Woodworking is a passion which is shared by many and turning your passion into a money making can seem magnanimous. If you are a beginner or a hobbyists you don’t have a go to strategy which you can follow that can help you make some money on the side-lines. Also for many starting a business can be seem to be too troublesome.
But today we have for you the most comprehensive guide which you can bank upon and it will help you to not only make some extra money woodworking but using this strategy you can actually start your own business.
In this guide, we try to cover all the basics from getting your supply right to choosing the right tools, followed by what all niches you can for and some profitable woodworking crafts and finally the top strategies to effectively sell your crafts.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Are you ready to get Started?
Before you start to sell your crafts you need to ask yourself are you ready to go?
By this we mean do you have some woodworking skills that can help you complete projects on your own. If you are a complete beginner we highly recommend you to get a “woodworking course”.
You can take a small job at a local shop or you can enrol yourself at community college which have courses with flexible timings. You can meet like-minded people there who are at the same level as you and you can together build up on your passion.
Learning woodworking on your own (without proper training) is not only difficult but can prove to be quite dangerous.
However, if you are a hobbyists who has already made few projects, you know where your interest lies. You may enjoy working with hardwood or you may prefer creating crafts out of tropical wood.
Identifying your niche (or interest area) can help you in streamlining the projects that you need to make and this also gives you the window to keep experimenting and with practise you expand your skills.
We recommend you to stick to your “interest area” as this will help you create better projects and you will continue to enjoy woodworking.
With time you can pick up few complex projects but for starters stick to the basis and small crafts, that are easy to make, have an evergreen demand (later we share such projects) and are easy to sell.
Step 1 – Make a small roadmap
To achieve success in business a definitive plan lays a solid foundation. You can set and keep track of your targets, it helps you to identify your strong points, keeps track of your expenses and essentially serves as a blueprint for your growth.
We would recommend you to make a plan of your own, after you go through this guide. Here are some essential elements of a business plan that are quite simple to understand and will serve you well:-
Jot down your Strengths
In woodworking they are many skills you rely on and it is crucial to jot the ones which you are confident about. If you are good at planing or if you excel at sanding or if you have full control over cutting, just write that down.
Knowing this will help you choose projects that work with your strengths. This will also serve as a reflection of the skills you need to get good at if you want to grow.
Time and Money you are ready to invest
Amateur woodworkers or hobbyists often have time and money constraints. Making finished products that you can sell will take a lot of your time and you need to be truthful with yourself on much time you can give to woodworking per week. You don’t want to bite off more than you can chew and identifying the man-hours you have will help you to choose your projects.
Also if you plan to sell you will be investing some money. This will involve the cost of getting the raw material, the cost of tools and machines you would be using, the cost of operation, cost of advertising and finally the cost of selling.
If you are already into woodworking you would obviously have machines and some raw material, but if you want to really want to expand you should be willing to invest on some new machines and also on advertising. Overall this section will be vital in your plan.
Projects you will be working on – You should choose the set of projects or crafts you are willing to work. It can be as simple as wooden spoons or something complex like baby cradle.
Having a set no of projects can help you to streamline your resources and increase productivity. You will have to update this section regularly as you begin to sell and grow.
Advertising Source – Advertising or marketing your products will be crucial if you want to make money.
We will talk about this later in our guide but you need to mention and keep track of your advertising sources in your plan. Allocate a budget for advertising and don’t go overboard.
How much you want to make – How ambitious are you? Well it is a rhetorical question but you need to ask that. If you want to make a couple hundred bucks month, then work only for that. However if you are want to make an extra grand or two, you would have to spend some time woodworking.
Having a fixed goal will help you to choose the right projects and will give you an indication on the amount of effort you need to put in. A fixed number in your mind will also drive you to work harder and go the extra mile if you have to.
Step 2 – Getting your Supply ready
If you get into woodworking, wood will be your single largest cost. If you are an amateur you may probably have some kind of source for your wood. Here are few things which can help you streamline your raw materials.
One of the easiest way to get your raw materials is from a local vendor or a local lumberyard. You can conveniently choose the kind of wood you want (pun intended) and most vendors are kind enough to offer advice regarding the kind of wood that will work best according to your use. Try and build a relation with your vendor to get discounts as you will be ordering frequently.
Another alternative for sourcing your wood is ordering online. Many platforms are available online and you have a huge collection to choose from. You can buy according to your custom specifications and you can keep track of delivery. You simply need to get online and order. Onlinelumberstore.com and woodworkerssource.com are the best resources available online and they offer huge discounts on different varieties of wood.
Finally if you are willing to reduce cost on raw material you can buy rough lumber which is relatively cheap. You would need to install a thickness planer to get the desired thickness out of it, but it helps to reduce the cost of production.
You can also order tools online from amazon, as they offer both new as well as refurbished tools. You also get discounts from time to time.
To sum it up, pick a source that works best for your convince and plan your supplies effectively. You should be stocked up beforehand.
Step #3 – Getting the Right Gear
Here is a rundown of all the tools you will need to build projects effectively. We have mentioned the cost and the major use for each of them. If you are a hobbyists you will probably have some of them, and you can use this as a reference.
Backsaw (we recommend Stanley FatMax 17-202)– It will be used to make precise cuts and is the most used handsaw. It will cost you around $30 to $50.
Carpenter’s framing square (we recommend Stanley 45-300) – An inexpensive tool that will help while squaring cabinets or in right angle joints. Won’t cost you more than 20 bucks.
Chisels (we recommend Stanley 16-150) – A chisel set will help you clean up joints and you will be using a lot of this. A good set will cost $50.
Circular Saw (we recommend Makita 5377MG Magnesium) – This a handheld power tool which you will use if you are working on stock sheets like plywood or MDF. It has many cutting applications. You should invest in this and it will cost your around $120 to $200.
Clamps (we recommend Irwin Quick Grip Clamp) – You will be needing a lot them as they are crucial for assembling. You should get variety of sizes and they will cost your around $100.
Hammer (we recommend Stanley 51-165) – You will be using a hammer while chiseling and it is recommended to get a good quality metal hammer in addition to a wooden mallet. It shouldn’t cost you more than $50.
Hand Drill (we recommend Black & Decker LDX120C) – This is must-have and ½ inch hand drill is recommended. You can go for expensive options also with more customizations but the basic model will also work just fine. A good Makita hand drill should cost you about $50 to $75.
Jigsaw (we recommend Bosch JS470E) – The grand master of cutting and it is also one of the most budget power tool.
Jointer (we recommend DEWALT DW682K) – If you are dealing with rough lumber or if you are dealing with complex projects you will need a jointer. This is an expensive machine and we will recommend this only if you are working on big projects. This can cost you around $500.
Router (we recommend Bosch 1617EVSPK) – A versatile tool which has many cutting applications. We recommend getting this as you can make many adjustments using a router. For beginners a 1.5 horsepower router will work effectively and it should cost you around $150 – $200.
Random Orbit Sander (we recommend DEWALT Random Orbit Sander) – If your projects involve a lot of sanding, invest in a good quality orbit sander. A good model will come at a cost of $100.
Tablesaw (we recommend DEWALT DW745) – Another big investment, table saw finds many uses. With many cutting adjustment this will give your crafts precision. For beginners you can go for a tabletop saw that comes for $300.
Tape Measurer (we recommend Stanley 33-425) – You will be making a lot of measurements while woodworking and tape measurer is best for this. A metal tape ($10) will work for most cases.
Planer (we recommend Makita KP0810) – If you are getting rough lumber for your projects, a planer or more specifically a thickness planer is absolutely necessary. You will be using a lot of this to get the desired thickness, and it can cost anywhere between $300 to $600.
The planer is more of a personal choice and depends on your budget but you literally transform any wood according to your preference. Get this if you want to reduce raw materials cost.
Vacuum (we recommend Shop-Vac 8 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum) – You will be generating a lot of dust woodworking and it advised to get a vacuum to avoid mess in your garage (or wherever you are working). If you cannot invest in dust collector, a dry/wet vac will also do the trick.
Workbench (we recommend Seville Classics UltraHD)– Finally this is where you will be working on and you would need something which is solid and flat. You can also start with a homemade table made of plywood which you can make on your own for $150-$200 of wood. You can order a premade one if you want to save some trouble.
Overall all this will cost you around $3000 if you get all the tools we recommend. You can buy some equipment gradually as you make more money but you will be needing most of the tools we have shared.
Step #4 – How to Pick a Niche
To make more money effectively you should stick to 1-2 niches. This will help to streamline your workflow, your raw materials will remain the same, you will have complete idea of the operation and you can focus more on selling rather than production.
This niche you choose should depend firstly on your interest. You don’t want to lose your love for woodworking working on projects that don’t excite you.
So pick something which you like to build. Next you can also ask your friends or local shop owners to find out what is more prevalent in your area.
If people in your locality appreciate furniture made out of timber then you should focus on projects made of timber. This makes selling easy and you can reach out to your community.
You can also use social networking sites like Facebook and Pintrest where you can find dedicated groups for woodworking. You can get a lot of ideas on projects or crafts which are popular.
To sum it up, identify a niche, make projects that are prevalent in that particular niche and focus on selling your crafts.
Step #5 – 8 Highly Profitable Woodworking Craft Ideas
If you are having trouble choosing the right projects to work on, you can have a look at the following ideas that are currently the most popular in the woodworking arena. If you do them right and market well, you can literally quadruple your earnings.
They may sound like a cliché but they are easily one of the most popular things among parents. The market is flooded with the supply of cheap plastic toys made in China, so demand for wooden toys is always high as they are rare.
Also plastic toys are often coated with harmful chemicals, and some parents are worried about the health of their kids. You can market “100% safe holistic wooden toys” to such parents and demand a premium price for the same.
High margin, popular choice. And yes don’t compromise on the quality of wood ever.
Bookcases never run out of style and there is always a demand for them. You can also experiment and make something which can showcase your sense of style.
This one is for the creative ones. You can also offer some custom design changes for dedicated customers. Another top dollar product.
A classic among woodworkers this one is never out of demand. Parents are ready to spend for the finest cradle that offers good support for their baby to sleep on.
You can use good quality wood with premium finish in order to increase the value of the cradle.
If you major time constraints and want to start small, picture frames is what you are looking for. You can easily promote them among your friends and they are easy to sell by word of mouth. You can also tie up with novelty gift shops and sell these through them.
If you are interested in outdoor woodworking projects, birdhouses are a high profit commodity. They are not so easy to get so they are generally priced at a higher cost. However you have to do some research to find the audience willing to spend on bird houses.
On the flip side, they are one of the most profitable woodworking crafts as you can offer many modifications according to the taste of the customer.
Wooden Spoons and Bowls
Wooden crockery is coming back in a big way. With a demand for wholesome utensils, wooden items are becoming more popular. You can easily sell them online, and they are very easy to ship.
With personal engravings you can offer a nice touch to your product line. The cost of production for such items is fairly low.
Male grooming is at an all-time high. Beard grooming is a dedicated industry with many products coming up. Beard combs are an interesting novelty in this industry.
They are quite cheap to produce and don’t take much of your time. You can use pleasant smelling wood like sandalwood for production and sell them at a premium price. Some beard combs go as high as $60.
Designer Wooden Clocks
Wooden clocks are another inexpensive item to produce and if you can create interesting design patterns then you can sell them at a high price also.
These are the top products which are recommended for beginners or hobbyists as they are easy to sell and have a good profit margin.
Step #6 – Selling Offline
So you have all the research on which projects you need to make, your supply chain is sorted and you are up and running, but if you are not able to make a sale, all that hard work will go down the drain.
Most hobbyists find selling to be quite annoying and struggle to find ways where they can sell or whey then can market their products. Selling offline is recommended for beginners who need to grow their network and establish themselves.
Interacting with people can not only help them to learn more but it also gives them a chance to personally get in touch with their customers. Here are the top ways through which you can market and sell your projects.
Friends and Family
Selling your projects to your friends and family may seem underrated but it can give your professional woodworking a solid foundation. The profit margins will be low but they can help spread your business through word of mouth. You can also take written and video testimonials from them which can be used to strengthen your brand. Positive reviews go a long way bucko.
The Local Community
Another interesting way to promote your woodworking projects is through your local community. If you have a church or a community hall in your locality contribute some furniture specifically chairs or frames. Your work will easily get noticed and you can find new customers.
Galleries and Furniture Shops
If you are looking for a wider spectrum you can approach gallery owners near your home. You would have to share the profits but they already have an audience and if your work gets noticed you can generate quick sales. Many professional woodworkers sell their projects through galleries and furniture shops, and if hobbyists can build a healthy relationship with galleries, they can easily get repeated orders.
Woodworking fairs offer great opportunity for hobbyists and amateurs to grow their network in the woodworking community. You can participate in competitions in such fairs and they usually have a large gathering. Most fairs allow you to set up a stall where you can showcase and sell your projects. You can also learn a great deal from fellow woodworkers as you interact with them on a personal basis. We highly recommend you to attend such fairs. You can learn more about the dates through any woodworking magazine or you can also use the internet. You can also visit http://www.globalwood.org/fair/fair2016.htm to know about woodworking fairs from across the world.
Finally if your motive is to increase sales, you can take advantage of traditional advertising methods like flyers and newspaper advertising. You can browse through woodworking magazines to see how other professional woodworkers are promoting their projects. However we don’t recommend beginners to immediately resort to traditional advertising, and you can first try out other methods that we have shared.
Step #7 – How to Build Your WoodWorking Website
Before we talk about online selling we need to first discuss about building a website. In today’s day and age having a digital presence for your work is almost mandatory. There are two ways through which you can choose the domain name for your website.
If you wish to create your own brand, you can come up with an interesting name and build your website around that. Second, you can create the website using your own name and develop your woodworking portfolio around that. Both these methods are equally effective and it depends on your personal choice.
You can hire a web designer to set up your website but since you are just starting out and you won’t have many projects to showcase you can set up a simple website using wordpress. You can eventually grow and install a much better design at a later stage.
Along with a website, we highly recommend you to set up social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and pinterest. You have a great chance to increase your brand presence through social media, and for hobbyists it is the go to strategy. You can also advertise on such platforms which we talk about in the next tip.
Overall, build your presence online and have your own digital woodworking portfolio.
Step #8 – Selling online
Selling online is highly recommended for hobbyists and amateurs who have some advertising budget. Here are the top methods to sell your projects online.
Advertising on Facebook
Advertising on Facebook is extremely targeted and can you can reap many sales through this. You have complete control over your ads and you can experiment based on data. For example, if you are working on baby cradles you can advertise to females in the age group 25 – 35, who have interests in baby products or baby cradles. You would need to set up you website though (or landing page). If the budget permits you can hire some digital marketing agency but there is a lot of resource material available online that can help you to create your ad.
If your website is well optimized, Facebook advertising can bring quick and effective results. (Before running Facebook Ads, Go through “Selling through your own website” which is mentioned later in this report)
Selling via E-commerce platforms
There are certain e-commerce platforms which have many woodworking crafts and can serve as an effective medium for hobbyists to promote their projects (and no it is not Amazon).
Etsy.com – It is one of the most well-known website for selling handmade crafts. It has large customer base of over 54 million people. You can easily set up and account and start selling your products. They handle all the logistics and you would have to take care of shipping. There are two ways through which you can promote your products on etsy:
A) ETSY Seller Advertisements
ETSY offers advertisement platform for their sellers. It is fruitful and can bring in a lot of sales. For example – if you are selling wooden spoons, you can set up an Ad campaign and whenever some customer on etsy searches for wooden spoon, your product will get greater visibility.
Your ads can also appear on search engines (etsy manages all that, you just have to setup the campaign). If you setup an etsy account, setting up an Ad-Campaign is highly recommended and can give a major kick-start to your online sales.
B) Facebook Advertisement
You can also set up Facebook Ads for your projects listed on ETSY. Instead of using your website as the landing page, you will be using your seller page on ETSY.
Custommade.com – This platform is more suited for furniture woodworkers. You can generate quick sales and there are several thousand projects already listed. They advertisement policy is similar to that of ETSY.
Ebay.com – Finally you can go for EBay, which is a trusted platform. Bring sales through Facebook and Google Ads.
Selling through your Own Website
If you have developed your website, you can start selling on your own without relying on any 3rd Party platform. You would have to setup payment gateways (which can be found by a quick search on google) and you would have to collaborate with a shipping partner (like FedEx). After that your very own E-commerce platform is ready.
Now let’s talk about how you can bring sales. As mentioned earlier Facebook Advertising is the No. 1 source for this.
Example – Create a listing for wooden cradles, mentioning all the details about it on your website, run an ad as mentioned earlier, and your personal sales funnel is up and running. Obviously all this is easier said than done, and the results vary a lot but with help from experts, you can create a successful sales channel.
Many hobbyists make a lot of sales by selling through their own website.
You can also try Search Engine Optimization and rank your website for certain search phrases. Another effective strategy for bringing in sales.
Overall, setting your own ecommerce platform can prove to be overwhelming, but if you like to experiment, you can make a lot of money through this.
Pro Tip – Hire experts for advertisement and website building. Your job is to create awesome projects, stick to it and let industry experts handle the rest.
Step #9 – Moving to complex Projects
Once you have started generating sales through your initial product line you can move to complex projects. This is more of a personal choice depending on how ambitious are you with your Woodworking business.
If you decide to grow, you can move into complex projects which are in-turn highly profitable. But this can seem a little difficult especially for hobbyists who have just started with woodworking.
Woodworking Plans, can do wonders for such hobbyists. They are incredibly detailed and offer everything, right from the scratch till finishing. Many woodworking plans are available online.
We would recommend Teds’ Woodworking Plans, as they are clear industry leaders and some of their plans have drawn critical acclaim.
Apart from that you can also learn from a professional woodworker. You can take a part time job or assist them with some projects to get more insight.
Finally, woodworking courses are always there.
If you can give more time to woodworking, you should definitely go into such projects, as they not only increase your skill level but also give you the opportunity to establish a full-time business.
Step #10 – Scaling Your Business
If you work hard enough, there are no limits to your success in woodworking. It all depends on how much effort you put in and how effectively you manage your resources. But if you want to go full time, you will have to move from a solopreneur to an entrepreneur.
You would have to hire few people, you would have to increase your working area (preferably setting up your own woodworking shop), your advertisement expenditure will rise and you would be more in position of managing all of this.
Sure, most woodworkers like to work on projects on their own, and we are not asking you to change that, but if you wish to scale be willing to take more decisions.
Scaling also happens in stages, and just as a hobbyists you move to projects one by one, similarly as a pro you will taking more complex projects, one by one.
Final Words of Motivation
In this report, we have tried to cover everything. We have tried to give hobbyists who are looking to make money woodworking, a clear direction, by offering a step by step guide.
But all this holds no value, if you take no action. There is a lot of information provided in this guide, and all this can easily seem overwhelming. But if you are motivated enough, go and take the first step today. Write down your targets and make your own small business plan.
You can just decide to make some wooden spoons and focus on selling only that, and that is perfectly fine. You can easily make your hobby into a business, only if you are willing to take the first step.