Any Woodworkers Here Making a Living in Boxes?

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Forum topic by gerrym526 posted 10-03-2008 10:45 PM 1992 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3983 days

10-03-2008 10:45 PM

In looking through the many projects here, I’ve come across lots of beautifully built boxes-jewelry, storage, cigar humidors, etc.
Those of you skilled in creating these-are you pricing and selling them to make a living? What are your markets? Individuals, craft fairs, galleries??

I”m asking because in planning to start a woodworking business in “semi-retirement” and was looking for the types of pieces that one can make a living on. So far, my bias is toward studio art furniture pieces, rather than smaller works like boxes.

Don’t bother telling me I”m nuts to try to make a living in woodworking-I already know I”m nuts, but too stubborn (and stupid) to know better-LOL!

Thanks for your input.

-- Gerry

9 replies so far

View cmaeda's profile


205 posts in 3729 days

#1 posted 10-04-2008 04:45 AM

I don’t make a living woodworking but I have always found that its’ easier to sell things that you can’t manufacture easily. For example, I got a commission a few months ago for jewelry boxes with a lot of inlaying and marquetry. If they wanted a plain jewelry box, they would just buy it online.

View USCJeff's profile


1064 posts in 4243 days

#2 posted 10-04-2008 05:48 AM

I’ve seen some of the prices that are charged and initially think, wow. Then I try to rip off their design and find out the hard way how it got the “wow” price tag. I’ll second cmaeda, if it’s simple, they’d go to Walmart. I’d lean towards the studio pieces myself if I had your guts (or was it nuts, Hmm?)

-- Jeff, South Carolina

View christopheralan's profile


1126 posts in 3895 days

#3 posted 10-05-2008 02:39 AM

So I’m at a dinner party and the guy says, “Steak or burger?”
I want the steak.
It looks nice.
Can I afford it?

“How much for the burger?”

I’ll save up for the steak. Burger will do for now.

Ya follow? Everyone wants something nice, but seldom have the money to do so. My customers for example want the coolest thing that I can design. But after they get my quote, a lot off them back off. They can’t afford it. I get it. I understand where they are comming from. I then design and make something smaller, easier, and cheaper, but still custom.

I show them my “studio art pieces” but rarely do they buy. I keep things on hand for them that are in their price range. I then make the project custom and they feel special. Result, they start saving up for a steak.

-- christopheralan

View SawDustnSplinters's profile


321 posts in 3956 days

#4 posted 10-05-2008 04:04 AM

I would suggest you diversify, you can do both big pieces and small cash and carry items, also it is seasonal, right now I m doing shows because Xmas is coming, I took 54 Jewelry boxes to the last show. But instead of using the standard folding tables and shelves, I hired a friend and we set up one of my 6 foot dining tables , 3 coffee tables and some benches and used my own “for Sale” Pecan shelves, I set the boxes up on everything.

I got alot of leads and contacts on the bigger items…hand out alot of cards and get a website, put your work as you complete it on the site and hire a pro to get it ranked high, put the site on your card….

My boxes were 75, 100, and 125 each depending on the size and the work, during the Spring I sell alot of garden furniture…good luck

-- Frank, Dallas,TX , , “I have a REALLY BIG chainsaw”

View gerrym526's profile


274 posts in 3983 days

#5 posted 10-05-2008 11:37 PM

Thanks for the input-lots of good ideas for a business to think about.

-- Gerry

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3760 days

#6 posted 10-05-2008 11:48 PM

There is always a market if the workmanship is flawless continuously flawless.I se some variations in peoples work sometime when they are under pressure to have five humidors ready for next thursday it becomes a chore rather than a hobby.even if it is a bvusiness you must decide not to take on more than you can very comfortably do.I make bowls never sell any of my bowls candlesticks or anything as I have a friend that does it and he has to almost prostitute himself to sell beautiful items he has made the people haggle haggle haggle knowing he has little choice,it can be a trerrible experience unless you have luck My pal made a beautiful set of barley trwist candlesticks he seperated then in the centre so that one peiece overlapped the other they had to be made left and right not the same it took him nearly four days to make them and at a sale he sold them for £100 it broke his heart afterwards when he got home the wood cost him nearly £40.I would have offered him more myself sorry for the rant but selling is not for me woolworths here sell wooden bowls for $2 bucks a piece and the customers will tell you that at a wood fair when you ask for £30 for a bowld which the blank has cost you £15m inc del sorry excuse typing Alistair

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

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3892 days

#7 posted 10-07-2008 02:11 AM

You might want to consider burial urns. No hinges, which is nice – just a screw in plate on the bottom.

  • Easy to ship, store.
  • Don’t need a large shop.
  • Low materials cost.
  • Good market

-- Have a blessed day!

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4067 days

#8 posted 10-07-2008 04:28 AM

I would look at home shows and also go talk to interior designers. I have had real good success with both for casework projects. Interior designers have access to clients with money and if a designer wants your work, they will pay your price. My largest projects in dollars have come from interior designers. Home shows will get you wide exposure to locals. I have had people call me a year after a show ready to buy. There are always people at the Atlanta home shows exhibting very nice custom made furniture. I don’t know how much they sell, but their booths always get a lot of traffic.

I’m not sure craft shows are the way to go with studio furniture unless it is a very high-end fine craft show in a high income demographic location. In my experience, people will pay more if they perceive high quality and when you get up into high dollar ranges, you are selling yourself just as much as your product.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View johan's profile


162 posts in 3685 days

#9 posted 11-28-2008 09:25 PM

Ive been doing it for the last year ;

-- Johan, South Africa,

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