Woodworking Projects – Woodcraft Ninjas http://www.woodcraftninjas.com Mon, 18 May 2015 23:19:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.6 Woodworking Project Ideas http://www.woodcraftninjas.com/woodworking-project-ideas/ Fri, 18 Feb 2011 14:36:17 +0000 http://woodworking.bmagz.com/?p=49 If you’re a homeowner who’s about to embark on a home improvement project, looking to redecorate, or would like to add or replace furniture, but you’re finding it difficult to choose the specific products or materials, then hopefully this post will help spark some creativity. There are a variety of popular woodworking projects or items that just might fit the bill.

Something a lot of people think of when renovating a kitchen or bathroom, but rarely think of elsewhere in the house, are cabinets. But elegant cabinetry, whether built-in or free-standing, can completely change the look of your living space, dining room, or even bedroom. As a matter of fact, it can give your house that regal touch.

While old standards like oak, maple, or birch are often chosen to make wooden cabinets, due to their strength and durability, there are more and more artisans choosing less common materials like hickory or cherry, looking for more unique woodgrain, color, or texture. There are even more exotic choices of wood like teak or bamboo, for those who really want to stray from the rest of the pack.

The thing to really think about when choosing your materials is what traits are most important to you? Some woods, like Maple, are more impact-resistant than others. Some, like cumaru, are less apt to scorch than others, when you place a hot pan or pot on them. Some, like oak, can be drastically heavier than others; something that’s important if what you’re building is stand-alone and might be moved often. Woods like teak wood can be more water-resistant than others. Some have a tight, straight grain, while others have a wider or wavy grain, while still others have knots that can add their own appeal, depending upon your tastes. Of course, something that’s always a concern is budget. Some materials are quite affordable, while many imported woods can be downright expensive. Only you can truly determine what features and benefits of each material are significant to you.

Of course, I’ve been talking about cabinetry, but that’s only one possibility among many. In a dining room or breakfast nook, a table and chairs might make an interesting and possibly challenging project. The possibilities there alone are varied, from elegant to rustic to quaint. In a dining area, a handcrafted sideboard could be not only functional but also exhibit artistic brilliance. In a kitchen, a butcher block island is a popular choice. In the bedroom, an armoire, wardrobe, dresser, or dressing bench could set a relaxed ambiance. Throughout the house, something as simple as curtain rods can be a quick and easy project, but accent the overall look of a room quite well. Throughout the house, doors and doorways can add flair, be they antique, ornate, etc. Some true craftsmen even create pieces that are purely aesthetic, like wooden sculptures, statues, figurines, etc. On the porch outside or in the yard, projects like a picnic table, a bench, or a swing could let you enjoy some outdoor time. Speaking of outside, a wooden deck can be something small that you could knock out in a day, or a huge endeavor that could take you and some buddies a couple weekends.

The possibilities are almost endless. I realize I haven’t given you any specific details in this article, but that wasn’t my intention anyway. Hopefully I’ve at least given you some ideas, and caused you to brainstorm some ideas of your own. Later I’ll post additional, more specific ideas. Until then, happy woodworking!

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Woodworking as a Business http://www.woodcraftninjas.com/woodworking-as-a-business/ Fri, 18 Feb 2011 13:19:21 +0000 http://woodworking.bmagz.com/?p=39 Ok, so, you love woodworking / woodcrafting, right? You wouldn’t be on this site otherwise. The question is, are you one of the lucky few who get to do what you love for a living? Would you like to be? What if you could turn your passion into profit? What if you could either augment your regular income, or better yet, replace it? If working with wood is already your vocation, what if you could improve the harvest on the fruits of your labor?

I’m going to assume, for the sake of this post, that you’re skilled enough to produce wooden products of a quality that people would be willing to pay for. (If you’re not yet, other other articles on this site will endevor to help with that.) If you go to a furnature store, or high-end cabinetry store, or so forth, it’s not difficult to find woodwork projects that you could build for WAY less than what they’re selling them for, or something that you could build better for the same price. So why don’t you? For most of us, the answer to that question comes down to one word: customers.

What good is it to build beautiful works of wooden art, or to excel at the craft of placing function above form, if no one knows about it? But how do you connect with people who are in the market for exactly what you produce?

One traditional method includes word-of-mouth, where your friends, family, or other customers brag about your work. Indeed, this is often the strongest form of finding new clients, but this method is limited in scope. Only so many people hear these recommendations, and of those that do, not all will be at a point where they’re looking to buy. Still, you can get some of your most valuable and loyal customers this way, so don’t neglect this method. Just don’t rely on it as your only method. You might even get creative and offer your existing customers a discount or finders fee or special gift, for referring you new business.

Of course, the next traditional method of finding new customers is advertising. And by traditional, nowadays we’re talking about newspapers, magazines, radio, television, billboards, fliers, door hangers, etcetera. But all of these methods have one thing in common, to varying degrees, and that is cost. Most of these methods involve a significant expense, and most of the people that you reach are not your target customer. I use the analogy of this being the “shotgun method”, or “spray and pray”. It is not uncommon to spend huge sums of money with little or no result. If you haven’t guessed yet, I am not a fan of this method.

One a lot of people don’t think of, but that is actually quite effective, is using a joint venture type of relationship with another business that is complimentary to but not competitive with your own business. Sure, wholesale arangements count, where you sell a retailer your product at a discount and they resell it at a retail price. But, that’s not the only thing I’m talking about. I guess the next step away from that would be selling on consinement, but that’s almost the same thing. What if, for example, you teamed up with an interior decorator. They could show their clients examples of your work, especially if they’ve used it in their designs before, and you and they could both benefit (and profit). Obviously that’s only an example. The possibilities along this line are almost endless. If you can think of any ideas, add them as a comment below this post!

Something that a lot of woodworkers / woodcrafters have had a lot of success with are things like trade shows, craft shows, flee markets, swap meets, festivals, and so forth. Depending upon your product, you can either bring physical inventory to be sold on site, examples to show that you can sell and ship from existing inventory back home, an array of choices that people can custom order which you then produce to their specifications, or you could even have photos or computer slideshows if bringing your physical products to such events would be impracticle or unweildy.

Finally, in today’s world, it would be irresponsible to not use the internet as a method of finding new customers. The future of marketing and advertising resides online, be it websites or social media like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, and so on. Whether you use free methods of reaching new customers, through friends of friends of friends, or what is called “organic search results”, or if you use paid forms of directed advertising often called “pay per click” (PPC), you can reach both a much wider audience as well as a much more focused audience of potential customers. If traditional advertising is a shotgun, this is a rifle. But you don’t need to be a computer wiz to utilize such tools. Most are really easy to learn, but it is also very possible to outsorce this part of the business. The cost is usually surprisingly low, and often yields superior results. If you’re serious about making money at your craft, don’t neglect this. In my opinion, this is your most important way of obtaining new customers.

So what do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Do you have additional ideas that I didn’t think of? Please comment below and share with the community your ideas, opinions, experiences, successes, failures, lessons learned, etc!

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Woodworking Projects http://www.woodcraftninjas.com/woodworking-projects/ Thu, 17 Feb 2011 19:26:34 +0000 http://woodworking.bmagz.com/?p=115 You’ll always be more pleased with the results of any woodworking project if you start with proper planning. Below we’ll discuss some of the parts involved with that planning, such as (of course) deciding what exactly you’re trying to accomplish, finding or developing a good set of plans and/or patterns, determining what materials, tools, skills, time, and resources you’ll need, then being honest with yourself as to whether you either have or can get all of those things.

First, I know it may sound obvious, but narrowing down what you’re trying to accomplish is imperative, be it building a shed, a picnic table, a piece of furniture, a birdhouse, a boat, a toy, a lawn ornament, a house, or a tree house. You must get gradually more specific. For example, say you know you want to build an armoire. What kind? How big? With drawers down the side, or maybe at the bottom? Ornate or rustic? Painted or finished? Out of what kind of wood?

Once you’ve done that, then you need to go about either finding ready-made plans that match your goals, or write and draw those plans yourself. Which of these methods you choose, again, depends upon the time you have available and the drawing / writing / visualizing skills you may or may not have to do it yourself. And even if you could do it yourself, do you want to spend that time? Or at least, do you want to start from scratch or do you want to start with some pre-existing plans and modify them to your specific needs?

Ok, so, you know what you want to do, and you’ve got plans. Do those plans include a “bill of materials”, listing everything that you’ll need? This will often include a “cut list”, allowing you to be more efficient by minimizing waste, cutting lumber in such a way as to make the most usable pieces out of the larger stock. Do you have the finances to obtain all of those materials? If you intend to sell the finished product, can you sell it for enough to not only cover the cost of the materials but also to make it worth your time and effort?

Next, what tools do you have to help you complete the project? Which ones do you lack? What tools do you not necessarily need, but would make the process easier, quicker, more precise, or higher quality? What do you have to buy? What can you rent? What can you borrow?

Finally, do you have the skills to complete the project? As I’ve mentioned before, just because you’re missing a couple skills does not mean you should shy away from the project. The only way to grow your skill base is to consistently push yourself slightly beyond your current skill level. For those things that are currently beyond your skill set, where can you learn? Is there someone that could mentor you? Are there books or videos available? There are many good free instructional videos available on YouTube, and many more available for a relatively small cost elsewhere online.

And now that you have planned the project properly, get after it!!! As I’ve heard many times before: “Plan the work, then work the plan”…

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