Taking the Plunge - Intricate work

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"I had some cash so I put 25 percent down and financed the rest. I realized I didn't have to really run it that much to pay for it," said Mosheim. "We've had some issues that we've had to learn and I don't recommend it for people who are easily frustrated by complications because it's got a serious learning curve, unless you're someone cutting plywood cabinets. We do all kinds of curves, radius and inlay work.

Owner of: Dorset Custom Furniture
Location: Dorset, Vt.
Years pro: 33 years
Employees: Four full-time, two part-time
Education: Penn State, degree in business logistics
Quotable: "I wish I knew more about accounting, that's one thing I can say. It's a hard business to have a balance between doing a lot of work you don't want to do to make money, and doing things you want to do to pay the bills and hopefully put away."
"Also, the person running the machine has to be interested, capable and paying attention every second. They also have to be somebody who will stay very focused on cleaning and making sure that the monthly maintenance is done precisely. We had a problem recently, which required sending [parts] out to Idaho for $400. Turns out MDF dust had collected in the breaker box and we were getting irregular voltage."

Mosheim estimates that he runs his CNC an average of 10 hours a week, which includes running some jobs for other shops.

"We can get along without it, but I was looking at it the other day and we have done enough outside work this year to [make] four or five months' worth of payments," said Mosheim. "By no means would I say that those projects took a lot of our time. We make a lot of chair parts for people, chair legs with mortises ,We've developed some techniques to make it real easy to do a round table with leaves. I'm totally happy with it."

Intricate work
The CNC has enabled Mosheim to create some special inlays using materials such as mother-of-pearl and green abalone.

"We did some beds last year at a house at Stratton [a Vermont ski resort] where the clients wanted a winter motif and a summer motif. So we did a bear on some snow which was actually burl and white mother-of-pearl. And then we did a deer in the grass, which was more burl and green abalone. It can get really complex. We had another client recently who wanted an inlaid family crest of arms, which was pretty challenging. There was a fox and all kinds of stuff going on."

The shop's clientele is all over the map. Dorset is in the heart of southern Vermont's ski areas, which is good for business. But roughly 40 percent of the orders are from out-of-state, and most of that is generated through Mosheim's Web site.

"We've had a real good run with the Internet in the last three years," he said. "I've had a Web site for a long, long time, but it didn't really start to happen until two years ago when people began to get high-speed Internet."