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Forum topic by Jerry posted 03-30-2014 08:26 PM 2107 views 2 times favorited 28 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jerry

1767 posts in 1110 days


03-30-2014 08:26 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question marketing selling

My wife got laid off and had to take a much lower paying temporary job, while I was trying to get a woodworking shop put together, get some skills, and start some sort of a business, so now we’re up against it. I’m 60 ( yeah that picture is 30 years old ), so getting a job is getting really difficult, and I’m hoping to make it on my own.

I want to start making things out of wood that I can sell. I’d like to make the equivalent of a decent paycheck doing this, and I haven’t got the faintest idea of where to start. What types of things to make, how to market them, what appropriate price points are, etc, so I’m asking all you experienced woodworkers for help and advice. Anything that any of you could tell me would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,
Jerry

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/


28 replies so far

View Loren's profile

Loren

8301 posts in 3110 days


#1 posted 03-30-2014 08:34 PM

You’re in for a harsh ride.

Can you do custom casework? Are you able to do the lifting
and squatting involved in doing cabinet installations?

If you want to make products that can move at modest shows,
these are things that can sell, though they are all rather
generic and that will depress the prices you can get for
them:

- birdhouses
- cutting boards
- jewelry boxes
- pizza peels

A major factor that is going to depress your income is sanding
time. I would not recommend a drum sander. A stroke
sander is way faster.

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Jerry

1767 posts in 1110 days


#2 posted 03-30-2014 08:36 PM

Loren, thank you for the great information, No, I can’t do custom casework, but I am very strong – 40 years of doing Traditional Chinese martial arts ( Eagle Claw ) has kept me very fit and limber, I have legs like tree trunks and I can still bench 300 lbs, but I doubt that will help me make money woodworking…

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/

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Loren

8301 posts in 3110 days


#3 posted 03-30-2014 08:42 PM

Great. I do way more heavy lifting than I would have
ever expected in doing woodworking. I kind of like
it but at times I got hurt when I was younger… now
I work out in part just to stay fit enough not to get
hurt when I’m moving 90lb. sheets around or doing
lean-over lifts of cabinets.

There’s some market for refinishing services. It’s awful
work but people want it done. Floors refinishing also.

There’s somebody on here who refinished for many
years and he said it was the least fun but the best
money he ever made in woodworking I think.

People want furniture repaired too, which is cool but
the repairs are often minor and they don’t want to
move the pieces to your shop… if you can offer
pickup and delivery that can help secure repair and
refinishing jobs.

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InsideTheBox

89 posts in 1136 days


#4 posted 03-30-2014 08:48 PM

I wish I had an answer for you. Everything I’ve made so far has been a gift for someone… although I am running out of people to give things to and I am going to have to start justifying the expense of the tools… By showing off the few things I’ve made to some of my peers, I’ve gotten a few “I want one, too!!”s and people are willing to pay, but that’s not making a living. LJ is a good site for inspiration, but the speed-up videos and photos don’t show the sweat and tears.. hopefully not much blood… that goes into a lot of these projects. Best of luck to you – I look forward to seeing more of your work!

-- There's no such thing as a mistake; only a quick change of plans.

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TheDane

4997 posts in 3125 days


#5 posted 03-30-2014 08:52 PM

Jerry—Ever heard of Ron Brown? He is a pro who does the Woodworking Shows circuit … he also offers a free business plan for people who want to do woodworking as a business. All you need to do is shoot him an email and request it. Here is a link to the relevant page on his website:

http://www.coolhammers.com/earn_$50_hr_with_lathe.htm

Try this link to send him an email: Business plan for Free (this link may or may not work depending on the email system you are using).

-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View Jim Finn's profile

Jim Finn

2409 posts in 2384 days


#6 posted 03-30-2014 09:01 PM

To learn any trade well enough to “make a living” at it takes 4-6 years or more of working for professionals in that trade. This is why apprenticeships exist. I sell my wood working items (Seven years now) but make about 1/10 of what I made as a construction tradesman. If I needed more money I would look for a job. UGH!

-- "You may have your PHD but I have my GED and my DD 214"

View GpaLarry's profile

GpaLarry

3 posts in 1016 days


#7 posted 03-30-2014 09:13 PM

I make bird houses from cedar fence boards, no finishing or adornments. They sell rapidly @ $15 for a single occupant size. 2 nests size $18. There are so many hobby type projects you can build and sell at farmers markets, flea markets, & the like. I’m older than you & living with a serious back injury. Because of this I found a money making hobby in up-cycling old furniture. It’s a lotos fun. I go to yard sales, estate sales, and shop sites like Craigslist to get my little friends to love & build. I have even found treasures on the curb waiting for the garbage truck.
Best of luck on your voyage, remember “Do what you love ,Love what you do.”

-- Larry D. the Master Sawdust Maker

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

1767 posts in 1110 days


#8 posted 03-30-2014 09:14 PM

RE TheDane: Thanks amigo, I will follow up on that

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/

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Jerry

1767 posts in 1110 days


#9 posted 03-30-2014 09:18 PM

RE Loren: Thanks for the refinishing and repair idea. I actually love doing that type of work. I spent 5 years restoring an FJ40 Land Cruiser so I got good with finishes.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/

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Jerry

1767 posts in 1110 days


#10 posted 03-30-2014 09:20 PM

RE GpaLarry: That is great information Larry, thank you very much. I am getting a lot of great ideas here, THANK YOU EVERYONE!

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/

View JimRochester's profile

JimRochester

376 posts in 1077 days


#11 posted 03-30-2014 09:20 PM

Don’t know anyone that can make a full living selling craft items. I price mine at 2 – 2.5 times wood cost and still don’t make minimum wage after sanding and finish times. Cabinet work and some carpentry would probably get you more of a living. Tons of Amish around make quite a living making furniture.

-- Schooled in the advanced art of sawdust and woodchip manufacturing.

View huff's profile

huff

2828 posts in 2747 days


#12 posted 03-30-2014 10:50 PM

Jerry,

I wish there was a simple answer to your questions, but like Loren said; You’re in for a harsh ride.

That is not a negative, but starting and building a woodworking business ( like a lot of other businesses) is not a get rich quick, sucess overnight, instant rags to riches venture.

There are a couple ways to start and build your business that has been mentioned above. TheDane gave you good advice and a link to making a business plan and that is very important if you want to build a sucessful business.

There’s a lot to a business plan then that, but that’s a good starting point.

Another way of building your business is like Loren mentioned; that is maybe selling some items that you build, but also do other type of woodworking besides, like furniture repair and/or refinishing. This gives you a better chance to build a customer base on what you design and build and still generate a paycheck while it develops. You should still have a business plan, but it’s some great ideas other then just trying to decide what to build and sell to start with.

It’s strictly up to you what you build and sell or what other type work you may do along with your woodworking, but the most important thing to remember is “Marketing”!

The reason most woodworkers have a hard time making a living doing woodworking is “not” their lack of woodworking talent, or the product they build, but their lack of knowing how to market themselves, their business and their products!

You can build the most beautiful furniture going, but if you can’t reach the right customer, you will have nothing. We may be woodworkers, but we are in the “people business”, so we have to learn how to deal with people.

I started my business with no tools, very little woodworking experience and virtually no budget, but I was able to build a sucessful business realizing there was a lot more to owning and operating a woodworking business then simply knowing how to build something. When I first started my business, my wife had a good job and it helped pay the household bills while I was building my business, but a couple years into it, my wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer and was no longer able to work. I had no choice, either I was going to make a living for my family doing woodworking or I would have to find a job to pay the bills.

I don’t have much patience for those that whine about not being able to make a living doing woodworking! Trust me, you can and I wouldn’t have traded it for any other career.

Feel free to ask me any questions you may have about having a woodworking business, I’m retired now and would like to help others enjoy the world of woodworking.

I have written a blog series on both pricing your woodworking and another series on how to market and sell your woodworking. There may be some information in those that may help you.

Good luck,

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Jerry's profile

Jerry

1767 posts in 1110 days


#13 posted 03-30-2014 11:04 PM

John, Thank you VERY much for your inspirational words. I would like to see your blog, but did not see a link for it on your website. I’m going to PM you with a couple of questions.

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be. http://geraldlhunsucker.com/

View huff's profile

huff

2828 posts in 2747 days


#14 posted 03-30-2014 11:08 PM

Jerry,

My blog series is here on LJ’s so you can just click on blog on my avitar and it will take you directly to them.

Thanks and I’ll look for your PM.

-- John @ http://www.thehuffordfurnituregroup.com

View Monte Pittman's profile (online now)

Monte Pittman

22003 posts in 1800 days


#15 posted 03-30-2014 11:08 PM

I started 5 years ago. I have a full time job, and if things go well by the end of this year I hope to be making a decent sustainable profit from the woodworking. It could be done faster than that, but not a lot faster. My other problem is that I am working as fast as a one-man shop can.

You need to be unique. If you do the same thing as an established business, you will lose. I wish you well sir. I would be glad to answer questions if I can.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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