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Entering the entry door Business7/23/14
I am traditionally a cabinet maker but now I have at least two large entry door projects to build and I'm searching for door hardware suppliers. Can anyone recommend a good supplier who services central South Carolina?
Hardware? The better ones won't let you buy wholesale, you will have to pay retail and try to mark it up, or send your customers to the retail showrooms. If you want to be a dealer, you will have to buy displays, etc.
Then there is weatherstripping and sills. Lots of alternates there, and your market may or may not have its own ideas about what that should be.
Then there is glass. Find a vendor that can do anything at a reasonable price and in good time, with access and willingness to lots of different glass. Know the code and how to work within it.
Finish is another set of issues. A big set.
I have told people that doors are different from almost all other types of woodwork, and that they are much harder and problem prone that any other niche one could find. Not for the casual shop to enter into just because someone asked. Often a potential customer will ask a cabinet shop to make a door after they price one (even off the internet), looking for a cheaper alternative. Just like you get people thinking you can make a kitchen for 30% less than Home depot.
But, beyond all the problems, it is a fair way to make a living.
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We do lots of entry doors but also cabinetry and millwork. Entry doors are a good niche but not for the faint of heart. As mentioned, there are lots of potential problems, finishing being the largest. My only advice would be to charge enough to cover some risk and some warranty liability. Do not under bid to get work on entry doors! Charge to make a high quality product or stay away.
yep, all good advice. I am mainly wondering if I could find an interlocking brass threshold for less than $12 per foot, or is that what I should expect to pay? If it is, that's cool. I know there will be some semi-rookie mistakes but paying too much for hardware is one I hope to avoid if possible. What are some good names to look for in thresholds and hinges? I've heard that sikkins is a good name for finishing products.
We use ball bearing hinges from Onsward. They are available in Canada through Richelieu and likely available elsewhere. We charge for door and frame and them have a line item for reimbursable hardware. It includes thresholds, hinges and lock sets.
Just like your cabinet materials, you need to buy wholesale - including your bronze thresholds. Accurate Metal Weatherstrip in NYC is one of my favorites. Buy a quantity for stock and set up terms to get the better pricing. Even then it is expensive - nature of the beast.
Expensive hardware - or paying too much - is the least of your worries. A good argument on hardware can be made about passing it off to the owner, contractor or anyone else. You will never make any money on hardware.
You will need an excellent lumber source, a large joiner and a large planer, fast, accurate and efficient way to mortise and tenon, including coping. Effective glass sealing technology is also very important.
No disrespect intended, but this is a little bit like a bird house builder asking you what he needs to know to start making kitchen cabinets, since he has had a few people ask.
"No disrespect intended, but this is a little bit like a bird house builder asking you what he needs to know to start making kitchen cabinets, since he has had a few people ask."
I see you have recovered from your being humbled outlook?
Pat - I get humbled weekly. Hell, sometimes more. Its like getting a splinter- I'm used to it. Perhaps it is thick skin or thick-headedness, but life goes on.
My recent adventures notwithstanding, there is a lot that goes into the making of a decent exterior door unit, and it all has to work. If a kitchen design is off a bit, the kitchen still works - you can cook and eat. If a door won't close, or lets rain in, then it has failed in at least one fundamental aspect.
Kip may have what it takes - or will learn it - so he can make doors profitably and continue. I do wish him luck though it may not sound like it. However, out of all the folks I have seen get into the area of doors, especially exterior doors, none have stayed that I know of.
David, I have great respect for your work. with that said, I am a commercial/residential cabinet shop. I have also built a few very nice doors/entryways that have stood up to time. True, you do have special set of skills and extreme knowledge, but there are a lot of stunning doors out there and you could have not built all of them.I am with you on the guy getting a few tools and then jumping into building doors in his garage, it happens in cabinetry and even commercial casework as well. But with that said, some one needs to learn and keep with it. I am well known for my quality and even design, but I can tell you that look back at some of the things I built 20 years ago and got paid for were not so great...
A follow-up question I just thought of. What software is available for simple presentation of my bird houses.....Er.....uhhhh.....I mean entry doors? Don't care about fancy renderings just simple line drawings.
My first response to anyone wanting to make money making doors is to chase them off. Like becoming a Marine, the casual need not apply, and still only the most dedicated make it. An inquiry on the internet is considered casual until the poster convinces me otherwise.
Once someone shows the native talent and acquired basic knowledge, I will be the first to help them out by answering questions and giving them an idea of what is involved. Mostly to let them know what they are getting into. Then, if they are still interested, I will continue helping if I can. One reasonable caveat - they don't compete with me in my area.
I am not software savvy, but as I have heard there is precious little for making doors/windows beyond the European style doors. I myself make each door from scratch, so I start with blank sheets and light format for estimating, material ordering, labor tracking and shop building. Multiples are nice since I can have less up front work for more doors.
If you are really serious, let me know, and I'll add some help privately.
Solid Works, Inventor, Autocad 3d with Smartlister would work because you can drag and drop and stretch and export parts or a cut list. But not sure this would be the choice until you are grounded on the subject.
Sketch up is free and might be good enough for a while.
Pat has good advice.
There are domestic and european programs for this. Way more than what you need for occasional doors.