Networking spurs shop's growth
May 20, 2010 | 7:00 pm CDT

When owner Bill Baynham decided to expand  Baynham Wood Products Co. to a full-time business, he realized he couldn't do it alone.

With contacts through Vermont  WoodNet and the  Cabinet Makers Assn., he's been able to grow his business and draw upon other woodworkers' expertise.

For more than 20 years Baynham had split his time between teaching home building to high school students and woodworking in his  Shelburne, Vt., shop. When he recently retired from teaching, he became a full-time woodworker.

"I was afraid that when I retired ... I would maintain the same volume I've had in the past and would only have a small amount of work, but fortunately it hasn't worked out that way," Baynham says.

"I'm just starting out, but I've got enough work ahead of me, enough big jobs, where's it's been very good."

He attributes the sustained workload to his varied skills, networking and shared use of equipment.

New work, outsourcing

Baynham specializes in custom built-ins, furniture and fine finish carpentry. He gets most work through local contractors, referrals and members of Vermont WoodNet, a nonprofit organization promoting networking and cooperation among the state's woodworkers (see sidebar below).

He also handles outsourced jobs. His 3,000-square-foot shop is equipped with a Felder sliding table shaper, Holz-Her 1310-1 edgebander, Multi-Cam 5 x 10 flat table CNC router, Ramco wide-belt sander, SCMI Sintex four-sided moulder, SCMI planer and jointer, Striebig Compact panel saw, Weaver shapers and Williams and Hussey moulder.

Most of the other shops in the region don't have Baynham's equipment; they seek his expertise for outsourcing. Many are  Vermont WoodNet members or learn about him through the site.

Outsourcing projects

A half dozen shops hire him or rent time on the Ramco wide-belt sander. Some shops need plywood cut on the Striebig panel saw while others require edgebanding on the Holz-Her edgebander. Contractors doing remodels are also looking for moulding.

"If it's not an off-the-shelf product that they can get at the lumber yard, they'll come to me for moulding. I'll run moulding either through the Williams and Hussey or I'll do S4S stuff on the SCMI Sintex," Baynham says.

He charges $70 to $100 an hour.

Still other shops need what his Multi-Cam CNC router can provide. With so many small operations in Vermont, few shops have CNCs of the Multi-Cam's size and capability.

The owners of  Beeken Parsons, a furniture manufacturer that uses the CNC, have become fellow students.

"Bruce Beeken, Jeff Parsons, Jared Poor and I have learned EnRoute (software) together," Baynham says.

"I gave them one of my training CDs, and it was certainly to their advantage to learn the software as quickly as possible because I was charging them by the hour.

"We actually tutored each other because they are pretty clever fellows, and so they've done a lot of furniture parts on the CNC," Baynham says.

"They draw it in their own CAD program, we import it into EnRoute and out to the CNC it goes. Once again that's a networking thing; they're another member of WoodNet."

Reciprocal assistance

Baynham also gets help from other WoodNet shops.

"I don't do painted finishes necessarily, but there's a shop up the road that's got a spray booth that will do the painted finishes for me," he says.

He'll also check with other shops to see if he's in the financial ballpark on a bid proposal.

"That type of thing is really helpful," he says.

When it comes to tips for a specific job, Baynham often turns to the  Cabinet Makers Assn.

"The CMA Web site is very valuable for picking up information," he says.

For example, he was looking for tips on mortise-and-tenon construction for mahogany-framed exterior screens. So he logged on to

"I was picking people's brains on the proper way to do the engineering on it, what would be the fastest and still be strong enough and meet the contractor's needs and prices," Baynham says.

"Three people answered my question within the day and all three people I knew personally. All three people had done the same job, the same type of work.

"It was really helpful," he says.

"It soothed my mind on how I was going to go about engineering this."

He also benefits from the CMA's round table meetings. Baynham has been a CMA member since its inception, and he says it does on the national level what WoodNet does on a state level.

"Once again, one of the big benefits is you have a group of people that you can bounce things off of," he says..

Avoiding mistakes

"I don't have to fall on my face making a mistake if somebody else who has already made it can help me out," he adds.

"It's invaluable. I can't imagine what it was like before the Internet and having this information right there."

Read about movies Baynham has worked on, including  What Lies Beneath: Carpenter enjoys movie roles

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About the author

George Lausch was a staff writer and editor for FDM and CabinetMaker magazines. He wrote feature and news stories for the magazines.