The Cost of High Turnover
Replacing a lost employee costs a business to a degree that isn't always appreciated. Here, cabinetmakers discuss the problem of selecting, training, and keeping valuable team members. September 8, 2007

Financial Success in Woodworking
Philosophies and turning points on the path to $100K a year. January 6, 2005

Age Discrimination?
A 60-year-old draftsman kicks off a long exchange about age, employability, and fairness. April 13, 2010

When to Raise an Employee's Pay
Here's a long discussion about the purpose and timing of pay raises, and the associated communication issues. July 3, 2006

Incentive Pay for Workers
This long, detailed thread takes a close look at the whole concept of bonus and incentive pay for employees. January 9, 2008

Career change: Computers to cabinets
Issues that could affect the success of a newly purchased woodworking business. July 29, 2003

Team Player
When you advertise for a "team player," what are you asking for? Seriously this job seeker wants to know. January 2, 2012

Time Clock Cheaters
A question about how to deal with workers who are punching each others' time cards leads to a wide-ranging discussion of morality, motivation, and time-tracking technology. January 13, 2009


Teaching an Employee to Optimize Materials
A problem with an employee who doesn't use up scrap leads to a long discussion on hiring, training, and firing procedures. May 20, 2009

Testing Prospective Employees
... and have some fun along the way. February 8, 2005

Employee Overpayment Snafu
A cautionary tale: an overtime miscalculation resulted in years of paycheck mistakes in the employees' favor, before the payroll manager figured it out. How should the boss respond? June 5, 2006

Employee Overtime
There's an up side and a down side to working (and paying) employees overtime. Here, owners and workers discuss the management of labor hours. October 25, 2006

Employer Vs Employee
Must employees and business owners be pitted against one another? From WOODWEB's Business Forum. March 5, 2003

Finding Good Finishing Help
Tactics for attracting finishers, perhaps the industry's most difficult "get." December 26, 2004

Profit-Sharing and Incentive Pay
Employers and workers discuss the pros and cons of linking employee compensation to company performance. November 4, 2007

Skilled Woodworker Employee Wages
A highly qualified shop employee with broad responsibilities asks how to assess his own fair wage rate, and kicks off a spirited discussion among employers, employees, and self-employed craftsmen on the forum. February 10, 2009

Cultivating Initiative and Creativity on the Shop Floor
Here's a thoughtful discussion about how a shop foreman can train his employees how to think for themselves, rather than simply solving problems for them. Also mentioned: how to craft shop SOP's. February 11, 2010

Danger in the Woods
Woodworkers should be aware of the reactions some people may have to certain species and take appropriate precautions. August 13, 2005

Letting Employees Use Your Shop
Here's a long thread about what terms an employer should set for allowing an employee to build a personal project in the shop. February 11, 2009

Employee Bonus Incentives
Most employers in this thread believe that bonuses for employees don't work. June 4, 2012

Social Conversation and Shop Morale
Can a business owner help maintain a friendly and sociable work environment? The question sets off a long and lively discussion on the Business Forum. July 24, 2005

Gray Areas in Drug Testing Policy
Employers and employees alike express mixed feelings about drug testing in this thread. April 29, 2012

Training Employees
A rambling brainstorming thread about how to teach complex tasks to workers. December 2, 2006

Is This Job Discrimination?
An African-American's story of a frustrating job search leads to a frank discussion of race as a factor in employment, along with some solid advice on landing a job. January 10, 2008

Best Practices and Training Systems
A brainstorming session about systematically training wood-shop employees. February 6, 2007

Handling a Problem Employee
Shop owners discuss how to deal with an employee whose attitude is going down the tubes. January 26, 2008

How Much Money Do I Need? - Part 1
A hard look at the financial end of starting your own woodworking business - June 18, 2000 June 18, 2000

To Fire or Not to Fire?
A new hire's performance is spotty and his pay is high. Should the boss let him go? In this thread, the question gets a thoughtful examination from all sides, including several different boss and worker perspectives. November 10, 2005

Enabling a Problem Employee's Poor Personal Choices
Letting an employee's bad judgment spill over into the employer's business is causing problems on the shop floor.July 20, 2011

Eyewitness: Injury
Scary stories about careless acts and bad consequences. June 28, 2005

Hard Layoff Choices
A long discussion about a difficult choice: whether to lay off a valued employee when sales fall off during a downturn. June 15, 2009

Can You Penalize Employees for Mistakes?
A discussion of motivation, quality control, accountability, and labor law. September 7, 2013

Employee Side Projects in Your Shop
Thoughts on whether to allow employees to use shop equipment for occasional personal projects. November 13, 2009

Converting from Employee to Subcontractor
Changing your status from an employee to a subcontractor for the same shop is a complicated and potentially risky move. October 13, 2008

Can Shop Workers Legally be Subcontractors?
An extended discussion of IRS rules defining employees and independent contractors, and how those rules relate to workers in a cabinet shop. February 23, 2010

Partnerships and Other Ways to Share Shop Space
The pros and (mostly) cons of partner-run businesses. October 27, 2009

Six Sigma Observations
Principles for developing efficiency in the workshop. November 3, 2004

Thoughts After a Severe Accident
After a shop worker is very badly injured by a machine, the owner seeks feedback from colleagues. April 7, 2008

Business Start-Up Advice
Woodworker asks about a business start-up kit, and gets an earful of wise advice.

How Strict Should Work Hours Be?
Woodworking employers and employees discuss working hours, flex time, performance, and shop morale. March 4, 2006

Safety Glasses in the Shop
The owner gets advice as a new eye protection rule creates a labor-management dynamic in a woodshop. August 27, 2009

Subcontractor or Employee?
Learning the rules about worker classification and managing the details correctly is a hassle, but the risks of doing it wrong are major. September 24, 2009

Tooling Up for a High-School Wood-Shop Program
Cabinetmakers advise a high school shop teacher on how to equip a new shop class program. July 11, 2007

Taking on an Apprentice
It's good for society when young people gain skills. But the rules for apprentices are the same as for employees, and the management problem is not trivial. April 8, 2013

Health Benefit Solutions
Woodworking shop owners discuss their experiences trying to provide employee health insurance benefits. March 5, 2008

Attention, Safety Practices, and Loose Nuts
A woodworker describes how a moment's inattention damaged his machine but luckily, not him. The tale sets off a long thread of similar stories (including one fatality) and lessons learned. November 16, 2011

Radios In The Shop
A discussion with as many opinions as there are styles of music. February 25, 2005

Motivating and Guiding a Commission Sales Rep
This thread starts with a question about how to structure a contract with a commission salesperson, then expands into a broader discussion of effective sales and marketing strategies. February 6, 2010

Smoking Policies for Wood Shops
How should wood-shop employers deal with the issues raised by employees who smoke? The question leads to a lively debate. December 2, 2006

Holiday Bonuses in Hard Times
Shop owners discuss whether they paid holiday bonuses to their employees, and how they feel about it. March 12, 2014

The True Cost of Overtime
When you back out overhead, time-and-a-half wages for overtime hours may work out to a wash. But not always ... October 2, 2007

Expanding portable sawmill business
A hard look at the pros and cons of expanding a business. October 9, 2002

Structuring Performance Incentives
Business owners discuss ways to tie employee compensation to productivity. February 17, 2006

Productivity-Based Incentive Pay
One woodshop owner's take on how to calculate and pay bonuses so they will effectively motivate the workforce. November 19, 2008

Company sponsored, on-site drinking
Legal implications of the Friday afternoon beer-drinking session, and off-site alternatives to it. November 7, 2000

Project manager compensation
A conversation about PM pay grows into a detailed look at the cost of doing business. December 17, 2003

Downsizing your shop
Businesses that have grown too fast or too big choose to cut back and go small. October 2, 2001

Standardizing the Work Process: Is It Worth It?
What's the best way to create standard shop procedures and is it worth the effort? September 7, 2013

Pay Scales for Cabinet Shop Workers
Pay rates vary by skill level, and also by region. Here, cabinetmakers dig into what makes a worker worth his wage. October 18, 2005

Rewarding Employees for Job Leads
When an employee brings in a job lead, what's a reasonable finder's fee? March 14, 2005

Hiring a Manager
A long discussion of how to find a manager for a busy shop, and how to define that person's role. October 14, 2009

Employee Issue: Train or Let Go?
A shop owner is on the fence about a new hire: keep him on and hope for improvement, or fire him now? Experienced employers discuss philosophies and approaches. July 24, 2005

Creating an installation division
Setting up a special division to install the product your company builds. July 9, 2002

Motivating Employees for Productivity
Shop owners discuss management styles, regulating work hours, and ways to cultivate a good employee work ethic. June 23, 2006

Managing Growth as a Start-Up Cabinet Shop
In its second year, this small shop owner's cabinet business is starting to take off. Here, he gets advice on his next steps.October 19, 2011

How Much Money Do I Need? - Part 2
A hard look at the financial end of starting your own woodworking business - June 18, 2000

Classifying Workers
An accountant's suggestion to turn a few employees into "subcontractors" comes in for criticism along with some information about the rules for that sort of thing. September 30, 2010

Hiring a First-Class Finisher
and how to assess those abilities. July 2, 2008

Finding Software for Design and Visualization
It's hard to find one application that will quickly create design visualizations for a customer during a sales meeting, but also generate good designs suitable for construction in the shop. This thread offers some insight into software capabilities and some nice example drawings. December 28, 2010 ......

New Hires and Production Problems
Adding new employees to speed up production can have exactly the opposite effect. Here's a case in point. July 20, 2011

Paying for Woodworking Training
Is it worth it to go to a "school of woodworking" (or send your employees) to learn skills such as veneering? October 18, 2011

Good information equals production excellence
How can you assure that employees have all the information they need to do excellent work? September 26, 2000

Coping with an Employee -- Who Hasn't 'Got It'
An unproductive employee isn't likely to tell you the problem. You have to discover it and deal with it. 1998.

Wages and Expectations
Here's an interesting article about the relationship between pay and performance, in the mind and motivations of an employee. July 23, 2014

Going Out on your Own in Cabinet Installation
A skilled and responsible employeed for cabinet installation sub ponders the practicality and ethical issues involved in going solo and competing with his present employer. February 12, 2009

Correcting Employee Mistakes
Too many mistakes cost a company time and money. Here's advice on managing an employee whose elementary goofs have become a problem. October 2, 2007

Finding Good Employees
Cabinetmakers lament the lack of qualified workers in the market, and share thoughts on how to find good help. April 19, 2015

Overtime and Productivity
Here's a valuable discussion of mandatory overtime, the four-day week with ten-hour days, and related labor-time organization and productivity issues. July 2, 2008

Employee Attention Problems
Should an employer try to train a worker on attention, focus, and work discipline and if so, how? August 15, 2011

Headphones in the Shop
Here's a lively discussion about concentration, hearing loss, and whether it's okay for employees to listen to personal music on headphones in a cabinet shop. September 15, 2011

Woodworkers and Labor Unions
Woodworkers discuss the relevance of organized labor to modern conditions in the industry. February 6, 2007

Performance Incentives and Bonuses: Do They Work?
For various reasons, most business owners in this thread believe that productivity bonuses are a bad idea. February 1, 2015

Questions for a Sales Interviewee to Ask
Applying for a sales job? Here's a useful list for when it's your turn to ask them a few questions. August 13, 2007

Mulligan Stew: Random Observations -- and Ideas on Management
A bunch of different stuff that owners and managers of woodworking business should think about. 1998.

Hiring, Training, and Firing Employees
Based on a Paul Downs column in the New York Times, here's a thoughtful thread about how to optimize your workforce for skill, teamwork, efficiency, and morale. July 18, 2013

Fair Wage for a Color Matching Specialist
What's fair pay for a worker who's skilled and experienced at formulating a finish to match existing? January 4, 2014

Structuring a Paid-Time-Off Policy
Businesses describe their approaches to providing sick leave, personal days, vacation time, et cetera. June 8, 2008

Cost of Carrying Employees
Shop owners discuss the costs associated with employing help, the value of good employees, and the advantages of going through a temp agency. September 4, 2005

Training Workers
The interviewing, hiring, and training process lays crucial groundwork that sets the tone for sound employee management. 1998.

Interviewing Potential Employees
The interviewing, hiring, and training process lays crucial groundwork that sets the tone for sound employee management. 1998.

Learning the Ropes as a New Woodworker
A man making a career change in his forties gets advice on how to learn woodworking. January 20, 2010

Learning Opportunities for a Disabled Veteran in Furniture-Making
There are programs available that can help a veteran make use of his educational and disability benefits. March 20, 2007

Installation scheduling
When he can't keep up with the jobs the sales staff hands him, what's an installer to do? June 24, 2001

Who Owns the Hand Tools?
Shop owners discuss whether to ask employees to bring their own hand tools. September 8, 2008

Cell Phones and Radios in the Shop?
Woodshop owners discuss phone and radio policies, shop surveillance cameras, and more. July 30, 2009

Time Clock Problems
Advice and discussion about how to make sure employees punch in and out reliably. March 18, 2006

Getting Started
Three basic tips for getting a new woodworking business off to a healthy start. 1998.

Attracting Qualified Woodworking Employees
Employers and workers discuss how to advertise effectively for good help, and how to separate the wheat from the chaff in the responses. February 27, 2013

All About Authority -- Where Have All the Leaders Gone?
Unless owners grant their managers the freedom to act, those managers will never rise to the stature of 'leader.' 1998.

Fair Pay for a Sales Rep
This thread on sales force compensation has some ballpark numbers attached. August 13, 2007

Taking on Help
A furnituremaker with a growing workload gets advice on how to hire his first employee. January 2, 2012

Assessing Cabinetmaking Skill Levels
Skill in a cabinet shop is hard to even define, much less quantify. October 26, 2011

Jointing Door Stock Twice
Is a shop worker being too careful and creating double work? How much trouble is it worth to be extra sure that door parts are precisely milled? January 19, 2012

Ramping Up When You Need Workers
When the work starts to roll in, you need help but employees are expensive. Here's advice on optimizing the cost of help as you increase production. September 3, 2014

Training a Cabinet Installation Crew
Advice based on experience about how to teach a pair of promising shop employees how to install cabinets in the field. November 26, 2007

10 hour days vs 8 hour days
Pros and cons of working 4 - 10's versus 5 - 8's. August 13, 2002

Managing a Slow Worker
Cabinetmakers discuss the problem of whether, and how, to terminate an employee who is slowing the shop down by being too darn meticulous. October 2, 2007

Murphy's Law in the Shop
Bad things happen to good people. Want to hear about it? January 2, 2012

Music in the Shop
Is it good, bad, or both? June 22, 2005

Almost Cut My Thumb Off
A close call with the table saw sparks a conversation about safe equipment and careful practices. January 11, 2008

Profits, Bonuses, and Debt
This interesting discussion considers the significance of a Christmas bonus in the context of company financials and taxes. February 27, 2015

Union or Non-Union Apprenticeship?
A woodworker starting out asks about the choice between union and non-union training employment. Lots of information and some opinions are supplied in the discussion that follows. November 11, 2005

Should You Pay Workers for Travel Time?
Business owners discuss whether workers should get paid for driving from the shop to the job site in a company truck. April 4, 2011

Shop Floor Management Systems
Woodshop owners discuss ways to improve the techniques they use to organize and run their operations. July 3, 2006

Screening Job Applicants
Woodshop owners discuss the methods they use to assess prospective employees. April 19, 2015

Downsizing Considerations
What size operation fits your style? April 10, 2005

Employee retirement plans
Questions about simple IRAs and taxes. October 2, 2001

Who Buys the Hand Tools?
There are reasons to supply hand tools for your workers, and reasons to have them supply their own. October 3, 2006

People -- Your Biggest Key to Profitability
Creating a productive, inclusive shop atmosphere that encourages employee initiative. 1998

Rights to photograph work
Who owns the photographs of work done under someone else's employ? March 23, 2002

Partnership plusses and pitfalls
The dynamics of going into business with the boss. March 23, 2002

Health Insurance for Employees
Shop owners discuss the ins and outs of employer-sponsored health insurance plans. November 10, 2005

1998-Rewarding your People
Creating a productive, inclusive shop atmosphere, and rewarding employee initiative. 1998

Cabinet Assembler Productivity
How many cabs should an assembler put together daily, assuming all the pieces are cut and ready? In this thread, bosses and workers offer their perspectives. November 12, 2005

Characteristics of a First-Rate Installer
Experienced pros discuss what qualifies an individual to be called an A-triple-plus installer. October 22, 2005

Carpenter to accomplished installer
How do you train a carpenter to become a cabinet and millwork installer? July 9, 2002

Hiring a Woodshop Helper
Advice on hiring the right person for the right wage for general shop labor. April 22, 2014

Working Four Ten-Hour Days a Week
Employers discuss the pros and cons of unconventional work hours, including the costs and benefits of overtime. December 24, 2012

"Temporary Worker" Loopholes?
Looking for a way to limit your unemployment insurance rates or your payroll taxes? Hiring workers as "temps" won't help you any. August 13, 2007

Moving On - Time To Work At Another Shop?
After eight years at the same shop, a woodworker's ready for a new situation with more potential for growth. But he has a strong personal relation with his employer. Here, he gets advice from seasoned pros on how to make the transition to owning his own shop. November 10, 2005

Taking On Your First Employee
A one-man shop owner has more work than he can handle, and needs advice on starting to staff up. November 26, 2007

Sub or Employee? The Legal Puzzle
A discussion of when you legally pay someone as a subcontractor rather than an employee. February 17, 2006

Should engineers do parts drawings?
Product engineers can draw impressive sketches. But should they be expected to write code? November 15, 2000

When Someone Recruits Your Top Employee
How should an employer respond when another shop is trying to tempt a top employee to jump ship? May 24, 2010

What is a Project Manager's Job?
Here's a list of responsibilities for the project manager at one commercial outfit. January 25, 2013

Possible yearly earnings
What kind of sales volume does it take to support a six-figure salary in a two-man shop? May 9, 2001

Guarding Against Embezzlement
All humor aside, here are some practical tips for maintaining security in the financial operation of a business. September 24, 2009

CNC Routers Versus Jobs for People
Despite employees' fears, a new CNC will not replace people it will make their lives better. June 11, 2010

Finding good help
How to find and keep reliable employees for your sawmill business. January 16, 2002

Training a New Salesman
A cabinetmaker who has just hired his first salesman gets advice on how to orient and train the new hire. August 13, 2007

Pricing and Legalities for Portable Sawmilling
What should you charge, and should you let the customer help? February 26, 2005

Are Performance Reviews Worth It?
Skeptical views on the value of a formal, scheduled review of employee performance. March 13, 2014

Paying Workers for Travel Time
Is a boss required to pay workers for travel time to and from a jobsite (such as a cabinet install)? That depends on the circumstances. June 15, 2009

Piecework: Promise and Peril
A brief discussion about how to structure piece-work shop labor in a way that works. April 29, 2012

Who Supplies the Tools?
Practices vary, but in most shops the employer supplies all power tools and often, small incidentals as well. March 22, 2013

Shopping Around for Comp Coverage
By shopping for competing quotes, a business owner got his workers compensation premium lowered. January 20, 2011

Adding a Salesperson
The owner of a growing shop mulls adding a salesman and reaches an interesting decision. February 25, 2005

Moulder Operator Skills and Pay
Feedback on the going rate for moulder operators in different parts of the country, and thoughts on how to earn at the top of the scale. December 30, 2007

Job Descriptions
A shop owner with 20 employees gets advice on creating employee job descriptions. November 10, 2005

Responding to Competing Employment Offers
A skilled woodworker accepts a new job, then gets a better offer from another employer. How should he communicate with both prospective employers? January 7, 2007

Shop Floor Teamwork
A sofa shop struggles with coordinating part production and assembly. March 17, 2005

Smoking Policy for Wood Shops
Shop owners discuss smoking and no-smoking rules. July 30, 2009

Employee Bonus Strategy
Shop owners discuss whether, when and how to award employees a bonus after an outstanding month for the company. September 4, 2005

A Finisher's Pay Scale
More thoughts and information on what a skilled, experienced finishing craftsman is worth in the marketplace. November 11, 2005

Finding a College-Level Woodworking Program
Educational choices versus the school of hard knocks. June 18, 2005

Hiring an Entry-Level Shop Worker
Woodshop owners share tips and stories about hiring helpers. March 25, 2008

Responsibility for Tools
Shop owners describe how they keep track of tools and try to keep workers from abusing them. January 26, 2008

Job applicant testing
Developing an aptitude test for potential hires. March 28, 2001

Compensating a Salesperson
Business owners consider the angles salary or commission? December 6, 2008

Vacation policies for employees
Setting standards for how much vacation time employees earn, based on their tenure and value. April 24, 2002

Looking for Work in Cabinetmaking
A couple of useful tips for woodworkers on how to present yourself to prospective employers in a tough market. May 11, 2011

Creating a partnership
Is a successful partnership possible in the woodworking industry? May 9, 2001

Profit sharing and incentive plans
Profit sharing and incentive programs in action. June 6, 2001

Hot Weather and Shop Productivity
Advice on taking care of the workforce during a heat wave. August 19, 2013

Compensating Employees Who Opt Out of Health Insurance
Should employees who opt out of your company's insurance plan get a little something extra in their check? Maybe not the practice could create complicated tax issues for you. April 24, 2006

Is Vertical Hierarchy Dying
In the future, is everybody equal? March 13, 2014

Breaking in a Wood-Shop Apprentice
Advice on structuring the workload of a new hire for optimal learning. March 12, 2014

Overtime pay
Good reasons to pay overtime, whether or not your competition does. June 6, 2001

Heavy-duty CNC router recommendations
Suggestions choosing for a good-quality CNC router, offering adequate tech support and training. February 28, 2001

Piece Work and Productivity
Some shop owners find it pays to pay by the piece. February 13, 2013

Holiday Pay and Overtime
Fine points of compensation for holidays and overtime. April 13, 2010

Profit sharing plans
Developing a plan where employee compensation is linked to productivity. June 24, 2001

Dealing with union organizing efforts
How to handle the potential unionization of your workforce. November 7, 2000

Establishing a formal absenteeism policy
Shop owners discuss policies they've adopted to ensure consistent employee attendance, and how those policies are administered. September 26, 2000

Hours Worked Versus Hours on the Clock
Thoughts on measuring how much of an employee's workday consists of actual work in the real world of the shop floor. November 5, 2013

Employee Upward Mobility
Hired as a CAD draftsman, a worker finds himself handling much more, and more varied, responsibilities. Now he's wondering how he can upgrade his job title and pay accordingly. November 10, 2005

Recruiting Employees
Ideas for enticing and signing on workers. July 24, 2001

Sales Staff Expense Allowances
Business owners discuss whether and how to reimburse salespeople for vehicle use, cell phones, laptops, et cetera. December 14, 2005

Closing Shop for a Vacation Week
Key people need a break. But how will clients feel when you shut down the whole operation for a week? February 27, 2013

Growing a business
Keeping your mind on what matters in a healthy business, with a nod to Paul Hawken. May 19, 2003

Outsourcing Accounting
How does it work to have an outside company manage your payroll? And is it worth the cost? April 13, 2010

What to Include on a Resume
Put everything down experience that seems irrelevant to an advertised job may qualify you for something better at the same company. October 2, 2007

Employee ownership
Ideas for keeping employees, who expect more than standard benefits, happy. June 6, 2001

Training draftsmen for woodworking
Can an engineer learn the nuances of drawing millwork in CAD? March 20, 2001

Learning the trade
How to approach a woodworking firm about becoming an apprentice. November 7, 2000

Job Application Forms
Questions for screening potential hires. March 14, 2005

Qualifications for finishers
Make sure the finisher you are hiring is capable of doing quality work. March 20, 2001

Health Alert: Hearing Loss
A short discussion about how woodworking can damage your hearing. April 22, 2014

Choosing an Employee
Who to pick - the rookie, or the experienced hand? May 4, 2005

Architectural Millwork Installer Compensation
Owners and employees discuss the wages installers make, and the factors that affect the value of labor. November 11, 2005

Wearing Shorts on the Jobsite
OSHA cares how you dress on construction sites. Here's some info and some discussion. April 8, 2008

Managing Quality Control and Defect Cutting
How can a millwork shop achieve good defect grading on various jobs with different specifications and standards? April 4, 2011

Accountability for Product Defects
Views on when and how to catch and fix defects. May 4, 2005