HOW ROB BUILT A SUCCESSFUL FURNITURE BUSINESS FROM SCRATCH

Congratulations, Rob Lemire, Woodmaster Owner from Maine — a Woodmaster Woodworker of the Month!

Ever wonder if YOU could start a successful woodworking business? Here’s how Rob did it…. 

“I learned woodworking from my grandfather. By my teen years, I was working side-by-side with him in his jack-of-all-trades business – roofing, remodeling, additions, painting, and more. He really taught me how to do high quality work. As I got older, I took on bigger jobs. He told me to go to college and that I’d always have hands-on skills to fall back on.

After a 30 year teaching career, Rob wanted to start a custom cabinetmaking business. Fate had other plans. Today he's in the Adirondack-style furniture business...and business is going great guns

After a 30 year teaching career, Rob wanted to start a custom cabinetmaking business. Fate had other plans. Today he’s in the Adirondack-style furniture business…and business is going great guns

I worked 30 years as an educator. But I always did side work and summer jobs as a finish carpenter and cabinetmaker. I’m retired from teaching now but deeply involved in my furniture business, Maine Adirondack Chairs.

“Plan A” wasn’t working – so Rob went to “Plan B”

When I left teaching, I wanted to start a business. My first choice was building custom cabinets and furniture here in central Maine. But there isn’t enough of that kind of work here. So I went to my second choice. I thought of the white cedar Adirondack furniture I’d made years earlier. I started building and selling Adirondack chairs and it soon started growing into a viable business.

Within a couple of years, the business grew to the point that I needed a helper. That’s when I hired Melissa May, a local woman who has great qualities like skill, reliability, responsibility, and trustworthiness. I pay her very well and, the first couple of years, we worked together building chairs, some custom furniture, dressers, beds, accessories, tables, love seats, and more. We sell and ship nationwide though a majority of our customers are waterfront owners in Maine.

Rob's business started to take off to the point that he needed another pair of hands. Along came Melissa, shown here putting finishing touches on one of their handsome white cedar Adirondack chairs.

Rob’s business started to take off to the point that he needed another pair of hands. Along came Melissa, shown here putting finishing touches on one of their handsome white cedar Adirondack chairs.

The business just kept growing. All I can say is, ‘Bingo!’ Orders kept flying in and I hired a friend of Melissa’s, Petra Mesaric. After a few years working with me, Melissa and Petra developed their own production skills and work systems. I saw they could work on their own. Like a good employer should, I stepped away at that point and took care of the business while they built the furniture. For the past 3 years they’ve been running all the production. I manage the business, marketing, materials, and accounting. They make everything we sell.

"Business doubled then doubled again," says Rob. Petra came on board and things began to really take off.

“Business doubled then doubled again,” says Rob. Petra came on board and things began to really take off.

Business doubled…then doubled again

At that point, the business exploded and grew 100% at a clip. Sales doubled then doubled again. My small business was really turning into a good-sized one. This growth mandated that I upgrade our shop machinery. For example, we’d been hand-sanding with a hand-held DeWalt 5” disk sander. I looked at alternatives and especially customer comments. I spent one winter researching drum sanders and came to the conclusion that Woodmaster is the best choice. I ordered a Woodmaster 26” drum sander.

I looked at Grizzly, Powermatic, Jet, Woodmaster, and other drum sanders. I read as many reviews as I could find. Everybody raves about Woodmaster. The fact that Woodmaster gets great reviews, is built in the USA, and has a powerful engine, made it hard for me not to buy one!

The 26” model drum sander fits our needs perfectly. And I also bought a Woodmaster 712 Molder/Planer to run all the molding for my home. I basically got it for free. It paid for itself in the money I saved by making my own molding.

Funny how success brings more opportunities. Petra (left) and Melissa were asked to demonstrate their D-I-Y skills on an episode of the "Maine Cabin Masters D-I-Y Network."

Funny how success brings more opportunities. Petra (left) and Melissa were asked to demonstrate their D-I-Y skills on an episode of the “Maine Cabin Masters D-I-Y Network.”

Melissa (left) and Petra (right) run the shop at Maine Adirondack chairs. Ashley (center) is the host on "Maine Cabin Masters." Here they take a break after Melissa and Petra completed the 3-seat settee on-camera.

Melissa (left) and Petra (right) run the shop at Maine Adirondack chairs. Ashley (center) is the host on “Maine Cabin Masters.” Here they take a break after Melissa and Petra completed their 3-seat settee for the episode.

A full day’s sanding in 1 hour

The Woodmaster has really speeded up production. Melissa and Petra build furniture in batches, maybe 20 chairs at a time. They stack up all the parts – dozens or even hundreds of parts. When it’s time to sand, they put them through the Woodmaster, 8 pieces at a time, side by side across the Woodmaster’s 26”.

Sanding parts for 20 chairs with a disk sander might take a full day. The Woodmaster does them all in 1 hour!

Business is excellent and continues to grow dependably, about 25% every year. We don’t have to worry about the economy, we’re busy building 30 to 40 chairs every week, April or May through September or October.

Running 1,000 linear feet every week

We’re running 1,000 linear feet of white cedar through the Woodmaster every week. I absolutely love its ability to get work done. I don’t know, I may need another one. The Woodmaster company takes good care of me, too.

If somebody’s thinking about getting a Woodmaster, I’d say don’t hesitate. Just work with Woodmaster and get one. Pay on time if you need to but take advantage of this good tool and get one.”

— Robert Lamire, Maine Adirondack Chairs , Vassalboro ME         Facebook

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How to make a machine-flat hardwood tabletop

Here's a one-of-a-kind, L-shaped desk to die for. An epoxy resin fills the split, creating an accent that runs full length. Lacquer finish.

Here’s a one-of-a-kind, L-shaped desk to die for. Josh’s “Waterfall Desk” is oak with an epoxy filling in the natural split, creating an accent that runs full length. Lacquer finish.

“My wife and I own and operate an architectural salvage business. We buy the salvage rights to pre-WWII buildings like 1920’s schools, old churches, factories, hospitals, homes, and other buildings. Then my crew and I salvage and sell antique architectural parts including old windows, doors, wood flooring, fences, trim, sinks, tubs, fixtures, beams, lumber, hardware, and much more.

Meet Joshua White, 50" Woodmaster Drum Sander owner and architectural salvage entrepreneur.

Meet Joshua White, 50″ Woodmaster Drum Sander owner and architectural salvage entrepreneur.

 

Josh's shop holds an ever-changing inventory of unique, hard to find, antique, and extraordinary objects. A haven for architectural salvage browsers.

Josh’s shop holds an ever-changing inventory of unique, hard to find, antique, and extraordinary objects. A haven for architectural salvage browsers.

Tuk-tuks, a cross between a motorcycle and a rickshaw, are everywhere in Thailand. Want one in the USA? Go see Josh.

Tuk-tuks, a cross between a motorcycle and a rickshaw, are everywhere in Thailand. Want one in the USA? Go see Josh.

Driven by customer demand, we’ve branched out into more exotic products. We go on buying trips to places like Costa Rica, Indonesia, India, and Europe and ship back 40’ containers of very unusual old and antique items. For example, we recently imported a British phone booth, a Thai tuk-tuk, a life-size wooden horse-on-wheels, Hindu sculptures, unusual furniture, and a whole lot more. It’s taken us decades to develop the systems and connections to make all this possible but everything’s working great now.

Sustainably-harvested hardwood slab

Another part of our business is built around hardwood flats, or slabs. In Costa Rica, we buy and ship back slabs (we call them ‘flats’) of sustainably-harvested tropical hardwoods like parota, monkeypod, jatoba, purple heart, and others. These big, heavy flats come to us rough-sawn, straight off the mill, and we process them further with our 50” Woodmaster Drum Sander. We sell them as-is and also turn them into unique furniture.

At first, we hand-sanded the flats. It would take our guys almost a whole day to do one tabletop. We’d plane the wood, glue it up with clamps, then spend six hours or more sanding each one by hand. When I got the Woodmaster, we could do the sanding in 10% or 20% of that time. And we get better results.

Hand sanding leaves dips and voids

Here’s what I mean about results. Sanding by hand, you’ll never get a truly ‘machine flat’ surface. You cannot get that absolutely flat surface with hand sanding. It’s impossible. You can hand-sand for hours by hand, then run your hand over the surface, and you’ll still feel dips and voids.

Josh (right) and employee, Barry Brooks, give a sense of the scale of one of their big, big slabs, sustainably harvested in Central America.

Josh (right) and employee, Barry Brooks, give a sense of the scale of one of their big, big slabs, sustainably harvested in Central America.

When you send a slab through the Woodmaster, it comes out absolutely flat. I call that ‘machine flat.’ It’s completely flat, ‘machine flat,’ and better quality than hand sanding in less than a quarter of the time.

Josh and crew travel to Costa Rica to bring home truly unique slabs for the furniture they make. This perota wood slab measures 39" wide and 96" long. It'll go through Josh's 50" Woodmaster with room to spare.

Josh and crew travel to Costa Rica to bring home truly unique slabs for the furniture they make. This perota wood slab measures 39″ wide and 96″ long. It’ll go through Josh’s 50″ Woodmaster with room to spare.

If you use it properly, this drum sander can work wonders. You have to have realistic expectations – it takes off maybe a 32nd of an inch each pass. It’s not a magic wand. We work up two or three flats a day from start to finish, from rough-cut to machine flat. The flats range from 36” to 48” wide. That’s why I got the 50” Woodmaster.

Paid for itself in 30 to 60 days — best machine I ever bought

Woodmaster sells a great product and this is the best machine I ever bought. It has saved us a lot of time and money. You can do the math: would you rather pay someone X-dollars an hour to hand-sand for 6 hours, or pay them that rate for 1 or 1-1/2 hours to sand with the Woodmaster? My Woodmaster paid for itself in 30 to 60 days.

Here's another handsome, machine-flat table from Josh's shop. Note the steel undercarriage and the varied inventory of salvaged items in the background.

Here’s another handsome, machine-flat table from Josh’s shop. Note the steel undercarriage and the varied inventory of salvaged items in the background.

I looked at wide-belt sanders online. They’re huge and cost upwards of $25,000. I wanted one but didn’t have the space and certainly not the budget. If you want a realistic product that most small businesses can afford, Woodmaster is by far the way to go.

I looked at other drum sanders, too. They topped out at 36” and we make tables a lot wider than 36”, and up to 20’ long, though that’s unusual. Most are 4 or 6’ long.  If you’re making tabletops, you’ve got to have a sander wider than 36”. There really are only a couple alternatives: a wide-belt sander, a giant planer, or a Woodmaster Drum Sander. For 5 or 6 grand, you can have this great machine that saves you time and money.

“For the money and value, Woodmaster’s hard to beat”

Really, Woodmaster was the only machine that could do what I wanted. There was nothing else available in the price range. Everything else was just untouchable. For the money and the value, Woodmaster’s hard to beat.

Not just slab furniture...you can find just about anything and everything at Josh's shop.

Not just slab furniture…you can find just about anything and everything at Josh’s shop.

With a 50” drum sander, you can do any tabletop you want to. We’ve easily done over 500 tabletops and finished slabs. Our next machine may be a double-drum Woodmaster Drum Sander. It’s more money than a single-drum machine but it’s twice the speed.

 

We sell nationwide. For advertising, we’re real big on social media and pump a lot of energy into our website. We do a lot on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and a lot of business comes from word of mouth.

Right for any shop – weekend woodworker, mid-size shop, large shop

If somebody’s interested in saving time and money, especially if you’re making tables, benches, and things like that, I’d say absolutely go for it. In my opinion, if someone’s on the fence, they’d be foolish not to do it. Woodmaster gives you three major advantages: a better finished product, quicker production, and money-savings. And that goes for anybody from a D-I-Y weekend woodworker, to medium-size shops, to even large shops.

And I’ve been very pleased with Woodmaster’s customer service. Their machines are made in the USA and I like to buy USA products when I can. Woodmaster’s not a huge company; there are real people over there, always willing to talk with me. When I need a replacement part, they’re right on it. They’re easy to deal with, they ship right away. They’re good people – I have nothing negative to say at all.”

— Joshua White, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, Tampa Bay Salvage, Palm Harbor & Dade City FL

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How to Grow a Successful Woodworking Business

Can you say, "Wow, that's a big drum sander!" You're right, it's a 50" wide Woodmaster Drum Sander. And it's got twin drums under the hood.

Can you say, “Wow, that’s a big drum sander!” You’re right, it’s a 50″ wide Woodmaster Drum Sander. And it’s got twin drums under the hood.

Not long ago, we talked with woodworker, Jeff Derosia. He’d just lost his job as a Mechanical Engineering Technologist and was starting a woodworking business with a Woodmaster Molder/Planer. Read Jeff’s start-up story here.

Some time has passed, and Jeff’s added a Woodmaster Drum Sander .  We figured his business must be going well. (We were right.) Read the latest news on Jeff, his growing production business,  and his Woodmaster equipment.

“I know things are good when I look at the calendar and see I’m booked well into next year. My phone rings steadily and my woodworking business is growing. Most of my business is through word of mouth from past customers. And past customers come back, too. A guy I did some work for a year ago came back and asked me to bid on a full kitchen remodeling job – cabinets, an island, and more. I got the job.

I started with a 25” Woodmaster Molder/Planer. Now I’ve added the Woodmaster 50” double drum sander. My work ranges from small projects to full kitchens and I do it all turnkey, all in house.

Here's our friend, Jeff Derosia, with his first Woodmaster, a 25" Woodmaster Molder/Planer. His business is growing and he's now added a 50" Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Here’s our friend, Jeff Derosia, with his first Woodmaster, a 25″ Woodmaster Molder/Planer. His business is growing and he’s now added a 50″ Woodmaster Drum Sander.

It’s all about working efficiency and quality

In my business it’s all about efficiency and quality. When I run workpieces through my drum sander, that’s a lot less time I have to spend hand sanding. For example, if I build a door from scratch, I may have to hand-sand it for as long as an hour. If I plane the pieces first to get a good surface, then sand them in my drum sander, it could take just 5 or 10 minutes, maybe 20% of the time hand sanding takes.

Sometimes, sanding a door or a wide panel by hand, I end up with an offset, or slightly different thicknesses across the surface. But when I sand a wide panel with my Woodmaster Drum Sander, I sand the full width all at one time and eliminate any offset or human error. So when I build a door or a wide panel, my Woodmaster lets me work 50% faster than by hand. The time savings depend on the situation so in some situations I may save even more time.

How big is big? The Woodmaster's twin drums are 50" wide. Looks like Jim's panel's about 2/3 the width, or 33 or 34" across.

How big is big? The Woodmaster’s twin drums are 50″ wide. Looks like Jeff’s panel’s about 2/3 the width, or 33 or 34″ across.

Faster production runs

Where the Woodmaster is really an asset is when I’m building 30 cabinets and doors. I can stack the pieces up and run them through one right after the other. In my small operation, I can do in one day what would take me two or three days by hand.

I chose Woodmaster’s Drum Sander based on the experience I had with my Woodmaster Molder/Planer. I did a lot of research and wanted the biggest bang for my buck. I realized that to get a wide belt sander as wide as this one, I’d have to have 3-phase power, a larger shop, and in some cases twice the money.  Or I could have gone with used industrial equipment at an auction, with no warranty and no support.

Cost is a big factor, of course. And since I could get the same quality as a more expensive sander at half the cost, why wouldn’t I get a Woodmaster? Being able to buy a Woodmaster at a good price point, and having worked with them before helped me decide.

Go big

I chose the 50” drum sander based on my work, efficiency, and quality. I tend to go big with equipment. I’m a one-man operation and if I can increase efficiency with big equipment, that’s a big advantage. I make all kinds of projects of all sizes and I didn’t want to paint myself into a corner with smaller equipment. For example, it’s great to be able to sand something 4 feet wide like the custom barn doors I made recently.

Four cabinet doors in one pass. And all with a paint-ready finish.

Four cabinet doors in one pass. And all with a paint-ready finish.

2 drums – 2 sanding passes in 1

I chose Woodmaster’s double drum sander because I want a paint-grade finish on my projects. I set up the sander with staggered grits in a 120/220 configuration. I mount the first drum with 120 grit paper and the second drum with 220. That gives me the equivalent of two passes in one and I get a finish-ready surface. That puts me ahead of the curve with less time, more efficiency, and great quality.

Another way to set up the double-drum sander is to mount half the width of both drums with one grit paper and half the width of both with another grit.

Also, I can adjust the height of the drums independently. That means I can sand with just the front drum, or just back drum, or both drums with each pass. Depending on the project, that flexibility can be an advantage.

I’ve had others…

I’ve had other drum sanders. I had a Jet one-drum sander. I have a mechanical background and I could not get it to sand flat. I used a machinist’s level and I couldn’t get it to sand flat .Its drum is cantilevered – not connected to the machine at one end. You take one pass to sand half the width, turn your workpiece around, and sand the other half of the width.

I called their customer service department. Their answer was, “It’s made overseas and it may be somewhat out of square.’ It was disheartening to hear that’s what Jet customer service thinks of their own machines. And the manual that came with it didn’t cover the model I bought.

Woodmaster’s made in the USA

My Woodmaster tools – molder/planer and drum sander – are made in the USA. They help me achieve the quality standards I demand. These tools have changed my perspective of what I make and how I make it. It’s all been for the better.

Going forward, I have a good foundation with Woodmaster equipment. I want to get a larger dust collection system. I’d like to get Woodmaster’s dual-router setup for my molder/planer. And a second, smaller planer, too. I’ve also been thinking about getting a TimberKing sawmill someday.

I laud Woodmaster their functional, well-built equipment, and for their customer service and promptness. They’re really good people to work with.”

— Jeff Derosia, Woodmaster 50” Drum Sander owner, The Stump Company, Gonzales LA

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10 EXTRAORDINARY THINGS you can do with a Woodmaster Drum Sander

Hey, woodworkers! Ever wonder what YOU could actually do with a Woodmaster Drum Sander? Here are 10 EXTRAORDINARY things Woodmaster Owners are making, building, and doing right now, right in their shops.

 

1. Turn “weed trees” into fantastic high-end furnitureMontana woodworker, Andrew Bishop, harvests noxious Russian olive trees and turns them into one-of-a-kind tables with his 50” Woodmaster Drum Sande

> Read Andrew’s story

 

 

 

2. Build Wooden Boats
Woodworker, John Owens, started making wooden boat parts with a Woodmaster Drum Sander. It’s turned it into a nice business.

> Read John’s story

 

 

 

3. Start a family woodworking businessRay Harmon worked as a designer for a high-end furniture company. Now he and his two boys have started their own family furniture building business.

> Read Ray’s story

 

 

 

 

4. Make beautiful music with a WoodmasterMusician and woodworker, John Mannino, builds premier quality acoustical guitars with his Woodmaster Drum Sande

> Read John’s story

 

 

 

 

5. Streamline a time-consuming production problemArt Blackwelder solved a time-consuming production problem with his Woodmaster. Face-sanding aluminum and bronze castings makes the letters really stand out. Fast, easy, professional.

> Read Art’s story

 

 

 

 

6. Build a regulation-size pool table

“I’m a self-taught woodworker,” says Chuck Phelps. “I recently built my biggest, most difficult project, a 4’ x 8’ pool table. Couldn’t have done it without my 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander.”

> Read Chuck’s story

 

 

 

 

7. Stay BUSY and HAPPY in retirement“So many people retire and have nothing to do,” says John Leipen. “My wife and I run our own retirement woodworking business, and business is great. Every day’s different and we love it!”

> Read John’s story

 

 

 

8. Do a day’s worth of sanding in 15 minutes“My Woodmaster Drum Sander is a Godsend. It’s saved me literally days of hand sanding. Cabinetmakers spend 60% of their time hand-sanding. I can do in 15 minutes what would take me a full day to hand sand.”

> Read Jeff’s story

 

 

 

9. Build a 13,000 square foot home

“Our home is 13,000 square feet. There are 76 interior doors, four kitchens, a dozen bathrooms, miles of molding, and more. Buying the millwork alone would have busted the budget so I got a Woodmaster…”

> Read Charles’ story

 

10. Make outstanding Adirondack-style furniture“I run an internet-based woodworking business manufacturing rustic, Adirondack-style furniture with my Woodmaster. My customers include hotels, restaurants, celebrities, decorators, even a major celebrity.”

> Read Richard’s Story

 

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He makes heirloom-quality furniture with his Woodmaster – then gives it all away

“I’m a retired welding engineer from Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine — a shipbuilding facility focused primarily on Navy combatant vessels.  These days I play golf, exercise, and do a lot of woodworking. The woodworking projects go to family, friends, or charity fundraisers.

For this queen-size platform bed, I matched the arc of the cherry headboard with the laminated ash arched legs. These two woods contrast each other nicely. (The Cherry was re-purposed 3/4" thick molding, ripped to 5/8" thick, sanded both sides on my Woodmaster, and surface-glued to make 5/4 thick boards.) The Oak center beam supports the head and footboard making a very stable connection. The pine boards create a solid "platform".

For this queen-size platform bed, I matched the arc of the cherry headboard with the laminated ash arched legs. These two woods contrast each other nicely. (The Cherry was re-purposed 3/4″ thick molding, ripped to 5/8″ thick, sanded both sides on my Woodmaster, and surface-glued to make 5/4 thick boards.) The Oak center beam supports the head and footboard making a very stable connection. The pine boards create a solid “platform”.

Woodworking stimulates my creativity

Woodworking definitely stimulates my creativity, especially when designing and making a new item. Most projects are designed and planned using a computer draw program in an effort to make, and fix, all the design “mistakes” in these preliminary stages. The goal is to get it right prior to going into the shop.

This photo was snapped as I crawled under the platform bed to sign and date the work at the owner's home.

This photo was snapped as I crawled under the platform bed to sign and date the work at the owner’s home.

For each project, I make two lists: one for the ‘finished pieces” (typical parts list) and one for the ‘rough lumber’ to figure out my material needs.

The yurt couple also needed furniture, so I made a 40” x 70” table and matching benches out of some unique spalted maple. Finish is five coats of high-gloss tung oil; each coat is applied with 0000 steel wool.

A young couple needed furniture, so I made a 40” x 70” table and matching benches out of some unique spalted maple. Finish is five coats of high-gloss tung oil; each coat is applied with 0000 steel wool.

I have a fully equipped woodworking shop and 30+ years of experience making a variety of heirloom quality tables, beds, benches, music stands, desk clocks, and other unique accessory items using cherry, walnut, and other native woods.  Many of my product designs have lathe-turned components that enhance their character and reflect Old World design/craftsmanship.

The slat hickory bench was made for the lobby of my son’s business; there are lots of mortise and tenon joints. The hickory had been milled 50 or 60 years earlier and was just waiting for someone to use it.

The slat hickory bench was made for the lobby of my son’s business; there are lots of mortise and tenon joints. The hickory had been milled 50 or 60 years earlier and was just waiting for someone to use it.

Simple woodworking philosophy

My woodworking philosophy is simple: if I can imagine it, then I should be able to draw it; if I can draw it, then I can build it.

All my woodworking is done in a small one-man shop, where power tools and hand tools are used appropriately to produce strong joint connections and satin-finished surfaces.

The 24" x 48" maple workbench was made for a young couple currently living in a yurt. They use the wooden clamp mounted at one end to hold workpieces they’re carving.

The large “French Bench” has a 5″ thick laminated rock maple top and base structure.  It took four men to carry the top into a basement workshop. On the left side is a traditional woodworking vise.  The side plate (with lots of holes) slides left or right and the adjustable peg provides support for a long clamped piece.

 Why a Woodmaster Drum Sander?

 You can get a workpiece flat with a jointer / planer, but you can also get tearout because of grain variations.  With a drum sander, even ‘squirrely’ grain isn’t a problem. I bought my Woodmaster Drum Sander because it’s made in the USA, it’s rugged, and it’s easy to use.

The 24" x 48" maple workbench was made for a young couple currently living in a yurt. They use the wooden clamp mounted at one end to hold workpieces they’re carving.

The 24″ x 48″ maple workbench was made for a young couple currently living in a yurt. They use the wooden clamp mounted at one end to hold workpieces they’re carving.

Woodmaster does a great job designing / building their machines and a wonderful job of selling them online.  The write-ups and comments by other woodworkers are very helpful.  My Woodmaster Model 2675 sander was chosen to fit a small shop where all the equipment is on wheels and gets moved around as needed.

Rick Marco, Woodmaster Owner, Bath ME

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Want to see a Woodmaster Drum Sander in action?

reverse switch

Like many Woodmaster Owners, Stuart Gladstein says he’ll show other woodworkers what his Woodmaster will do. Wherever you live, there’s usually a nearby Woodmaster Owner who’ll “tell it like it is.” Some, like Stuart, may even invite you into their shops so you can see their machine in operation. Want to chat with one of our Owners? Call us 1-800-821-6651 or email us.

How does a woodworker go about making a cutting board with such an interesting pattern? Stuart's a Woodmaster Woodworker who'll tell you all about it!

How does a woodworker go about making a cutting board with such an interesting pattern? Stuart’s a Woodmaster Woodworker who’ll tell you all his secrets!

 

“In the early 2000’s, I did a pretty total renovation of my house and planned a room as my wood shop. As it turned out, I ended up with a bigger room than I planned — half of a two-car garage. And when I need to use the whole garage, I pull my wife’s car out of the other half.

thru the Woodmaster

I make a lot of wooden cutting boards, boxes, tables, and other furniture. One of my photos shows an end grain cutting board I made. I used end grain pieces of six species of wood: walnut, oak, maple, bloodwood, mahogany, and purpleheart. If you want to put a sander to the test, you won’t find anything more challenging than a project like that because It’s a broad hardwood surface, all end grain. My 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander sanded it right down beautifully.

I don’t know why…

No woodworker loves sanding! So I don’t know why more woodworkers don’t have drum sanders. Good sanding really makes the piece and a Woodmaster does the work for you. When I’m making boxes, tables, or anything with flat surfaces, my Woodmaster makes my life so much easier.

I did a lot of research before I bought my Woodmaster. I looked at Performax but there’s no reverse and one side is open on it. To sand something wide, you have to flip the workpiece over. I’d go head-to-head against a Performax — my Woodmaster would eat it alive! 

Check it out — Stuart saws the glue-up into strips, turns them on edge, and re-glues them to make his intricate patterns.

Check it out — Stuart saws the glue-up into strips, turns them on edge, and re-glues them to make his intricate patterns.

Most woodworkers will tell you they always want something bigger and heavier. But with this Woodmaster, I don’t need anything heavier. It’s a tank.

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With heavy grit paper on my machine, I can start with rough cut wood and sand it to thickness. Or I can mount two grits of sandpaper on the same drum; 100 grit on one half and, say, 180 on the other half. That’s a real time saver because you don’t have to change papers.

But changing paper on the Woodmaster’s very easy because the paper attaches with hook-and-loop fabric. You just roll the paper on the drum and it sticks. It’s so much easier than with the Delta sander I once had.

The key is to run the wood through the machine several times taking off just a little at a time. I turned the height adjustment crank maybe 1/32 of an inch with each pass. You can adjust the height precisely and actually hear when it’s sanding most efficiently. It has a really nice conveyor feed belt that provides a little cushion and gives a little forgiveness.

Not "just" cutting boards - Stuart makes some darned handsome inlaid boxes, too.

Not “just” cutting boards – Stuart makes some darned handsome inlaid boxes, too.

I love my Woodmaster! I’m very, very happy with my purchase. Your Customer Service is great. If you ever have a customer who wants to see how they work, they’re welcome to come see it working in my garage workshop.

box and cuttingboard

I think woodworkers would be shocked by how much use they’d get out of a Woodmaster Drum Sander. I use it a lot because it’s such a time saver. It sands the wood dead flat and you can get absolutely consistent thicknesses. It saves time, energy, and frustration. It’s a beautiful machine and a pleasure to use. I just have tremendous praise for my Woodmaster.”

— Stuart Gladstein, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, Los Angeles CA

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HE TURNS WEED TREES INTO FANTASTIC HIGH-END FURNITURE with his 50″ Woodmaster Drum Sander

Making extraordinary fine furniture out of super-wide slabs of Russian Olive takes a big, big sander.

Making extraordinary fine furniture out of super-wide slabs of Russian Olive takes a big, big sander.

...And here's the sander Andrew Bishop chose: a 50" Woodmaster Drum Sander.

…And here’s the sander Andrew Bishop chose: a 50″ Woodmaster Drum Sander.

“Here in Montana, Russian Olive invades river bottoms. It’s a noxious tree that landowners are glad to get rid of. I hunt them down, fell them, skid-steer them out. I work with landowners and have some options working with the State. I saw these trees into slabs then sand them on my 50” Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Cut sanding time by half to two-thirds

Russian Olive wood is unique — porous but very hard and it never grows straight. It doesn’t dry flat; it always warps even when it’s clamped down. No matter how much I’ve planed Russian Olive slabs, I can’t get them truly flat. My Woodmaster Drum Sander flattens the wood perfectly and I can achieve much better quality in less time. It’s cut my sanding time by at least half, maybe two-thirds. It’s really amazing to see. I save hours per piece and that changes everything about my business.

coffee table

He makes $6,000 dining tables — and he’s booked solid

I turn the slabs into one-of-a-kind, high end furniture. For example, my Russian Olive coffee tables sell for $800 to $1,200. My dining tables are $2,000 to $6,000. And I’m booked with commission work for eight months!

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table and benches

Niche business secret

This is really a niche business. I do all my marketing on Facebook. The first coffee table I made and posted sold in five minutes! I have customers from Alaska to New Jersey — it’s really been wild and business has been just unreal. I haven’t had a lull in business. I don’t know what a slow time is.

Getting a drum sander was an easy decision. I knew I could make a much better product with one because it would give me a completely true and flat surface. I looked at wide belt sanders but it’s very rural here — 20 miles from town — and getting 3-phase power would have cost me $30,000. I’ve used wide belt sanders and this Woodmaster keeps up with them and then some.

Outdoor table

The only 50” drum sander out there

I make big, wide tables and wanted a wide drum sander. Woodmaster has the only 50” drum sander out there. I read about it online and saw good reviews. While I was searching for a wide belt, somebody mentioned Woodmaster and I got on the site. I read up and everything made sense — 50” with single phase power.

big slabs

I’m extremely happy, couldn’t be happier, and I recommend Woodmaster to others. I plan to get a Woodmaster Molder/Planer with a helical planer head, too.

My best advice for other woodworkers is ‘be unique.’ That’s why I believe my business is going so well, because what I make is unique. So many woodworkers are working in maple or walnut — find a niche that works for you.”

— Andrew Bishop, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, River Bottom Restoration Furniture

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MAKE WOODEN BOATS with a Woodmaster Drum Sander

John Owens is a skilled boatbuilder. Here's his outrigger boat, Eureka

John Owens is a skilled boatbuilder, woodworker, and Woodmaster Drum Sander owner. Here’s his outrigger, Eureka

You'll usually find John at work in his shop. He owns an older, dark color Woodmaster Drum Sander. It's at least 20 years old and still works for a living.

You’ll usually find John at work in his shop. He owns an older, dark color Woodmaster Drum Sander. It’s at least 20 years old and still works for a living.

Functional and beautiful, John's Dolphin SR Daggerboard is a prime example of fine maritime craftsmanship.

Functional and beautiful, John’s Dolphin SR Daggerboard is a prime example of fine maritime craftsmanship.

 

Here's a closeup view of the cockpit of John's kayak, the Egret.

Here’s a closeup view of the cockpit of John’s kayak, the Egret.

Boaters know a "kick up rudder" does just that — kicks up out of the way in shallow water or other situations. John's cutaway shows its inner workings.

Boaters know a “kick up rudder” does just that — kicks up out of the way in shallow water or other situations. John’s cutaway shows its inner workings.

“My dad always made things. He taught me how and I’ve built things all my life. I’ve worked in construction, surveying, worked for a general contractor, was a subcontractor, estimator, and even a vice president of a big corporation. My wife and I literally built our own home. Today I make wooden boat parts and kits with my Woodmaster 26” Drum Sander.

I make a lot of individual boat parts! Last year, I shipped 563 individual orders. Some orders are for one item, but many orders are for multiple items. So that’s a lot of individual items!

I’m a manufacturer. Here’s how I distribute what I make. I’m an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for a couple of boat manufacturers — I make original equipment they build into their boats. And I make and sell boat kits and boat parts. And I give workshops where people build one of my boat kits in a few days. And I do custom work for boat owners. And I make aftermarket parts for several boat brands and models. Oh, and I make some wooden furniture, too! You can see it all on my website.

 

 

Because wood is “fuzzy”

A friend of mine actually gave me his Woodmaster Drum Sander. I hadn’t started my wooden boat parts business yet but I was happy to take it. By now, I’ve put a lot of miles on that machine!

Among other things, I use it to size down boards. All the wood I use is rough cut. Any rough cut wood is ‘fuzzy’ — fuzzy enough that you can’t really see the knots, splits, and bad spots until you get the board smooth. I’ll put a piece of mahogany, for instance, through my Woodmaster several times until I knock down the fuzz and really see the wood. Then I lay out my patterns so I get the most out of every board. Then I cut the pieces out. After I’ve glued up a piece, or if it has inlay, I’ll run it through again to level out the surface and make everything nice and even.

Just lean on it ’til it gives up

My Woodmaster works great. It’s really a nice machine. But I could see having one of Woodmaster’s double drum sanders. I use 80 grit paper the most of the time but it would be nice to have two drums so I could put fine paper on one and coarse on the other.

My shop is relatively small so I have my drum sander on castors so I can roll it around. This 26” model weighs almost 600 lbs. That’s a lot of weight. You lean on it and start pushing until it gives up and starts rolling!

They really know their stuff

When I’ve had questions, I’ve called Woodmaster and I have nothing but praise for your people. I talk to your tech guys and they really know their stuff. For example, I was trying to figure out how old my machine is so I could get the right parts. Your tech guy asked me, ‘Is it tan color?’ No, I said. ‘Well, that means it was built before 2000; that’s when we started painting them with tan powder coat paint.’ He must have been with Woodmaster a long time.

I recommend the Woodmaster Drum Sander to other woodworkers. I always tell them to choose the model you buy based on the projects you’re making. That and do proper maintenance.”

— John Owens, JO Woodworks, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, Texas

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COMMERCIAL LOGGER BY DAY, Woodmaster Woodworker by Night

Beautiful use of a butterfly joint as this solid hardwood slab exits Matt Collins' 50" Woodmaster Drum Sander

Beautiful use of a butterfly joint as this solid hardwood slab exits Matt Collins’ 50″ Woodmaster Drum Sander

“I’m third generation in a family-owned logging operation. We do commercial clearing for federally-funded projects. Weekdays, I work clearing property with a big feller buncher. We sell some of the wood we cut as saw logs. We turn some into firewood with our firewood processor. We even supply wood to a biomass facility in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“But I keep the best wood for myself”
image7

Since I’m out in the field cutting trees, I’m able to pick and choose and keep the best wood for my woodworking projects. Weekends and evenings, I make furniture with my 50” Woodmaster Drum Sander and my Woodmaster 18” Molder/Planer.

People like what I make and I sell it on Craigslist, Facebook, by word-of-mouth, and on my website. Actually, I do the building and my wife does the selling.

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table9_web

“I do a lot of live edge work”

My brothers and I bought a sawmill 10 years ago and we saw the logs into lumber. I do a lot of woodworking with live-edge slabs. I put the trees we cut to good use — oak, ash, walnut, maple, hickory, cherry, cypress and more.

Matt emphasizes woods' natural beauty in his clean, sophisticated woodworking pieces like this live edge accent table

Matt emphasizes woods’ natural beauty in his clean, sophisticated woodworking pieces like this live edge accent table

I do woodworking just because I like to do it. I’ve done it for years and I’m 100% self- taught.  I tinkered around and finally felt what I made was good enough to sell. Of course you’re your own worst critic…

I got my Woodmaster Molder/Planer first, then I decided to get a sander because I’m always working with burls and big slabs. This drum sanding machine does a really nice job. I’d give it a nine out of ten.

He tried hand-held and wide-belt sanders but…

Really, if you want to make big projects, the only way to go is a big drum sander.

Matt has 50" of sanding width to accommodate extra-wide slabs like this one... and he uses every inch

Matt has 50″ of sanding width to accommodate extra-wide slabs like this one… and he uses every inch

Live edge desk by Matt Collins. Sleek hairpin legs accentuate and contrast the powerful natural wood profile

Live edge desk by Matt Collins. Sleek hairpin legs accentuate and contrast the powerful natural wood profile

I tried small hand-held belt sanders but you just can’t get a perfect finish no matter how hard you try.

Matt (left) and his brother take a break from their family-owned logging business

Matt (left) and his brother take a break from their family-owned logging business

I looked at Timesaver® wide belt sanders but I couldn’t afford a $100,000 machine. I got my Woodmaster Drum Sander because it’s a lot more affordable, and it’s single phase. I got the biggest model, 50” wide because a lot of what I make won’t fit through narrower equipment.”

— Matt Collins, Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner, Matthew Collins Designs, Apple Valley MN

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Sons help Dad launch a family furniture building business

Here’s Ray running poplar face frames through his 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander. The frames are for a paint-grade cabinet job that’s in the shop now.

Here’s Ray running poplar face frames through his 38” Woodmaster Drum Sander. The frames are for a paint-grade cabinet job that’s in the shop now.

“For over a decade, I have worked full time as a designer for a high-end furniture company.  Now my two boys and I build furniture in our own business, at Harmon Heirloom Furniture.

I have designed all kinds of high end furniture and custom cabinetry including but not limited to trophy rooms, vaults, bars, executive offices, kitchens, and complete residences for high end clientele like businesses, banks, and private individuals.  In contrast, ordinary working class people like me could never afford the type of furniture I have designed.  It’s easy to see why most people buy lower quality furniture and cabinetry from Ikea and other big box stores made mostly with what I call ‘GOS’ — ‘glue and other stuff.’

Ray and family made this outstanding desk for a school music department. Maple and Black Walnut with Danish Oil Finish.

Ray and family made this outstanding desk for a school music department. Maple and Black Walnut with Danish Oil Finish.

Harmon Heirloom Furniture recently completed this handsome kitchen complete with tongue & groove Red River Birch, Wenge Trim, and granite counters.

Harmon Heirloom Furniture recently completed this handsome kitchen complete with tongue & groove Red River Birch, Wenge Trim, and granite counters.

His hobby became a family business

I realized how poorly most of the furniture I owned compared to the furniture I designed but could not afford.  As a hobby, I started collecting woodworking equipment to start making quality furniture for myself.  I quickly realized how essential a sanding machine is to furniture manufacturing. That’s why my Woodmaster Drum Sander was one of my earliest purchases.

This outstanding executive desk is a full 36” x 72”. It’s made of Black Walnut and features raised panel construction, Wenge trim detailing, and more including columns with “Coves & Flutes” and top with “Dental Edge Banding."

This outstanding executive desk is a full 36” x 72”. It’s made of Black Walnut and features raised panel construction, Wenge trim detailing, and more including columns with “Coves & Flutes” and top with “Dental Edge Banding.”

The father-and-sons Harmon team gets ready to tackle a New project. Left to right: Anthony, Ray, and Michael.

The father-and-sons Harmon team gets ready to tackle a new project. Left to right: Anthony, Ray, and Michael.

For about five years, I made several units for family, friends, church, and even some for sale, including but not limited to desks, dressers, beds, kitchens, dining tables, book shelves, dressers and hutches, and doors.  Thinking ahead, my goal became to turn my hobby into a business to help supplement my income when I retire.  I want to stay active and healthy by working in retirement but I want to work for myself.

Sons came home to work with Dad

I’d been talking to my two sons, Michael and Anthony, about my plans and they both became interested in going into business with me. One lived in Virginia and the other in Texas.  Soon they both moved back home to Arkansas and we started the business in June of 2014.  Now with my sons home I get to see my grandchildren all the time! I just can’t tell you how much that means to me and my wife.

Together, with savings and loans, we build a 1500 square foot shop, fit it with more equipment, and started making furniture. We knew most people don’t have good access to affordable quality furniture, so our goal was, and still is today, to make good quality furniture at a reasonable price.

Both my boys work full time for a local builder, and part time in our own business.  We’re continuing to get more business through contacts they have established with their employer and other local builders.  We desire to continue to grow the business to the point where all of us can eventually move into full time furniture manufacturing.

Daughters, too, get involved in Ray's family furniture business. Here's Destinee running a face frame through their Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Daughters, too, get involved in Ray’s family furniture business. Here’s Destinee running a face frame through their Woodmaster Drum Sander.

This impressive Credenza was made to match the maple and walnut desk above.

This impressive Credenza was made to match the maple and walnut desk above.

Ray’s son Anthony shows off the company’s unique two-person desk; their original design made of mahogany.

Ray’s son Anthony shows off the company’s unique two-person desk; their original design made of mahogany.

Since the beginning of our business we have made several desks, kitchens, vanities, tables, main entrance doors, and much more. We’ve even made a 6’ x 6’ wall hanging — a huge Scrabble board — for a retirement home in Oregon.  And we built three huge conference tables for a customer in Florida. The biggest was 5’ x 14’ made of 8/4 walnut.  My heart is in making the beautiful artistic solid wood furniture units, but we make our share of economy grade furniture as well.

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Ray’s son Michael running some stock down through the 38" Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Ray’s son Michael running some stock down through the 38″ Woodmaster Drum Sander.

Small town advantage

One of the advantages working in a small town is I’m often taking field measurements on a house right after framing.  I’m able to provide the contractor and/or homeowner a concept drawing along with the proposal, which is often used in utility planning and framing modifications.  No other manufacture in our area offers that level of service, and with my background in design, I can make a project look good while still being economical.  This results in a high percentage of jobs we quote being awarded to us.

My Woodmaster Drum Sander is the 3875 — 38” single drum. It’s a sweet machine and I love it. But sometimes I wish I’d gotten the bigger model, especially when I’m running assemblies larger than 36 inches wide.  I’ve been looking into the Woodmaster  50” Double Drum Sander, where one or both drums can be used in the same pass. I’d put 80 grit on one and 120 on the other. I hope to trade up someday.

I talked to Woodmaster owners before buying

I did a lot of research, and Woodmaster always came up as the brand to buy. Woodmaster hooked me up with some Woodmaster drum sanders owners.  They gave plenty of positive feedback and vital information, like ‘don’t chintz on the dust collection’.

I didn’t hear much positive feedback on the Grizzly® drum sanders.  Grizzly® sells a popular 37” wide belt sander but its starting price is around $10,000 not including the dust collection.  I paid around $4,000 for my Woodmaster Drum Sander including all the dust collection. You can’t do better than that.

The machine is easy to operate.  As I’ve learned the machine I’m getting better longevity out of my sand paper.  You can tell when the machine is running properly by the swishing sound it makes.  The secret is maintaining the best feed rate and sanding depth for the wood density you’re sanding. With 80 grit loaded on the drum, I generally take a quarter-turn on the handle, or .015 inch per pass, at a feed rate of 50 inches per minute.  On wider boards, higher density wood, or with 120 grit loaded on the drum, I take as little as one-eighth turn on the handle, or .007 inch per pass, but rarely do I run the feed rate less than 50 inches per minute.

I have an older Woodmaster Molder/Planer I’m thinking of rebuilding or replacing. I’ll make custom molding and trim to add to our capabilities.

For a guy like me…

This drum sander does a great job; one reason is I have a good vacuum system. When I was researching sanders, a lot of people said, ‘Go with a wide belt sander.’ But they’re so expensive, most starting around $8-10K minimum, and much higher.  My full time employer has a four-head wide belt sanding machine from Germany costing more than $150K. They need a machine like that for the sheer volume of wood they process, but for a guys like me, there’s no better sander than a Woodmaster.

— Ray Harmon, Harmon Heirloom Furniture, Heber AR        Woodmaster Drum Sander Owner

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