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View Full Version : cabinet and furniture making...(bit off topic)



ukuleG
09-25-2012, 10:04 AM
hello, i recently finished a cabinet and furniture making course, just finding it so hard to find any sort of job really was wondering if any of you have done any previous in this sort of industry. it just seems to be a struggle to find anyone that will take someone on with no actual working experience in the area. (uk based btw) any sort of guidance, companies and such to check out would be appreciated.

ukulian
09-25-2012, 10:24 AM
You don't say what area of UK.
Most of the local companies I used to work for have long gone. That's East Kent!

ukuleG
09-25-2012, 10:45 AM
dorset area, sorry!

thistle3585
09-25-2012, 11:11 AM
I had a low volume production company for ten years or so. We did all sort of woodworking including cabinetry. We also did a lot of private label work in the funeral industry and made furniture for the Amish because they couldn't keep up with the demand. Its a hard business to be in. Cabinetry work is now done in large production shops and doesn't require much skill. They are being machined on CNC equipment and being shipped fully assembled or partially knocked down. The local cabinet guys get them and install them and at most might add some small custom features to put their "mark" on them. Its a tough business in the US. My wife just started a new job today at a butcher shop and the owner was telling me there is a huge shortage of butchers that actually know how to break down an animal. There's a trade for you.

The Big Kahuna
09-25-2012, 11:25 AM
made furniture for the Amish because they couldn't keep up with the demand

If I ever find out that Oprah paid hugely inflated prices for fake Amish furniture I can die happy :)

tattwo
09-25-2012, 11:34 AM
If I ever find out that Oprah paid hugely inflated prices for fake Amish furniture I can die happy :)

LOL............:agree:

Pete Howlett
09-25-2012, 01:29 PM
This is a - 'only Brits reply' thread I think since the US experience is going to be very different.

I designed and built Art Deco inspired furniture for 7 years in the 80's and starved, ending up working on building sites. Like ukulele buildig, making bespoke furniture is labour intensive with little reward unless you are working in London or its satellite communities. As soon as i moved away from the big smoke my business completely expired with my final commission of a dining suite with 8 chairs delivered on the 19th December 1988. I think you'll make good money in the UK as a window cleaner in Dorset with lower overhead and more time to build furniture on the side.

And if you do try making it there is a long wait until you get recognised. The trick is to have a few loyal patrons who will refer your work and help build your business and reputation. My friend who works on the floor below me has been working as a silversmith for 20 years. Only recently was she invited by Goldsmith's Hall to submit a piece for their collection. Artisan working is a very hard road...

My advice - unless you can help it, don't try to earn your living with a 'craft'.

Rick Turner
09-25-2012, 01:43 PM
And here in the US, "cabinet maker" generally means one who builds standard kitchen cabinets...face frame or Euro style...and is competing with and ever increasing range of factory built stuff. Even custom cabinet makers now often get factory made drawers, drawer fronts, and doors and just assemble them, making only the face frames which are usually screwed together now using the Kreg system...no dowels, and certainly no real joinery. I did my own last kitchen all in cherry with resawn solid panel doors below, "antique" glass above, and joinery using Lamello biscuits. Came out great...and then the divorce and house sale...

Michael Smith
09-25-2012, 08:20 PM
Here in the US I had a one man cabinet shop for 15 years. Pretty much all my work came through general contractors that I knew and had established relationships with. If you can get in with local generals who do kitchens and new construction your in like flynn. Because I had a shop at my home and low overhead I could be competitive with the larger shops, give better more personal service and still do fine.

ukuleG
09-26-2012, 12:44 AM
This is a - 'only Brits reply' thread I think since the US experience is going to be very different.

I designed and built Art Deco inspired furniture for 7 years in the 80's and starved, ending up working on building sites. Like ukulele buildig, making bespoke furniture is labour intensive with little reward unless you are working in London or its satellite communities. As soon as i moved away from the big smoke my business completely expired with my final commission of a dining suite with 8 chairs delivered on the 19th December 1988. I think you'll make good money in the UK as a window cleaner in Dorset with lower overhead and more time to build furniture on the side.

And if you do try making it there is a long wait until you get recognised. The trick is to have a few loyal patrons who will refer your work and help build your business and reputation. My friend who works on the floor below me has been working as a silversmith for 20 years. Only recently was she invited by Goldsmith's Hall to submit a piece for their collection. Artisan working is a very hard road...

My advice - unless you can help it, don't try to earn your living with a 'craft'.

i figured it would sort of be this way, guess i will have to keep it as more of a hobby i can hopefully make money from. thanks for the honest reply

Pete Howlett
09-26-2012, 07:43 AM
Coda:
I applied for and got shortlisted for a lectureship at Loughborough College. The celebrated designer and maker Ashley Cartwright with a poortfolio of piublic and private commmissions was appointed. That should tell you something....

dustartist
09-26-2012, 08:50 PM
Being a professional woodworker has been very difficult in Southern California the past few years since the housing bubble popped and took the rest of the economy with it. I used to get a ton of work installing for cabinet shops. It has slowed down quite a bit, but there are still a lot of small projects to do. I do it all: cabinet installs, hang doors, crown and base, paneling, architectural millwork, etc. I know you are in the UK, but if you are willing to work outside the shop you may be able to find something along those lines. That said, it is a tough business in good economic times, right now it is the worst it has ever been. I would not give up your day job unless you have something lined up.

Allen
09-26-2012, 10:41 PM
The local cabinet shops are just flat out here, and are always looking for someone to take on. Problem is that all they do is make white boxes on CNC machines. Doesn't take much to put them together, and I'd think it would end up being a soul sucking career.

The others have said it, but it's worth reiterating.

The life of a craftsman is a long and hard one when you are competing against mediocrity. You are going to have to decide what makes you happy. Living for your passion, or living the "life you deserve" as the add's are so fond on putting it.

Good luck, and don't ever give up on what makes you want to get up in the morning. It might have to be a hobby for years instead of the way you make a crust. But that' OK. You just never know what life will end up tossing you.

Sven
09-26-2012, 11:54 PM
And remember, if you can't make a living as an artisan / craftsman, you can always fall back on the failsafe "gigging musician" plan...

Chris_H
09-27-2012, 06:17 AM
for a craftsman, it can be difficult to make a living any other way than with craft

Timbuck
09-27-2012, 07:53 AM
And here in the US, "cabinet maker" generally means one who builds standard kitchen cabinets...face frame or Euro style...and is competing with and ever increasing range of factory built stuff. Even custom cabinet makers now often get factory made drawers, drawer fronts, and doors and just assemble them, making only the face frames which are usually screwed together now using the Kreg system...no dowels, and certainly no real joinery.

I had a look at the "Kreg System" I'm not a very good joiner..but I recon that even I could build stuff with that set up...Thats if I can cut the ends square enough first:)

Rick Turner
09-27-2012, 10:48 AM
For the purpose at hand, the Kreg system is actually very good. You don't need much in the way of structural joinery with kitchen cabinets. I used to build using Lamello biscuits which were pretty wonderful; I even did some interior and exterior doors that held up just fine. I ran a job once...remodeling a small (12 room) hotel in San Francisco, and I set up a cabinet shop in the basement with just a chop saw, table saw, jointer, and hand power tools and the usual other things, and I designed and made all the chest beds with drawers below, and desks with built in mini-refrigerators. I was able to supervise all the tear out and rebuilding while making the cabinetry on site. I earned my dough on that gig...