Project builds #48: More green oak.

Since before Xmas I’ve had a niggle in my back which finally gave way on 20th Jan and it turns out I had a herniated disc in my spine that was impinging my sciatic nerve to my right leg.

Following intensive treatment I’m back at it in the workshop and have got some green oak gates out the door and with some help one or two other jobs also.

The oak was supplied by my client in log form. On tree had died standing and the other had been blown over.

I had it milled just before Christmas by a mobile miller and Lucas mill.

I have now got the gates finished oiled and they were installed by a self employed installer as I am not fit enough yet to be doing that kind of work. This was a big mistake on my part and has left me with a list of remedial work as long as my arm and one upset client.

The problem is this not everyone likes being told what to do by their customers and on this job it was very much a like for like replacement job as the customer was reusing his existing automation system.

It’s not to hard you would think to replace like for like what is there as instructed? Well this fitter new best and did it a different way then blamed me when the customer was not happy so the posts had to be removed and reset accordingly all this extra messing has left the posts looking shabby and in need of bleaching and sanding and re oiling.

It was at this point the installer thought it good to fall out with the customer and that’s when things turned bad. He now to save time decided to cut the bottoms off the posts and generally cut corners this is something I have never been and advocate of or have undertaken unless there is an immovable underground obstruction such as a pipe.

Hence I will not be using this fitter in future and have seriously got to look at what direction I now move the business forwards in either a rapid expansion is needed so I can employ my own fitters (who can also do automation) or I contract and only take enough work for myself again and just use a self employed labourer to help me install or I say no more installing (which will seriously limit my market).

Either way a crunch time is coming and descisions are needed.

Tags: professional woodworking

Dreaming of a sawmill, feels like a museum. Thanks for looking Adam.

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5 Comments

Bo Peep ...

Sounds like the installer made a right pigs ear of it. I find that having people help with my work is more of a nightmare than me being overloaded and doing it myself at times. Hired help don’t always do things to my standards and they don’t take kindly to criticism. At the end of the day it’s not their reputation on the line if a customer isn’t happy with the quality of the product. If I were you I would just bite the bullet and expand. Better to have a wider market that way if one avenue isn’t doing so good you haven’t limited yourself too much but at the same time if you’re heart is in specialising and going down the path of just making things up and not fitting them maybe that is a more suitable route for you to take? In my opinion you’ve got to do what you love else you’ll only end up bitter and worn out with your work. Speaking from personal experience here follow the path that gives you greater enjoyment and less stress. If your heart’s not in it neither are you

Whitacrebespoke ...

Yes it’s difficult, I work to a high standard in what ever I do be it washing a car of making a pair of £10k gates it always gets done with a high level of attention to detail. That detail is so often lacking in others. “Oh well that will do” or “I’ve not got to look at it” are often traits that you see.

Difficult descisions lie ahead.

Bo Peep ...

I hear ya. The “oh well that’ll do” one is the biggest pain in the arse going. Some of my work is very fiddly/intricate and I have specific ways of doing things to ensure a good finish but other people seem to think it’s okay just to slap it together. I’ve been told I’m a perfectionist and that I worry too much but I bet they would be the first to complain if I gave them something that looked tacky.

Good luck with decision I know how hard it can be. I made the big decision last year to turn down a contract and go down the self employed route. I went with my gut feeling and run my own business now.

Brian ...

It’s a sticky wicket for sure. The are pros and cons for each direction. I think the most reasonable question, and the answer to your dilemma is, is there enough business to pay potential employees and yourself? If the answer is a reliable yes, then you should start looking for one good installer and one cheap young helper. Maybe 2 helpers. One for the field, I’ve for the shop. But you would definitely need one smart, experienced guy that you can trust, and finding that is not always easy either.

Whitacrebespoke ...

That Brian is my dilemma. I have the opportunity to make quantities of standard gates for a stockest we currently make specials for they would pay for the staff that make them but not sure if I want the hassle.

Maybe there is no harm in being high end Bespoke and having long lead time those who are willing to wait will get there product those who are not will not.

Like I say difficult descisions.