Woodwork Biz/Getting Started #1: My First Steps - The Search For Cash Flow

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Blog entry by billb posted 02-15-2011 03:56 PM 5034 reads 1 time favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Woodwork Biz/Getting Started series Part 2: Item One - Shop Space »

As a writer on the woodworking business, I am always reading everything I can find about various ways to operate such a business. That’s why I have been avidly reading all of Jim Hamilton’s posts on getting started and Sawblade1’s efforts to get his business going. These posts contain valuable information and reading them has motivated me to address some of the methods I used to get started years ago in hopes they might also be of help.

I won’t bore you with the details of why but when I got started in woodworking I had no secondary income and needed a prompt and regular cash flow. With meager reserves, time didn’t permit market research to develop products, speculation, or consignment selling. I needed immediate income. I did have almost all the tools needed in a storage building.

Below is an outline of the steps I took and in upcoming posts I will go into more detail about each one.

1. Luckily, the storage facility where I had stored my tools allowed me to use my space as a small (10 X 24) shop and I set up all my tools using the one duplex outlet in the space. This was essential since I lived in an apartment at the time.

2. Having lived and worked in my hometown so many years, I knew many people and I informed many of them about my new woodworking business. Most of them by phone but many by mail. This was long before email and before I knew anything about computers.

3. The major newspaper classifieds were too expensive so I placed small ads in a couple of local weeklies that served the area.

4. I had postcards made and sent one to everyone in my neighborhood whom I was unable to contact personally.

5. I went to the library and checked Cole’s Directory to find area subdivisions with home owners who could afford my services and sent out more post cards.

6. I made some flyers and placed them at any public location that would allow it.

Within a few days I got my first job from a neighbor who was opening a dry cleaning store and needed a new counter and some other cabinets. I had to create a contract form so I could collect a 50% deposit and my cash flow began. More in the next post.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

10 comments so far

View ratchet's profile


1391 posts in 3843 days

#1 posted 02-15-2011 07:47 PM

Really excellent info here Bill. Very much looking forward to future installments.

View degoose's profile


7237 posts in 3411 days

#2 posted 02-15-2011 10:14 PM

I have already read your book about running a woodworking business but I think that there may be more to it in these blogs … so I look forward to reading more… and hearing stories that may not have made it into the book…
Great book by the way….

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2996 days

#3 posted 02-15-2011 10:57 PM

The last sentence contained the magical words “collect a 50 % deposit” ! I have been doing that for many years. I will not touch a commision job unless the 50% is in my pocket. NO exceptions. EVER!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View rozzi's profile


323 posts in 3378 days

#4 posted 02-16-2011 12:21 AM

Interesting start and I will be watching for future posts. I left the business for many years and now have desire to get back in. Back in the old days I got my real start from a builders salesman who would send work they couldn’t do or did not want to do.

-- Duane, Iowa

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3000 days

#5 posted 02-16-2011 02:10 AM

Thanks Ratchet, I am planning at least a couple of more posts this week and many more after that.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3000 days

#6 posted 02-16-2011 02:11 AM

Thanks Larry,

I always look forward to your posts because of the beautiful and original designs.


-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3000 days

#7 posted 02-16-2011 02:13 AM


I’ve always found it interesting how many woodworkers resist requesting a significant deposit before starting a job. From my very first job I knew that I had to work with a deposit and like you I refused to violate that requirement.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3000 days

#8 posted 02-16-2011 02:14 AM

Rozzi, it is great to have someone willing to send you jobs they don’t want, especially when you are starting out. The nice thing is that in time you can be the one sending jobs you don’t want to someone else who needs and wants the work.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

View DrSawdust's profile


323 posts in 4154 days

#9 posted 02-16-2011 02:21 AM

I am very interested in these posts Bill. Thanks for being willing to share your experience with us. I look forward to the rest.

-- Making sawdust is what I do best

View billb's profile


113 posts in 3000 days

#10 posted 02-16-2011 04:01 PM

Thanks DrSawdust, I just put up another post on shop space.

-- Bill, Austin, Texas,

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