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Apprentice for employment in Kansas City

leftisright's picture

I have recently left a cabinet shop where I built home theater cabinets becasue the company was about to go under. I am seeking employment as either in a custom cabinet shop, hopefully small or as a trim carpenter. Any advice or suggestions would be appreciated. I work hard and show up everyday!


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #1 of 23)

I know you're in KC, so this is really a non-issue. But there is a "custom" cab shop here in Lawrence that I would recommend you NOT work for.  They really don't do "custom" and it's a crappy place to work.

If you were ever thinking about the trek from KC to lawrence for work, I'll e-mail you the name of the place I am talking about, as much as I hate the place, I'd rather not spam their name all over the place.

Just curious, where abouts in KC are you?


(post #156939, reply #2 of 23)

To satisfy your curiosity I am in Johnson County, so Lawrence wouldn't be much of a trek. I really do not want to work in one of those cabinet "factories" anyway. And course since I'm a Wildcat I couldn't stomach working in Lawrence anyway (just kidding). I'm very flexible about where I work, Anything within an hour would work for me so that leaves all the way to Topeka maybe. I'm thinking a small cabinet shop or maybe a trim carpenter job is the way to go. Your thoughts would be appreciated.


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #3 of 23)

sorry lost this thread for a while.  My advice?

Stay the hell out of topeka, nothing good ever comes out of topeka, and nothing that goes in, ever comes out good.

Not enough high-middle end work, mostly just doing "good-enough" on run down shacks from what I've heard.

I look at a few companies out that way, but most admitted they do not work on the upper end.  I'm sure there are few out there though.

Lawrence has decent work, and you can work on some decent homes, but the market isn't huge.  and the pay, generally speaking is lower then in KC. 

Sorry not much advice there, just some random thoughts, good luck in your search.

(post #156939, reply #4 of 23)



No big deal about losing the thread, I see you've been budy stirring up the anti-war movement.

I have a few feelers out there but most of the shops want five years experience. How the @##$ do you get experience without starting somewhere?

Posted something at a site for KCWoodworkers Guild, Hoping to hear back from them soon. Also answered an ad from the paper but there was a line in there :possible inner city ministry" that concerns me.

I see that you are studying to be an archy at old K-Phew. My late brother graduated form there a number of years ago and had a very successful practice.


Let me know if you hear of anything!



Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #5 of 23)

I'll let you know, there were a few ad's in the Journal World, try

listed in the classified section, not the career builder section  In the upper right hand corner is a link for classified that are posted in the paper under "trade and skilled" you might find some leads.

and I'm only going to be 1/2 an archy, but thats a whole long story.

How the @##$ do you get experience without starting somewhere?

In a word.


Not necessarily outright, but make yourself sound better, or talk someone into giving you a chance to prove yourself, that's how I got my current job, because the boss had definate problems with part-time help. 

How old are you, How long have you been doing this, what kind of tools do you have, what are your strenghts, your weaknesses?

(post #156939, reply #7 of 23)



Lots of questions require lots of answers.

How old am I.  Well, I'll be forty in the next year. I came to this field late, but I used to be in grocery sales but it required too much travel. Have two small weejuns (four months and two years) and a wife (not sure what the proper term for that is here) that I wanted to spend more time with. So......decided to get out of the field I was in and try something else.

I found a job with a company that specialized in home theaters and low voltage wiring (I call it alarm systems but that's a whole 'nother story). Went to work for a good guy that ran the shop and taught me a lot in the six months he was there. They fired him because his transmission burned out in his truck and he couldn't get to work. Personally, I think they let him go because he made too much money. I was told to take over his job, so I had to not only design and build the cabinets but I had to meet with the customers, oversee the installers, and handle materials management. Should have wised up when the delivery from Paxton required a check and another $500.00 whenever wood was delivered. To make a long story short, checks to the lumber dealer bounced, deliveries got cut off, and then paychecks started bouncing. Before my son was born I told them if my check bounced again I was gone. So......paycheck bounced and I quit.


Spent three months at home taking care of my kids and looking for a new job. Finally found one at a "custom woodworking" shop. Told the guy my experience and he hired me at my old wages. Thought I was in hog heaven because the shop was very nice, only four employees, but a computerized sliding table saw, a forklift to handle sheet goods, even a CNC router. Noticed that a lot of the work was commercial and involved laminate. Never worked with laminate but they said they'd show me how. After two weeks I get my check, and it has an extra ten hours on it. Asked what was going on, and was told that I was too slow for what I was being paid and didn't have the experience they needed so I was being let go. Talk about another kick in the adze!

By that point, I knew enough about the job that I know that I didn't want to work at one of the cookie cutter factories we discussed earlier. So...I'm still out there looking.


Tools? You need stinkin' tools to do this? I never knew

I can buy what I need but I need to work for a while to see what to buy. Based on the discussions I've seen here it may be hard to tell what the best tools to buy are.

My biggest strength is that I work hard and I come to work everyday. I don't drink or smoke so you don't have to worry about me having a hangover and doing crappy work. I believe in doing the best job possible so I may be slow at first. Show me how to do something once and I can do it.

My biggest weakness is that I expect others to have the same high standards that I do. Never did understand why some people just can't get to work on time or be there period. Guess there must be a lot of people living off of trust funds out there.

Anyhow, there is an ad in Today's LJW for a shop and the number is 887-6003. Is that the one you were warning me about?


By the way, the lead story in the LJW was about "Kansas University". You'd think that the paper in Lawrence would know that it is THE University of Kansas. My late brother never let me forget the "THE" part.




Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #8 of 23)

Yep thats the one, the went through guys pretty quick there.   That should say something.  The fact that I walked out with out bothering to tell anyone I was going should say something else, I've never quit a job like that before no matter how much I disliked it.

Kansas University and the University of Kansas seem to be interchangable depending on who you talk to here.

Based on the discussions I've seen here it may be hard to tell what the best tools to buy are.

Not at all, everyone knows what the best tools are, they just don't necessarily agree with each other.

Good luck, If I hear of anything I'll let you know. 

Are you interested in only custom cab shops or would other types of construction/remodeling work for you?

(post #156939, reply #9 of 23)

I am interested in custom cab shops, furniture or any type of remodeling construction work.

I think in the long run I want to go inot business myslef but at this point I don't think I have the experience or the $$$.


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #10 of 23)

Try "cold calling". You never know when you will run into a shop/crew that saws I was just thinking about adding another person.

. William the Geezer, the sequel to Billy the Kid - Shoe

(post #156939, reply #11 of 23)

You beat me to it, but I was going to suggest the same thing.  Thats how we got our last guy.

(post #156939, reply #12 of 23)

Find a copy of the Yellow Pages. Look up the classification you want to apply for. Remodeling, construction, cabinetry, etc. Call every company

listed. Have your line ready. "Hello, I'm a carpenter with 5 yrs. experience. I'm looking for work. Are you doing any hiring?"

If the answer is yes, find out exactly what they are looking for. If it sounds like something you are interested in, and you can or could do, arrange for an interview. If you don't have the skills needed, go to the

nearest library or used book store and study. Time Life published a series of excellent books on intro carpentry, tile , electrical,etc. They are a place to start.

If the answer is no, thank the person for their time. Ask if they know of anyone who might be hiring. If they suggest someone, call that person and say that (what's his name) suggested you call about a job possibility.

Be polite. You may be calling again in few months. Do the best you can while you are on the job. Remember no job lasts forever. Meet people. Collect recomendations. You may be looking again soon.

I lived in Lawrence (1969-85) and found it a hard town to find work in. Too many starving students. K.C., Mo., Mission, and Lenexa worked better.

Almost forgot, try the Carpenter's Union Hall.

Best wishes,


(post #156939, reply #13 of 23)

Thanks for the advice. i have been doing as you suggest but it seems that everyone wants five years experience minimum. It is kind of frustrating because I know that I could do the job if I get a chance.

Just to clear things up. CAG is in Lawrence and it appears that he is attending KU, can't help but to feel sorry for him since I graduated from K-State. 

I acually live in Overland Park so I am close to the action.



Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #14 of 23)

K-State hunh lol, houses YOUR football team doing this year??? he he he

(post #156939, reply #16 of 23)

ummmmm.....well......back when i went to skool one victory a year was considered a lot, so..........


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #17 of 23)

Oh, well K-State has a pretty good football team in the time I've been here, well it's been degrading in the last few, but my friends from k-state would alwasy brag about how good their football team is, and how crappy KU's is, so the tables have kind of turned a bit.

At least you didn't go to Missouri, If you did I  couldn't talk to you anymore.

(post #156939, reply #18 of 23)

Well since I was there during the 0'fer years I take everything we have with pleasure. speaking of MO did yah see that guy get clocked by the Nebraska football player?


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #19 of 23)

no, what happened?

(post #156939, reply #20 of 23)

Well you may have heard that Missouri upset Nebraska last weekend. The fans stormed the field and they were taunting some of the players as they left the field. Th player from Nebraska throws a beautiful right cross and hit the Missouri fan right in the nose and knocks him right on his ####. It turns out that three televison stations from Nebraska caught it on film.


It get much better, Nebraska coach hems and haws about disciplining player because he was defending himself and isn't that trespassing anyways? Guess wearing a full set of pads doesn't give you any defense gainst some drunken Yahoo even if you keep your helmet on.


Anyhow big controversy now because Mo. fans want the player kicked off the team and NE fans saying what's the big deal?


By the way the fan on the field will be charged with trespassing but he has filed a police report on assualt and battery.


Ahhh.....boy do I miss them college days.


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #21 of 23)

well that sure does sound like it would have  been fun to watch on tape, I'd rather see the Nebraska player punished then the guy that got clocked, simply because Nebraska is the worst, espeacially their fans.

Did the MU fan swing at or push the player, or was he just in his face?

(post #156939, reply #22 of 23)

He was booozed up and he wagged a finger I think. Going to look for a link for yah.


This one is from a NE paper, has conveniently disappeared from


Go figger

Edited 10/17/2003 7:28:26 PM ET by rookie


Smurfs meep in Blue

(post #156939, reply #15 of 23)

Too many starving students

ain't that the truth, the nice thing is most of them are relocated to lower level jobs, fast food, grocery stores, cashiers at shops etc.  I was damn lucky to find a part time remodeling gig, but the students do keep the wages lower here in most jobs.

(post #156939, reply #6 of 23)

HEy Neil 4,

               Spent the afternoon this past weekend with my friends that grew up in LAwrence and went to college there.......they live in NYC now with a vacation house in Maine but they still claim Lawrence is really a pretty place!

They also lived in Fort Scott.

Be a well,


My life is my practice!


(post #156939, reply #23 of 23)

Rookie:   I would just take on side jobs,,honing your skills..Dont be afraid to step beyond your experience level..because that is the key that will unlock new skills that are in you.. just not discovered. 

 We all are much more capable of higher levels of craftmanship..but are mainly limited by fear of failure. That ol saying.. "I would rather to have tried and failed..than to not try at all", is so true. Trying something beyond our previous limits will either raise our bar...or should it end in  be a learning experience to prepare ourselves to succeed on the NEXT attempt.  That word NEXT is just as important as it displays the tenacity to not give up.

Good luck on your job hunting...

Edited 10/18/2003 8:12:24 AM ET by Stan Foster