Posted by John on December 2nd, 2013
It’s that time of the year again around here. Lisa is digging through our Christmas decor bins and dressing up the house. While holiday decor isn’t really my thing, I do enjoy laughing at some of our older ornaments as we pull them out of the bins. It’s a fun tradition.
Since we could use a break from the whole cabinet construction thing, we’re going to do something fun this holiday season. We’re kicking off an Instagram Christmas Ornament Hashtag Party. Here’s the theme: Weird or Funny Christmas Ornaments.
If you’re not sure what that is, there’s nothing wrong with you. I promise. It’s Captain Kathryn Janeway from the TV series Star Trek Voyager. My folks bought it for me back in Christmas of 1998. Why I’ve kept it this long is the real question here.
So here’s how this Instagram party will work. Take an instagram photo (or Twitter) of the weirdest, oddest or funniest Christmas ornament you own. Use the hashtag #WeirdestOrnament2013 or #FunniestOrnament2013 when you post it. You can also post it on our Facebook wall.
In a week or so, I’ll share the photos in a post. Let’s keep it lighthearted and safe for work, if you know what I mean. Okay? Cool, have fun.
Posted by John on November 27th, 2013
Wanted to check in with everyone before Thursday! I forgot to mention in our media cabinet wrap up post that our total cost was approximately $155. Originally, I had hoped to build it from leftover material from the bigger built-in, but I ended up needing more wood than I thought. We’re happy with $155 considering it’s pretty much exactly what we were looking for and we probably would’ve had to have spent more than $200 to get something similar.
The other update I wanted to mention is our new weekly newsletter. You may have noticed the opt-in form to the left of this post. We’re primarily starting the newsletter as a way of keeping our readers more in the loop with our projects and posts. As an incentive, to subscribe, we’re going to be including content that you may not see on the blog. That content will include tips and tricks for DIY and carpentry projects. We’re going to try and keep up with the newsletter broadcasts on a weekly or as-needed basis. We promise not to spam.
The most compelling incentive we’re giving our readers to subscribe is coming soon. In a few weeks, we’re going to start releasing our project plans for all of the woodworking projects we’ve done since the blog started in 2011. The plans will include a full tutorial as well as a materials list. Of course, the plans will be absolutely free to our subscribers. If you’re 100% not interested in subscribing, but still want access to the plans, I’m going to sell them on Etsy as well.
I encourage all of our regular readers and new visitors to subscribe to our new, free newsletter. There’s an opt-in form at the end of this post that you can use to subscribe as well as the form on the sidebar.
We’ll make it worth your while. I promise.
Lisa and I hope all of our American friends have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving!! See you next week!
Posted in Blogging. Tagged in ,blogging, newsletter
Posted by John on September 26th, 2013
Thank you to everyone who took part in our reader survey last week! The results were enormously helpful and will enable us deliver better content more tailored to what you want to read. Overall, the responses had a very positive tone and reinforced what we suspected, which is that a.) you generally like the DIY and woodworking posts and b.) aren’t all that interested in anything that strays too far from that subject. What? … NO ONE likes posts on HTML and CSS coding? Really? <h1> Bummer </h1>
Even the comments that offered some light criticisms were constructive and respectful and I’m grateful for that. None of you are jerks! Bottom line: This blog is always going to be a work in progress, but we’re narrowing down the focus to specifically Home Improvement, DIY Projects and Furniture Builds. Hope that works for you!!
Let’s quickly recap the results from the survey.. not going to turn this post into a board meeting, but you know. Oh, and don’t blame me for the Young House Love color palette here. Blame Survey Monkey.
Here’s what we learned about you, our precious, precious readers.
1. You are mostly female, but we have a surprisingly high number of male readers.
2. You’re mostly around my age, 34, or younger and we don’t have any readers younger than 24.
3. Exactly half of you have your own blogs. Cool.
4. Despite my poorly worded question, the vast majority of you told us that you stop by fairly regularly. Like once a week or more.
5. Almost all of you rent or own and over 80% of our readers own their homes.
6. You all either like our posting frequency or think we could post more often. That’s good. I would be concerned if you thought once or twice a week was too much.
7. You want to see more DIY projects and woodworking. You’re going to get your wish.
8. Over 60% of you like our current variety of post topics. A good chunk of you though, would like to see less personal, cooking and coding related posts. I hear ya. It’s not our strong suit anyway, so you can definitely expect less of that stuff. We’ll probably still throw in an occasional life update here and there, but it’s going to be rare.
9. The last multiple choice question asked you what new additions you’d like to see us incorporate. The data isn’t exactly clear on this. I think you want me to add Project Plans, but that 80% spike could just be some noise in the data.
Totally kidding. I promise to learn SketchUp and I promise to add a plans section to our site. It. Will. Happen.
Thanks again for the feedback. Also, if you haven’t yet entered our Koostik Giveaway, please do. The contest will remain open until Monday evening. Spread the word.
What’s Next for OHFS
Like we mentioned above, we’re narrowing down our content to focus on our strengths. We’re going to try to incorporate more video tutorials with narration like our video on building cabinet doors. I’m going to try to whip up a plans section so you’ll have an easier time recreating a woodworking project that you’ve seen on here. In the survey comments, someone mentioned that they’d like to learn more about woodworking tools, so expect some videos on those. I’d LOVE to write an e-book (free, of course) on how to build a kitchen cabinet or a built-in or something. This WordPress theme could use some personality too.
In the short term, next week we’re going to be bringing you a DIY project redo and then it’s on to our next furniture build. We’re going to start working on a new media console for our sitting room. You won’t want to miss that, so stay tuned.
John and Lisa
Posted by John on September 22nd, 2013
This week we have some exciting news. On Tuesday, we’re hosting a Giveaway sponsored by Koostik. If you’re not familiar with Koostik, they make beautiful all-wood docking stations for iPhones, iPads and iPad Mini’s. They’ll be giving away one of their Walnut Original models valued at $95 to one of our readers!
Here’s what it looks like:
Aside from their obvious beauty, what makes these products even more interesting is they don’t contain any electronics or moving parts. They amplify the sound coming from your iPhone or iPad simply through the design of the sound chambers. Smart stuff. Even if you don’t own an Apple product, these would make supremely cool gifts for the iPhone owner in your life.
So stop by on Tuesday to enter the giveaway!!
Koostik is also partnering with Rockler to offer a DIY kit version of their original design that will retail for nearly half the cost of the pre-finished model. Look for those in your local Rockler store or online in October.
Since most of our readers are DIYers and interested in woodworking, I thought it would be beneficial to have a conversation with Koostik’s founder, Jim Simon, and find out a little more about what they do. He shares with us some info on his workshop and offers advice to other would-be entrepreneurs.
1. Where is your company located and how many employees do you have?
Koostik is located in Englewood, Colorado. We have 5 total employees:
Jim Simon- Product design and production, CEO (owner)
Jancy Simon (Spouse to Jim)- Office Mgmt. and Bookkeeping (owner)
Mike Simon (Son of Jim and Jancy)- Sales & Mktg. / Web site (owner)
Marshall Usinger- Woodworker, Social media
Caleb Zwanzig- Woodworker, Pinterest
2. How did you get the idea to build your first Koostik?
After I bought my first iPhone (model 3GS), I was listening to music through the external speaker while enjoying our backyard patio with family. I was wanting more volume and the idea came to me to fashion a small megaphone out of a styrofoam coffee cup. It worked pretty well- but wasn’t much to look at. Being a woodworker and having made a few acoustic guitars with our son Mike, I wanted to see what I could come up with to boost the volume on my phone. My wife and I owned and operated a Kitchen and Bath business at the time, so while working full time in that business, I started making some prototypes in my spare time in my home garage workshop. Over the course of about 9 months, I made some 50 different prototypes testing various designs and concepts until I came up with the design we now call the “Original Koostik.”
Along the way, I was seeking feedback from friends and relatives to gauge their reactions to the various designs. Without question, the Original Koostik struck a common chord of appreciation. We decided to build a web site and start marketing the product.
3. Were you already a skilled carpenter before building your first model?
I started woodworking as a kid in my dad’s garage shop. I’ve made my living as an adult ever since as a custom furniture designer and maker as well as cabinetmaker and general carpenter. I’m currently 59 years young.
4. Tell us about your shop. What kind of power tools are you running?
I produced the first 2,000 or so products that we shipped after starting Koostik in my 300 square foot garage workshop. At the time, because of space constraints, I was using a DeWalt portable 10” table saw, a Delta portable 6” jointer, a Milwaukee 12” miter saw, a Jet 6 X 48 stationary belt sander, a benchtop Jet oscillating spindle sander, a Jet floor model drill press, and a Steel City 16” bandsaw. In addition, I used a variety of dedicated routers and special routing fixtures I had designed and made just for production.
When we outgrew the garage shop in August of 2012, we moved into our currently leased 2,400 sq. ft. space. Of that space, 1,700 sq. ft. is dedicated to the shop, and 700 sq. ft. to the office and shipping areas. I left all the tools set up in my home shop and acquired additional machines for the new shop.
Saw Stop 3hp table saw
Jet 10: table saw dedicated to dado operations
Jet 6” jointer with helical head
DeWalt 12” planer
Makita 10” miter saw
Laguna 14” bandsaw
Jet 6 X 48 stationary belt sanders (3)
Jet 10-20 thickness sander
Jet floor model oscillating spindle sander
Ingersol Rand air compressor
Delta floor model drill press
Laguna dust collection cyclone
Laguna air cleaners (2)
Rockler wall mount dust collectors (2)
Fein II shop vacs (3)
Numerous routers, random orbit sanders, drills, etc.
5. Tell us about your Koostiks. How many different models do you have? How long do they take to build?
We currently (as of 9-16-13) have 9 unique products on our site available in a wide variety of woods. Six of those products are designed and made exclusively for iPhone, and three are designed and made for iPads. All of these 9 products employee passive acoustic amplification principles to boost the volume of the external speaker on these Apple devices. The volume boost is typically in the range of 10 to 20 decibels, which is quite significant. We are about to launch a new line of products which are not amplification devices, but are very nice tech stands which are designed to work with all smart phones and all tablet devices. They will be marketed under the name, “[k]easel” and we are excited at the prospect of opening some new markets as a result.
All of our products are currently made 100% in our own shop. We use some pretty sophisticated routing fixtures and often use router bit tooling in unconventional ways because of how we are able to fixture things in production. Our products appear to be fairly simple in form; but they are not so simple to make. Depending on the product we are running, per piece production times can range between 10 minutes and 30 minutes each. That is based on 3 guys working in concert in the shop. When I was working alone in my first garage workshop, the Original Koostik typically took me an hour to make each one. I can tell you, I was working a lot of hours to keep up with demand in the early going.
6. You use some pretty beautiful species of wood like Walnut and Beetle Kill Pine, etc. Where do you source your material?
We source all of our woods through our local Austin Hardwoods supplier which happens to be pretty close to us. I have been a customer of theirs for about 30 years and they have always done a great job for me.
7. A lot of our readers are DIYers and some are even entrepreneurial bloggers that are hoping to find success. What advice would you give them?
First of all- success has to be earned every day. You never arrive. As soon as you think you’ve arrived, it can all start to vanish. Keep your eye on the ball. Stay focused like a laser every day. Do not neglect the things you may find less interesting to do- such as sales or bookkeeping, or paying your payroll taxes on time. If you can’t or won’t do these things, you better find someone who will- and hold them accountable for the results you expect. Being in business for yourself is MUCH more difficult than working for someone else. Be realistic about that. If you want to end each day with a sense of success, you WILL be working very hard and long hours. If something you’re doing doesn’t work out, move on. Don’t keep beating a dead horse. This all sounds pretty harsh, but good things in life require sacrifice and great effort. The rewards are worth it.
8. Tell us about your Rockler product launch.
One of the buyers at Rockler Woodworking approached Mike by email some months back and expressed how much they liked our products. I’ve been a faithful customer of Rockler for over 30 years and I thought, “Hey, maybe we can earn back some of that fortune I’ve paid out to Rockler over the years!” They did not have any specific product or concept in mind as to how we might work together; so I started giving it some thought. The idea of a kit for our Original Koostik came to me and we started making up some samples for them to give us feedback. Over the course of a few months, we were able to come up with a packaged solution they liked and wanted to put in their stores. It will contain a pre-machined solid Cherry body block and a pre-machined solid Cherry faceplate. Following the included instructions, the DIYer will pre-sand components, glue the faceplate to the body, and do all the final shaping, sanding, and finishing. As a kit, the retail price will be approximately 40% less than our finished Original Koostik as sold on our site. I believe they intend to roll it out in October of this year in time for Christmas sales.
9. Is this your dream job?
Honestly, my dream job is more about who I get to work with every day than specifically what I get to do. I love what I’m doing right now- no question about that. I really love the people I get to work with! I love solving design challenges and finding creative ways to make our business grow and be more successful. At Koostik, our stated reason for existence is to create wealth for everyone in the company. We define wealth not simply as money, but as satisfaction, joy, happiness, and a sense of personal accomplishment. If we happen to gain some financial wealth in the process- so much the better!
Big thanks to Jim and the folks at Koostik for sharing their wealth of experience with us and our readers. We wish them continued success.
How about that workshop? That’s a lot of power tools. I’ll take one of everything, please.
Posted by John on September 18th, 2013
Today we’re unveiling our first reader survey. Please take a minute or two and answer some really simple questions. Your feedback is hugely important to us and can help us improve our content. If there’s stuff you like and want to see more of, let us know. If some of our posts bore you to tears, tell us that too.