Most self-employed woodworkers are too shrewd to do everything themselves. They figured this out when they transitioned from artisan to businessman.

The practice of outsourcing is common in commercial shops.

I know cabinetmakers that do not make any of the components in their cabinets. They buy pre-cut case parts, drawers and doors, then assemble.

I’ve come up with few reasons to outsource:

1. Your dumpster is full

2. Your tooling is dull

3. Your door guy is sick

4. Your shop foreman is leaving for Alaska to pan for gold

5. One word: Overtime

Jokes aside, outsourcing makes a lot of sense in many instances. If you need four turned table legs and don’t have a lathe, buying the legs from another shop makes total sense. Do you really want to spend a few grand on a machine and tooling that you are only going to use once?


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A recent article (Oct. 2) by Tim McKeough in The New York Times (“Putting a designer’s polish on Ikea products”) describes how a supplier used off-the-shelf Ikea boxes and custom designer doors to create a small but very stylish New York kitchen – for $1,600 without the doors.