Meet the Woodmaster Woodworkers of ‘Curiosity Woodworks’

Erin and Jeff portrait

“We get along great. And everything we do is a mutual decision.” — Erin Bell & Jeff Helm, co-owners, Curiosity Woodworks

Our business model is a little hard to describe,” says Erin Bell, co-owner of Curiosity Woodworks, the woodworking shop at Curiosity Farms. “The farm is my dad’s brainchild, Marty Bell. This is a four-way partnership: me, Jeff, my dad, and my stepmom, Cathy. Together, we work at the farm to produce and sell agricultural produce and timber, and offer services including construction, renovation, vacation rentals…and furniture making!

Woodmaster at work

Among our farm’s goals are understanding and utilizing the value of local land to create a diversified, self-sustaining, farm-based enterprise. And to do it collaboratively with others in our community. We’re a pretty fluid operation because we’re not afraid to try new things.

Curiosity Farms got started after my dad bought a 100-acre Vermont farm. Later, we acquired another 50-acre farm. Both properties were pretty well dilapidated and overgrown. They contained meadows, hills, 50 acres of woodland, and mountainside, all of which had not been let go for a long time. We did a lot of brush hogging!

This all came with a house more than 200 years old and one of the largest barns in Vermont, both needing a lot of work. The property has very old maple trees and a sugar house where maple sap is turned into maple syrup. It also has many hiking trails that are popular with local folks. Oh, and we have three rental properties in town, too.

big slab

Woodworking partnership

My partner, Jeff Helm, and I run the farm’s woodworking shop, Curiosity Woodworks. We’ve been friends for a decade and got into business together a few years ago doing odd carpentry jobs for my dad. I originally wanted to be an architect but found I enjoyed making things rather than planning them. Jeff’s been a timber framer, builder, contractor, and furniture maker for years. We decided to go into a furniture business together.”

“Both Erin and I build furniture,” says Jeff. “We’ve discussed whether we should each specialize in one aspect of furniture making but we both ended up doing everything. We both design what we build using autoCAD and SketchUp 3D modeling software. And both Erin and I took intensive woodworking classes at Yestermorrow Design/Build School.

Their Woodmaster's at the center of the action -- Erin and Jeff designed their shop around it

Their Woodmaster’s at the center of the action — Erin and Jeff designed their shop around it

We see what the market likes and provide quality furniture at reasonable prices. I make a lot of tables in kind of a country cottage style with big rustic slabs. I also make Shaker-style and Dutch modern furniture. Chairs, benches, and so on.”

Dad, an engineer, liked Woodmaster’s 4-in-1 capabilities

“My dad bought the shop’s 25” Woodmaster 725 about six years ago,” says Erin. “He used to own a successful John Deere distributorship and is an engineer so he knows machinery. He really liked that Woodmaster has four capabilities in one — with its Pro Pack, it’s a planer, molder, sander, and gang rip saw.

Jeff and I use the Woodmaster mostly for planing. Compared to the 14” benchtop planer we’ve used, this is much more powerful and cuts cleaner. We use it a lot making countertops, trim, and custom work. We’ve really put it to the test and it’s just awesome.”

Game changer

Jeff adds, “Planing wood with a Woodmaster changes the way you build furniture. We’re very fortunate to have a machine this big and that works so well. We actually built our shop around the Woodmaster.

Erin’s dad bought the helical Spiral Cutterhead with the Woodmaster. We love it! It cuts very smooth and clean. Depending on the wood you’re surfacing, it leaves it quite smooth.  I take off 1/16 to 1/8 of an inch per pass and it’s fine. It’s smooth and quiet. I just ran two 14’ pieces of red oak and barely had to sand afterwards. I’ve put over 6,000 board feet through the machine in the last four years.

Take a peek at Curiosity Farm, a self-sustaining Vermont business endeavor offering agricultural products, timber, construction, renovation...and furniture making!

Take a peek at Curiosity Farm, a self-sustaining Vermont business endeavor offering agricultural products, timber, construction, renovation…and furniture making!

We’ll definitely use the other ProPack features – sanding and rip-sawing because we do a lot of renovation. We won’t necessarily make custom molding for builders, but maybe we will. We want to teach woodworking here, too. We’re very flexible!”

Tips on creating a working partnership

Erin offers her experience as a partner in a growing woodworking business. “Jeff and I get along great. That’s important. We’re able to be adventurous woodworkers at Curiosity Woodworks but it’s also taught us not to bite off more than we can chew. Everything we do is a mutual decision — or a group decision with the others at Curiosity Farms. We accept we won’t necessarily know what’s coming next but we keep working and supporting each other creatively. Nothing is without risk so have fun with it!

And make sure you have good working relationships with all your suppliers including your CPA and lawyer.

Jeff adds, “Enjoy what you’re building and things work out better. There are resources on woodworking and running a business everywhere so use them. If you don’t ask questions, the answer’s already no. Take risks and follow your passions. And be prepared to work hard in a woodworking partnership like ours!”

Business Tips

CLICK and get this free woodworking Business Plan INSTANTLY!

CLICK and get this free woodworking Business Plan INSTANTLY!

“If you’re thinking about getting a Woodmaster,” says Erin, “buy it! Don’t be afraid to invest in something like that for your business. But don’t buy something cheap — you’ll replace it 10 times.

Buy quality and it’ll stand the test of time. Man-hours are a big deal in business and the Woodmaster is really a time saving machine. You sure don’t want to spend hours doing something with a poorly made machine.

No mechanical problems

It’s very easy to service this machine. You can take the hood off in a minute, by yourself, and reach everything inside. You have easy access to the belts, rollers, and head. I really like that it has two independent motors — one drives the variable feed belt and the other runs the cutting head.

This is a very good machine and we’re grateful to have it. We haven’t needed to call Customer Service for anything but we understand they’re very good. The folks at Woodmaster obviously care about their product. Thanks for caring!

— Erin Bell & Jeff Helm, partners, Curiosity Woodworks, Barnard VT

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Peter’s Carpentry Business is a Family Affair

 

faMeet Peter's family work crew — Stephen, left, Ellie, Peter. And Peter's Woodmaster Molder/Planer! Two other sons took their turns on the Bellerive family crew and have gone on to careers of their own.

Meet Peter’s family work crew — Stephen (left) Ellie, Peter, and Peter’s 728 Woodmaster Molder/Planer! Two other sons took their turns on the Bellerive family crew and have gone on to careers of their own.

Ellie and her dad (mostly Ellie) paneled the wall of her bedroom in a variety of woods run through Peter's Woodmaster

Ellie and her dad (mostly Ellie) paneled the wall of her bedroom in a variety of woods run through Peter’s Woodmaster

“I come from a farming and carpentry background and I’ve been a trim carpenter for over 30 years. I do kitchens, baths, additions, and I’ve built three homes. Bellerive Construction is a family business. We have three boys, all in their 20’s now, and all have worked with me from about age 13 or so. As they got older, they acquired more skills and responsibilities, and I paid them more. Now my daughter, Ellie, is working with me.

Ellie wood-paneled her bedroom wall herself. The whole project took about 30 hours. She put in all of that; I put in maybe five hours.

I got real interested in woodworking in high school shop and went on from there. I learned a lot from various mentors – now I guess I’m mentoring my children.

diningroom table

‘Lunchbox’ planers couldn’t do the job

I have a sawmill that puts out rough sawn boards. We don’t have beautiful straight trees out here in western Kansas. We have basically cottonwood, willow, ash, some oak, walnut, Honey Locust, Red Cedar, and that’s about it. I had a ‘lunchbox-sized’ planer, 12 or 13”, but some of those woods are really hard and it wasn’t doing the job. It couldn’t handle big quantities and wasn’t wide enough.

I looked into different planers and different prices. I felt Woodmaster was the most economical for the features I needed and wanted, like variable speed, large capacity, and the Spiral Cutterhead. I didn’t think Woodmaster’s 18” molder/planer had a big enough width capacity so I went with the 25” model. I figured if I’m buying this tool, why not pay a little more and have the capacity I want.

hall tableThis 725 is a workhorse. It’s also a large machine with a large footprint. But I have it on casters so I can move it around.

What he’s spent on custom molding could have paid for his Woodmaster

As a carpenter, I’ve always had a shop make custom molding for my projects. I paid for setups and for the molding at so much a foot. I figure that in my lifetime, I’ve spent thousands on molding — enough that would have paid for my Woodmaster if I’d bought it years ago!

cribI have Woodmaster’s extra attachments for planing, molding, and ripping. I’ve made molding for my jobs but I use my Woodmaster mostly for planing slabs. I’ve made outdoor entertainment bar areas out of Honey Locust; a vanity top with a porcelain sink, also of Honey Locust. I’ve made black walnut slab countertops; a 6’ long, live edge, black walnut bench; and much more.

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SpiralCutterheadRGB

Smooth as 150-grit sandpaper

I ordered the Spiral Cutterhead after I read all the reviews online about it. With its dozens of indexable cutting faces, I feel this is far superior to a head with three planer knives. I haven’t got to deal with setting or sharpening blades, just turn the cutters to a new face when they get dull. With this Spiral Cutterhead, there’s no chatter. It’s unbelievably quiet and the wood comes out of the planer smooth as if I’d used 150-grit sandpaper.

I’m very happy with the machine and it’s easy to use. Woodmaster gives excellent service and support – that’s important to someone like me who likes to keep his equipment maintained and in good shape. Everything about it is represented accurately in Woodmaster’s advertising. No complaints!”

— Peter Bellerive, Woodmaster 725 Owner, Stockton KS

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Don Shares Secrets of MAKING PERFECT PICTURE FRAMES

Don with frames

Don Miller’s wife is an artist and art instructor. Don makes picture frames. Seems like a match made in heaven for high school sweethearts, doesn’t it?

Carolee's got talent! Don's wife, Carolee, is obviously a talented artist. Here's one of her recent paintings.

Carolee’s got talent! Don’s wife, Carolee, is obviously a talented artist. Here’s one of her recent paintings.

“I’m a mechanic and I’ve been twistin’ wrenches since I was nine years old. I’m retired now but I’ve built race cars, been an auto mechanic, and worked at car dealerships all my life.

My wife’s my high school sweetheart. She’s an artist and an art instructor. She does a lot of landscapes, flowers, animals; she does everything. She needed frames for her artwork and her students did, too, so I started making them using a router and a router table.

I’ll tell you something funny about picture frames — when someone picks up a picture frame, the first thing they’ll look at is the corners. If they’re not a perfect 45-degrees, if the pieces don’t line up perfectly, they say, ‘No thanks.’ I look at picture frames I made with a router and wonder how I sold them!

Don with handcrank

Don chose an 18″ Woodmaster 718. He buys roughcut wood from a mill and planes it, rips it, and molds it with his Woodmaster.

A while ago, I had a jointer I was selling. The guy who came to buy it looked at all my equipment and said, ‘If you had a Woodmaster, you could get rid of half the equipment in your shop. And you won’t need that router anymore.’ I said, ‘You mean this machine?’ and I pulled out a Woodmaster brochure I’d sent for months earlier. Turns out he was right. I got a Woodmaster and sold my router and router table.

When I got out of the service, I did some carpentry work, but I didn’t really have any real woodworking experience. But my wife needed picture frames so I started making them with my router. But it really didn’t do a very good job. The Woodmaster does it perfectly. It self-feeds the wood through and you control the speed. I can slow it down (so it takes more cuts per inch) and there’s barely any sanding necessary.

Production operation

I’ve got a real production operation in my shop. I buy rough-cut wood right from the mill. I plane boards from 1” thick down to 3/4” on my Woodmaster. Then I use Woodmaster’s Gang Rip Saw to cut the planed board into blanks of whatever width I want. Then I put the blanks through the Woodmaster set up as a molder. From there, it’s right to my chop saw to cut the 45-degree angles, and I put it all together. It’s perfect. It’s the best thing I ever invested in.

Don Running WMWhen I got the Woodmaster, I got it with the Two Slot Corrugated Head. I set it up with three different molding pattern knives, plus a rabbet knife, all side by side so I can run whatever I want without having to re-set the knives. As a matter of fact, I just ordered a second Two Slot Corrugated Head and I’ll set that up with another three pattern knives plus a rabbet knife. So I’ll have setups for six patterns and all I have to do is change heads.

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The photos show how I mounted yardsticks as fences. I send blanks through and cut my rabbet, then flip the blank over and send it through to mold the other side. That’s for molding. When I’m planing, I take that bedboard out and replace it with another without fences.

Scared me a little

I thought about getting a Woodmaster for about eight months before I bought. Spending $4,000 scared me a little since I’m not a cabinetmaker or anything. Now I only wish I’d bought it years ago!

I bought the 18” Woodmaster 718. I didn’t want the bigger, 25” 725 because of shop space. And I didn’t want the smaller, 12” 712 model. It’s too small for me. The 718 is perfect and it works very well for me.

Before I bought my Woodmaster, I didn’t understand how useful it is, how good something like that could be. It makes all the work I do about 90% easier and makes the quality 100% better than what I was doing before.

Fences

Don set up his own D-I-Y fence system using yardsticks mounted to Woodmaster’s Superslick Bedboard. He’s got 3 sets of molding pattern knives set up side by side in his 2-Slot Molding Head so he can run whichever pattern he wishes without re-setting knives or moving fences.

The factory’s in a cave

I love this machine. I can’t say anything bad about it. And it’s great working with Mark at Woodmaster. He’s explained a lot to me over the phone. He invited me to come take a factory tour when I’m in the area. I’d like to see the caves where they make them.

I’m selling frames now to artists and I want to expand this retirement business. So I have cards down at the American Legion. I’m friend of ours is painting a picture of an American Bald Eagle that’ll be auctioned off to send Vets on Honor Flights to Washington D.C. I’m making the frame for the painting — that’ll help get my name out there.

Next? Crown molding

Don PortraitI want to get into making crown molding. A friend who works at Lowe’s tells me there’s only one other guy in my area who makes crown molding. Contractors are building thousands of homes in this area and I want to supply the crown molding.

I can’t wait to get Woodmaster’s Spiral Cutterhead and I’m looking at the 3-Side Molding System that goes on the output side of the Woodmaster.

I’ve worked all my life and I enjoy staying busy. If you’re building something, your head is always thinking. You’re never standing idle. With a Woodmaster and a little bit of knowledge, you’ll do great.”

— Don Miller, Woodmaster 718 Owner, Lady Lake FL

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1-STOP WOOD SHOP — Bob ADDS VALUE & PROFIT AT EVERY STEP with Woodmaster & TimberKing equipment

“When I retired from the U.S. Military, I wanted to live in the country, enjoy four seasons, and enjoy good health. And I wanted to work outdoors and enjoy what I was doing. Well, the Good Lord has provided!

Bob set up an integrated, value-added wood business with Woodmaster and TimberKing equipment. Here's Bob with his Woodmaster 725 Molder Planer.

Bob set up an integrated, value-added wood business with Woodmaster and TimberKing equipment. Here’s Bob with his Woodmaster 725 Molder Planer.

Bob's business is a "1-stop wood shop." Customers can buy boards and slabs green, right off the mill. Or, they often have Bob put it through his Woodmaster to plane it, mold it, and turn it into finished goods -- flooring, trim, and more.

Bob’s business is a “1-stop wood shop.” Customers can buy boards and slabs green, right off the mill. Or, they often have Bob put it through his Woodmaster to plane it, mold it, and turn it into finished goods — flooring, trim, and more.

I was inspired by Woodmaster and TimberKing’s “Tree to Trim” business concept – you start with standing trees, fell them, saw them, and mill them into finished flooring, trim, and lumber.

That’s a value-added business plan. Every time you put wood through a machine you’re adding value, and that adds profits.

Bob goes “from tree to trim”

Today, we’re fully operational taking standing timber from logs to trim and flooring with Woodmaster and TimberKing equipment. Your staff has been very helpful as we’ve developed our facilities and operation.

We got TimberKing’s 2000 sawmill and Woodmaster’s 725 Molder/Planer plus its Pro Pack. I use the Woodmaster in our operation as a planer, a gang ripsaw, and a molding machine. As we grow, we can add more Woodmasters and set them up as dedicated molders, planers, rip saws, and so on.

Bpb and his crew fell standing timber, skid it out, haul it to his mill, and saws it on his TimberKing 2000 sawmill. Bob says he can make beams and boards up to 30-feet long!

Bpb and his crew fell standing timber, skid it out, haul it to his mill, and saws it on his TimberKing 2000 sawmill. Bob says he can make beams and boards up to 30-feet long!

Woodmaster adds value — Pro Pack adds versatility

The Woodmaster comes as a planer. Adding the Pro Pack gives us extra versatility to do rip sawing, drum sanding, and to make molding. And it’s more cost effective to buy the Pro Pack as a whole than as individual pieces.

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He planes wood super-smooth with Woodmaster's Spiral Cutterhead. Hundreds of carbide-tipped cutting faces create a surface smooth as a baby's bottom.

He planes wood super-smooth with Woodmaster’s Spiral Cutterhead. Hundreds of carbide-tipped cutting faces create a surface smooth as a baby’s bottom.

The big selling point to me was the Woodmaster’s width. A lot of small shops have 12” planers. If you’re making furniture, that’s OK but what we’re offering is wide boards including two-foot wide slabs and more. People use the bigger slabs to make bar and counter tops and I can plane them smooth a lot easier than customers can sand them.

That’s just one example of how Woodmaster adds value. Some people want wood right off our TimberKing mill. Others have us plane it for them – one side or both sides. We can plane it, rip it, turn it into molding without the wood leaving our shop. This lets us sell into many niche markets very easily.

Wide boards are easily ripped into precision blanks, several at a time, with Woodmaster's Gang Rip Saw head.

Wide boards are easily ripped into precision blanks, several at a time, with Woodmaster’s Gang Rip Saw head.

Our customers are furniture makers, lathe turners, craftsmen, do-it-yourselfers, builders, contractors, and more. There’s a lot to learn in this business but if you roll all the niche markets together, you’ve created a very successful business.

The personal touch

We have a website and we advertise in local newspapers. We do a big craft fair near here in the fall. It’s huge, with thousands of vendors. We have a booth at our county fair, too. We always have a display set up at these events. When customers come to our mill, we show them samples and let them pick out the slabs they want. We walk folks around the store and they pick out what they want. It gives our business a real personal touch.

 

When a customer needs molding or a tongue and groove put on flooring, Bob sets up his Woodmaster as a molding machine.

When a customer needs molding or a tongue and groove put on flooring, Bob sets up his Woodmaster as a molding machine.

We also sell to a nearby lumberyard. It’s a third-generation operation. They sell a lot of flooring, trim, and casework. When this lumberyard gets big orders, they buy from big production mills 1,000 board feet at a time. But when they need 100 or 200 board feet they’ll buy from us. That’s how we fit into their plan.

Bob's got inventory! When we spoke with him, he had 30,000 board feet of lumber ready to go. And he has the customers to make it all work.

Bob’s got inventory! When we spoke with him, he had 30,000 board feet of lumber ready to go. And he has the customers to make it all work.

1-stop wood shop

Without the Woodmaster, our ability to sell would be just, “here’s the wood.” Or I’d have to send customers to other mills in the area. Having a Woodmaster, we’re a 1-stop operation. Without it, our sales opportunities would be limited.”

— Bob Manaugh, Maple Grove Mill, Lexington IN — Woodmaster & TimberKing Owner

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LIVING THE AMERICAN DREAM with a Woodmaster woodworking business of his own

Give a man a 30' x 50' shop and a Woodmaster and he's good to go. At least that's the impression we got when we interviewed woodworker, Edson Miller.

Give a man a 30′ x 50′ shop and a Woodmaster and he’s livin’ the dream. At least that’s the impression we got when we interviewed woodworker, Edson Miller.

You hear a lot about “The American Dream” these days. A big part of The Dream is the opportunity to make your own way, maybe own your own business. Thousands and thousands of Americans are doing exactly that, running their own small-shop woodworking businesses.

Here’s one of them, Edson Miller, from Idaho. His story is inspiring because he started with little woodworking experience and, today, he charts his own course.

Mr. Miller makes a wide variety of furniture. Here's an outstanding set of cedar Adirondack patio furniture he made, ready for delivery.

Mr. Miller makes a wide variety of furniture. Here’s an outstanding set of cedar Adirondack patio furniture he made, ready for delivery.

“I’ve run several different businesses over the years. I had a seamless gutter business, and a lawn care and maintenance business. I dabbled in woodworking all my life. In the last few years, reading woodworking articles and watching videos, I gained enough confidence to start my own woodworking business. Today, woodworking is almost a full time business for me. I do some sales and office work part time for a storage shed company to even out my time and income.

Here's some handsome shelving, especially with the curved shelves and corresponding curved base trim.

Here’s some handsome shelving, especially with the curved shelves and corresponding curved base trim.

Rustic & Fine Furniture

I make both rustic and fine furniture including Adirondack style furniture, desks, tables, kitchen cabinets, and more. I also make a lot of bunk beds for a national company. It’s kind of like a franchise. They help me advertise but I get a lot of business through my Facebook page. That’s my primary advertising though I’ve used craigslist, too.

I bought a mid-sized 18” Woodmaster Molder/Planer and used it to make all the trim for a house we were building. Now I use it primarily for planing stock for my bunk beds. I purchase rough or semi-rough lumber — oak, hickory, whatever. I buy it from a company that supplies cabinet shops. They drop off a load for $20.

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Here's one of Edson's specialties -- a beautiful and very functional bunk bed.

Here’s one of Edson’s specialties — a beautiful and very functional bunk bed.

I edge the boards on a table saw. Then I put it through the Woodmaster Molder/Planer. But if I’m making molding, I use the Gang Ripsaw attachment to cut several blanks at once. Then I set up the Woodmaster as a molder and run the blanks through. The thickness of lumber I buy can be inconsistent. Some boards are thicker than others so I started planing every board with my Planer. I plane both sides, and go down to 1-3/8” for example.

The Woodmaster’s a multi-use machine. Changeovers between functions is not hard — I can switch heads in about five minutes. If you were switching functions back and forth a lot, though, you’d probably want a second Woodmaster.

Everybody we talk to praises the Spiral Cutterhead. Edson agrees. "It is absolutely awesome. It’s incredible!"

Everybody we talk to praises the Spiral Cutterhead. Edson agrees. “It is absolutely awesome. It’s incredible!”

I chose the 718 model because it seemed to be the most popular. It’s a good size for me, 18” planes everything I need to do. The 12” model wasn’t big enough and I didn’t need the next bigger one, the 25”. A few times, though, I’ve wished I had the bigger one. I can tend to overbuy rather than underbuy; bigger rather than smaller. I’ve never heard anybody say, ‘I wish I had a smaller wood shop.’

Sandpaper-smooth surface with Spiral Cutterhead

I do a lot of work with hickory. If you’ve used hickory, you know it tears our badly because the grain is just crazy. I got Woodmaster’s Spiral Cutterhead to eliminate tearout and it is absolutely awesome. It’s incredible! It eliminated 90% of the tearout. Here’s another example. I put a piece of fir through the spiral cutterhead and asked a friend to guess what grit sandpaper I’d used. He couldn’t guess. But I hadn’t used sandpaper, just the spiral cutterhead. It was that smooth.

I have a Woodmaster Drum Sander, too, a 38” double drum model. When I got into woodworking production, I saw I could save a lot of time with a drum sander. I figure it sames me 80% of the time I’d spend hand sanding.

Plus, the double drum arrangement is a big advantage. I put coarser grit paper on the first drum and finer paper on the second one and run wood through both drums in one pass. Or, when I want to, I can sand with just ONE drum by raising the coarse-paper drum OR the fine-paper drum. That’s a lot of sanding flexibility.

Factory Tour

Edson Miller owns a Woodmaster Drum Sander, too. But that's another story, and another post on the Woodmaster Drum Sander Blog!

Edson Miller owns a Woodmaster Drum Sander, too. But that’s another story, and another post on the Woodmaster Drum Sander Blog!

I’m 100% happy with both my Woodmasters. Never regretted a thing. Service is great, really great people. A couple years ago, I stopped in the office in Kansas City and the owner, John Miller, gave me a tour of the whole Woodmaster factory.

(Editor’s Note: If you’re near Kansas City or passing through, you’re invited to make Woodmaster one of your stops. Contact us in advance and we’ll give you the whole tour, too.)

For anybody thinking about getting a solid woodworking machine that will get you going and last a long time, go for a Woodmaster. And if you’re getting a Woodmaster Planer, go with the Spiral Cutterhead, too. It’s terrific – really can’t be beat!”

— Edson Miller, Magic Valley Wood Works, Gooding ID — Woodmaster Molder/Planer & Drum SanderOwner

Visit Edson on Facebook

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OPPORTUNITY KNOCKED…SO SHE STARTED A SUCCESSFUL WOODMASTER MOLDING BUSINESS

Craftswoman At Work! Holly Hanke sent in photos and told us about her molding business, "The Finishing Touch."

Craftswoman At Work! Holly Hanke sent in photos and told us about her molding business, “The Finishing Touch.”

After decades in construction trades, this South Dakota woodworker had years of hands-on experience in many trades, business connections, but NO experience making molding. An enterprising businesswoman, when Holly Hanke’s molding supplier couldn’t deliver, she saw it as an opportunity to grow.

No experience making molding? No problem. Holly got a Woodmaster with high-performance accessories and started making her own molding. Today, her molding business is booming. Holly’s busy, happy, and making miles of molding. Life is good!

“In one form or another, I’ve been in construction trades all my life. I’ve been an electrician, a painter, a finish carpenter, and more. These days, my business is making wood trim with my 18” Woodmaster Molder/Planer. And business is very good.

My business is ‘The Finishing Touch.’ I have a shop where I make, stain, and finish molding. I really enjoy what I’m doing and I like being in my shop rather than having to go on the road from jobsite to jobsite.

Installed, Holly's trim is a distinguished and high quality finishing touch. Excellent!

Installed, Holly’s trim is a distinguished and high quality finishing touch. Excellent!

Supplier couldn’t deliver — so she did

My molding business grew out of the staining and finishing work I was doing. I had trouble getting trim from a supplier and it seemed like making molding myself was an opportunity to do something new. It was a real good fit for me.

I’m really pretty busy. I supply finished molding and trim to contractors in the area. It’s all new construction. There’s a lot of construction going on in this area — in fact it never really slowed even during the crunch around 2008 and 2009. I’ve been doing construction-related work for a long time so I know a lot of people. Sometimes a homeowner will walk in and want trim — that could grow into a good piece of business, too.

“I hadn’t made molding before but…”

I wanted to make molding but I didn’t own any woodworking machinery so I looked around at options and chose Woodmaster. It seemed like it would do what I wanted it to and it’s worked out very well. My Woodmaster’s a good machine and I enjoy using it.

I was new to all this and didn’t know what I needed but the fact that Woodmaster does several woodworking functions seemed like a very good idea — planing, ripping, molding, and sanding. That way I could do lots of different jobs without having to buy more machinery. I got Woodmaster’s Pro Pack with all the components to set up the Woodmaster as a planer, a molder, a rip saw, and a drum sander. That way, if I expand, I can just get another Woodmaster and set one up as a dedicated planer and the other as a dedicated molding machine.

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Holly's Finished Molding4-in-1 Woodmaster is perfect in small shop

Another reason I chose Woodmaster was my shop’s size. It’s pretty small, just 40’ by 60’ with some of it for production and some for staining and finishing. It’s not a lot of room. The Woodmaster lets me do different processes without adding other equipment and that’s a space saver.

I get rough sawn, kiln dried wood from the mill, plane it down, rip it, and turn it into molding and corner blocks: inside and outside corner blocks that go with the molding I make. I do a lot of work in knotty pine and it really looks gorgeous when it’s finished. People around here like knotty pine, especially with darker stains. I get a lot of positive comments from customers. My new business has been a very positive experience.

I chose Woodmaster’s 18” model because it was midsized. I was very inexperienced when I purchased so I chose the one in the middle. It seemed like the 12” model wouldn’t be big enough, and the 25” seemed like it would be oversized. Now that I’m used to the 18” model, I think the 25” would have been OK. But the 18” is working just fine.

Spiral Cutterhead and 3-Side Molding System

I ordered Woodmaster’s Spiral Cutterhead, too, and I use it instead of a cutterhead with planer blades. It’s really done a good job, it makes a smooth finish. The 3-Side Molding System — I got that to make tongue and groove flooring. I’ve made some and I’d say it works really well. But I have had to turn away flooring jobs because I’m busy enough I don’t have time to make all the molding my customers ask me to make!

Easy-indexing Two-Slot Corrugated Molding Head

I also got Woodmaster’s new High-Production Two-Slot Corrugated Molding Head. It’s very easy to index the molding knives to the depth-of-cut I want. And the corrugations grip the knives tightly. It works well. I just set it up and I’m ready to go. I’m very satisfied. It’s simple, precise, and it’s easy to get the right depth. It’s really a time saver and when you save time you make more money. It’s very efficient — I do two setups at a time, side by side. I buy two sets of the same molding knives for two setups.

Holly Hanke's SignAs far as pricing my trim goes, I researched what other shops charge for molding and what contractors can buy it for. I don’t advertise and I’m staying very busy. I think a big part of the success I’ve had is my established relationships with contractors. I’ve built trust and that’s really helped. This work can be a physically challenging job at times but I really enjoy it!”

— Holly Hanke, “The Finishing Touch,” Woodmaster Molder/Planer Owner, South Dakota

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CREATE UNIQUE MOLDING PATTERNS BY COMBINING STOCK PROFILES — and a little help from Woodmaster

You won't find a baseboard pattern like this anywhere except in Rob Schramm's shop. That's because he combines various profiles to create unique patterns, then has Woodmaster turn his drawings into custom knives.

You won’t find a baseboard pattern like this anywhere except in Rob Schramm’s shop. That’s because he combines various profiles to create unique patterns, then has Woodmaster turn his drawings into custom knives.

 

Rob makes outstanding antique glass mirrors full time but here's an example of his woodworking skills — a handsome, high-end kitchen island.

Rob makes outstanding antique glass mirrors full time but here’s an example of his woodworking skills — a handsome, high-end kitchen island.

 

Rob at work with his 18" Woodmaster 718

Rob at work with his 18″ Woodmaster 718

“I’ve done woodworking since I was little. I was in construction and painting for 25 years, now I make high-end custom mirrors using antique-finish mirror glass. My company is Timeless Reflections. http://www.antiqued-mirrors.com/

I own a Woodmaster 718 and use it to make mirror frames and also specialty trim for other projects. I make molding rather than buy generic trim patterns from home centers and big box stores.

High-end work deserves custom trim

I chose Woodmaster because no other molder/planer works as well. I got the 18” 718 because I’m in a commercial business. I never run anything over 12” wide but I wanted more power than Woodmaster’s 12” 712.

Each Woodmaster pattern knife is computer cut, hand-ground, and hand-honed. A perfect blend of the latest computer technology and old-fashioned hand craftsmanship.

Each Woodmaster pattern knife is computer cut, hand-ground, and hand-honed. A perfect blend of the latest computer technology and old-fashioned hand craftsmanship.

I have a big collection of molding knives. Most are custom made, many by Woodmaster. I always get duplicate knife patterns — I run two blades at a time in Woodmaster’s 700S2 head. It’s not like one blade isn’t enough. But running two blades, I can run large moldings at full speed and rarely have to sand anything.

Combining stock profiles yields one-of-a-kind patterns

I customize my own knives with the help of Woodmaster Tools. I design my own moldings by setting up two or three of my knives in the head to create the profile I want. I make a wooden prototype and send it to Woodmaster to be turned into a knife in M2 steel.

Here's why Rob makes the big bucks — see his remarkable antique glass mirror installation at the Big Grove Tavern in Champaign, IL — and many other establishments.

Here’s why Rob makes the big bucks — see his remarkable antique glass mirror installation at the Big Grove Tavern in Champaign, IL — and many other establishments.

Hooked

Woodmaster’s a 10 out of 10 and I have nothing but good things to say about the machine and the people at the company. If you don’t own one, but have been thinking of buying a Woodmaster 718, stop thinking and start buying. It is my favorite tool in my shop and since I have bought it I have never looked back. Run your first piece of molding and you will be HOOKED!”

— Rob Schramm, Woodmaster 718 Owner, Spring Valley IL

MAKE LOG CABIN SIDING WITH A WOODMASTER — Twin brothers tell their woodworking story

Todd and Tim James built Tim's new home on the 364 Pennsylvania acres that's been their family's farm since 1956. They made all their own log cabin siding with their Woodmaster.

Todd and Tim James built Tim’s new home on the 364 Pennsylvania acres that’s been their family’s farm since 1956. They made all their own log cabin siding with their Woodmaster.

Tim's design called for log cabin siding inside, too.

Tim’s design called for log cabin siding inside, too.  

Hi, Woodmaster,

This is Todd and Tim James writing. We’re twin brothers. We purchased a Woodmaster from you two years ago. We started a project building a log cabin two years ago. Everything you see in the pictures was done with our Woodmaster.

We build cottages, tables, benches, log beds, kids’ playhouses, tongue and groove boards, log siding, wood trim, hardwood flooring, and more.

Our Woodmaster has paid for itself and we’ve done a lot of log siding for customers. We love it and have had a lot of success with it. We like doing woodworking and we’ve run a lot of wood through this machine!

Tim and Todd James, Everett PA

Here's Todd James with the Woodmaster and its 3-Side Molding System.

Here’s Todd James with the Woodmaster and its 3-Side Molding System.

Tim James and the brothers' Woodmaster 718.

Tim James and the brothers’ Woodmaster 718.

Now, this is a beautiful ceiling. The James brothers alternate narrower and wider boards to accentuate the beauty of the wood. Great job! Todd did the stonework, too.

Now, this is a beautiful ceiling. The James brothers alternate narrower and wider boards to accentuate the beauty of the wood. Great job! Todd did the stonework, too.

“We had never done any woodworking”

“We’re twins, 52 years old. Tim started building a house and wanted log siding so we got a Woodmaster 718 and started making our own. Then I started building furniture. It’s getting so people are beginning to see my work and are ordering tables and more. We build log siding hunting shacks for people, nine of them so far.

We’re farm boys and had never done any woodworking. We’ve raised cattle and white tail deer on our 364 acres here in Pennsylvania.

Quite a lovely view from Tim's front porch.

Quite a lovely view from Tim’s front porch.

 

I spent $15,000 on siding for my doublewide. Then I got on the internet and looked at woodworking machinery. We found Woodmaster and saw you can make your own log siding. We got a Woodmaster and started making it. Woodmaster had the most capability and options for the price. Grizzly equipment can’t make log siding. That’s why we got the upgraded 5HP motor. When you make log siding, you’re taking off so much wood you want the extra power.

I had Woodmaster make me a log cabin siding knife. I sent a sample piece of siding that has a deeper profile than their stock knives. I also got the Trim Package and made the hardwood flooring for my house. It’s a good story…..

The James boys make furniture, too, with their Woodmaster. Todd tells us his furniture business is starting to take off.

The James boys make furniture, too, with their Woodmaster. Todd tells us his furniture business is starting to take off.

“If he’d known, he’d have charged me a lot more”

A fellow I know had six or seven pickup truck loads of logs sitting in the woods so long they looked like they’d gone all rotten. I offered him $50 for everything. I showed him a sample after I’d sawn, ripped, and planed it into flooring. I used Woodmaster’s 3-Side Molding System to cut the tongue and groove. He said if he’d known the wood would turn out that nice he’d have charged me a lot more!

Todd calls this his kids' playhouse. How'd your kids or grandkids like a playhouse like this?

Todd calls this his kids’ playhouse. How’d your kids or grandkids like a playhouse like this?

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Pennsylvania, of course, has a long hunting heritage. Tim and Todd build log cabin hunting sheds — 9 so far and counting.

Pennsylvania, of course, has a long hunting heritage. Tim and Todd build log cabin hunting sheds — 9 so far and counting.

Tim works in manufacturing; I’m doing woodworking full time now. We got your Model 718 with an upgraded 5HP motor, a high production C2 molding head, a spiral cutterhead, and your 3-side molding system. I use our Woodmaster primarily as a planer, sometimes as a sander. I use the ripsaw, too.

Tips to make a wood floor look great

For flooring, I’ll make floorboards several widths. I may put a 7” board through the gang ripsaw attachment and rip it into two boards — one 4” and one 3”. I lay down a 4” board, then a 3”, then a 2”. That breaks up the contrast and really makes the floor look great. I put up ceiling boards the same way — an 8” board, then a 6”, then 8” and so on.

Woodmaster was less money than other machines even with all the extra attachments. If I’d bought separate machines for each function, I’d have to get a separate planer, a sander, a ripsaw, and a siding machine. My shop wouldn’t hold them all. Woodmaster is 4 machines in 1. Tool changes are easy, I can swap out heads in 20 minutes max. The heads swap easily.

Beautiful workmanship and an extraordinary surface on this handmade table.

Beautiful workmanship and an extraordinary surface on this handmade table.

“I can make up to $300 in a day”

Guys bring me lumber to plane into log siding and I charge them 20 cents a board foot. And they’re bringing 75 or 100 boards for me to run. I can make up to $300 a day just making log siding.I’m very happy with all this equipment. If I get busier, I might buy a bigger Woodmaster. I’d keep one set as a planer and the other for other jobs.

Nice little business —  lot of fun, too

I’m having a lot of fun doing this. My brother and I have put probably 10,000 board feet through the machine. I run it every day. This is turning into a nice little business, covers all I need. It keeps my mind occupied as I build things. That makes my day!”

— Todd & Tim James, Woodmaster Owners, Everett PA

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IS THIS A HOBBY THAT PAYS WELL? OR A RETIREMENT JOB HE LOVES?

Looking for Larry? Look in his wood shop. That's where you'll usually find him, working with his Woodmasters.

Looking for Larry? Look in his wood shop. That’s where you’ll usually find him, working with his Woodmasters.

  “I can make a hundred dollars or a thousand with my Woodmasters — it’s up to me”

Larry always wanted a log cabin, now he's built one. He sawed out the board then turned them into log cabin siding on his Woodmaster.

Larry always wanted a log cabin, now he’s built one. He sawed out the board then turned them into log cabin siding on his Woodmaster.

“I’m retired and I can’t just sit around. I got my Woodmasters because I have a hobby of making things. You can definitely make money with a Woodmaster. These machines can pay for themselves. You can make a hundred dollars or a thousand, it’s up to you.”

I always wanted a log cabin and now I’m building one. It’s 40’ x 32’. Part of it is for the grandkids when they come and visit. The other part is my wood shop.

I was a lineman for 42 years and I salvaged the good pieces of poles we replaced. I sawed them with my TimberKing Sawmill and made log cabin siding with my Woodmaster Molder/Planer. I have two — my 12” Woodmaster 712 and my 18” Woodmaster 718.

 

You might call this Larry's "man cave" -- he calls it his workshop, set up with his 712 and 718 Woodmaster Molder/Planers.

You might call this Larry’s “man cave” — he calls it his workshop, set up with his 712 and 718 Woodmaster Molder/Planers.

“As soon as I’d set it up as a planer, somebody’d want molding”

Larry (right) and his son-in-law saw out some boards on Larry's TimberKing sawmill. Next step: drying, then planing on his Woodmaster.

Larry (right) and his son-in-law saw out some boards on Larry’s TimberKing sawmill. Next step: drying, then planing on his Woodmaster.

I needed a planer and I’d always heard about Woodmaster. At first I was just planing. I set up my 718 as a dedicated planer. As soon as I’d get it set up for planing, somebody would come in and want molding and I’d switch it over to a molding machine. That’s when I got the 712 — now I have a dedicated planer and a dedicated molder.

"My TimberKing mill paid for itself 2 times over," says Larry. And when it comes to his Woodmasters, "You can make good money making molding with a Woodmaster."

“My TimberKing mill paid for itself 2 times over,” says Larry. And when it comes to his Woodmasters, “You can make good money making molding with a Woodmaster.”

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The power poles I sawed and put through my Woodmasters were pretty soft but the maple was dry and super-hard. But these machines take off a lot of wood with no problems, no complaints at all. They have plenty of power. The log cabin pattern knives take off a lot of wood and you need a good vacuum system. Mine works real well.

Here's a photo of the interior of Larry's shop. Note the walls and ceiling are wood paneling. Lots of room for Larry's many projects.

Here’s a photo of the interior of Larry’s shop. Note the walls and ceiling are wood paneling. Lots of room for Larry’s many projects.

“I learn by doing”

I’m one of those guys who learns by doing. I got the log cabin knives and put them in wrong. I called Woodmaster and they told me just how to do it right. Now they work like clockwork. I get knives and parts from Woodmaster, anything I’d ever want, in no time at all. Woodmaster’s customer service is outstanding.

I’ve used a lot of planers in my lifetime and the Woodmaster’s the best I’ve ever used. They’re durable, simple, and there’s not a lot that can go wrong.”

— Larry Kleeman, Bunker Hill, IL — Woodmaster & TimberKing Owner

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HOW-TO VIDEO: Build an End Grain Cutting Board with a Woodmaster

intro shot 2

Click and watch Paul Mayer make a handsome brick-patterned cuttingboard with a Woodmaster Molder/Planer!

Complete construction diagrams and cut list are included in the video

Complete construction diagrams and cut list are included in the video

In this how-to woodworking video, woodworker and author Paul Mayer walks you through all the steps to create a beautiful end grain cutting board with a cool brick wall pattern with help from his Woodmaster 4-in-1 Molder/Planer.

All the steps are shown, and all the diagrams and measurements are embedded right in the video itself. Just hit “print screen” and print the images out from any graphics application. Take them out to your shop and start building!

This is a fun project to build,” says woodworker and Woodmaster Owner, Paul Mayer. “You can use these cutting boards yourself or give them as gifts — people love them.”

"I start all my projects by putting the wood through my Woodmaster set up as a planer. This assures the wood is flat, smooth, and the exact thickness I want."

“I start all my projects by putting the wood through my Woodmaster set up as a planer. This assures the wood is flat, smooth, and the exact thickness I want.”

Make your own handsome, food safe, end grain cutting board following Paul’s video instructions. Click and watch — everything you need to know is here including Paul’s detailed 3-D construction diagrams and cut list.

In this video, Paul demonstrates how to glue up alternating rows of walnut and maple woods to achieve the unique "brick-and-mortar" pattern.

In this video, Paul demonstrates how to glue up alternating rows of walnut and maple woods to achieve the unique “brick-and-mortar” pattern.

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Woodmaster’s a combo planer, drum sander, molder, gang rip saw

“I built this cutting board using my Woodmaster,” says Paul. “I set it up as a planer to dimension and surface the wood. That’s an important first step to make sure you end up with a really professional quality cutting board.”

"I change the Woodmaster over from a Planer to a Drum Sander simply by swapping the head. It only takes a few minutes."

“I change the Woodmaster over from a Planer to a Drum Sander simply by swapping the head. It only takes a few minutes.”

Paul explains more. “Then I switched my Woodmaster over to a drum sanding machine by taking out the planer head and putting in the drum sander head instead. Of course you can build this other ways but the Woodmaster is a very efficient way to create a perfectly flat, smooth surface. It’s 4 machines in 1 – a combo planer, drum sander, molding machine, and gang rip saw, all in just 9 square feet of shop space.”

"Woodmaster's unique Reversing Switch brings the wood back to me as I sand. This saves me from having to run laps around my Woodmaster from infeed to outfeed."

“Woodmaster’s unique Reversing Switch brings the wood back to me as I sand. This saves me from having to run laps around my Woodmaster from infeed to outfeed.”

Beautiful, durable, food safe

Build this outstanding cutting board from walnut and maple as Paul does, or choose your own woods. “Because this is an end grain cutting board, it’s gentle on your knives,” says Paul. “Your knives stay sharper longer. And the board stays handsome because it’s self-healing. When you cut vegetables or meats, the end grain tends to swell up as it absorbs moisture and the cuts close themselves. It stays nicer looking longer.”

Paul reveals how to get the mortar lines straight and tight

"Final sanding with the Woodmaster set up as a drum sander is fast and easy. I take off a little at a time and end up with a perfectly flat, smooth finish."

“Final sanding with the Woodmaster set up as a drum sander is fast and easy. I take off a little at a time and end up with a perfectly flat, smooth finish.”

Make a handsome end grain cutting board. Woodmaster Owner, Paul Mayer, shows you all his tricks of the trade!

Make a handsome end grain cutting board. Woodmaster Owner, Paul Mayer, shows you all his tricks of the trade!

The brick-and-mortar design is visually appealing and it’s simpler to achieve with a Woodmaster than you might imagine. But there’s a clever trick to getting the staggered and alternating mortar lines just right. Don’t worry; Paul shows and tells all.

So click, watch, enjoy, build, and get ready for questions like, “Hey, how in the world did you make that?”

— Paul Mayer, woodworker, author, Woodmaster Owner

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