Starting a Granite Shop
Last Post 18 Dec 2012 02:55 PM by Oldryder. 50 Replies.
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Andy Graves


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28 Dec 2006 08:30 AM

    OK, I have been in the countertop business for about 20 years and we are thinking of actually fabricating our own granite and quartz in house.

    What would it cost to start a basic fabrication shop to produce about two kitchens a week.  I know that we could spend half a million but we are not looking to do that.  What are the basic tools and machines needed to get started?  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.

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    Karl Crooks
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    28 Dec 2006 03:52 PM
    Andy, you may know this already, but I have learned so much by spending many hours reading post at www.stoneadvise.com
    RESTORE ~ RENEW ~ REJOICE !
    Len Smith
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    28 Dec 2006 04:23 PM
    Andy, What you really need is more time off, or a good therapist. I think the time off will be enough for you to come to your senses.
    Tom M
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    28 Dec 2006 06:19 PM
    I'm withg Len. One advantage I can see to your own fabrication is that you have eliminated at least one finger pointing at others when a problem arises. I'm still not fabricating hard materials, though. There are so many things you'll need to learn about regarding fab info versus selling info (what we/you do now), that the curve might be long and expensive.

    If I were to make that move, I would try to hire someone who really knows his stuff, then listen to him, instead of us schlubbs.

    Tom
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    29 Dec 2006 12:33 AM
    Andy, we have set up many Solid Surface fabricators that have started to fabricate stone. As well, we have set up many granite shops that started fabricating Solid Surface. It IS NOT that expensive to fabricate granite or e-stone with several basic tools. While I can't type fast enough to post them all here, call me and I'll put you in the right direction.
    Jeremy Bowlin
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    29 Dec 2006 10:25 PM
    All air/water/filtration systems aside, tooling only; $50,000 - $100,000. 1st order of buisness should be a decent saw. Aside from a myriad of hand tools (grinders, routers, polishers, ect), maybe consider getting a used inline polisher for your backsplash.

    Having solid air/water/filtration systems is critical though. Redundancy is also key...if every tool in your shop uses water and air, and your air compressor goes down all the time, or you don't have good water pressure, your not going to get anything done.




    ....then again, you can very easily drop 5mil+ opening up a granite countertop shop.
    Travis Harper
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    29 Dec 2006 11:13 PM

    Andy, I realize you have been doing countertops for a long time and everyone on here knows that you are no dummy so this may sound like a dumb question. Are you currently doing Granite and Quartz and just outsourcing the fabrication?

    I have heard of some shops that pump out some tops doing all fabrication by hand. I think realisticly you could get into fabrication in this manner for under 10k. Obviously if you decide to get a bridge saw that will cost a pretty penny.

     We to have recently decided to take the plunge into the stone market. We will not be fabricating but installing. I have done some jobs with a fabricator out of Salt Lake and they have been great in trying to train us to do good quality installs. We were takin our time doing a job or 2 per month when Home Depot kind of asked if I would do there silestone. I thought it over and decided to do it thinking I would have a couple of months to polish up my skills. Well the next day I received 10 po's and now getting about 2-3 a day. Oh yes and of course they said well since your doing our laminate and silestone you might as well do corian and granite as well. BAM here are somemore po's. So we start installing silestone next week and

    YES I AM VERY NERVOUS. New fabricator(To me) I am dealing with. I make templates, no tops built yet and I email the fabricator and ask him to save my templates incase things dont fit. He replies, Sorry I already threw them in the trash.

    At my shop the last step of fabrication is to set the template back on the top and double check everything fits.

    Does anyone find this odd that they through my templates away before they built my tops?

    Travis <br>CounterWise, Inc.
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    29 Dec 2006 11:25 PM

    Andy,

     Are you having problems with your outsource company? Or do you just want more control of the whole process. I don’t like not having the control but I have no desire to fabricate the stone or quartz products, I just don’t think I can make that transition from dust to sludge.

     
    Travis,

    I find that very odd. It can be as much for their protection as yours if they were to hold on to the templates until the job is done. I would suggest you tell them you want to pick up your templates with the tops so they don’t throw them away next time. Good luck with your installs!



    Shane

    chicocustomcounters at yahoo.com
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    30 Dec 2006 01:43 AM
    [QUOTE]Travis H wrote

    Does anyone find this odd that they through my templates away before they built my tops?

    [/QUOTE]

    Not if they messed up one of the tops and didn't want a "record" of their screw up.
    Andy Graves


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    30 Dec 2006 08:42 AM

    Shane,

    I don't want to do it, but I might have to.  I talked with a gentleman on the phone the other day that advised the best approach would be to really set out to find a quality company that can do the work for me.  We currently do have a company that does all of our granite and quartz, but we want to do more and they are already up to their eyeballs with our work alone.

    Travis,

    We currently sub out 100% of our stone work.  I don't like stone because of the weight involved and I am with Shane, I don't like sludge.

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    Andy Graves


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    30 Dec 2006 08:43 AM

    Travis,

    We don't throw away the templates until we get money from the customer.  It is just a superstition of ours.

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    Seth Emery
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    10 Jan 2007 02:57 AM
    Andy,

    We just started fabricating stone this week. Previously, all of our stone fabrication was outsourced. Slowly, the outsourcing will go away. There is a new guy working for us who has over 10 years experience fabricating stone. We put in the water recycling system. I can get you some details if you want. The first job didn't have any cutouts. I am interested to see that process. I've heard it takes 3 to 4 hours to manually cut out and polish an undermount sink cutout. It is exciting to see things coming together. Hopefully someday I'll be programming a stone CNC also. I'm really not clued in on the costs, but could put you in touch with one of the owners if you'd like.

    Have a nice evening,
    Seth
    CAD Drafter/CNC Programmer -- Henry H. Ross & Son, Inc.

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    Andy Graves


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    10 Jan 2007 04:41 AM
    Yea, I would like to talk to them.  I am starting the search, but not positive which direction I want to go.  It must be exciting seeing a new process.  Plus if you are the CAD guy, it will give you a little job security.
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    Mark Urbaniak
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    11 Jan 2007 01:12 AM

    We have the templates sitting with the tops when they pick the job up...so they see its a match.......so dont come crying to me if it dont fit .....they also can use the template for any ajustments from a bad template job

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    12 Jan 2007 01:23 AM
    Andy,

    I'll talk with the owners about getting in touch with you. It might be best if they waited a couple weeks, because we are still accumulating some of the tools. We fabricated our first stone top today that has a sink cutout. It wasn't as complicated as I thought it would be. It is exciting to see a new process, and increasing job security is also good.

    Have a nice day,
    Seth
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    12 Jan 2007 01:29 AM
    Seth, did you use a 5" diamond contour blade on a VS grinder? And yes, it is not complicated with the right diamond tooling.
    Seth Emery
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    13 Jan 2007 11:52 PM
    Dave,

    I'm not quite sure of the size of blade that was used because I did not do this first-hand. I did get the basics though, which included the cutout being roughed out and then finished with a flush cutting tool which ran against a plywood template that I made the program for. Then it was polished. I hope to get some first-hand experience soon.

    Have a good one,
    Seth

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    05 Apr 2007 06:58 AM

    Hi Seth,

    I think if your guy takes 3-4 hours to fab an undermount sink that it should be absolutely pefect. There are some tricks that I can show you to shave about 2-3 hours off that time and have excellent results. However it will require a few diamond  tools from FEDSAWDAVE to get you started.

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    05 Apr 2007 07:13 AM

    Hi Andy,

     I can give you alot of tips about how to setup a very  economical shop that can run very well with just a few workers and minimal tooling. I feel  that I have minimalized the amount of hand tooling needed for fabrication to a very reasonable level and you should be able to get every thing from FEDSAWDAVE. Email me and I will be glad to discuss my method with you. I am very efecient and most of my edges do not need any enhancers. The awesome thing is that I do not  use any grinding wheels at all! This cuts production time in half and cuts the dust factor down by nearly 75%!!!

    Always glad to help.

    EMC.THM@gmail.com

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    06 Apr 2007 01:35 AM
    King of Rock

    Will you e-mail me your Phone #   mory@premiercountertops.com

    Mory
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    06 Apr 2007 03:53 AM

    King of Rock,

    Thanks for the info.  Right now I am trying to focus on Solid Surface.  I think I gave up on the Granite idea for awhile until I get my Solid Surface shop running real smooth.

    I will keep your email for the future.

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    Steve Piccinin
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    06 Apr 2007 03:17 PM
    Travis save yourself an ucler and look at providing yourself with a digital template machine. You can print the work your doing and save yourself the eventual blame game between you and the facbricator.

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    07 Apr 2007 12:53 AM

    Andy,

    No problem. If you ever decide to start fabricating the original solid surface then I will be glad to help.

     

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    09 Apr 2007 08:44 PM
    [QUOTE]king of rock wrote

    Andy,

    No problem. If you ever decide to start fabricating the original solid surface then I will be glad to help.

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Nobody read this "The original solid surface"????

    We can't let this newbie get away with that, can we?
    "It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive...."
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    10 Apr 2007 12:23 AM
    [QUOTE]king of rock wrote

    Andy,

    No problem. If you ever decide to start fabricating the original solid surface then I will be glad to help.

     

    [/QUOTE]

    Good one King.

    You'll fit right in here.

    Joe

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    10 Apr 2007 02:06 AM
    So Dave, you don't think there are many hack solid surface fabricators? Tell it to the lady whose top, after I inspected it, was determined rather quickly to have been made upside down.
    ...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

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    al
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    10 Apr 2007 03:27 AM
    Have I ever told the story of the top we fixed that still had the plastic attached to the back side of the vertical edge?  Even where it was butt jointed?  Nice white top with black lines on all the corners........
    "if it is so safe, why aren't they supporting the testing?"
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    10 Apr 2007 04:05 AM

    Al,

    I think that does ring a bell.

    On the way home from the expo I stopped for gas at a flying J or T&A or something.  I don't know that I had ever seen a failed ss top in person (or atleast noticed it). But, after some of the demos at the show I got to looking at the buffet, counter, bar etc.. at the truck stop. EVERY corner on the buffet had a crack. EVERY inside corner on the bar had a crack, One end of the check out counter looked like the original buildup was too big. I think they routed off all they could (left basically an onion skin) to make it fit.

    Great seams on the stacked edge though.

    All I could think was, "Man, who was the GC that signed off on all of this." Makes the things I sweat seam trivial

    refuse to do nothing
    Andy Graves


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    10 Apr 2007 05:58 AM
    [QUOTE]king of rock wrote

    Andy,

    No problem. If you ever decide to start fabricating the original solid surface then I will be glad to help.[/QUOTE]

    Thanks King of Rock.

    By the way...If it was "Solid" water wouldn't leach through it.   Let's call it mostly solid with a few pores in it.

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    21 Apr 2007 11:22 AM
    Yeah I know Taht the majority of rock shops are hacks. However there are a few "diamonds in the rough" that actually take pride in their work. But with so many shops out there it is difficult to set yourself apart. Alot of builders are more interested in getting the job done cheap rather than good. I think that one of the most serious problems is that the hackers are undercutting the price so much the the industry is in serious trouble. It takes twice as long to fabricate a granite kitchen as it does solid surface, and the cost per sq. ft. is about 30 dollars less. There is such a thing as an honest, upstanding granite guy. I just hope that this slump in the industry filters out alot of the undesirable element so that the 'good guys" can get back on track.
    Andy Graves


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    21 Apr 2007 08:10 PM
    The quality of the work will hurt the industry of awhile but in the end, it will even out and the ones with a solid company with capital to weather the storm, will be left standing.
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    Scott Bogner
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    12 Jul 2011 03:48 AM
    Andy, I am now in the same position you where in at the end of 2006.  I am considering starting a stone fabrication shop. 
    Can you lend any advise or point me in a certian direction- that will help with Education, equipment need, etc..

    I have been on so many sites my eyes are crossing- just seen your story and thought you may have some advise.
    Thanks
    Scott
    Andy Graves


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    12 Jul 2011 05:26 AM
    Hey Scott,

    I asked lots of questions and basically what it came down to is the quantity of tops you can sell. A basic shop can be set up witha limited budget. Once you start to sell jobs the cost goes up exponentially.

    Man power is another aspect you will need to consider. It takes more than one person to install a granite top. If you hire part time guys, they will not gain experience. If you hire two or three guys to fabricate, every time you need to install, you have to take them away from the fabrication side. Gets expensive when you have three to four people on a job to install one countertop.

    We decided to spend our time finding a quality company that would fabricate to our standards and price. Took some time, but we only pay when we get a job. The overhead is less, worry is more, but can be very profitable.

    Think it over long and hard before starting you own shop. Ask questions and I am sure you will get more advice.

    Hope that helps,

    Andy
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    Scott Bogner
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    19 Jul 2011 09:31 PM
    Andy,
    Thanks for the insight.  A little of my background may help explain my situation.  I have a mid sized cabinet shop that manufactures european frameless cabinets and also carries (4) lines of residential custom cabinets.  We are currently outsourcing our granite and sold surface to companies that reside approx 150 and 300 miles away respectivly.  I am not trying to take over the world out here, but if i dont take advantage of the lack of fabroicator in my corner of the world some one else will.  Also, it will help with our bigger residnetial and commercial jobs go smoothly-we do alot of negotiated work. 

    I am currently just getting competitive qoutes, marking them up, selling the job and have very little overhead or worry about the situation.  However, A good local fabricator in our area could be very successful.

    A few questions: 

    1. Do you have any idea what kind of gross margins that a granite fabricaotor works with.
    2. where could i start looking/watching for auctions of equipment- just so i can get a feel for the value of equipment in the market.
    3.  Is there any type of consulting firms that could help with site layout, training, and equipment purchases etc...

    I have not made a full committment to move forward with this yet, i just want to start getting information from people that are vested in the industry.
    Thanks in advance.
    Scott B
    Andy Graves


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    19 Jul 2011 10:07 PM
    I think you can try www.UsedStoneEquipment.com for auctions.

    Try www.AZSchoolofRock.com and talk with Kevin. He does consulting, shop layout and training. Could be helpful.

    I couldn't help with the gross margins, I never really did any of it on my own.
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    Ed
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    20 Jul 2011 10:01 PM
    We are in the process of starting a granite shop and am looking for some advise as to equipment.  We have decided on a certain brand for our bridge saw.  We're looking for some advise for a 'start up' water filration system to support the bridge saw and hand grinders/polishers.  At some point (this year) we'll be adding an in-line polisher.  We are looking for one that just basically does splash work.  There is one brand that has a technigue for doing 'mitered' edge but with cutting a dado on the polisher which then is applied to the face/bottom of the deck.  Does anyone have experience with this.  We do mostly mitered edge.

    Ed
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    21 Jul 2011 01:29 PM
    Ed:

    Call Robbie Tidwell at Northwood and do whatever he tells you.

    Joe
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    21 Jul 2011 01:52 PM
    Scott,
    Be aware that your worker's comp will go much higher once you start installations.
    A. Lot.

    OSHA regs, overhead expenses, etc. will all become more important to note as well.

    Good luck to you in your decision.
    ...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

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    21 Jul 2011 08:35 PM
    Ed:

    Try Robbie here.

    Joe
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    21 Jul 2011 11:50 PM
    Joe - you must have forgotten that AZ School of Rock is in the business of helping guys start up Granite Shops, and this (along with day in and day out Fabrication & Consulting) is what I DO for a living.... AZ School of Rock has been in business since 2007
    Kevin M. PaddenFabricator, Trainer & Consultant to the Natural Stone Industrywww.azschoolofrock.comwww.naturalstone101.com
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    22 Jul 2011 12:33 AM
    Posted By Kevin Padden on 21 Jul 2011 06:50 PM
    Joe - you must have forgotten that AZ School of Rock is in the business of helping guys start up Granite Shops, and this (along with day in and day out Fabrication & Consulting) is what I DO for a living.... AZ School of Rock has been in business since 2007

    Kevin:

    I didn't forget, but you scared me when the guy who purchased your seam jig posted that he couldn't get a return email, phone call, letter or smokesignal from you when it didn't arrive in several weeks after many attempts. When I heard of this, I thought "There must be some mistake, this isn't like Kevin." and PM'd you myself. I never heard anything either. What was I to think?

    I hope it was resolved to everyone's mutual satisfaction.

    Joe
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    23 Jul 2011 05:27 PM
    Kevin,

    I included your link in a previous post. Hopefully he contacted you direct.
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    Louie
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    21 Dec 2011 10:14 PM

    Hi,
    I would like to know how do you cut the dust fact, what kind of system do you use. I'm  setting a very small stone shop, two  kitchens a week,  any web sites
    with good prices
    thank you

    Louie

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    21 Dec 2011 10:57 PM
    Your best bet to eliminate the dust in a granite shop is to cut wet. It is a little more hassle but will protect the workers and lengthen the life of your tools.
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    leolee
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    10 Sep 2012 08:34 PM
    I have a question about reduced the sound(noisy) of those hand polisher and grinder in the warehouse.
    do any one know which type of polisher and grinder produce less sound
    please help
    leolee1989@gmail.com
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    11 Sep 2012 02:43 PM
    Build a quicl 2 x 4 room...foam up the walls..it may resembel a giant spray booth..buut the sound will at least muffle
    www.RefreshInteriorsDesign.com
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    12 Sep 2012 12:30 PM
    Ear protection is an absolute must for the fabricators.
    ...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

    -C.S. Lewis
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    13 Sep 2012 06:21 AM
    got me some NRBQ piped through mine with the Ipod. My brother is always wondering what the hell im listening to boppin my head around.
    insomnia crossed with dyslexia and atheist beliefs may lead one to lay awake all night wondering if there really is a "Dog"
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    13 Sep 2012 12:30 PM
    Good Lord, man! That brought me back. Every New Years eve they would play at the Agora West Hartford. What a show! I saw them play with Carl Perkins at one gig, and the Killer, Jerry lee Lewis at another. Watching Terry Adams and Jerry Lee riff off each other on dueling rockabilly pianos was one of the highlights of my concert life.
    Remember the Wildweeds with Al Anderson? Good times, man, good times.
    ...those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

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    15 Sep 2012 06:37 PM
    Is it the noise from the grinder or noise from the grinding disc removing material on the granite?

    I can't imagine the actual grinder making that much noise by itself.

    Why are you trying to reduce the noise?
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    Oldryder
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    18 Dec 2012 02:55 PM
    2 kitchens a week can be done by hand with a Sector or similar hand router and a rail saw.  you'll have $10 - $20k in this option plus install stuff, hand grinders, adhesives, tooling, and a hoist of other stuff.

    However, given the glut of good used equipment you could get a used Cougar/Sierra bridge saw for about $15k and a used wizard for another $10k.  I know from experience you can do 3-4 kitchens a week with 2 or 3 shop guys and do an exceptionally nice job on sink cutouts and curved edge profiles using templates and the wizard.

    Either way you'll spend another several thousand outfitting your install vehicle and buying the long list of various shop supplies. 


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