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Forum topic by RussellAP posted 09-09-2013 12:30 PM 2242 views 1 time favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2486 days

09-09-2013 12:30 PM

Guys, fellow LJ’s, I’ve made just about everything you can make except the bandsaw boxes. Bowls, cuttingboards, chests, clocks, lamps, art and still I can’t seem to sell anything but outdoor furniture.

Well winter is coming, I have no income, and I need ideas so I can make this business work.

I’d be happy to make 1000$ a month, 1800$ a month would make me ecstatic.
I know I have to work up to it, and I realize opportunities come around, but I can’t help feeling that I’m missing something.

I’m willing to do just about anything with wood, but how do I get the jobs?

What do you make that sells?

How do you sell it?

Is the only place left for us the lousy craft fairs?

It would seem that for us woodworkers, capitalism has failed us. The large companies, i.e. greedy bastages with more money than God, moved into our world and put all the folks that would sell our stuff out of business, thus strangling the economy for small businesses. But I can’t bemoan the fantasy of the American Dream even though you have to be asleep to believe it anymore, or ready to sell out to great evil to be a part of it.

I want to be free and make my own way in the world.

I need some new ideas.



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

25 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2560 days

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

I think you’re looking up a dead horse’s *$$.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View MrFid's profile


886 posts in 2103 days

#2 posted 09-09-2013 01:22 PM

Kitchens sell. Cabinets, built-ins, etc. Get licensed. Furniture CAN sell if you have a really good private website (not Etsy) and can market well to the 1%ers, and your stuff is REALLY good (not saying yours isn’t, just didn’t look).

People do not go online to buy crafts en masse. They go online to buy known commodities; books, software, diapers, etc. Things with a return policy. Things they can comparison shop for.

They go to craft fairs to buy crafts. They MIGHT go to ebay to buy crafts. No one gets rich selling cutting boards and turned bowls.

Think about what people NEED that are made of wood. Cabinets, built-ins, furniture (not necessarily made from wood, but people will buy quality furniture, just not online.)

Good luck.

-- Bailey F - Eastern Mass.

View Shawn Masterson's profile

Shawn Masterson

1325 posts in 2147 days

#3 posted 09-09-2013 03:07 PM

In my area The cabinet business is rough as far as building them. Installing them is another story. There is always a demand for remodeler for Kitchen and baths. I don’t think this helps. I get the vibe you want to work from the shop.

View coachmancuso's profile


259 posts in 2130 days

#4 posted 09-09-2013 03:54 PM

If you do a craft show you have to remember that not all people bring hundreds of dollars to buy furniture. You have to make items that everyone can afford key chains, pens, earrings, items such as pens a slimline pen blank cost 1.00 -2.00 and the kit is 1.69 so you have under 4.00 in it and sell them for 15.00 and up. I takes less then 30 minutes to make from start to finish. If you sell a bunch of pens key chains and earrings and you can make approx. 300.00 on half of day on sat. I have set up for Nov. and will make approx. 1200.00 – 2000.00 for the month.

-- Coach Mancuso

View Loco's profile


210 posts in 1948 days

#5 posted 09-09-2013 04:02 PM

Dog beds, dog houses and computer desks. Spice racks(pull out) do pretty well with the under 28 BMI females.

-- 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 Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#6 posted 09-09-2013 04:06 PM

Are you sure that it is what you sell, or how you sell it? Maybe you need to promote yourself in different venues. From what I have seen, your products look fine. One of the things I have done is analyze where I am selling to make sure my target customers are there. For me, craft shows will ever pay the bills.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View DMC1903's profile


285 posts in 2526 days

#7 posted 09-09-2013 04:20 PM

Look into Kief boxes

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3847 days

#8 posted 09-09-2013 04:28 PM

Custom casework sells. Cabinets and built solve
real problems and custom solutions are the only
way to make somebody happy. Read Jim Tolpin’s
book on going pro and do what he tells you.

Humidors were big for awhile. I never made one.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3784 days

#9 posted 09-09-2013 06:46 PM

Please don’t rely on woodworking to bring in a steady income, if your selling it yourself .imho your going to be dissapointed in the short and long run best get a steady job working with a permanent wage for someone else again in my experience lots of people tried that and failed miserably every day. Sorry Alistair

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

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30052 posts in 2537 days

#10 posted 09-09-2013 07:37 PM

I tend to be an optimist. I feel that if you do it wisely you can make it work. Is there plenty of stories of failure? yes. There is however success stories as well. there are plenty of LJs here that make a living at this craft. My suggestion would be to read LJ Huff’s series on marketing your products. I know it has helped me with the business end of things. That is the area that most of us struggle. I wish you luck. Holler if I can help.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2686 posts in 3121 days

#11 posted 09-09-2013 08:44 PM

IF you are looking for items to make and sell at craft fairs, like I do, you need to keep most of your items under $25 and it helps a LOT if you get set up to take credit cards. I sell a lot of cedar boxes with maple images inlayed into the lids. (People like boxes) I mass produce them so I can keep the price under $25. I also make and sell more expensive items but they are slower to sell. Credit card sales work well for these higher priced items.

-- No PHD just a DD214 Website>

View Don W's profile

Don W

19007 posts in 2767 days

#12 posted 09-09-2013 08:49 PM

One of my biggest sellers back when I was trying the craft thing was a fairly basic box made for baseball cards. The baseball card fade is over, but you need to find the latest craze.

Jelly cabinets and pie safes were big to. I always had two or three ahead. And Like Jim, I never made one at a time.

Edit: And I should note, the best thing that ever came from the craft fairs were leads for the custom cabinets and builtin jobs like Bailey mentioned.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2372 days

#13 posted 09-09-2013 09:01 PM

Here’s a thread with some good ideas . . You’re truly talented woodworker and I can tell that you’ll be able to attract audience and customers. You can start with advertising especially on internet. You may take your projects on flea markets, yards and a great place to start – .
The point of selling woodworking is to earn money doing what you love.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3168 days

#14 posted 09-09-2013 10:20 PM

IMO If you want to do the flea market circuit you’d be better off importing a container load of hand carved, slave labour trinkets and curios from Malaysia and adding a decent mark up.

It sounds like you have already got a name for outdoor furniture in your location, would it be a better idea to develop a signature range of outdoor furniture and get that ready to go for the spring?

I just think something really exceptional is probably better trying to hawk more of what’s already out there, and trying to be competitive.

Bowls are great, but face it, you can get one for a Dollar in Wal-Mart.

I personally have no interest in anything other than furniture, but I see exceptionally talented workmanship on Lumberjocks – the likes of Britboxmaker, Trifern etc, I’d love to know if they have any difficulty selling their work (if it’s for sale) and if it’s worthwhile for them to put the work into it.

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 3143 days

#15 posted 09-10-2013 01:42 AM

Don’t give up on all art & craft shows. Which shows are you doing? Like everything else you get out what you put into it. Concerning shows, you need to do the higher end shows. Yes, they do cost more money to enter and attend but if you want to win big, you have to play big. Most of my shows cost 300 – 500 for a single 10×10 booth. I get a double booth at every show that I can. And yes, I do make the money to make a profit from those shows. I have many friends not just in wood that do well at these shows as well. My opinion is that if you don’t make sales at a show, you are at the wrong show. Also yes to the other question. I have done many shows that I did not make money at but I learned not to go there.

You can make money with woodworking. I do. You have to find the right market for your products. That is harder than woodworking. It’s not easy at all. I have night courses in learning to sell and market. I subscribe to several blogs about selling and marketing. I subscribe to magazines about selling and marketing. You need to determine who your customer is. What is their income level. What kind of house do they own or rent. Where do these people live. What is a show within 10 – 20 miles of them. What kind of show is it. Do people buy or window shop at the show. Do you have professional looking handout materials for them. Does it have your website and phone. Can they purchase from your website. Can you ship. What is your selling technique. How do you explain yourself and products. Do you talk with all people in your booth. Do you talk to people walking by your booth.

Marketing and selling are harder than woodworking.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

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