Ideas to Supplement Income

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Forum topic by BradinPA posted 10-05-2010 02:42 PM 11723 views 1 time favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 2857 days

10-05-2010 02:42 PM

The economy has knocked me down a notch. Overall, I am fine. However wife and I have prioritized our budget and spending and set up strict budget. The woodshop budget took a hit down to $20 per month.

My wife has agreed that if I can make extra money building and selling, all profit can go back to me and this woodworking habit.

So I am looking for ideas on what might be marketable to build and sell in order to supplement my income. I was thinking perhaps adirondack chairs or blanket chests. Any other ideas?

33 replies so far

View hObOmOnk's profile


1381 posts in 4092 days

#1 posted 10-05-2010 03:11 PM

Business savvy?

-- 温故知新

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#2 posted 10-05-2010 03:27 PM

birdhouse and birdhouse lights have done well for me in the past. people seemto love garden art, like old fashioned looking wheelbarrells, water wheels.

If you have a lathe its inexpensive and quick to make those wooden tools that squeeze all the joice from lemons and limes. Same for turning wooden christmas tree lightbulbs


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View BradinPA's profile


4 posts in 2857 days

#3 posted 10-05-2010 03:29 PM

Business savvy? Don’t know, but I have common sense. My wife has home mail order business. I do her taxes, so I have a little business knowledge.

Market? That is my question. I am open. I am thinking probably start out local or craft shows. Perhaps Etsy. I am looking for ideas for what sells. I do not plan on setting up an internet business.

Skills? Intermediate. 18th century reproductions are beyond my skill set. But I like to think of my woodworking skills as capable.

Materials? My shop is fairly well equipped – TS, 14” BS, 6” jointer, lunchbox planer, router table, mini lathe, wide variety of hand planes, etc. I have access to buy from many saw mills in my area with Pennsylvania woods. I don’t particularly like working the ultra-hard exotics.

View terrilynne's profile


836 posts in 2858 days

#4 posted 10-05-2010 04:40 PM


-- Terri, Rocky Mountain High Colorado!

View MrsN's profile


985 posts in 3490 days

#5 posted 10-05-2010 07:39 PM

If you want to do craft shows you will likely have to spend money to make money. You would need to build up inventory, get display materials (tables, tents, table cloths, racks and shelvs…)and pay vendor fees (just off the top of my head) After your first show you may still be in the red.
Etsy is cheaper up front, but to make sales you have to promote your site. Spend lots of time on their forums, do some of the facebook/twitter stuff. If you have some time it works for some people.
I would not over look word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that you make stuff, show pictures or have stuff around, and tell them you are looking to start selling the things you make. since you are not trying to get an income out of your woodworking, a sale or two a month would help boost the shop budget.

View bent's profile


311 posts in 3633 days

#6 posted 10-06-2010 05:03 AM

maybe try furniture repair? the material investment for it is minimal.

it seems like just $20 wouldn’t get you very far in building up any kind of inventory. even if you have plenty of lumber already on hand, $20 might not even cover hardware and finishing supplies.

View robert triplett's profile

robert triplett

1566 posts in 3069 days

#7 posted 10-06-2010 06:37 AM

Although furniture would give you a big amount of cash from a sale, I don’t know how well big items sell right now. I have done about 15 shows this year, mainly selling cutting boards and boxes. I have seen kids furniture and some outdoor stuff sell. I agree with others that you need some small, inexpensive items ($10-$150 to cover expenses of a show. Sometimes my boxes sell well, other times it’s all cutting boards. Sometimes 6” x 9” boards and other times big boards. Think of the time of the year, the local of the show ( second home area, June weddings,) Farmers Market- food prep items, tourists- local interest items. I often have a hodgepodge of small things I think might sell. Often the type of wood will sell an item more than the particular style of construction. i have sold ear ring stands at times and other times not. Now I am working on a sewing box prototype out of Aromatic Cedar. Mainly I have fun- but I kept my day job.
Hope these thoughts help.

-- Robert, so much inspiration here, and now time to work!!!

View stratiA's profile


101 posts in 3340 days

#8 posted 10-06-2010 06:38 AM

I am in the same boat. my family and I are currently heading into crafting as a way for our family to make extra cash and fund our 2011 family vacation. I am mostly making children crafts. Its not the fine woodworking I aspire to make but I have made a few bucks. Its enough to warrant my continuing. Besides my children crafts I have made some other small projects. I’ve tried to sell clocks, small wine racks, boxes and such. Nothing spectacular but ok. I made most of them from free or cheap hardwoods. Because of low material costs I charged fairly low prices. Regardless of low cost and decent quality, I haven’t sold any of them. My realization is that in this economy people are more willing to spend on their children than themselves. Secondly at craft fairs or anywhere else somebody can build it cheaper and better than you. Or they may be better at marketing. Thus you need an angle or unique aspect to wade through all the other sellers. If these don’t exist you are at the mercy of random shopping. It seems to me more customers and women in particular are willing to purchase a cute children items for $20 than a man pay $50 for a desk clock. Just my .02 cents. There are plenty of people in this lumber jock community that make a living woodworking. Do some research see what can work for you. Good luck.

-- Strati Alepidis, Burlington, Ma, Member Red Sox nation

View dq2's profile


71 posts in 2768 days

#9 posted 10-06-2010 07:15 AM

Although I haven’t tried it, I have seen others that cut the parts for children’s step stools and package the parts with an assembly instruction sheet. Have a couple samples of painted pieces to show creativity. The booths that I have seen usually have 3 or 4 styles to choose from, including small tables, to show versatility.

-- - DQ in Phoenix -

View rhett's profile


742 posts in 3632 days

#10 posted 10-06-2010 12:39 PM

You can sell 100 widgets for $10, 10 widgets for $100 or 1 widget for $1000.

People of average means will afford $10, this is 85% of the market

People of above average means will afford $100, this is 14% of the market

People with unlimited means will afford $1000, this is 1% of the market

-- Doubt kills more dreams than failure.

View Knothead62's profile


2584 posts in 2925 days

#11 posted 10-06-2010 03:34 PM

dq2, what would your liability be if someone put the stool together and it collaped, causing injuries?

View MortTenon's profile


13 posts in 3361 days

#12 posted 10-08-2010 02:48 PM

There are laws governing the manufacture of toys for children that are causing some to rethink doing them at all. I know people who make toys and they are concerned about inadvertently running afoul of the law, or liability in the case of an accident. Little kids aren’t often held responsible for their lack of common sense.

I make birdhouses and feeders from (usually) free plans that I get from a multitude of web sites. I adapt them to make them my own and I sell them at local art fairs and farmers’ markets. We’re in a rural area in AZ, which gets a lot of tourist traffic in the summertime but is locally poor, and so sales depend on the crowd on any given day. The tourists, who are mostly from the desert areas, don’t generally buy birdhouses, so I don’t sell a lot of them, even though I get a lot of compliments. My wife makes natural stone bead and sterling silver jewelry and we share a booth, so most of the money comes from the jewelry. I will occasionally have a good day and sell two or three, but it would not provide an income on it’s own. Ours is a retirement business; a hobby. I don’t think I could make a living doing this, at least not with these products and not in this area.

booth Oct 2

View snowdog's profile


1164 posts in 3947 days

#13 posted 10-08-2010 03:03 PM

This was an enjoyable read. I don’t have a lot to input but have thought about building up an inventory of “sell-able stuff” mostly to use all that scrap wood I have been collecting. Good luck with the quest for extra income. With a little luck we (the US) will find a way out of this new economic catastrophe that we seem to be heading for. I have been working on my survivability skill :) hunting and planting <laugh>

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3858 days

#14 posted 10-08-2010 04:22 PM

I met a woman who solely does craft shows to support her childrens “expensive” hobbies ofrep hockey and downhill skiing. She assembled, then sold jewellery where most items were priced around the 20 dollar mark and told me that no matter how bad the economy is, no matter how close to “maxed out” a womans credit is, no matter how bad her personal issues are, she will always find, borrow, and or finance 20 bucks worth of jewelry.

I would have never believed her if not for the fact that I happened to be at a craft/art show where she had a booth and the cash register never stopped long enough except for the time it takes to swipe a credit card.

In terms of sales and profit margins she blew the doors off every woodworker/painter/photographer.

How hard is it to assemble a 20 dollar set of silver ear rings?

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2878 days

#15 posted 10-08-2010 04:41 PM

Budget? Dang! You must be one those who still have a JOB! Remind me, and just what IS the problem? LOL!

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

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