What slows you down the most? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 11:14 AM Thread Starter
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What slows you down the most?

I've been woodworking for about 5 years now, and I'm still very surprised by the time spent from start to finish on most of my projects. I love woodworking, but I'm finding that my weekend warrior time is not enough to finish projects in a satisfactory amount of time.

So my questions are these: Am I alone in this, or do my fellow woodworkers experience this also? It always takes longer to finish a project than expected? Also, what are some tips, tricks, jigs that you've incorporated into your work flow that you MUST have to speed things up? For instance, I pretty much use loose tenon joinery over all traditional mortise/tenons (except with through tenons, etc). As that it helps speed up the building process considerably.

Are there things/setups that generally speed up your projects?

Thanks...
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post #2 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 11:41 AM
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What slows my project time down the most is the time that I spend on the computer.

Seriously.

The second thing is having too many projects going on at once.
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post #3 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 12:21 PM
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I am likely the cause of my own slowness.

I do not want to work from plans, so I am designing as I go along. I start with an idea or a picture. With the internet, getting pictures is so much easier than decades ago.

I want to be efficient with how I use the wood. I have a mix of domestic and exotic. My most expensive board to date cost $28 per board foot. No surprise I want to be efficient with this puppy.

This frequently results in changing the "design" to accomodate the selection of wood available, perhaps trying to use an offcut from a previous project so I do not have to cut into a new board.

My projects are frequently one-off. This adds to spending time to solve new design or construction issues.

In most projects, there can be "Murphyism's". An operation which did not turn out well, routing on the wrong side of the piece, etc. Sometimes this means a "design change" sometimes a repalcement piece.

If I consider the time spent in construction, this can be less than the time spent on sanding and finishing. I do not like sanding. I expect many people feel the same. Finishing can result in more "Murphyism's".

I stopped working to a clock on my woodwork many years ago. I focus on the end result and whether the final piece pleases me.

The last type of project I want to work on is one which has a deadline. Not fun for me.
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post #4 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 12:30 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the replies...

But in your years of woodworking, are there little things that have been successful in increasing your efficiency?
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post #5 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debelpepper View Post
Thanks for the replies...

But in your years of woodworking, are there little things that have been successful in increasing your efficiency?
Different question.

Off the cuff thoughts in no particular order :
a) Having the material or hardware on hand and not having to make a special trip. For my location this means a 1 hr + interruption.
b) Having the correct tool for an operation. For example if I need to clamp a 15in board and only have 12in clamps, then I have to do a lot of workarounds. I end up buying longer clamps.
c) Being able to use the table saw for cutting. I have 36in capacity to the right of the fence, but if I have to cut sheet goods wider, then I have to resort to circular saw and straight edge. I have these but it takes more time.
d) Building a router table with Incra fence and router lift. Another example of b). I am able to get the precision I need first time. I am also able to replicate the cut if I end up messing up the piece later.
e) Purchasing a Flatmaster drum sander. I make a lot of boards and so flattening the board assembly takes me a lot of time. This tool made it easier. Another example of b).
f) Storage and organization of tools. Knowing what tool is where, and having easy access can save a lot of time. I have added tool chests over time.
g) Having a clear workspace. Big challenge for me. Too easy for clutter to build up. I have two main areas for gluing or sanding. One is my Flatmaster after I put on a UHMW full cover, and the other is a 24 x 26 in table. I manage to keep these available for assembling or sanding. I have a separate table in another room for finishing.
h) Making any new tool or storage rack mobile. I am constrained in space, and needed to be able to store 8ft+ long board along a wall, but the rack has air compressor on one end and other stuff on the other end. I made this mobile so I can easily pull out and access the long boards.
i) Thinking through tasks and operations, so I know what should be next and why. This is the "black art" of wood working. Takes time and experience.
j) Clamps. Cannot have too many clamps. I do a lot of my work alone and clamps become my extra pairs of hands for many operations. Could restate this one as having an assistant can frequently save a great deal of time.

I think enough brain dump for the moment.
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post #6 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debelpepper View Post
Thanks for the replies...

But in your years of woodworking, are there little things that have been successful in increasing your efficiency?
Are you doing this woodworking as a fun hobby? Or are you in it commercially?

George
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post #7 of 28 Old 07-19-2012, 03:14 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Are you doing this woodworking as a fun hobby? Or are you in it commercially?

George
Good question. I've been doing it as a hobby so far, but I keep on having something in the back of my mind that says it would awesome to start selling thes items I'm building. My home is full to the brim of my projects (and furniture), and I can't really justify building side tables, coffee tables, etc without selling. I'd love to do this as my day-job... so efficiency is somewhat important to me. I also like learning new skills, tools, etc, so the more efficient I become, the quicker I can move on to again practicing the new skill and/or new tool.

Hope that makes sense.
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post #8 of 28 Old 07-20-2012, 12:55 AM
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For me personally, I get bored easy. So I start something and am all gun ho and I usually want to try something new so things go good but slow learning the new thing and then once I feel like I learned something new I get bored with the rest. Then I start a new project because I want to do some new and exciting and the other projects just pile up. I'm pretty bad at finishing things!

Thanks for your help
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post #9 of 28 Old 07-20-2012, 01:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debelpepper View Post
Good question. I've been doing it as a hobby so far, but I keep on having something in the back of my mind that says it would awesome to start selling thes items I'm building. My home is full to the brim of my projects (and furniture), and I can't really justify building side tables, coffee tables, etc without selling. I'd love to do this as my day-job... so efficiency is somewhat important to me. I also like learning new skills, tools, etc, so the more efficient I become, the quicker I can move on to again practicing the new skill and/or new tool.

Hope that makes sense.
You can take your time making things as a hobby and still sell them. Speed and efficiency will come in time. Allot of good answers on what can help but reputition of jobs will increase speed and efficiency the most.

As for a day job thats not always an easy thing as many will tell you. Making it a paid hobby will solve most of your concerns and still allow you and the family to eat good.

Last edited by rrbrown; 07-20-2012 at 01:50 AM.
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post #10 of 28 Old 07-20-2012, 11:04 AM Thread Starter
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You can take your time making things as a hobby and still sell them. Speed and efficiency will come in time. Allot of good answers on what can help but reputition of jobs will increase speed and efficiency the most.

As for a day job thats not always an easy thing as many will tell you. Making it a paid hobby will solve most of your concerns and still allow you and the family to eat good.
Not to derail this topic, but what's a good way about selling hobby level items? I'm finding that I put a lot of hardwork and time into everything I make. So selling on the cheap really would be undervaluing my time and what I've made. What are good ways about selling items and building that reputation you're talking about? For instnace, craigs list (at least in my area) is watched by people looking for deals... i.e. probably not the best place to list my items.
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post #11 of 28 Old 07-20-2012, 11:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by debelpepper View Post
Not to derail this topic, but what's a good way about selling hobby level items? I'm finding that I put a lot of hardwork and time into everything I make. So selling on the cheap really would be undervaluing my time and what I've made. What are good ways about selling items and building that reputation you're talking about? For instnace, craigs list (at least in my area) is watched by people looking for deals... i.e. probably not the best place to list my items.
That's the hard part. We all put hours or even days into our projects. We all value our time and don't want to give our projects away. But on the same token a lot of people don't see the difference in handcrafted work vs what you can go to walmart and buy for a few bucks. You need to find the right market, which may be craigslist, ebay, craft shows, etsy, word of mouth, etc. Craigslist is people looking for deals but there are people looking for a deal on quality items. So if you can offer a "deal" on a quality item they will still sell. People are looking for deals all over, it's hard to sell just based on quality anymore. You used to be able to say handmade and quality and find a market, there is still a market for that but it's pretty small. But everyone loves value and a deal so that is a pretty big market. You have to be able to find that perfect point where you are getting paid fair for your time and work but still able to give a "deal" so they sell.

Thanks for your help
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post #12 of 28 Old 07-22-2012, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Paine View Post
f) Storage and organization of tools. Knowing what tool is where, and having easy access can save a lot of time.
.
THIS!! For me anyway. Been doing multiple projects lately and the time I spend looking fot that square I just set down can drive me crazy!!!
I know this is probably not what you're looking for with this post but for me a well organized shop with every tool in its place is a dream to work in.
I have pretty much everything I need but...
I really need to spend a day organizing!
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post #13 of 28 Old 07-22-2012, 11:41 PM
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For me its work flow and tool organization.
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post #14 of 28 Old 07-23-2012, 12:51 AM
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The thing that slows me down the most is my physical condition. I can't stand at the machines for long periods, also I completely forget how a joint is made and I have to stop and remember how to do it.

If Woodworking is so much fun why isn't it called WoodFUNNING?

I've made a few videos
http://www.youtube.com/user/johnnie52
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post #15 of 28 Old 07-23-2012, 10:41 PM
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My slow down is I make a prototype first, then the final, plus on a fly by the seat of my pants woodworker

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It's all fun and games until someone loses the Walnut.
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post #16 of 28 Old 08-20-2012, 07:39 AM
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What's your hurry? Haste makes waste. It sounds like you and I do woodworking as a hobby. One of the main reasons I enjoy it so much is that it forces me to slow down and think things through and I still make mistakes. Careful what you wish for, I operated a part time taxidermy business for over 20 years before I got into woodworking. I vowed when I closed the doors to the taxidermy shop that I would Not do woodworking for money. When you HAVE to do something takes the fun right out.

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post #17 of 28 Old 08-20-2012, 12:15 PM
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I took some little Post It arrows and labelled all of my drawers. If I decide something would make more sense in a different drawer, I can move the label easily. I've also reorganized my pegboard multiple times to get it just right.

Honestly, though, I get slowed down the most by my joinery not being too awesome yet, so I have to fix or shim things. With it being hobby time it gets interrupted and so that hurts consistency and remembering what I have the machine set up for. Lately it has been easiest to work in my basement shop once my wife and daughter are asleep...
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post #18 of 28 Old 08-20-2012, 01:46 PM
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Failure to remember the 6Ps

(prior planning prevents pzz poor performance)
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post #19 of 28 Old 08-20-2012, 02:26 PM
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Personally, I have two ways of building.

1.) Have fun, make it up as I go along, work from ideas in my head, no time limits, no rush. It normally takes me a few weeks to build something.

2.) Do parametric drawings which is extremely powerful. Means designing each individual part 3D, then assembling all the parts in 3D CAD, any errors imediately show up, such as tolerances, wrong angles etc. Once the assembly is done in CAD, do my cut lists and plan each process needed to make each part. When I hit the shop, there is nothing to figure out, no mistakes, just full speed ahead and it normally goes a lot faster than the time I allow.

I have one of the #2's coming up soon, may post the designs and the build here, depending on time and member interest. It will be four furniture grade bar stools, with a target time of 10 hours for the whole build and upholstery of the four chairs.

Something similar to this but not the same, someone makes these for close to $1,000 a piece, hard to believe they sell, but they do.

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post #20 of 28 Old 08-20-2012, 06:33 PM
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When building one unit your set up time is a killer, that is why building one of anything cost more than many units of the same thing. Having several tools of the same kind with different bits dedicated for that one type bit will help save time. Having all your tools in a convenient place close to your work will save you steps. Having a neat and orderly work place will save you time. Anything that that is done away from doing the actual work on a unit that you can shave time off of or eliminate is a bonus, time is money.

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