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New residential shop

Craig WIlliams Member

Good morning everyone. So i am in the process of starting a new residential shop and in the market for machines. What suggestions on machines needed that are cost friendly and brands. I am currently thinking of going with a sliding table saw, standard table saw, line boring machine, pocket hole machine, etc. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

4/9/21       #2: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

Scouring the auction sites and the machinery exchange here will be your best bet for quality industrial machinery if "cost friendly" is a priority criteria.

4/9/21       #3: New residential shop ...

I would agree with what Mark said, also look at all the classified ads in your area, things like Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, kijiji, etc.

As for brand names I guess it depends on budget? There are tons of machines that are all made off shore, many brands from the same factory, names like Grizzly, Busy bee, General international, Pioneer, King, Saw Stop and the list goes on and on. This stuff is fine if your budget is low and you are not needing to crank out a bunch of work in a short time.
Then there are some brands that I would say are middle of the road, a little more heavy duty, names like Cantek, Minimax and Felder. Your top of the line stuff is Martin, SCM and others depending on specific machines.
You can drop any amount of cash in a quick hurry if you so choose.

I will add that other things to consider that also add up fast are, dust collection and all the components. You also have to make sure you have the power to run the equipment, being a home shop you will have to stick with single phase equipment unless you can get a phase converter.
Most of the equipment I mentioned in the mid to higher quality will be 3 phase power . Running power and hooking up three phase machines can get very expensive.
Anyways just some food for thought, all the best.

4/9/21       #4: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

And the biggest one of all, not to be a nay sayer, but if your going to try to slam out residential work on tablesaws/grizzly/etc and compete on anything close to the commodity market I'd be very cautious because its not profitable. If your catering to higher end custom work you will not be shopping for the commodity equipment because it will be too slow and you'll never make money at it.

You dont state much about what your "residential" shop would entail but the days of a 10" cabinet saw and a few tools being profitable are extremely distant though you may be in a location with a sweet spot for something specific.

4/9/21       #5: New residential shop ...
Craig WIlliams Member

Thanks for the response Mark and Scott. So this wont be a home shop. I will start in a 4000 sqft facility. Right now i am leaning towards a Felder sliding table saw, a 5hp saw stop, a decent line boring machine, decent planer and jointer, pocket hole machine, dust collection etc. I am looking to have a decent setup for at or under $50,000. I don't want to buy junk but i also need to stay in a budget and start making some money and then reinvest. I am looking at using another local shop to potentially CNC cabinet parts to start.

4/9/21       #6: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

Pretty tight but maybe possible with aggressively searching used/auction equipment especially when considering air, DC, ducting, and ancillary equipment. Patience in the used/auction market if you have the ability to truck/transport yourself can be a real bargain depending on location and how far you have to haul.

4/9/21       #7: New residential shop ...
rich c.

What's a residential shop? A hobby shop in your residence? A commercial shop concentrating on residential cabinetry and millwork? A commercial shop building residential cabinets? A description of your business model is necessary for choosing machinery.

4/9/21       #8: New residential shop ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


I am, admittedly, a tool snob.

Felder, powermatic, grizzly, etc are all way too expensive. Go with something cheaper like scm on up.

You can save a couple grand today, but you'll spend tens of thousands of dollars on that mistake, fighting inferior equipment for a mediocre result.

Used used used used. Know why a tablesaw from the 40's still works and has worked well for the past 80 years? Because it was designed to last. Everything built today is built to a service life, not a spec. It's built to a cost. There's room for that though. There's only a handful of guys in here that actually need 3 shift, 362 days a year machines. I'm not one of them, but good tools are an investment in your future. Cheap tools are just pissing in your future.

It took me almost ten years to figure out I was doing virtually everything in the shop wrong. It all changed in a fraction of a second listening to my first good shaper spool up for the first time.

Start saving for a cnc now. It is extremely difficult to be competitive without one in my opinion without being in a niche, within a niche.

4/9/21       #9: New residential shop ...

What kind of options do you have for power supply. There is a lot of good used equipment around, but like I mentioned, the majority of it is 3 phase. I have noticed some SCM sliding table saws and edgebanders that are single phase.
One important thing to also keep in mind that I never mentioned before is to keep an eye on the voltage of the equipment. The voltage of the 3 phase will either be 208/220, or 440 or 600 volts. I have seen some 600 volt machines that are really cheaply priced, the problem is you need a fairly big shop in a commercial area in the city I live in to have 600 volt power. You can buy transformers to switch any voltage of power to another voltage, you just have to consider an additional expense for the transformer and the electrician, it will be quite the extra expense.

On a side note there is quite the list of Martin equipment in the equipment section of this site, the gentleman may do a package deal, but you would have to substantially increase your budget:😳

4/9/21       #10: New residential shop ...
Dustin orth

If you look at used stuff, how handy are you at fixing things? Electrical, bearings, checking alignment and understanding what adjustments need to happen? I buy used and auction stuff all the time but I can fix most things other people have ignored or misused. Can you? If you can't, then your budget is shot because you can't afford that list new.

4/10/21       #12: New residential shop ...
Hen Bob Member

I 2nd what Karl said, I fought entry level tools for the first few years then started getting better old equipment and it made a huge difference. My $500 Moak shaper is far better that any unit grizzly makes.

Look into a Pod and Rail type cnc , they can usually be found for the same price as a new line boring machine. Plan on buying and edgebander, its just a absolute necessity to compete.

I made a ton of cabinets with a sliding tablesaw, Pod and Rail, and an edgebander..

Best of Luck!! It can be done!

4/10/21       #13: New residential shop ...
pat s gilbert

Starting a shop is a marketing problem not a capital investment problem.

Find a niche learn how to market to it.

If it makes sense software will be your most important tool followed by CNC

The majority of spending in the economy and the woodworking industry is spent in the commercial market. If you can find a niche there you will get repeat customers.

Marketing to homeowners is expensive because they are one off customers.

The world uses Google to shop. Google advertising allows you to be considered in the customers buying process.

Paul Downs says it won't work in heavily trafficked categories. I guess because of the price of keywords in that category.

My advice would be to find a niche and learn how to market to it.

If it is a narrow target the fabricating should be the easy part

Don't use a magnifying glass when you need binoculars

4/10/21       #14: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

I really agree with Pat.

All too many now still prescribe to the 1950's model of business.... come up with an idea, make prototypes, and THEN go out an peddle them. Whether thats cabs or cutting boards or high end commercial interior components.

In todays world other than novel ideas and inventions that is completely BASS-Ackwards. You can very easily quantify a market and make a reasonable assessment of demand for what you intend to do. At that point, assign some realistic values to that demand, and decide if the projected revenue and reward generated from the demand you are aiming to fill suits you.

Its just that simple. We dont live solely in the sharktank world of "hey I made this cool thing do you want to buy it?" anymore. You can do a boatload of that work up front sipping a beer at your keyboard. When you find out not so many people think your thing is "cool" your only out the wear and tear on your knuckles.

If your local area has a serious demand for whatever your "residential shop" is going to provide then your rock solid. The demand for what your shop will provide is pretty easily quantified before you spend the first dollar or buy the first piece of equipment.

4/11/21       #15: New residential shop ...
rich c.

Mark B, Could you direct us to some reading materials explaining the methods and easy steps to do this? "You can very easily quantify a market and make a reasonable assessment of demand for what you intend to do."

4/11/21       #16: New residential shop ...


What’s the name of this phone app?

All I have to do is type in my name, zip code, date of birth, product, sales area and it tells me if there is enough demand in the supply chain to justify a new business.

Hold on. There is no such app, but there is definitely a market for such an app. I’m in for a GoFundMe campaign. What about you?

4/12/21       #17: New residential shop ...
Dennis Bean  Member


Hello all,

I hope I am not out of line replying here as I am not a cabinetmaker, but I have been a supplier to the industry for over 40 years. I have conducted business and formed relationships with literally thousands of cabinet shops in the Midwest in that time. I have seen some that have been very successful and others, well, a different career choice may have been the best route to take. Like anything, there are the good, the bad and the ugly.

Soooo….here is my 2 cents.

Before the question of “what machines do I need” can be answered, it seems there are other variables to consider.

First, the term “residential” really does not tell much to indicate the types of machines. As we all know, there is a different machine requirement if a shop focuses on face frame or frameless cabinetry. Additionally, do you see your specialty as cabinetry (like kitchens) or more furniture orientated. Again, your mindset here will guide the machines you will begin with.

Are you already an experienced master cabinet maker?

Do you foresee having employees? Is there a labor pool in your area with qualified cabinet makers?

Do you have a business plan and a tax accountant? A good insurance agent?

Do you have a building ready? What is the square footage? Again, this will possibly limit the machines you pick.

Have you considered outsourcing doors, drawers, and other components? This is an important consideration when considering the necessary machines.

As they say, it is not always what you know but WHO you know that is important. Do you currently have relationships with builders, contractors or remodelers in your area who could be immediate customers on start-up? Maybe even investors? Do you have relationships with the local design community like AWI, ASID or KCMA?

Do you plan to use computer design software like Cabinet Vision or others?

I really appreciate this forum. I am always learning something new that has helped me over the years be of some value to my customers beyond being an order taker.

I wish you luck in your endeavor.

Dennis Bean
Salice America

4/12/21       #18: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

There is no need for reading or research though an app may be handy for those not willing to put in the leg work. Its basic market/demographic analysis. Its no different than what every Walmart, McDonalds, Dollar General, has been doing for decades when they are considering investment in a prospective location with a bit of additional on top.

You simply get out, knock on doors, shake hands, make phone calls, send emails and postal correspondence, no different than anyone else. Information gathering. On a dead retail/residential bent direct to consumer its a bit tougher but nonetheless still completely reasonable.

When I shifted the focus of my work years ago I spent a couple months just making those calls calls and connections with no expense other than my time, postage/printing, and some mileage. Arranging meetings, meeting with contractors and project managers on jobsites, sitting in architects and designers offices, briefly covering the aspects of our plan and getting massive amounts of feedback on what they were looking for as opposed to what I hoped to sell them. Again, direct to consumer is a bit more challenging but still viable. Residential contractors, retail kitchen outlets and designers, other shops, etc..

Its business plan 101 and all valuable information that can inform you that no matter how good and idea you thought it was to be another xxx in the supply chain you may want to tweak that a bit or possibly consider another avenue all together.

None of it is any guarantee but its still far more valuable than just hanging out a shingle hoping for Field of Dreams not that thats what the OP was considering.

4/12/21       #19: New residential shop ...


Your post is excellent in my opinion. I would second everything you said.

It is really important to have a game plan in place, no use buying a line boring machine if you are going to build solid wood tables or cutting boards.

4/12/21       #20: New residential shop ...
Craig WIlliams Member

I thank everyone for all the responses received here. So to provide a bit more information. I am in my mid-thirties and have been in cabinet making since i was 18 years old. I currently hold a position as Operations managers for a medium sized commercial cabinet shop. I am just tired of the corporate / commercial world. Im looking to enjoy what i do again and if that means i have to get back in the shop and build boxes then so be it.

I am looking to primarily build kitchen cabinets. I have a few very good relationships with custom home builders to will help get this thing off the ground. I have an investor whom also owns an insurance agency that is going to build a 4000 sqft building to start and help with some of the machinery needed. I am looking to get off the ground, spend the money i have smart now, with full intensions of growing later. I plan to buy out things like cabinet doors initially, and possibly even have cabinet end panels machined on another local shops CNC. I would like the ability to produce all my own parts in case that shop CNC goes down and or if their work load doesnt allow me an opening. My current machine list is as follows. Any input on brand or where to find good used machinery is greatly appreciated.

Sliding Table Saw (Felder Maybe)
Table Saw (Saw Stop
Line boring machine (need input)
Pocket Hole Machine
Drill Press (already own)
Band Saw (already own)
Various Dust collection machines
Compressors with dryers

We have the option and will be ready for three phase but i am thinking about waiting until i introduce a CNC into the mix and saving myself $20,000 in cost for the power now.

4/12/21       #21: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

Still a lot of variables to me and a lot depends on the cabs you'll build but tweaks in the list from my end would be to ditch the sawstop for a decent cabinet saw as it will likely get relegated to a dedicated op at some point in short order. Slider in my shop is invaluable but I wouldnt be stuck on Felder, again auctions... a lot of others would make a smart trade it for a vertical if your wanting to be able to cover the CNC shop when needed. We have CNC for panels so the slider is mostly used for odd solids and I'd really miss being without it. Widebelt? Even with outsourcing doors it'd seem necessary. I have very little (nearly no) need for a jointer in the shop (sits collecting dust). Planer as well (in my opinion) could be seriously downgraded in that if your hoping to make money you will need to bring your material in pre-surfaced with enough fat left to get what you need. A good used heavy industrial planer is great but hopefully not a daily use item in cab construction.

4/12/21       #22: New residential shop ...
Dustin orth

Are you planning on face frame or frameless?

4/12/21       #23: New residential shop ...
Craig WIlliams Member

Face frame primarily but will do frameless. Right away i will outsource the edgebanding as well.

4/12/21       #24: New residential shop ...
Craig WIlliams Member

What is everyones opinion of Baileigh machines?

4/12/21       #25: New residential shop ...
Mark B Member

If faceframe a widebelt and a faceframe table (ritter-esque) should be high on your list. Couple shapers as well. Shapers are likely the most used machine in our shop. A bank of shapers (6+) wouldnt be a bad investment in my world.

4/13/21       #26: New residential shop ...

Craig, we purchased one of the "best" Baileigh edge sanders availiable, (According to the sales rep) When it arrived it had about 50 % of the bolts and washers needed to assemble. Some of the body panels had to be bent to fit where they go and holes had to be drilled to align with their mating pieces. When we contacted Baileigh we were told that it is an import and their machines are priced accordingly. We had to machine some of our parts just to put it in service. I works, but it is a substandard machine. We use it for roughing only. I will never purchase another Baileigh machine. Look for a good used brand.

4/13/21       #27: New residential shop ...

Baileigh machines are manufactured offshore, a lot of these machine manufacturers are exactly the same with just different colours and decals,
I would only buy it if I needed a good size boat anchor.

I think Cantek would be about the bottom of the quality list if I was starting out. For sliding table saws, jointer, planer, shaper and line boring machine I would look at SCM. I would say they are the best used machines as far as quality and price point.
When you get into specialty machines like cnc’s, wide belt sanders, edge Banders etc, there are a lot more good manufacturers.

If you only need an 8 inch jointer or a smaller thickness planer etc, then buy a delta or Grizzly or whatever you can find. If they are set up properly they will work wonderfully, just be prepared that if you drop a lift of hardwood in front of them, you will be there for a long time.

4/13/21       #28: New residential shop ...
David R Sochar Member

1. Find a niche with no one in it.

2. Exploit it like crazy.

3. Do not plan to 'compete' - it will only burn you out early.

4/13/21       #29: New residential shop ...
Paul Downs

@ rich c and everyone else: take a look at the attached video. I do business with these guys (and they are the subject of my next book.) This is the best example I've ever seen of finding a niche and exploiting it.

Selling in a niche market w/ Kickstarter

4/13/21       #30: New residential shop ...
Hen Bob Member

I'm confused , If you have been an operations manager of a cabinet shop for quite a few years you should have a pretty good idea of what you need to get going right? What equipment is your current employer running?
The guys are right about finding a niche if you can, residential cabinets is a tough game.
Also get ready for the 80 hour weeks, I have 5 guys and still work that much..

4/13/21       #31: New residential shop ...
Craig WIlliams Member

Thank you for the the link Paul. Inspiring.

@ Hen Bob, At my current employer we run two CNC machines, an old Komo and a new Beisse, SCM edgebander, and a few table saws. We primarily do laminate casework for schools, hospitals, etc. I havent been in the market for or owned a sliding table saw for instance and thus reaching out for advise to hear primarily what brands folks like and dislike. There is a lot of different way of doing things in this industry and its always good to hear how other people are doing it. I appreciate the knowledge of 80 hour weeks as I had no idea starting a new company would be so demanding. Any information or insight on machinery is greatly appreciated.

4/13/21       #32: New residential shop ...

Thanks for the video, those are cool looking tables, I have two questions, how much are they selling them for and the second question is where does the wine end up when you knock your glass over?

4/13/21       #33: New residential shop ...
pat s gilbert

Thanks Paul, ok I'm listening when will the book be out?

How did they find that niche or the other 13 niches?

Not to go all Rich on you but last year was a once in a life time anomaly.

4/13/21       #34: New residential shop ...
pat s gilbert

BTW the most remarkable thing about that video are the people in it.

4/13/21       #35: New residential shop ...
Drew Z Member

I am a one man shop and most of my work is full inset cabinetry for residential homes (which I build with edgebanded floors and/or tops set inside the faceframe as a rabbeted door stop).

Given my budget was low when starting up, I mostly have used machines in my 1000 SF +/- space. I rent my space from a 3-man shop upstairs that is very collegial; I use their edgebander so you'll notice I don't list that below.

I have a 1987 Martin slider that could run all day long, need be. It is a great tool and I have seen many on Craigslist, this website's exchange, and IRS Auctions recently.

I bought lightly used SCM jointer and planer at auctions and they are real workhorses as well, and they serve me well. They have Tersa cutterheads which I prefer to segmented, but that may just be a function of the shops I learned in.

I have a Saw Stop cabinet saw, which I am happy with. I use it mostly as a dado saw for my cabinet joinery.

I have a Blum 7 hole line borer, which has its obvious limitations in productivity vs a larger machine, but works well for my needs and was very cheap.

I unfortunately have a Kreg Foreman machine for pocket holing. I have lost bidding on Castle machines a few times in the past 2-3 months alone and at some point will likely overpay but it will be worth it. The Foreman is garbage, to say nothing of the superiority of the Castle pocket/hole angle.

I have a very inefficient dust collection set up. I have separate 2 HP dust collectors at the table saws, shaper, jointer/planer, mostly because I got these for a song. They work very well, but at some point I will upgrade to a central system and sell these off.

I run an old drill press with a CMT boring jig for my cup hinge machining. It works well for me but is not as fast or simple as a Blum insertion machine or similar.

I spent under your budget starting up on tools, but my operation is smaller than yours sounds like it will be and got very lucky to buy more than one machine from a retiring cabinetmaker who kept his machines in great condition and was more concerned with selling them quickly and pain-free than getting every dollar he could out of them. I do not run a CNC and do not need one for my workflow but if I were trying to make cabinets as quickly as I could and had a team working on them, I would be saving as fast as I could to add one.

4/13/21       #36: New residential shop ...
Craig WIlliams Member


Thank you for your detailed response This does help a lot. With your current setup how many typical cabinet products do you think you could produce per month?

4/13/21       #37: New residential shop ...
Drew Z Member

It's a little tough to quantify but I'll do my best -- I am a design-build operation and a portion of my time is spent working with my clients on the design aspect of the project.
Once I have the design/drawings approved, I can typically make a +-20 LF kitchen (lowers, uppers, fridge cabinet, pantry) in about 9 days (and as it's just me, that's 9 man-days), ready for finishing. I buy my drawer boxes and make my doors. But if I were given shop drawings and my material was ready to go, I think I could make 2 kitchens that size using my typical methods per month.

However my machines operate around half that "capacity" for lack of a better term. Adding in the design process, finishing, and site prep/installation, I aim for the equivalent of 1 kitchen that size per month. E.g. the last month's output was 3 bathroom packages (vanities, floating shelves, and an etagere) and a small home office (2 base cabinets and 2 upper bookcases and 14 LF oak veneer countertops) for 2 clients.

This isn't machine related advice but as you're getting started and then planning your path to scaling up, I recommend detailed spreadsheets of how long typical activities take. A few minutes at the end of a day for the team to note how many hours were spent building boxes, milling faceframes, hanging doors, etc., quickly adds up to invaluable information. To answer your question, I just filtered my spreadsheet to show me how many hours were spent on "casework", "doors/panels", and "finish prep" for a few projects. This data will help you price your work accordingly, and also show you where you can be more efficient/what tools would be helpful to add.

4/13/21       #38: New residential shop ...

Paul, I watched the video you posted, the table is an interesting project.
I am going to take the Rich approach, go with the cup half empty. These guys seem more suited to do the marketing, they remind me of a bunch of gamers.
I am pretty sure they will fizzle when it comes to actually building and delivering.
You have dreamers and you have doers, these guys seem like dreamers.
Just my 2 pennies.

4/14/21       #39: New residential shop ...
pat s gilbert

And Jeff's comment is unremarkable

4/14/21       #40: New residential shop ...
Paul Downs

@ Jeff: every one in that video is a skilled woodworker. Most of the action takes place in a Mennonite-owned shop near Lebanon, PA, started in 1986. The soft spoken gentleman who pushes the computer button to initiate the sale started working at age 10, driving a horse-drawn wagon for his neighbors, and became a full time woodworker at age 14. The tall loud guy helped his parents and brothers build a barn/shop in their back yard, and learned woodworking at a professional furniture shop in Massachusetts. These people are no joke. They found people with money and figured out how to make them happy. Yes, they have some challenges ahead. I'm pretty sure they will come out fine.

4/14/21       #41: New residential shop ...

Thank you for a little background on the people involved. It was not my intention to be critical of the people, until you have walked a day in someone’s shoes you shouldn’t judge them.

I got the impression from watching some videos of them that they are totally overwhelmed on the production part of this. The whole thing kind of reminds me of the Paloton exercise bike release. The sales have been so successful that they can’t keep up with production and delivery. There is a website/forum set up that has people talking amongst each other and non stop complaining to the company about no bikes.

It doesn’t matter how good of woodworker or craftsman you are, that determines that you are good at building a table. Building 7000 tables requires some systems and efficient production lines and maybe multiple shifts.

I am not sure how much each unit costs, I just think people are going to get fed up after they have dished out a lot of money and are waiting and waiting.

I wish them all the best and hope they are successful.

I will see if I can put together a useless graph for you.

4/14/21       #42: New residential shop ...
pat s gilbert


Another unremarkable remark...

4/15/21       #43: New residential shop ...

What is so unremarkable, because I said I don’t think they will succeed?
So sorry Pat, My bad.

4/15/21       #44: New residential shop ...
Oggie Member

From what I was able to deduce from their "How to assemble" video, it looks like they have optimized that table design for mass-production. With such funding they are certainly in position to acquire machinery that will be spiting out those table parts without much trouble 24/7.

4/15/21       #45: New residential shop ...
Warren E Member

only skipped through a few seconds and see many man more. Reminds me of Reno shows and the drama. Some are almost cartoons. Or American chopper without the bull.

Auction guys here said Mennonites dont use computers and so are not bidding on some of the auctions. Live stuff they always beat us. Whats the point of the you tubes, trying to get millions of views doing you tubes like many others.

Lot better ways to make coin. Most successful cabinet guy I know makes six figures. He closed his shop after 35 years. He had 10 guys but makes more by renting the building. He got out of the sandbox.

4/16/21       #46: New residential shop ...
Karl E Brogger  Member


I think getting out of the sandbox is most of our dreams. lol

4/17/21       #47: New residential shop ...

Lean mfg will be your friend.

With the white painted shaker craze in our area - I wouldn’t even consider a slider but a panel saw - Streibig . A double drill and a couple of used powrmatic 66. One dedicated for dado stack

Get a booth in place A good finisher planer with spare blades and a right angle fein or festool sander with vac. A castle pocket machine.

Nix the partner and find an old building. Find the vendor that can deliver it all or go get it all at once. Buy in bulk. Spray conversion varnish.

Ignore the negative doomsdayers. They are not worth the oxygen

4/20/21       #48: New residential shop ...

I would outsource everything, boxes, drawers, doors.

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