Selling a Woodworking Business

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Forum topic by CrosscutWoodworks posted 02-21-2016 06:10 PM 1091 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View CrosscutWoodworks's profile


6 posts in 242 days

02-21-2016 06:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Good Morning all,

I have watched and used Lumberjocks for some time now, although this is my first post. Thanks to the great community here, most of my questions ( and answers) have already been handled by others. However, this time I have a fairly unique situation that I have yet to find on here. There are a couple different categories I could post this under and I am not sure of the best but, figured this would fit the bill.

Due to a recent career change, I find myself not having time to run a small business in addition to working full time, raise a family, etc. I started this business in 2012 and have loved owning and operating it. But, as I am the owner operator, the shop time available has been cut too short. My clients have not suffered from this, but I certainly have. I think I am at the point of sale. I have shop full of tools, a professional website, intellectual property, and a decent client base,etc. I hate the idea of just shutting it down. It is a turn key operation as we are already running.

Here is the big question: Have any of you ever sold a business? It seems like a daunting task. Is it worth the sale, should I part out the tools, etc? Just looking for some advice here. Of course if you want to buy, just let me know and we can talk ;)

Thank you,

17 replies so far

View AlaskaGuy's profile


2392 posts in 1726 days

#1 posted 02-21-2016 06:54 PM

Kind of a lame answer I guess but find an expert.

I don’t know who they are but there must be people that sells business for a living just like Realtor sell houses. Id
seek out one of these people.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1734 days

#2 posted 02-21-2016 07:04 PM

Unless you’ve systemized the business, selling it is going to be difficult. The people who have the money to buy it are already running their own companies and the younger guys that want to buy it don’t have the money. If it’s systemized, people will buy it as an investment even if they have no interest in woodworking.

How easy is it for an minimally-trained person to step in your business and start cranking out $100,000 or more in sales per year? No businessman will pay a premium for a company unless it’s easy to hire and train employees to do the work.

Based upon the reasons you’ve stated for wanting to walk away from it, I’d say you don’t have enough infrastructure in place to sell the business for more than the value of the property (tools, supplies, building, etc.). If you did, you certainly wouldn’t be working a full-time job. You’d be working in the business full-time earning a 6-figure income.

-- See my work at and

View leafherder's profile


850 posts in 1369 days

#3 posted 02-21-2016 07:05 PM

Hi Adam,

It would help if you gave us a clue about the type of business or a link to your website. Are you a furniture maker, turner, cabinet maker, finish carpenter, scroll saw pattern designer or something else?
That being said, selling a business can be tricky. Since you are offering a client base you want to be sure to sell to someone who can match your levels of quality and service – or you might get a lot of complaints from people who think you are still involved. You also do not want to burn any bridges with clients in case you decide to get back in the game in a few years.
The intellectual property is a whole different issue. Will you retain any rights in the form of royalties or quality control or name branding? Imagine the situation if Sam Maloof had sold the rights to his designs to someone who started mass producing them for a discount retailer. Instead of a Maloof Rocker being a recognized symbol of style it would refer to cheap pressboard prefabricated junk. Do you want that to happen to you?
Anyone who would be in the position to buy a woodworking business and maintain quality would most likely already own all the necessary tools and would only be interested in the website, client base, and intellectual property. You would probably end up having to sell the tools piecemeal anyway.
Just some things to think about as you make your decision.
Best of luck in your future endeavors – both in and out of the woodworking field.

-- Leafherder

View CrosscutWoodworks's profile


6 posts in 242 days

#4 posted 02-21-2016 07:31 PM

All, thanks for the quick input. Some good things to think about.

The business is not systematized. You are correct, it is not earning 100k+, not to say it does not have the market share for it, but running a six figure business in your part time is a thing only true in late night infomercials. An investor could hire someone to step in and take charge I suppose, assuming they were competent woodworkers. Of course, I have not really considered hiring someone to do it for me…

Leafherder: my website address is: I do custom furniture, repair, and restorations. There is no one in my area to do basic, household woodworking professionally. Leaving the market wide open for all kinds of things. I have done everything from modify lightswitch plates, to design and build cabinetry and beds, and all things in between. I turn some, do some finish work and cabinetry. Really I do whatever my clients ask for, and I have the capability to do. This has led to filling a peculiar niche in my area.
If I was to have an interested buyer, and it appears to workout, we could talk about intellectual property rights. I mean if I am going through all the trouble and paperwork, I’m sure we could come up with a quality standard clause or something, to ensure my designs did not suffer.

All good points, some I have considered, some I have not. Thanks for the input!

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1734 days

#5 posted 02-21-2016 07:56 PM

With that additional information, I’d say your business is definitely local in scale. Maybe check with the local chamber of commerce or small business groups? Concentrate your efforts on local people because your customer base won’t travel out of state. For example, it would be useless for me to buy it because I don’t need the tools or the website and the most valuable resource would be lost with the geographic shift of merging into an out-of-state business.

Checked the website and discovered a problem with the branding. Google “Crosscut Woodworks” and the first entry isn’t your website but some low quality site ( with a major typo on the home page (We use only the highest quality mapple). I’ve no idea if it’s possible to do anything about that but if I were a potential buyer, that’s an issue I’d be concerned about. If that’s an abandoned website that you used to operate before getting a new site, I’d recommend a 301 redirect to bounce people to the new site. If someone else owns it, there’s probably not much that can be done about it.

-- See my work at and

View CrosscutWoodworks's profile


6 posts in 242 days

#6 posted 02-21-2016 08:27 PM

JAAune: Thanks for the info. Yes, that is not my site, so not too much to be done there, other than working on my placement with search engines. You gave me some good stuff to chew on, thank you very much!

View JAAune's profile


1614 posts in 1734 days

#7 posted 02-21-2016 08:58 PM

You’re welcome.

Now that I’ve given it some thought, you can deal with that other website by registering your business on as many directories and social media sites as possible. I’ve signed up on about 20 different ones to ensure I own the first three pages of Google search results. That strategy combined with some SEO work to boost the rank of your main site would help.

-- See my work at and

View Ger21's profile


1045 posts in 2548 days

#8 posted 02-21-2016 09:18 PM

Looking at your website, I don’t see any products for sale.
It’s basically a custom woodworking business. In a business like that, YOU are the business.

-- Gerry,

View helluvawreck's profile


22669 posts in 2284 days

#9 posted 02-21-2016 09:18 PM

I think that you could sell it as a set up shop easier than you can sell it as a going business. If your equipment is ok then a package deal can be an attractive opportunity to someone who is wanting to set up a shop. You might could work out getting some sort of commission for work done for people who are on your customer list. That would allow someone to pay you a little over time for your customers instead of up front. I hope that it all works out well for you.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away. Henry David Thoreau

View JackDuren's profile


119 posts in 376 days

#10 posted 02-21-2016 09:48 PM

100k is a one man show. Probably best to sell the tooling,etc and move on….

View Clarkie's profile


380 posts in 1258 days

#11 posted 02-21-2016 10:16 PM

Crosscut, in the type of business you speak of, well frankly there are hundreds of guys doing the same thing. Though you state there is no one else to do what you do, then how would someone buy your business. Then of course there is the option of just waiting this dilemma out. Things may change and you would be wise to step back for awhile before jumping to the point of no return. Otherwise start selling the machines off slowly and see just what turns up. I had the same type of business for over 40 yrs and none of my customers wanted to be turned over to someone else. As for selling the tools, you will usually lose quite a bit as the market will only bare a small percentage of what you have in them. Just my thoughts, take care and take your time to think it through, sounds like you do love the work but are getting frustrated with some points in it.

View CrosscutWoodworks's profile


6 posts in 242 days

#12 posted 02-21-2016 10:26 PM

Thanks folks. a lot of good stuff here! This has given me a lot to consider! I am not sure that I wan to sell, or that is the answer. But this has been very helpful dialogue here. I may slow down and modify my model to accept smaller, simpler projects, etc. in order to keep doing it. We’ll see. A lot to process for sure! Thanks everyone.

View Bryan Cramer's profile

Bryan Cramer

35 posts in 1327 days

#13 posted 02-21-2016 11:14 PM

May I suggest focusing on the repairs/refinishing/restoration part and take one job at a time as they come in?

-- Bryan Cramer at Great Plains Design Works

View CrosscutWoodworks's profile


6 posts in 242 days

#14 posted 02-22-2016 12:33 AM

Bryan: That is what I am leaning towards at the moment. I do not have nearly the design, supply gathering, etc, etc, time into a repair/restoration as I do into a custom build. Otherwise, where I may have a 1 month lead time, I push it out to 3 or 6 months or whatever. I like the idea of repairs/restorations as the turn around can still be pretty quick so I am still doing business, but my time spent in the shop gets more accomplished on a per piece basis.

View clin's profile


485 posts in 413 days

#15 posted 02-22-2016 06:30 AM

Here’s another idea. Rather than quit, CHARGE MORE MONEY for what you do. This will do two things, it will reduce your workload (which you want to do anyway), and you get more money for what you continue to do. Win Win.

You could actually end up making more money than you do now for doing less work. Perhaps this would help you make the leap to full time and allow you to quit your day job.

I agree with the others that as apart time, one-man business, working out of your home workshop(?), it has little or no value beyond the tools. Of course like anything, what it is worth is what someone is willing to pay. There could be someone who might buy the assets and pay something else for the name, customer list, and designs.

In my city, there was a hobby shop, the owner wanted out (after decades), and working with a broker, got NO interest. He was keeping the idea secret so not to scare off customers before he was ready. Eventually, he just decided to close the doors. So he announced his intentions to customers for his going out of business sale.

Once the customers knew about it, it wasn’t long before one of them expressed an interest and he was able to sell the business.

My point being, selling a business is like selling anything, you’ve got to let people know you have something for sale. Of course, for some businesses, this can run the risk of scaring customers away. For example, they don’t want to give you a deposit on that big build, because you might bail. Or if they have a problem in 6 months, who’s going to deal with it. So there is a risk. But, if the alternative is to just close the doors, than what does it matter?

-- Clin

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