Do you sell?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by RussellAP posted 09-05-2013 12:50 PM 1685 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2253 days

09-05-2013 12:50 PM

LJ has every kind of woodworker you can imagine from the pros to the guy with a large closet and a coping saw.

I often wonder as I look through the projects, if the item is for sale and how much it is, and whether or not it sells at that price.

I don’t really see a reason to not put a price in, it’s just as important for those of us who sell our work to have our friends and others input on our price. We all tend to be proud of our work, which is reflected sometimes in the price.

Take cutting boards, I’d really like to know how much to sell them for and how to sell them best, but you never get that from the projects and it’s just as important as the wood used and the process used to make it.

Determining a price for your work is not an easy process and it’s not all about cost. My cost on most small items is practically nothing because I use local mills, so a bread board or cutting board only costs me about 10$ to make, but how much is it ‘worth’?

What are your thoughts?

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

20 replies so far

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2080 days

#1 posted 09-05-2013 01:11 PM

I agree that it would be neat to know what some things go for, but those numbers are worthless to your business. Your target market, location, shows that you sell at, and how you sell value to your clients determines how much you can charge. It can be no fun but you have to be a good salesman. Not to mention there are people who make something really cool, but how long does it take to sell? Years?

You have to look at your numbers to determine how to price your cutting boards. I have a gang rip saw and could make blanks real quick, let’s pretend the next guy uses his table saw for the ripping. Everything else the same, I can sell my boards a little cheaper than he can. The other guy has to add value to his product by saying its all hand selected and cut one at a time to make the best possible looking cutting board. Both ways work fine and will put a little money in your pocket, but they have different prices.

Good luck! – do you have a website?

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2253 days

#2 posted 09-05-2013 01:26 PM

rrww. I have a couple where I list my stuff, but nothing ever happens on a web site unless you somehow ‘drive’ people to it. I’m a woodworker not a ‘driver’, whatever that means. Even Facebook seems a waste of time, I have an audience of over 850, yet not one sale from there. Most of my business comes from random ads like Craigslist, and some other more permanent ads I’ve placed on diner tables.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View hydro's profile


208 posts in 1718 days

#3 posted 09-05-2013 01:27 PM

As someone who has been involved in sales and marketing my entire life, and as a former professional wood worker, I have a couple of thoughts. First is what you are selling a “commodity” that can be purchased at the local retailer? If so, just go there and you will see what the going pricing is for what you make. Don’t expect to get much more because it is “hand made” or “high quality”. Your cutting board product is a prime example of this. The majority of people buy on utility and price, and you need to be in that “cost/benefit” window for them to pull the trigger.

If what you are building is more specialized, like say an intricate display cabinet for small items, you have a better chance of getting more money for your work. Particularly if what you make could be considered “Artistic” by someone other than yourself. I know that I consider what I build to be art, but I also know that other people do not always share that opinion. That “Art” conceptualization separates your product from utility and can bring much higher prices.

Furniture is another difficult area and compares closely to the commodity analogy above. People will see an article of furniture and mentally compare it to what they can buy in the big box retailer, and then subliminally set a price in their mind as to what it is worth. To get good money for a furniture piece you will need to do it on a custom basis and first convince your customer that your craftsmanship and materials choice are going to give them something with more personal meaning than they can get on the retail floor.

Overall, the idea of making a living doing woodwork is tough to make happen. I’ve been on that road and have seen many friends try it, but only a few have seen any level of success. If you want to pursue it on a hobby basis and sell a piece now and then, that is much more realistic and should be more enjoyable as well.

-- Minnesota Woodworkers Guild, Past President, Lifetime member.

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2253 days

#4 posted 09-05-2013 01:31 PM

hydro, thanks. That is useful info. I would be happy to remain a hobbyist who can make about 1800$ a month. I’m not looking to go Hollywood or anything, my wife works and we have insurance through her so I doubt I’ll even declare myself as a business at all. Just keep it a guy with a trademark.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 1915 days

#5 posted 09-05-2013 01:50 PM

I have been woodworking since I was 18 (now 31). I have been in it for the money. I followed the all mighty dollar, and it has had me trimming houses, stairs, making built-ins, and doing window replacements. Most all of my jobs are T&M and cash. Since I have been coming here I have been drawn to the CB and more fun stuff, but have often wondered the same thing. How much sells, where, and for how much. I love what I do, but I don’t want a bunch of stuff laying around that I can’t move. I also don’t want to devalue the market. So often I see people doing work for very little profit just to keep working. As a UNION carpenter I believe in a fair day’s labor for a fair days pay. If I can’t make $25 an hour cash it just ain’t worth getting in the truck. just MHO.

Good thread by the way

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1716 days

#6 posted 09-05-2013 01:56 PM

If the tools (a shop, not a HF skil saw) are running and you’re not making $40 +/hr find something else to do.

-- What day is it ? No matter. Ummmm What month is it ? No moron. I paid for a 2 x 6. That means Two inches by six inches. I want the rest of my wood.

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2080 days

#7 posted 09-05-2013 02:39 PM

Russell, I was just checking out your facebook, good looking stuff. The pictures of the serving board with bread is excellent – it creates emotion with your product.

The website is our bread and butter, but your right it takes a ton of time / effort. Its not fast and the payoff started about a year into it. Facebook isn’t much for us either, but we haven’t been putting in a lot of effort. But i’m selling business to business for the most part, not much is retail. A one man shop is a tough job.

If you have a goal of $1800 a month free and clear – your half way there knowing how to price your items to get to your goal.

Having seen your facebook page – is there one niche you want to be involved in or are you just looking at doing pretty much anything as long as the money is there?

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3252 days

#8 posted 09-05-2013 02:41 PM


Can we be brutally honest?

-- John @

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 2911 days

#9 posted 09-05-2013 04:54 PM

Russell, I do woodworking full time ans have been for over 10 years. The most important thing that I have learned is: Marketing is just as or more important than the woodwork.

Marketing is the hardest thing for me to do. It is much harder than woodworking. However, I know that is very important. If I do not market, then I don’t get to woodwork.

Marketing takes many forms. What you currently do may work for you. If you want more, you will have to market more.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View DKV's profile


3940 posts in 2471 days

#10 posted 09-05-2013 06:15 PM

Hydro, boo hiss…

-- This is a Troll Free zone.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3252 days

#11 posted 09-06-2013 01:15 PM


OK, I won’t be brutally honest, I’ll be gently honest! :)

I’ll try to answer some of your questions;

Take cutting boards, I’d really like to know how much to sell them for?

If you go to Esty and type in handmade cutting boards in the search box, you will find your answer; there are 10,325 cutting boards for sale in one location (Esty).........................and after looking at the first 500 boards or so; I got bored (as I’m sure any consumer would) and realized 95% of them looked a lot alike and the prices were low.

From that alone you should be able to come to one of two conclusions.

One; you can use that as; “what the market will bear” and jump on the band wagon and build and sell your cutting boards for the same price and even join the crowd and add your cutting boards to the selection on Etsy.

Two; you can use that as “knowing where NOT to try to sell your cutting boards and set your own price and find a market that will buy your product.

I would be happy to remain a hobbyist who can make about 1800$ a month.

so a bread board or cutting board only costs me about 10$ to make, but how much is it ‘worth’?

so I doubt I’ll even declare myself as a business at all.

You’re in the same delima that most woodworkers find themselves; they want to treat a business like a hobby because a hobby is fun and a business is a lot of hard work.

I’ve found this is the biggest problem woodworkers have; trying to bridge the gap between being a hobbyist and being a professional woodworker.

If you’re selling your work, you’re a business and you need to treat it like one. If you’re a hobbyist, then it doesn’t matter how much you charge for your work or how much you make a month.

Example; You say it only cost you $10 to make a cutting board, so as a hobbyist, anything you sell it for over $10 should be a profit. (Sell your cutting boards for $11 each and you will probably be able to sell more boards then you will be able to make).

As a business, you can not “make” or manufacture that same cutting board for $10.00. You have to know the true cost to manufacture something so you can determine a price to sell it for….............and sometimes we have to realize we can not manufacture certain things and sell them for a profit.

Like Jim (puzzleman) mentioned in post #9; marketing is just as important, if not more important then knowing how to build something.

Pricing, Marketing and Selling are the three key elements to having success in making any money at woodworking.

I cover this in more detail in my book ( you have a copy) and in my blog series on “pricing your woodworking to make a profit” and “how to market and sell your woodworking”.

I hope this can help other woodworkers that are also struggling with this part of their woodworking. You can make a good living at woodworking, but you will have to put as much effort into learning how to price, market and sell your work if you want to make anything from your woodworking.

Good luck to everyone.

-- John @

View SteveMI's profile


1092 posts in 3261 days

#12 posted 09-07-2013 04:02 PM

Another $0.01 to add.

Commodity items are only mildly profitable if you can sell in volume. If you are selling in a venue that is person to person, like a weekend show, or online, then you need to be unique in order to make money. Cutting boards, pens, turned bowls or anything from a magazine article is going to be cut throat. For a while in my area the band saw boxes prices were really depressed, but seem to getting to where they should be. Square boxes with inlay do not sell (I have two larger totes in the garage).

Custom or personalized items can make money. I used to make smaller tables for narrow hallways, under low windows or to fit in kids rooms. These weren’t available in the normal stores. The selling location went away and so did that line. I’ve been making cribbage boards in the shape of my state (Michigan) peninsulas, which are steady income in three stores. Of course, cribbage isn’t that popular any more so the sales only take 3-4 days a month to maintain inventory. I’ve seen people taking orders at shows for routed address signs with names, stools and small tables with children names in them and personalized man cave signs that were priced where there could be reasonable profit.


View Richforever's profile


757 posts in 3687 days

#13 posted 09-07-2013 06:19 PM

My 2 cents: being market specific is important. Link the feeling that a market segment wants to buy to your product, and charge what that market segment pays for that feeling elsewhere. For example: the psychographic segment from Stanford Research Institute of “belongers” wants to buy the feeling of “tradition”. What they are trying to avoid is “the breakup of the family”. Selling a well-made piece of furniture to this segment would entail mentioning that it will be passed down through the family for generations to come. The price has to be high enough for them to associate the furniture with something so important as family tradition. People will be happy to throw money at you in order to buy the feeling that they want. Most businesses don’t take the effort to figure out what feeling they should be selling. Hope this helps.

-- Rich, Seattle, WA

View Wildwood's profile


2300 posts in 2101 days

#14 posted 09-07-2013 07:55 PM

Peruse events and pick one or two places to visit and see what is selling. Never been to MO, so have no clue about events listed.

Want to see if people are buying, talk to a few crafts people that are not busy about event you visit and others in the state they like. You want to make a day of it gathering information before deciding to do an event.

I would be interested in visiting this event if lived close by:

Have done both juried & non-juried events, both types and have people selling import junk these days.

Do not pass up local Farmer’s markets.

JMHO, meeting people face to face will lead to more sales than passive web pages. If have a business card with name, phone, e-mail, and web site info might lead to more sales.

-- Bill

View PineChopper's profile


187 posts in 2163 days

#15 posted 09-07-2013 09:48 PM

Great thread.
I’m trying to get some projects done to start a business too.
Hope to finally post some projects in a week or so.

showing 1 through 15 of 20 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics