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post #1 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 11:45 AM Thread Starter
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Looking for someone to train.

I have gotten to the point where I can't possibly keep up with the orders coming in to my shop. I need to take on a part time employee and that is kind of where I'm looking for advice/ help.

I have tried out a few guys that had some experience in construction carpentry and they did ok for the initial phases of work like squaring and rough dimensioning. My problem is they don't really help me much past that point. I don't trust them to make accurate enough cuts to part out work. I have tried training them further but the guys I have tried so far anyway just don't have the same eye for perfection that I need. Maybe It's because of their background is residential carpentry but maybe not.

So I got to thinking about when I wanted to learn to make furniture. When I started I called every maker within an hour and offered to work for free if they would teach me. One of them ended up hiring me. So while I don't expect anyone to work for free I realized there has to be someone out there that wants to learn like I did,it's just a matter of connecting the two of us.

That's where I'm hoping you guys can help me. I am located in Tatum, Tx. It's close to Longview in east Tx. If someone on this forum is in that position and close enough, or knows someone who is. Contact me.

Also if any of you guys have experience being in this position I would like to know how you solved it? Did you find someone with a passion for furniture or did you have to teach that? How would you guys suggest I go about finding someone?

So you/they know what you are getting into: I build high end fine furniture on commission only. This is not a custom cabinet shop, though the occasional built in job may arise, I typically only accept them from previous clients. I guess on average I build two to three pieces per month and I am booked for several months. I am willing to train someone from the ground up in furniture making, from squaring a board to hand tool skills and finishing. The apprentice just needs to want to produce the highest quality of work, and not accept less from themselves.

I can provide any more information you guys may need. I just cant keep going like I have been.


Edit: A full apprenticeship is not out of the question but we would obviously have to suit that position to the candidate.
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post #2 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 11:58 AM
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that sounds like a very nice opprotunity for someone, I would have jumped at that when I was younger
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post #3 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 12:14 PM
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Wow, I would love to have been able to do something like this when I was younger!

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post #4 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 12:31 PM
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While your right it could be there background it's more likely that and two other things. These younger generations have some work ethic issues. Not all but allot of them do. He other hing is your a perfectionist you probably are always critical f even your work, most of us are. You need to remember finding someone to meet your expectations could be difficult since your equally hard on yourself. Just a thought.

I'm sure there is someone out there. You just need to find them. Good luck with the search.
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post #5 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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Richard, I think you are pretty on the money with both of those points as well. Although I have to stand up for my generation a little. I am 27 and the guys I hired were in their mid thirties. A lot of people my age are trying to get back into traditional crafts and are extremely good at what they are doing. But sadly, good work ethic has largely disappeared in the majority.

Happy Marine Corps birthday as well! Thankyou for your service.
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post #6 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 01:48 PM
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Is there a corner of the shop I can set up my sleeping bag in since I live twenty something hours away?!

Sounds like a great oppurtunity for someone. Have you thought about contacting the local high schools wood shop classes(if they haven't closed all the shop classes in the schools there) and see if there is a good kid looking for a part time job? The teacher should be able to hand pick someone that they know will listen and pay attention to detail which will save you time weeding the bad ones out. I would have died for that opportunity when I was in high school.

Thanks for your help
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post #7 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 01:56 PM
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I'm only a couple of hours away, but it would cut into my full time job and family time pretty bad, I sure wished you lived closer so I could just be a fly on the wall and watch and learn.
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post #8 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 02:15 PM
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What you are looking for is a craftsman. That person could be from the carpentry trades, but more than likely he will have been a cabinetmaker. Many custom cabinet shops also build furniture items, like chairs, etc.

If you have a local newspaper, run a want ad. When interviewing, ask them to bring any pictures of their work. What you are looking for is a thinker, and a person that is organized and a good planner. It seems in times like these with unemployment what it is, that there would be a supply of people looking for work.

I got a letter from a senior in high school looking to work for free to learn. I did hire him and paid him. A good learner needs a good teacher. You may be a great craftsman, but need to be able to translate working knowledge. Maybe leave a want ad on schools' bulletin board. Some of the kids may have grown up in the trade.




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post #9 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 02:35 PM
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The other alternative would be an experienced cabinetmaker that is looking to semi-retire, he would not expect to work up to full time employment, which any good apprentice would, thereby not putting that pressure on you until you are ready.

Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something -Plato

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post #10 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 04:16 PM
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Tyler,

I was in a similar spot but hiring someone didn't seem like a great option when I really only needed help occasionally. I happened upon a young guy who was interested in furniture building and the deal I made with him was that he could use everything on hand to build whatever he wanted and I would help him to learn. I do not pay him, he can build things and place them on consignment and keep the money. This way I have someone around when I need help with no additional overhead. I've got more materials than I need so that's a wash for me.

A second young guy will be starting soon as well. Same deal with him although I hope the first will be able to do most of the orientation type help with him.

The way I see it, I'm teaching kids a valuable trade while hoping someday I can turn them lose on helping with some real projects.

May not work for you, though.
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post #11 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 04:32 PM
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I've been in your position many times. There's no telling how many people I hired, spent a lot of time training and about the time it started to pay off they either found someone that could pay them more or opened a shop competing with me. I don't think you can expect a solution. I've been working alone for 17 years now for that reason.

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post #12 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 05:08 PM
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Sounds like what I'm looking for only a custom cabinet shop here in CT. Good luck with the search down there. I meant to say I'm looking for a custom cabinet shop to work for in the Farmington Valley area.

Last edited by harvest; 11-10-2012 at 06:53 PM. Reason: explain myself
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post #13 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 05:54 PM
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Why can't you live in the northeast? This is exactly the type of position I am looking for. I feel I have the skill but am lacking experience and want to work along side a craftsman for several years. I too agree with an earlier post stating that today's generation has some work ethic issues. I am 21 years old and have had almost 10 jobs already (during school and part time work) I have worked hard for everything I own; truck, motorcycle, several thousand dollars worth of woodworking tools and have put myself through college the past 3 years paying 100% of tuition. I always feel that I grew up in the wrong time period because I admire so many things that most my age don't care about, such as quality, good craftsmanship, handmade, etc. I strive for quality. I have worked on roofs in 95 degree weather, have worked 70 hour weeks, just wish I could put my time towards doing what I love! Unfortunately my area doesn't really have this kind of work.

-Tyler
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GOT WOOD?
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post #14 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 06:24 PM
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I got all excited when I read your post, I've been looking for something like this for a long time. But I'm 200 miles away and my wife would beat me with my own mallet if I drove 6 hours to and from work everyday.

Hope you find someone.
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post #15 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 06:38 PM
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Check with a Fine Arts School

http://search.yahoo.com/search?ei=ut...%20texas&type=

Those schools have a variety of classes in art, design, sculpture etc. and a talk with a dean or instructor may lead to a co-op program where the student gets class credit for attendance in your shop, they could be paid at or slightly above minimum wage and it would be a good deal for all involved...how do I know this?
First hand experience:
My son whose interest is automotive mechanics and is taking an auto tech class at the high school and another at a community technical high school and is working at a local Auto Dealer. He's an outstanding student and got hired by showing a pictorial resume of all the projects he's worked on at home and school. Very little words and lot's of picture told a great story. (Dad helped with that)

Talk to the school placement advisor for the names of the better students.

MY first job experience at General Motors Design was as a summer student in their Industrial Design Studio. They hired 3 students from top design schools and at the end of the summer, they got some good work out of them and had a pretty good idea of whom they would like to hire...... that would be me, and I stayed another 30 years after graduation.

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #16 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 06:44 PM
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I wish I lived closer to you. Crud I would take a couple weeks off from my regular job if someone would teach me.
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post #17 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 07:25 PM
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Man, if only!

I'm in my early fifties, single with no kids.

I'm meticulous in my work and take great pride in what I do. I take constructive criticism well and enjoy learning. I was brought up in an era when the work ethic had value.

I love woodworking and if I had my way it's all I would do.

My background is in residential construction but I got the woodworking bug maybe six years ago and have been learning all I can since then.

If you have property I could live in my camping trailer, learn from you and be happy as a clam.

My Mom is 85 now and she needs me here. Otherwise I'd sell my house and sell everything except my tools and other essentials in order to take advantage of an opportunity Iike this.

Best of luck.

Jeff

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did — in his
sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

Jack Handey

Last edited by jharris2; 11-10-2012 at 07:30 PM.
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post #18 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 07:33 PM
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Tyler,

Employees are a huge responsibility but the only way you can duplicate yourself. Without some helpers, when you are meeting with clients, doing a bid, picking up materials, etc., nothing gets done in the shop.

You must of course offer compensation that is competitive with what other shops like yours will pay. What I've learned is that beyond the wage and compensation package what an employee wants is a consistent work load and to feel they are an important part of the "team".

A man's (or woman's) experience in the trade is secondary to their attitude.

I have had some excellent employees over the years (and a few bad ones also). I've always been willing to teach my helpers anything and everything that I know. If you don't give anything, don't expect anything back. A full work load, the boss teaching knew stuff equals a happy productive employee. Some of my employees have gone on to start their own woodworking businesses and I was happy to help because I remember that I was helped along the way also. Knowing you have helped someone build a knowledge base and a way to provide for his family is a reward in itself!

But as I said, once you hire someone you are responsible for him or at least his livelihood. I have always taking that point very seriously. There have been many times when I would write out the paychecks and there was nothing left to pay me. The flip side of that scenario is that when you have some good help and the operation is clicking on all cylinders the payoff is much greater than what you could earn all by your lonesome.

That being said, after nearly forty years of being an employer and I decided to semi-retire. When I had thanked and said good by to my last employees it was as if a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I was a free man again. But without those good people who helped me I would not have been in a position to do that.

Oh, one other note, I was a head hunter. When I heard about someone who was a good worker but was maybe looking for a new situation, I would seek them out. That method of hiring seemed to work best for me. I always kept my feelers out. To me, hiring the right worker meant money in my pocket. They are still out there if you look.

Good luck, Bret
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post #19 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 07:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tymann09
Why can't you live in the northeast? This is exactly the type of position I am looking for. I feel I have the skill but am lacking experience and want to work along side a craftsman for several years. I too agree with an earlier post stating that today's generation has some work ethic issues. I am 21 years old and have had almost 10 jobs already (during school and part time work) I have worked hard for everything I own; truck, motorcycle, several thousand dollars worth of woodworking tools and have put myself through college the past 3 years paying 100% of tuition. I always feel that I grew up in the wrong time period because I admire so many things that most my age don't care about, such as quality, good craftsmanship, handmade, etc. I strive for quality. I have worked on roofs in 95 degree weather, have worked 70 hour weeks, just wish I could put my time towards doing what I love! Unfortunately my area doesn't really have this kind of work.
Good for you. This country needs more young people like yourself.

What's holding you back? Your young, driven to stand on your own and assuming that you're single with no kids there is nothing standing in your way that I can see.

At your age, unless your parent(s) are ill they don't need you close by and would probably encourage you to follow your dream.

When I was your age I had already lived in four states not including my state of birth. Don't fear the unknown. Seek it out and embrace it!

Now is the perfect time for you to go for it!

Jeff

When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did — in his
sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.

Jack Handey
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post #20 of 29 Old 11-10-2012, 08:11 PM
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Jeff, I am trying really hard to pursue my dream. My parents do not need me. I have been living everywhere the past 3 years. I lived in southern VT and worked as a maintenance tech for a winter, lived in northern VT while I attended the Vermont Woodworking school. The following winter (last winter) attended RIT for their furniture making program and now am attending my local Comm. College taking business classes and working as a carpenter part time with the guy i work full time for during the summer the past 3 years. He also has given me room in his shop to set up a woodshop which is very helpful, if I quit, I likely lose the shop space as well as the $15/hr pay. What's holding me back, is lack of these exact jobs that Tyler is offering. I would really like to live in VT or the Adirondacks of NY. This keeps me a days drive from home. I would move to VT in a heartbeat if I found a job where I could work as a furniture maker or apprentice for decent wage. Also, I am severely hard of hearing, so that also limits options a little, but i don't let it hold me back too much.

-Tyler
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GOT WOOD?

Last edited by tymann09; 11-10-2012 at 08:15 PM.
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