Customer Discovery

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I need your help!!! Really I’m not trying to sell you anything today, maybe at some point in the future but not today. Today I just need to understand a few things about people, who like me, create items of interest and beauty from wood.

What I am trying to find out is what type of projects do you like to work on? Big ones that take a month plus to finish, medium that take a week or two, or small weekend types of projects?

How much do you typically spend on a new project? Do you purchase new tools for projects or will you skip on a project if you don’t already own the tools required to complete the build?

What types of woods do you work with and where do you get the wood for your projects?

Do you own a router with a plunge attachment?

Have you ever built an inlay using nothing but a plunge router?

For full disclosure my name is Kurtis and I make curios, such as necklace pendants, coasters, Christmas Ornaments, etc…, from exoctic woods. I also manufacture kits so anybody with a plunge router can build the same… which explains the plunge router questions! :)

Thank ou for your time, I really appreciate any and all insights you have provided me with!!!

Have an Ordinary Day...

I work mostly on commissions so the bigger the job the better! lol
I’m not sure what you mean about “how much do you spend on a project”… The cost is materials, hardware etc.. I often make my own hardware too. (I work in multi mediums)
I own 6 routers (4 plunge) and a Shaper. I have used inlay sets quite a bit.
I usually make those jigs out of aluminum.
I mostly use local woods..maple and alder but I also use walnut, bubinga, chakte-kok, blood wood etc.. The exotics I get ordered in but the local stuff I get locally. Sometimes straight from a log sort to a small portable mill, to a re-saw then air dry and kilned afterwards.. totally depends on the project.


I enjoy projects tat are challenging. Small or big.

The more challenging the more I learn. When I figure something it’s the best reward.
At the moment I am dealing with furniture. I am also learning veneering and trying marquetry. I am not sure I am going to finish anything I am working on at the moment but I am learning a ton.

After this batch I will go back and try a couple of pattern I have not seen yet on cutting board and boxes.

With summer around the corner I may not have the time to finish any:)

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

To also answer some of your questions:

- I spend much more on the project than buying it outright.
- I did do inlay with just a router and with router and inlay kit.
- Wood varies on the mood.
-I have more tools than I need. but it all came from buying with no experience when I started.
Do I have enough tool? I just read the 3 catalogs LeeValley sent me from the first page to last. The good news is I have no space left in the shop for any big tools.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Thanks for the feedback Lanwater and Glaros!!!

I’ve been creating inlay kits to assist the average craftsperson with making some amazing inlays. What I’m wondering is do projects like these shown below interest you?

If so would the kit to make these types of things be more alluring if the wood needed to complete the project was included?

Have an Ordinary Day...

Not me personally.
Maybe when I retire in few years,

Looks pretty though.

Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Those look great!

I generally do my own designing and when I need something like that I draw it up and have the patterns made with a water jet (from aluminum). I have made a backgammon board with an inlay set but mostly I use them to make “Flying Dutchmen/Bow ties”….although I have sometimes joined countertops with a similar shape as your Yin/Yang symbol.

What are your patterns made from? Where are you located?
Might be worth looking into retail stores like Lee Valley, Windsor Plywood etc.. (Canada)
They sell a lot to the hobby and weekend wood workers.


I run the full gambit of projects in terms of time spent. I build things for friends and family and myself. I also take on commissioned pieces if their is a profit to be made. I have trouble finding local materials at all because I live on an island. I own 5 routers 2 of which are plunge. I like working with exotic woods when I can get them. On every project I build I make a point of purchasing a tool. I buy something needed to build it with before beginning and use the profit from any jobs to also re supply the shop materials. The pricing formula that I use is: whatever I spend in materials including fasteners, is what I charge in labour. The formula makes money in the long run and makes it simple for me to price a job. I am now retired and disabled so the projects are limited to ones that time to complete is not a concern as some days I can’t work at all and the most I work in a day is a couple of hours. I have 2 plunge routers and have done very little inlay work at all. I have never tried insert routing but would like to try. I like the idea of a project kit that includes wood, provided the price is right and the items are useful. I tend to make things that are not usually decorative, but more ultiatiarin in nature. Furniture and tools are at the top of the list. Hardwoods and some decorative woods are the norm, and exotic are very rare. I guarantee everything I make for life, if you are not happy at anytime I will buy it back at the original price, no questions asked. I mostly work with birch, maple, and, oak. These are what is available locally. Most of what I have built over the years is furniture as people have a dislike for Chinese or Swedish made pressed wood products that don’t last. I hope this helps in some of your decision making.

CHRIS, Charlottetown PEI Canada. Anytime you can repurpose, reuse, or recycle, everyone wins!

For over forty years, people have asked me what kind of things I make in my wood shop. Always, I’ve found it difficult to answer because, though I’ve made thousands of things, I rarely do the same thing twice and, if I do, they look very different.

As to time on a project, that’s difficult to say also. A picture frame, including shadow boxes, can eat an entire day, or three, depending on how complex it is. My kitchen took months. A coat rack may take a day, or two. So too can an art/planter pedestal, book shelf, bed headboard, carts or table, and many of the cabinets I’ve made.

Some items can be blown out in minutes, or they may take hours. Consider, for example, corbels. Alternately, if I toss in a granite top, it’ll take me considerable time to cut the top, router it (using a variable speed angle grinder and a grinding stone or granite router bit), then polish it.

Obviously, material prices can be all over the board. I have a business license, so travel an hour and twenty minutes, one way, to sort through hardwoods and paint grade poplar from which my projects can be built.

Currently, I have a three foot walnut log I’m going to re-saw for an associate, in exchange, I’ll keep some of it.

As to routers, I think I have nine and there are at least three plungers in the mix. Three others are dedicated to a table, an over-arm pin router and a Router Crafter.

I sell in a store and on line (e.g., corbels, LARGE mixing paddles). I haven’t built up inventory enough to go back out on the road again (art shows and swap meets).

Thank you Glaros Studios, Thorreain, and Kelly. Your insights are much appreciated and spot on with what I’m investigating!!!

Have an Ordinary Day...

Like lanwater, I will take on any project that challenges me. I’m not interested in ones that don’t make me stretch.
I often have a large project and a smaller one or two on the go. Large being months, small maybe days. Less than that I don’t think of as a project really.
I will occasionally buy (or build) a new tool for a project but I have most of what I need already.
I spend what it takes. I have been known to spend serious money on veneer.
I work with veneers a lot and have gone to Paris to get the pieces I needed.
I’m not a fan of plunge routers so much. I prefer to use fixed base routers for inlay sets. I like to use them in one hand, holding the barrel. None of my routers have handles.
Like Angellos, I would make my own patterns but I think your idea has merit as a way for beginners to get their feet wet in the field of decoration.
I do mostly more intricate marquetry now but a few years ago I did make a few pieces with the inlay bushing set.

The early bird gets the worm but its the second mouse that gets the cheese.