HE STARTED A THRIVING BUSINESS IN HIS GARAGE…with determination and a Woodmaster!

Tom Bardwell runs a strip of molding through his Woodmaster Model 718. What started as a hobby has turned into a successful molding business that employs and supports his family of five.

Tom Bardwell runs a strip of molding through his Woodmaster Model 718. What started as a hobby has turned into a successful molding business that employs and supports his family of five.

“I always had a passion for making picture frames. Of all the wood things I’ve made, I wanted to make picture frames. We were remodeling a Victorian home. I couldn’t get Victorian molding so I made my own. As time went on I started making picture frame stock. We got a sawmill and started to mill our own boards to keep costs down as well as doing our own kiln drying. And we added two Woodmaster Molder/Planers — a 712 and a 718.

Today, Frameworxz is our family business; full time, year ‘round job for some and part time for others of us. It supports our family of five and we all have a part in it, whether matting or manufacturing. We make frames every day except Sunday, year ‘round.

The whole Bardwell family is involved in their framing business. Karla's doing framing in Frameworxz's Studio.

The whole Bardwell family is involved in their framing business. Karla’s framing a picture  in Frameworxz’s Studio.

His hobby went wild and turned into a family business

We start from green logs and take it right to a picture frame. Over time, the business grew and we started distributing to other frame makers, other distributors – hardwoods and some exotic hardwoods. We just added and added until today it’s not only a supply network but also has a local storefront you can see on our website.

It was a hobby that just went wild and turned into a business. It grew from local picture framing and matting, and from distribution. We can drop ship to anyone, anywhere. We sell frames, frame kits, frame lengths, tools, and give free information on how to frame pictures. People make a lot of mistakes making frames so we give information so they can do it right.

We’re having success with our sectional frames. They’re precut and pre-mitered so they’re easy to put together with glue, hammer, and wedges. Those who like to do their own save quite a bit of money and we can ship them easily.

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We can put just about any frame in a box. Compared to a full-size picture frame, it’s cheaper to ship a sectional frame. We use all the major freight companies and ship throughout the US and Canada.

The photo at the top is one of the Bardwell's popular picture frame patterns, from their website. The drawing at the bottom is from the Woodmaster Molding Knife pattern book. Click here to see the pattern book.

The photo at the top is one of the Bardwell’s popular picture frame patterns, from their website. The drawing at the bottom is the same pattern from the Woodmaster Molding Knife pattern book that contains over 600 patterns. Get a FREE pattern book: call Woodmaster TOLL   FREE at 1-800-821-6651.

 

Set up for production

We go ‘tree to frame.’ We live on a farm and have our own woodlot so we cut and mill our own trees. We air-dry boards for a year or so then kiln dry them down to 8% humidity. Then they go through our 712 Woodmaster where they get planed and jointed. Then ripped, then molded in our 718 Woodmaster. We can run two strips, same pattern, side by side, running them at the same time.

We run red oak, white oak, ash, cherry, walnut, a lot of poplar for paint grade frames. We make a lot of fireplace mantles out of poplar. We use exotic woods, too. A lot of our business is matching old molding from Victorian homes. Typically we don’t have the knife so we’ll have it made and run the reproduction molding.

Our #1 best seller is picture rail (Editor’s note: Woodmaster calls it ‘Picture Molding‘). You have to be a bit advanced to set it up – you run the back side and front side using two setups side by side in the cutterhead: one to cut the back relief and another to cut the profile.

3 strategic marketing advantages

On the business side of things, to get in the market, I knew we had to basically have a lower cost. We had to have something besides just “We do hardwood.” Our first advantage was fully integrating with our own sawmill so we can saw logs. That takes a tremendous amount of cost out of the wood.

Our second strategic advantage is integrating from the log to the molder, taking out a huge middleman margin. We use that strategically to get attention. Once we get price attention, we have to get quality attention. Showing samples is usually all it takes. Our third advantage is we can run small quantities and deliver what our customers want.

In today’s economy, a Woodmaster makes even more sense

The economy, as much as it has been in a spiral, has held pretty well in our framing business because we’re internet based. And even the local business has done well. I believe it’s because of our price and quality.

In today’s economy, there are even more reasons to buy a Woodmaster. It’s one of the few products that, by itself, can let you develop a viable manufacturing business in your garage. I just think there’s no better package out there for an entrepreneur to use to launch a business on a small scale. If you’re passionate enough to develop it into something that’s income producing, and keep with it, it’ll happen.

“We often help people get started in the frame making business”

We get a lot of calls and I share every secret I’ve learned. If you want to make frames, I’ll tell you what equipment to start with. Everything we talk about on our Frameworxz site, we use and it’s in our shop today.

We can help people get started and we often do. We get a lot of calls on how to make a tight miter so when people make a frame they don’t have to fill it with wood filler. That’s a key issue for those who really want to make it in a frame business of their own.

I’m willing to talk to others about how to do something; what tools to use; how to match up the sides so that when they put the frame together it all fits perfectly. We’ll take your calls.

Thank you, Woodmaster, for your products and support. Woodmaster has a great business and they listen to their customers and incorporate a lot of customer ideas in designs. If someone was looking at Woodmaster, I’d tell them all the things I think about Woodmaster – and it’s all good. They’re the best.”

— Tom Bardwell, Frameworxz, Caro, Michigan

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