Table of Contents
If you’ve got a love for woodworking then why not turn it into much more than just a hobby? More and more people are taking their passions and making them into viable careers. While you may need to start small, there really is no limit to the potential of a woodworking business.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your business be but with some smart know-how, you could soon be spending your days crafting stunning projects that bring in a handsome profit. You’ll need to have a good plan and make sure that you’ve all of the necessary equipment as well as honing your skills. But once you’ve got everything in place, the sky really is the limit.
In this guide, we will be giving you a detailed introduction to starting your own woodworking business. Whether you want a side gig that’ll help you save for that nice holiday you’ve been planning or have bigger dreams of becoming financially free; there’s nothing stopping you from making money from woodworking.
Why Would You Want To Make Money From Woodworking?
It might seem like an obvious question but it really is something worth thinking about before you dive into the deep end. If you have spent many years perfecting your woodworking skills and feel that it is now time to take things to the next level then making money from woodworking is something of a natural progression.
However, you certainly don’t want to go into this venture for the wrong reasons otherwise you may find that something you once loved becomes a chore. Let’s consider some of the right reasons for wanting to make money from woodworking.
After the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us found ourselves with a much lower income. Even if you were one of the lucky ones whose income wasn’t affected, it’s always nice to have a little more.
So many people are jumping on the side gig bandwagon right now but a lot of these people are offering online services. If you’re skilled with your hands then the good news is that you won’t have quite as much competition (although we certainly aren’t saying that there won’t be any!) This means that there is a good chance of making a handsome additional income, especially if you’re a very skilled woodworker.
This extra income could be put away as a nest egg for the future; perhaps you might save it for your retirement or to help your kids out as they reach adulthood. Many people also opt to put the additional money towards clearing debts or a mortgage meaning greater financial freedom in the future. Of course, you might just decide to use those extra pennies to treat yourself and your family; and we wouldn’t blame you, after all, what’s the harm?
Selling Products To Fund New Tools And Materials
Woodworking isn’t always a cheap hobby. It can be costly to buy the materials, especially if you want the very best quality wood and the cost of power tools is shockingly high in some cases, especially when you consider just how many tools you need to complete your workshop!
There are a lot of people that like the idea of woodworking only to find that they simply cannot fund their newfound hobby. The workshop then gets left unstocked and unmanned which is a terrible shame. If you want a way to continue woodworking simply for the joy of doing so then you may find that selling some of your projects provides you with just the right amount of cash to stay on top of buying your equipment.
Potential To Make A Full Time Income
When you first begin selling your woodworking projects, the chances are that you will have to start small and work your way up to creating a reputable business. However, with some hard work and determination, it is entirely possible to create a full-time job out of your passion.
Many people who set up a business like this will start by working alongside their regular job. This may involve working on projects during the evenings and at weekends. But over time, you’ll begin to sell more and for those who are willing to do the hard graft, there is some serious potential to make a full time income.
Once you have fully established your business as a woodworker and have a steady stream of orders, you will be able to adapt your hours to suit your schedule. This is the beauty of being self-employed; you can set your own hours and work in a way that suits you.
If you’ve spent years with your nose to the grindstone from 9 to 5 then you might finally appreciate being able to start later or finish earlier. Perhaps you fancy taking a day off to spend with your partner or the kids, there’s always the option to do this. Sure, you’ll need to make up the hours elsewhere but the only limit is yourself and that’s some amazing freedom!
Earn Money From Your Passion
Most people take up woodworking because it’s something that interests them. After a while, they begin to really get into the craft and develop their skills which is super exciting when you enjoy something so much.
But as you develop these skills and have fun while doing so, why should you be limited to creating items for yourself and your loved ones? There’s a huge demand out there for wooden items from toys to furniture and picture frames to trinkets and people will pay good money for these products.
If you can spend hours doing something you love and get paid for it, that’s surely a win-win situation and the stuff of dreams!
How To Start A Woodworking Business
There’s a common misconception that setting up a business is as easy as opening a new web page on your browser. If you’ve got a good idea then that’s a start but there are many things you will need to do to take your woodworking from being a hobby to being a viable business. Some of these things are for your own comfort and ease of running the business while others are slightly more important in terms of the legalities of running a business.
How To Set Up A Home Woodworking Shop
One of the most important things you will need to do when setting up a woodworking business is to make sure that you have your shop equipped and ready to go. But it’s more than just finding a shed and erecting a workbench, so be sure to pay a good amount of attention to the space that you will be working in.
Tools And Equipment
When you’re just getting started, you might not want to invest a huge amount of money in your tools because you can’t be 100% certain that the business is going to take off. Not that you shouldn’t have confidence in your ability but you also need to be mindful of not wasting money.
Of course, you also don’t want to purchase inferior tools that aren’t going to meet the demands that running a woodworking business will bring. But there is some good news; we have found a lot of excellent quality tools that don’t break the bank and are perfect for beginners and those setting up a new business. You can check out our full guide here.
You will need a good selection of hand tools such as saws, chisels, mallets and saws as well as a range of powered tools. Saws are one of the most important for woodworking but there are so many types it can send your head into a spin! If you’re looking to invest in a couple of powered saws to get your started, we would suggest going for a bandsaw or jigsaw for detailed work as well as a circular saw for more general jobs.
Heating And Lighting
You need to be comfortable when you’re working, especially if you are planning to run your woodworking business as a full-time job. This means making sure that your workspace has adequate heating and lighting.
Lighting is of the utmost importance to be able to clearly see your projects as well as for the safe use of your tools. When you first start out, you may find yourself having to work evenings and in low light, you’ll never produce a good standard of work. The light that is over your workbench is of particular importance as you may need different light levels for different tasks. A great idea here is to choose something adjustable.
Moreover, it’s essential to heat your workshop so that you are comfortable and able to work easily. But since most people often set their workshop up in a shed or outbuilding, there is an increased risk of fire owing to the materials from which they are made and items inside that may pose a fire hazard.
When you’re working with wood, there is a risk of flying sawdust and other particles that could make contact with a heater and quickly turn into a disaster. That’s why it’s really important to make sure that you put safety first when warming up the workshop.
The final thing to think about when setting up your workshop is making life easier for yourself. If you’ve got a huge influx of orders, you’re going to need to be organised if you want to complete them on time. This means arranging your tools and workbench in such a way that you create a good workflow.
Some tools can be fixed so make sure that these are in a safe and easy to reach location but that do not get in the way when they aren’t being used. You’ll also need plenty of organised storage to keep small tools, fittings, space wood etc. Whether you use drawers, boxes, bins or anything else is up to you but be sure to label everything so you’re not scrabbling around for that one type of nail or that particular saw when you’re in a hurry.
It can be handy to put up a tool rack on the wall above your workbench which allows you quick and easy access to your most important tools. Even in workshops where space is limited, this can free up floor space and still keep everything neat and tidy. You could even go for the old fashioned method of outlining the tools so putting things back in the right order is a cinch!
Choosing A Name For Your Business
Every successful business has a catchy name; one that people won’t easily forget. Even if I’m not in the market for a new pair of trainers today, brands like Adidas and Nike are in the forefront of my mind when the moment calls for it. You want something that is instantly recognisable and makes people remember you when they need a woodworking project.
But it can be tricky coming up with a name so rather than spending hours racking your brain and making notes, you could use one of the many online business name generators to give you a helping hand.
Registering Your Business
While it might not be the most exciting aspect of setting up a woodworking business, you will need to think about the admin side of things. For starters, you will have to register your business for liability protection, tax purposes and to enhance your professional image. It’s quick and easy to do through the gov.uk website.
However, you do have some choices to make when registering and one of the main ones will be deciding whether you would like to register as a sole trader or a limited company. If you’ve never done this kind of thing before you may find yourself scratching your head and wondering what on earth is the difference. For more information, you can read up on being a sole trader vs limited company and figure out which is best for you.
Buying Wood For Projects
When setting up a business, you must make sure that you have a viable way of purchasing stock. In the case of woodworking that’s, well…stock. I’m talking about wood and there are many different ways you can source this but the one thing you’ll need to focus on is quality. If you’re selling products, your customers are going to expect high quality and that starts with the materials you choose.
But that isn’t to say that you’ll have to spend all of the money you have to invest in your business on buying wood. There are several ways you can source cheap wood that is more than sufficient for your business.
You’ll also have to buy lots of different types of wood and over time, your needs may change, depending on the projects you are working on. For this reason, it’s an excellent idea to clue yourself up on how to buy hardwoods and gain a good knowledge of what to look for. Not only will this help you source the best materials but you’ll also be able to provide information to your customers when they want to know where the wood came from.
Things To Consider When Setting Up A Woodworking Business
As well as ensuring that you have everything you need to set up your woodworking business, there are other things that you might need to think about. There is no denying the importance of having a business plan and this may include information on your product development, marketing and advertising strategies and financial costs. You cannot simply go ploughing into starting a business otherwise you’ll only set yourself up for failure. Take the time to consider the following points.
How Do I Price My Work?
It can feel a little intimidating when you start asking people to pay for your woodwork. However, when you’re starting a business, you need to offer a fair price that reflects the quality of your work so it’s very important to get this spot on. The last thing you want is to overcharge and drive potential customers away with sky-high prices but you also need to make sure that you make a profit, otherwise what’s the point?
If you look on woodworking forums across the internet, there is a lot of discussion about the right way to price your work. Although, ultimately, what you charge is entirely down to you. As a general rule of thumb, you will need to factor in the cost of your materials as well as lay down a charge for your time and then add some profit. Some large furniture manufacturers charge up to 40% profit although, for hobbyists and small businesses, this might not be as realistic.
When thinking about how to charge for your time, you should consider your level of experience and skill. If you have been confidently working with wood for decades and are able to craft a wide range of complex projects then you’ll be able to charge much more than someone who has spent just a year or two practising their craft.
When it comes to profit, the industry-standard sits somewhere between 10% and 15% but again, this will be determined by the quality of the work. If you’re making luxury items then you may be able to charge a little more.
What Projects Should I Sell?
When it comes to what you make as a woodworker, the only real limit is your imagination. But when you’re looking at things from a business perspective, you need to be savvy and place a focus on products that are going to sell. While you might be overly adept in creating quirky wooden ornaments, these might not be to everyone’s tastes. You could, of course, offer these as commissions but in the main, it’s best to stick with the following items which have been proven to sell time and again:
- Fruit bowls
- Wooden toys
- Coat racks
- Wooden furniture
- Plant boxes
- Picture frames
- Shelving including corner shelves
- Wooden utensils
- Cup racks
- Wine racks
- Wooden dog beds
Where Can I Sell My Projects?
When it comes to selling your wares, the world is your oyster and you should take every opportunity to make a sale; without becoming that bore that never stops talking about their business, of course!
Since we live in a digital society, it won’t surprise you that a lot of sales both in woodworking and other areas are made online so this will be your first port of call. The following are some excellent ideas.
- Facebook Marketplace is the new way to sell everything from clothes, second hand cars, unused toys and household items but more and more businesses are now using this as a platform to advertise their goods. Your woodworking business is no different. Even if you have a Facebook page, you can still upload ads onto Marketplace which will be shown to many more people.
- Etsy Shops are becoming the go-to place to crafty people looking to sell the things they make and it’s super simple to use. It does come with a fee but this is minimal and won’t impact your profits much, especially if you make a large number of sales. Typically speaking, you will pay 5% of the cost of each item sold and this method is far simpler than setting up an entire website of your own.
- Amazon and eBay are among two of the biggest online marketplaces and you don’t have to be a big business to sell there. Both platforms will charge a fee for the use of their services to sellers but these are structured quite differently to how they used to be and some people find this complicated. Before committing to joining these platforms be sure to check out the eBay and Amazon fee pages.
- If you’re feeling techy then you might decide to set up your own eCommerce website to sell your products. Now do keep in mind that this is a time consuming venture and will require a lot of management so it might be best to save this for when your business is properly established. However, if you’re looking to grow big then setting up an online store where customers can either order from a list of products or get in touch to commission a project.
Not everyone wants to place their focus on online sales and that’s OK. It’s perfectly viable to want to set up a woodworking business and sell to people in real life. There are several ways you can do this and for many, this is a more enjoyable method as you really get to interact with your customers.
If you have any local shops that would be willing to purchase pieces from you to sell in store this is an excellent option. Not only will you be able to sell a batch of products at once but you’ll also be supporting other local small businesses which is something that is extremely important.
You might also look out for local craft fairs and shows. This usually provides you with a great opportunity as the stall fee typically isn’t over the top. Provided that you make enough sales you could have broken even by lunch time. It is, however, important to check out the reputation of the fair or show to see how many normally attend.
When you set up any type of business, you are going to need to attract customers but that isn’t always the easiest task. For this reason, it is imperative that you spend some time thinking about how you might stir up attention and advertise your woodworking business.
While there will be some reasonable competition, creating eye-catching adverts that instantly grab attention will help you to stand out. Of course, you need your adverts to be seen and this is where things get tricky.
Unless you’re a huge company, forking out thousands of pounds for marketing experts is highly unreasonable. But we are fortunate enough to live in a day and age where online advertising is more affordable than ever. Think about social media ads, this is an excellent way to drum up attention without breaking the bank.
Facebook, for example, will reward its users by giving them advertising credits when they open a page. You can use these credits towards your advertising campaigns and there is the potential to reach a significant audience. You’ll need to make sure that you gear your adverts towards your target audience but even with very little experience, you shouldn’t have too many problems as Facebook (and many other platforms) make it super simple!
You could also create a website dedicated to your projects which gives you a platform to showcase your skills. This can also contain other information such as pricing and how to order plus your contact details. By using basic SEO methods, you can drive traffic to your website and it’ll advertise itself. Many people worry that this will incur huge costs but it’s possible to set up a website for little to nothing, but it may cost you a significant amount of time to set up.
If you’re not that tech-savvy, there’s no need to panic; there are still plenty of ways you can advertise your new woodworking business. Placing ads in the local paper is one of the cheapest ways of attracting attention, although keep in mind that this might not bring as much custom as other methods. There may also be other local publications that take adverts from small businesses so it’s worth looking into this; even putting up ads in local shops can be a way to boost business.
If you have the time, it might be worth considering making some flyers. Printing companies often have some very handsome deals meaning that you can get hundreds, if not thousands of flyers for very little money. You can then spend a Saturday afternoon distributing these around your local area. It might also be a good pocket money job for your kids!
Finally, the best advertisement for your woodworking business will be word of mouth. This can take some time as you’ll need to build up your reputation first but once people begin seeing the quality of your work, they’ll be quick to take to social media and show off your products. This can have a snowball effect and you’ll be amazed how quickly one recommendation can turn into an influx of orders!
You may initially start selling products en masse, making a batch of picture frames or wooden toys that you then advertise and sell before making a new batch. This is a great way to get started and will certainly help to boost your reputation. But one of the things that will make you stand out amongst other woodworkings is taking commissions.
A lot of people want a bespoke product, perhaps as a special birthday gift or to commemorate an occasion. Buying something that is one of many simply won’t appeal to this type of customer so it’s a good idea to think about offering a commission service where people can select various aspects of the project. This is a great way to offer an individual piece that is perfectly tailored to the client’s personal preference.
However, you must take into consideration how different the process will be when compared to making batches of your most well-loved products. The chances are that when someone commissions a piece of work, it’s going to be much more intricate and will therefore take up more of your time. It might be worth coming up with a standard set of questions that you will ask a customer so that you can get a good idea of what it is they are looking for. This might include asking about dimensions, what type of wood should be used, who the product is for, what finish they would like etc.
It’s important that, when working on a commission, you have a good plan before you start working. This might involve making several sketches which you will then present to the client for their approval.
You’ll also need to maintain regular contact with them throughout the process, letting them know what you have achieved so far and whether there is anything that they would like to adjust.
It may sound like a time-consuming process and it is, but when you’re confident enough to take commissions, you will be able to charge more so it will certainly be worth your time. We would also recommend requesting a deposit upon securing an order.
Expanding Your Skills
Unless you studied woodworking in formal education, the chances are that you have taught yourself everything you know. That’s absolutely fine because this is part of the joy of learning and you’ll have been able to see your progress over the course of time. However, it’s important to be willing to expand your skills as this will be a powerful boost to your business.
There are going to be other woodworkers out there competing for your customers so you need to be able to offer something that stands out from the crowd. Continuing to learn new skills will allow you to create more complex projects and use a wider range of tools.
For many people, it can be difficult to know where to find the inspiration or guidance to learn new woodworking skills without the need to fork out for an expensive course. But there is some good news, the market is inundated with woodworking books that are sure to spark your creativity. You’ll find books on how to use your tools, books with project ideas and even books that go into the finer details of woodworking so that you can really hone your craft!
Having The Right Tools
It’s no secret that being a woodworker means that you need to have a pretty generous tool kit. There are so many types of saw that it can leave a beginner wondering where to start. But these are some of the most important bits of kit you will need to have and it’s a very good idea to make sure that you have a wide range of saws to tackle every cutting need.
There are other hand tools that you’ll need to invest in such as a good set of chisels; without these, you wouldn’t be able to perform some of the most intricate work on your projects and then you wouldn’t be able to sell them.
You may also need a selection of power tools such as a drill and choosing the right one is just as important as having one in the first place. You’ll want to look for versatile tools that you can use for several jobs as this will mean that you don’t need to buy as much equipment but still have everything you need.
Tools are not only the tangible things that you can hold in your hand; when woodworking, you might also benefit from software to help you in the planning stages of your projects. If you’re going to take your business seriously, especially if you are going to be taking commissions then you’ll rely heavily on design software to make sure that projects are perfectly planned out. These pieces of software aren’t only for high flying engineers and the like, they’re perfect for the hobby woodworker looking to start their own business. What’s more, they might not cost as much as you’d think and with the boost they’ll give your creativity, you’ll soon earn back what you’ve spent.
The importance of having the right tools in your workshop cannot be underestimated. A good selection of tools will ensure that each job is done perfectly and efficiently. Not to mention that using the correct tools makes woodworking much safer and more enjoyable.
Woodworking is a popular hobby but a lot of people keep it as exactly that; something they indulge in on a weekend to unwind from the stresses and strains of the week. But if woodworking feels that good for you then why not make some money while doing it?
You could start by simply selling a few products on Facebook Marketplace to get a feel for how your work will be received. But once you’ve started to make a name for yourself, there’s absolutely no reason why you cannot expand your service and start your own business crafting and selling wooden projects.
This isn’t something you can just wake up one Monday morning and do; you’ll need a lot of careful planning. But with the right tools, some decent skills and a good client base, your dream career of being a professional woodworker might not be as much of a pipedream as you first thought!