whatever you do, I wish you the very best.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3843 days

#6 posted 08-22-2009 06:49 PM

Sounds like a good idea, Charles. Go for it. With your education and practical skills this sounds like something that you would enjoy and also be good at as well

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View jack1's profile


2107 posts in 4049 days

#7 posted 08-22-2009 08:30 PM

Do it. If you can find or save for one, get a panel saw (like at HD). I got a Milwaukee and boy, does it save time, money and my back! If you’re going to do a lot of sheet stock, it might be a good deal for you.

I have to say, you are one enterprising dude! ;0)

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3376 days

#8 posted 08-22-2009 10:09 PM

Charles Jackson.. I must say that you have come a long way in the short time I have known you and you keep amazing me with your enthusiasm and determination. Never give up and have fun along the way. If you lived closer I would certainly give you a trial run.
Your good friend Larry Maykin,
Lazy Larry Woodworks..

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4121 days

#9 posted 08-22-2009 10:19 PM

I have to tell you that you will make more money doing small home repair jobs vs. cabinets. You are not set up in any way to make money with cabinets.

What you will find is that your shop and tools will come into play with doing home repair because you will always be fixing or modifying something. That was how I got into woodworking.

My remodel business demanded that I was able to duplicate historical trim, and rebuild or modify things like cabinets, doors, and built-ins. I think that you will be surprised at how much you rely on the shop to support your handyman jobs. I know that I could not live without my shop as a remodeling contractor.

But straight out making cabinets I don’t think will prove to be very profitable.

I don’t mean to give a harsh critique, I just don’t want to see you get in a bad position with your business choices.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#10 posted 08-22-2009 11:16 PM

I thought about that to, Todd.

View tooldad's profile


660 posts in 3736 days

#11 posted 08-23-2009 12:14 AM

I have to agree with Todd. I am a shop teacher and do jobs on the side. My most profitable jobs have been finishing basements, replacing a window or 2, and residing a home. I do build bars and kitchens but trying to make a good living on just cabinets I feel is tough without a huge shop setup. I had the opportunity to buy a cabinet shop with a home for $300,000 about 5 years ago in a town where he was the only cabinetmaker a couple of hours from St Louis. I decided to keep teaching for retirement and job security reasons. My biggest way of getting customers is word of mouth. So I agree with others, do not try to make a killing right out of the gate. Good luck.

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3689 days

#12 posted 08-23-2009 01:00 AM

Another point for Todd here. The profitablity of a cabinet shop is based on the shops ability to make cabinets fast. Time truely is money in the full time cabinet building business. That is why it is so hard to compete with factory cabinets. If you want to be a cabinetmaker, serve your time in a good cabinetshop. That will be the best way to get a feel for real life situations. My suggestion, be a craftsman and do the things with wood others without a shop can. Making a living working wood is more of a lifestyle than a career path. If your going to do it, do it right! Good luck.

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3695 days

#13 posted 08-23-2009 01:06 AM

You is right guys I really went to school to become a carpenter, but since they had a basic cabinetmaking class I took it.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3307 days

#14 posted 08-23-2009 01:39 AM

CJIII, I also have to agree with Todd. If you’re not set up as a production shop, building cabinets and trying to compete in this business could be a tough road. Working with Contractors can be tough( time schedule demands, waiting to get paid, etc). Starting out, that can be a killer. Like rhett said, be a craftsman and do the things others can’t or won’t do. You’ve go a great talent and great drive. You will do just fine what ever you do. Good Luck.

-- John @

View patron's profile


13606 posts in 3363 days

#15 posted 08-23-2009 02:14 AM

charles :
i went through the building course too .
and over the years have worked for myself and for others ,and here are a few things i learned along the way.

don’t sell yourself short, give them what they pay for , not what you may be able to do , the word goes out that you can be bought for less !
all bosses want you to work the weekends, ” we got a deadline ”. if you do this , you don’t make more money ,
but they do .
don’t bring tools to a jobsite , that the contractor is supposed to have , yours will do the work , but you will have to buy or fix them ,while everyone uses them .
don’t lend your tools to other workers that don’t have their own .they don’t respect yours , and get payed the same
as you .while you buy tools , they buy booze or drugs .
if you work for someone , and the client comes to you about some changes , refer them to your boss , don’t get caught between them .
don’t leave your tools around , they dissapear fast . mark your things and take them home everyday .
remember many of the guys you may work with , are just passing through . their dream is not the same as yours .
you may need to separate your love of woodworking , and the ” job ” .
not everyone in the working world are like us lumberjock’s , they won’t help you if it’s not in their best interest .
mostly they will cover their own asses , at your expence if necesary .
customers generally do know what something is worth , but will pretend they don’t , just to get you to sell short .
if they start saying they saw it at walmart , let them go buy it there , you are worth more than that .

you are a smart guy , charles . and do nice work .
you are also honest , and have integrity.
have faith in the good Lord ,
and you will always find a way .

the best to you , brother .
don’t forget to keep us posted .
and just ask if you need something .
we are all here for you !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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