Jim Tolpin's Guide to Becoming a Professional Cabinetmaker
Your Blueprint for Making Good Cabinetry and Good Money If you've ever dreamed of making an honest living with your hands, then let Jim Tolpin show you how to become a professional cabinetmaker without losing your shirt - or your sanity.
Thirty years ago Tolpin almost destroyed his custom cabinetmaking business because he committed every easy-to-make but hard-to-avoid mistake. He fixed his shop, his woodworking techniques and his business model so that instead of them making him crazy, they would make him a comfortable living. With the help of Jim Tolpin's Guide to Becoming a Professional Cabinetmaker you can follow the same successful and detailed path as you set up your own woodworking business (or make your existing business run more smoothly).
Here's what you'll learn: Be as good at business as you are at woodworking. Structure your business correctly. Keep records that allow you to set accurate prices. Find new business and keep the old. Configure your shop, buy your tools and build your jigs so they earn their keep. Blend high-tech European cabinetry techniques with American furniture styles to make cabinets that are quick to build, easy to customize and a snap to sell to people in your market.
laminated against the south wall of the shop to get that stock out of the way. To keep production flowing smoothly, properly order the sheet stock that is stacked on the platform. The general rule in collating is that the material to be used last in the processing sequence should be at the top of the stack. Because the ¾″-thick sheets for the car-cass components, including shelves and slide-outs, should go first in the next operation (predrilling system holes and other milling tasks), stack them
the slide-outs). Next up in the stack are the ½″-thick drawer parts. Sort them into two piles — one for drawer sides, the other for fronts and backs — and place them on Larry. Wheel them to the shaping station and set up the router with a drawer-joint bit. (I use the one made by Freud; it's inexpensive yet makes a strong joint. See Appendix 1.) Shape a number of scrap pieces until you are satisfied with the joint. Rather than moving the fence to shape the joint on the drawer fronts and backs,
against the back fence of the fixture for slotting the edge. I drill a 2x6 board with a row of 1¼″ holes spaced 8″ apart along its center line, then rip it in half to create two 2x3 pipe clamp supports. The resulting half-circles hold the clamps parallel to and level with each other and allow me to clamp long panels or a few shorter panels at the same time. To secure a panel for surfacing with hand planes, fasten two back-to-back clamps to a piece of plywood, which is, in turn, screwed to
edges of the joints, then use an orbital sander to sand the wood to 320 grit. Break the edges of the wood inside the frame and out with a ″ roundover bit in a laminate trimmer. Set completed frames to the right of the drill press to await finishing and hinge-plate installation. Immediately after gluing up a frame and panel unit, check it for square by holding a small steel square against the inside edge of the rails and stiles. Make adjustments by lightly tapping the edge with a rubber mallet.
corner of the shop contains the drill press, the grinding/sharpening station and storage cabinets. A rolling tool cart is in the foreground. In the southwest corner of my shop, the carcass-assembly platform sits on plywood lifts. The rack in the corner is for stacking surplus sheet stock; it doubles as a clamp rack. The wall stores various equipment out of the way. Note the 10″ surface planer hung from the ceiling. The Placement of Work Surfaces and Storage Systems Since we are