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The Pro Shop

Needs Software for Managing a Shop

comments (6) January 24th, 2011 in blogs

Tom Tom McKenna, Managing Editor
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This came into our editorial e-mailbox. I'm wondering if any pros can help this writer...

We're looking for software that would help us manage a small wood shop.  No employees, just my husband.  We need a better way to keep track of time, materials, invoices, etc.  Do you have a past article that would help us, or suggestions?  Your comments would be appreciated.


posted in: blogs, bookkeeping woodshop shop

Comments (6)

Thomass Thomass writes: I think you may have a look at online web app for cabinet design and price calculation Online 3D Kitchen Constructor. I've used its demo for my kitchen project, but for your shop, it's possible to buy the official version. Just examine it and decide, whether it is what you need or not.
Posted: 8:53 am on November 26th

pmrii pmrii writes: Quicken works well but I have to disagree to some extent with jdmaher. Time and costs are both important when providing estimates. My approach to this is to "modularize" each potential project.

Example: If a customer wants a cabinet, determine the time and cost it takes to make only the casework. Do the same with the drawers, cabinet doors, shelves, etc. In other words break your projects up into modules.

Each module should include the standard time spent from start to finish and mounting. You can have several different modules.

Example: For cabinet doors have separate modules for various styles.

There are three things that I find most woodworkers do not do in their project cost/time estimations. 1. Overhead costs, including all taxes, 2. time and costs for travel to stores and lumber mills, and 3. design time and design equipment/software.

Now regarding time, I use an old smartphone that I have with a count up timer app. This is a very easy way to track time. Depending upon the app you can have 1 or more timing sequences going on. When working on a project, I will stop the timer for breaks, phone calls, etc that are not related to the project.


Phil Rasmussen, US Army-retired
The Mountain Woodworker
Hendersonville, NC
Posted: 11:57 am on February 15th

Sancordesigns Sancordesigns writes: I tried Quickbooks but switched to Simply Accounting (not sure if thats just up here in Canada) but you can be a basic or complex with the program as you want. very intuitive and has a great help index.
You can set up projects and track expenses and revenue from each one so you know where you went wrong or right with your quoting.
Posted: 10:57 pm on April 1st

PORC PORC writes: Hi Deb.

I would guess that everybody has there own way of doing things, and with a bit of practice you will find your way as well. My thoughts are:
-Use Quickbooks. It is a very powerful tool that can both help keep your company organized but also help with budgets, forcasting, and tracking of both time, but also materials. I do agree that the IRS is a good entity to satisfy, but my book keeping has much more to it than that. I am able to track every expense and earning on a yearly, quarterly, or weekly basis. Regular comparisons are critical for growth and understanding. Start with a small chart of accounts and add to them as needed.

Check out this link. I've learned a ton from him. and he just did a post a while back about business software for woodworkers.


Posted: 5:11 pm on January 24th

jdmaher jdmaher writes: For a one-man show, best to use Quicken (Home & Business edition). It's cheaper and easier.

Quicken offers "Categories" that allows classification of materials.

For Time - DON'T track it; it's not worth the effort. Instead, bid projects with fixed time costs - and eat the difference. Two or three projects is all it takes to learn to estimate time well.

You can issue Invoices with Quicken and do basic tracking of what's due. That should be enough for a one-man show.

There's much more to Quicken, but that's a longer discussion.

Remeber that computers are great for tracking detail - but then you have to maintain all that detail. DON'T! All you really need is enough to satisfy the IRS . . .

Posted: 2:45 pm on January 24th

saschafer saschafer writes:
It's sounds like they're looking for basic accounting software. Quickbooks is probably the market leader; other popular packages are Peachtree and MYOB. There are also some freeware and web-based packages available, although I have no experience with them. I don't think you're going to find anything that's specifically tailored to a small woodworking shop.


Posted: 1:20 pm on January 24th

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