trying to sell

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Forum topic by Juriathe posted 05-29-2012 01:14 PM 2204 views 2 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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142 posts in 2544 days

05-29-2012 01:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question sell selling tips woodworkings

Hey fellow LBers,
I have a question. I’m in a position finally to try selling my woodworks and I’m wondering if anyone has some advice or tips to help me do this. I’m listing smaller items on various sites, like Esty. the bigger things in Craigslist, and rented a booth at a local flea market.
My husband recently got laid off and my job’s not too stable,either. We are looking at this as a job, not a hobby, now. I could seriously use pointers that could make this more of a success. I realize it’s not a get-rich-quick plan.
Oh, and ” start job-hunting” is the first thing we no need to offer that “pointer”.

Thanks in advance


-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

33 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

4948 posts in 3985 days

#1 posted 05-29-2012 01:50 PM

Keep exact records. What about sales tax at a flea market?

Did I say keep exact records?


View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3011 days

#2 posted 05-29-2012 02:06 PM

Start looking for some wholesale or consignment gigs. Wine shops, fancy kitchen stores, coffee shops, etc. (Depending on what’s appropriate for what you make) That will help out a lot in the process of getting your name out there.. and the chances that they keep you in mind later when they want something custom are also a bit better. :)

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View David Kirtley's profile

David Kirtley

1286 posts in 3023 days

#3 posted 05-29-2012 02:20 PM

Well, the first thing I would suggest is to get the materials costs down and keep operating costs low. How’s that for obvious? I wouldn’t get too excited about anything that requires shipping. That is a major expense in money and time unless you can get compensated for packing.

I see your posted projects are mainly from pine. Honestly, that is going to be a hard sell as stained wood. Even though pine has a long history in furniture, people are snobs about it. I would go for painted finishes.

If I were going for quick turnover, I would focus on things like baby stuff and kids stuff. Changing tables, small sized furniture. The big stuff is fine but not something I would build on speculation unless it was something I wanted to live with. You are going to have a hard time with regular cabinet/furniture competing with people that have big production facilities and crews.

Were I trying to make a long term living at it, I would go for something like green woodlworking (look up J. Alexander and Peter Follansbee as examples) and learn to make Windsor chairs and the like. Good solid stuff that doesn’t really go out of fashion and people use. Doesn’t cost a lot in materials and tools.

-- Woodworking shouldn't cost a fortune:

View DrDirt's profile


4424 posts in 3767 days

#4 posted 05-29-2012 03:28 PM

Take a look and read through closetguy’s blog -
he has two (big ones) One on craft fairs – - which may translate well for the flea markets and another about etsy and online selling. Covers a lot of the trials and success’ he has had.

I would worry about the flea market side depending on what you are selling…. as the flea market buyer is the consummate bargain hunter, so making profit can be pretty tough selling “new creations”

-- “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Mark Twain

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2539 days

#5 posted 05-29-2012 03:42 PM

Get your sales and use license immediately and declare yourself a business, if you do not already done so. Helps you set up wholesale accounts for supplies. Assume you are working out of your house – take a look into the insurance aspects.
Concentrate on the higher end markets in your area. I live in SE Tennessee, and the same wooden box in my county can sell for twice as much on the North Shore area of Chattanooga.
Selling cheap will bring in cheap buyers. I sell more guitars now that I raised my pricing to people who don’t chisel me as much. They do, however, expect almost perfection.
Make your products look as high end as possible, pay attention to detail, knowing that discretionary spending in this economy is very low.
Spend some time thinking out of the box. I know a fellow who made some nice coin making working tool chests out of exotic woods. Never saw anything like it. You know a jewelry box might be out of exotic woods, but a tool box? Commanded a premium price, mostly bought by females for their husbands.
Don’t make anything a person can go to a Target or similar store and buy. Unique as possible.
Good luck!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View Juriathe's profile


142 posts in 2544 days

#6 posted 05-29-2012 03:55 PM

thanks for the input, guys.

I’ll be posting up to date pics soon of some of the stuff we make. If I buy wood, yes, it’s usually pine because I don’t want to practice on expensive woods. Mostly we use pallet woods which makes it hard to know what kind of wood we have at any given time. We look for nice graining for most stuff; heavy/coarser grains are saved for things we’ll paint. We have some really good sources of free wood to reclaim. Because of the unknown qualities, we don’t make cutting boards or anything that would involve food, and we normally finish the piece to seal it.

We aren’t into fine stuff, yet, I’m afraid. Boxes, benches,bookcases, and pet furniture is more our current style at present. Basic stuff that is only interesting due to design variations and finishes.

I’m gonna go read closetguy’s blog now..LOL.. Once again, thanks, guys !!

-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

View Juriathe's profile


142 posts in 2544 days

#7 posted 05-29-2012 05:51 PM

ok, I knew LJ’s were good at helping but… as soon as I settled back in the shop today hubby got a call to return to work. YAYYYYYYYYYYYY !! Amazing !! Still, I’m taking this as a sign so I’m still continuing with my plans in case such a thing happens again. I’d rather be ready than scrambling. It just takes the urgency away. Now I can go back to enjoying our crafting rather than calculating what each item or idea might be worth to someone else.

-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

View helluvawreck's profile


31393 posts in 2892 days

#8 posted 05-29-2012 06:51 PM

I’ve been rolling the same thing over in my mind but I haven’t committed myself. I come up with Etsy, my website, craft fairs, and consignment shops. I’m afraid that I might take out some of the pleasure if I started building stuff to sell. I might be forced to do it if and when I retire.


-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View Juriathe's profile


142 posts in 2544 days

#9 posted 05-29-2012 06:55 PM

yes, I’ve checked with a local Peddler’s Mall, too. It’s promising, I think. I could sort of store stuff there, and if it sells, great; but 80$ a month just to see if anyone likes our projects enough to buy makes it expensive “storage”.

-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2512 days

#10 posted 05-29-2012 07:23 PM

$80 a month expensive?

We rent a 10X12 storage unit for $60/mo. No electric, water or sewer or heat.

$80 a month sounds cheap to me.

We use to do flea marketing full time where my wife sold antique glassware. Our 12 X20 space was $400/month in South carolina.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 3140 days

#11 posted 05-29-2012 07:37 PM

there is a few blogs series here on L J about running a busyness
who beside Big Tiny that did them I can´t remember now
but his was a good serie …. you can learn a big deal from

one advise from me though is sit down and talk freely with all your ideas of what you
want to make write them down and narrow them down to a few to start with
you can allways add new thingas to it …. little like getting specialized :-)
do make them exsteamly well in the way they shuold be in the upper end of
what the market expect in the income groupe you want to sell to

it doesn´t matter if it take a weekend or 3 month before you come up with a busyness plan
with what you want to make , where to start , and what goals have you , whats the big dream
just be honest to yourself and remember the big goal for a year has to be devided
with 12 month and every month devided with 4 = a tiny goal has to be acomplished weekly
every week sit down and talk about what have you done and whats next
plan forward so you don´t stand monday morning missing materials
every month or every third month hold a strategy meating about how does it go
do we follow the plan are you behind or better yet ahead of the plan :-)
so you always know where you are and in timely can adjust the schedule or change direction

but read Big Tinys blogs and the others here on L J
and you will learn to avoid the biggest mistakes …. they are so expencive to make :-)

good luck

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3602 days

#12 posted 05-29-2012 07:42 PM

Like Dennis said there are a great number of blogs and topics here on Ljs that ask the same thing ,they are very detailed and have great suggestions.,

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3610 days

#13 posted 05-29-2012 08:38 PM

The secret in selling is quite simple ( BUYING) if you can make it or buy it at the right price you can always sell it if not then prepare to learn to quickly.You will make mistakes don’t be discouraged too quickly otherwise you won’t last.Anyway best wishes to you. Now buy smart and take your time with selling at a good profit.Theres a lot of bluff when buying and selling. you need to learn the game that’s all.I am trying to get my son into buying and selling. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View Juriathe's profile


142 posts in 2544 days

#14 posted 05-29-2012 11:03 PM

Tennessee, I’ve been trying to figure out what might sell the best around here in middle KY. I don’t get out much to look around because my job has me working Fridays through Monday, so no flea markets or craft fairs to browse through. ( I’m currently on 30 days leave, so trying to make the most of it ) I agree that asking higher prices for well-made items is probably best, as you stated.

Scotsman, I think my biggest handicap is being a scrooge..err..bargain-hunter, myself. I tend to want to price things in the range I’d be willing to pay. This is a handicap ! I’ve bought several houses for under 5k, and never pay more than 2,500 for a car. I know my wood is free, but the labor we put into reclaiming it has a dollar value, along with gas costs and tools/equipment and consumables like nails, screws, paint and finishes. An artist once told me a good rule of thumb for pricing is cost of supplies plus 20 %. Does that sound reasonable for woodworking ? Hubby says he sweats over this too much for a mere 20

I think I’ve been reading so much stuff that I’m confusing myself.

Dennis, I think you have a good idea there. I do feel like a pup chasing it’s tail some days. Hence my tagline. We are building our house as we live in it; refurbishing my parents house, have a project house on hold, plus working in our own shop as we can. Suddenly feeling like it was the only game in town had me rattled. I do need a focus point. Specializing might be a good thing.

Thanks again, guys, for all the input !

-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

View JAAune's profile


1802 posts in 2342 days

#15 posted 05-30-2012 01:58 AM

Pricing goods properly isn’t easy but the concept is pretty simple once the numbers are broken down.

First you’ll need to figure out how many hours a week you’ll have to devote to the business venture. Secondly, determine how much profit is needed to make it financially viable. Divide the dollars by the hours and you’ll have the minimum profit per hour that you have to get for your work.

To get the actual price of the product determine how much time is needed to create it then add expenses on top. Don’t forget that as a business owner you’ll have to pay the self employment tax so figure that into the cost of doing business too. Also try to figure out overhead if possible. Overhead includes the time spent doing non-productive work.

Once you’ve got the cost of the product then you can do some research to see if your stuff is marketable at that price. If it isn’t, then you’ll need to see what can change. Either expenses or hours have to decrease or the price needs to increase.

My own rough ballpark figure for my work is 33% for tax, 33% for materials and 34% for my profit. However, since I do high-end custom work the numbers vary quite a bit. Often my profits exceed materials quite a bit since quality work is labor intensive.

As one more bit of advice, don’t allow a gut level reaction sway you away from pricier materials. Bear in mind that time equals money and sometimes spending a little more on materials results in a much nicer product without additional investment in time. Pine may be cheap but you need to be sure that you aren’t dropping the value of your goods too much by going that route.

Another idea is to think small. When projects are small, it is often possible to use the highest quality materials without causing a significant increase in expenses. Pen turning seems to fall in this category. People say that pens made from fancy exotics tend to sell better than ones made from cheap woods.

-- See my work at and

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