Woodworking is a fun and rewarding way to share your passion and make money at the same time. For a lot of woodworkers, it’s also a satisfying feeling to know that they serve their customers by preparing the best of their own crafted creation. Just like any artist with a brush, you want to be praised for it (and a little cash doesn’t hurt!)
Starting a woodworking business is not easy, you need woodworking tools, knowledge, and creativity to build beautiful furniture. However, entering this industry is very doable. You can turn something you love to do into a money-making hobby by niching down. Read on to find out more about woodworking and how to start earning money with it!
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Woodworking Income Potential
The salary as a woodworker depends on many things, but the biggest factor is your experience. Beginners usually tend to earn less because of fewer experience in making wooden furniture. Woodworkers who can make intricate details and more technical furniture like a wine rack or a Glider Rocker can earn more. Those who can operate computer-generated furniture will have more income potential.
According to Statista, the value of the furniture market worldwide in 2020 would be $574 billion. Expect that there will be a demand for wood products until 2025. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported that the median pay of a woodworker is $31,550 per year or $15.17 per hour. Most woodworking shops only require a high school diploma or equivalent. But to truly thrive in this industry, getting an education and training is a must.
Image source: Statista
Things You Need To Get Started
1. Physical Strength And Stamina
Being a woodworker means working in an environment that expects you to saw hardwood, lift heavy objects, and use tools such as a power drill and jigsaw. Most of the tools used in this job require labor. If you want to work in this field, you should be able to withstand a lot of labor for the whole day. Don’t be disheartened, there are female woodworkers like Ariele Alasko who created their successful woodworking shops online.
2. Mechanical Skills
To start working in this field, you need some technical skills and mechanical skills. Woodworkers usually use blueprints which include the design, measurement, and instruction. You should also be able to efficiently follow directions related to woodworking. Additionally, a woodworker is also expected to be able to use screwdrivers, wrenches, and other hand tools.
3. Attention To Details & Some Math
As a woodworker, you’ll be working with measurements. Imagine the horror if you erroneously cut the wrong wood or made a wrong measurement. Wood is your main product, and each wood that is wasted becomes a loss in your part. Attention to detail and some knowledge in Mathematics is as important as the dexterity of your hand when it comes to woodworking.
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Ways To Make Money Through Woodworking
Furniture flipping is one of the best ways to earn money as a woodworker. In this side hustle, you acquire old or broken furniture for less (or even for free) and restores the item. After restoration, you can sell your furniture and earn money from it, or use the restored furniture at your home for great savings. For this to work, you need to have a keen eye to spot broken yet repairable quality products.
A lot of people don’t realize that some broken or old furniture can be repaired with just some tools. For example, a simple scratch on the dining table surface can be easily dealt with using a scratch repair kit or even via using a pecan nut (example on YouTube). This is a perfect side hustle if you already have your own workshop and materials. As for the furniture itself, you can pick up repairable goods from sites like Craigslist (in the free section), Freecycle, and even from those who are moving out.
Things to consider when getting used goods for repairs:
- Would somebody purchase the repaired furniture?
- Is it still repairable?
- What amount of time and cash would it cost you to repair the item?
- Can you get the furniture for a profitable price?
- Is it worth repairing?
Spotting good furniture and repairing gets a lot of time to perfect. The more experience you have in woodworking, the better you would fare as a furniture flipper. Meanwhile, beginners will be able to learn more by working on these projects. Continue working until you’re skilled enough to make sellable repaired furniture.
2. Create Rustic Furniture
Whether you admit it or not, there’s an unexplainable appeal in rustic furniture or furniture that uses logs or twigs for a natural look. Most rustic furniture is pretty basic stuff: tables, chairs, simple designs that are usually found in cabins. But this furniture can last for decades, and their old and ragged look catches the appeal of a lot of buyers.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for decades in order to have that rustic look that is loved by a lot of people. The ragged look of rustic furniture can be replicated by carving and painting, and distressing techniques. “Distressing” a wood to have that rustic feel is usually done by painting it with dark colors and using a lint-free cloth on areas that are likely to be damaged naturally over time. The two fundamental explanations behind this are:
It is simpler:
Provincial furniture needn’t bother with any muddled joints or long periods of sandpapering for smooth finishing. Its magnificence is in its blemishes. This additionally implies that once in a while in the event that you don’t do a perfect job, the mistakes can turn out to be a piece of the completed item and even make it more appealing to the purchaser.
It is less expensive:
Provincial furniture is regularly produced using recovered or retrieved woods which implies that they come at a ridiculously reduced price which may seem like a giveaway to the woodworker. Indeed, even wood from beds and cartons can be repurposed to create other furniture. Another great thing about this that you only often need paint and sandpaper to make an item look rustic.
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3. Making Customized Furniture
Each customer has different furniture needs: some would want a sofa set, a sturdy table, a cabinet that can last for years, or maybe a replica of Captain Kirk’s Command Chair from Star Trek. Not all people like to buy pre-made things, some would prefer owning furniture that they designed themselves or a replica from their favorite movies or TV shows.
If you already have a workshop, setting up a customized furniture shop would be easier. Make sure that you advertise your service both online and in real life. You never know who’s been finding a woodworker to create their furniture from their own designs. What’s good with this is that while advertising, you can show your other works and designs. Etsy (online) and art shows or fairs are great places to start showing your works.
Woodworking Tips And Tricks For Beginners
1. Be Cost-effective
Making furniture is hard and expensive, especially in the beginning. If you’re pursuing a wood carving career, the best entry-level set of tools you can find can cause $20. For more advanced projects, some tools like the Table Saw can cause $200 or more. This is not to mention that you need to constantly buy wood for your craft, which can be expensive depending on the project. Mahogany, one of the most popular woods used in woodworking projects can range from less than $20 for basic quality to more than $200 for an exotic one. If you want to get profit, you will need to be cost-effective and avoid wasting wood. You’ll also have to consider the following factors:
- The time needed for the total fabrication or restoration of the woodwork
- Cost of raw materials
And the cost of hardware/tools:
- competitor’s price
- conceivable profit
2. Use Online Advertising
A lot of woodworkers seem to overlook the importance of marketing in business. The potential of online advertisement is not as popular for a lot of woodworkers. With almost all the activities being done on the internet today, everyone can see your work and business. Which means that everyone can be a potential client. Unfortunately, since most of the customers are local, it’s hard to see more woodworkers using the potential of online advertising.
There are a lot of ways to advertise online. One of the easiest methods is by posting on social media campaigns. Another way is to create your own website. Even being featured by a blog is an online exposure for your business. If you can utilize the power of virality online, you can improve your sales a lot.
Make More & Take Charge of Your Money
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3. Accept Small Projects
Contrary to popular belief, selling big items as a woodworker is not the only way to earn big money. Creating a balanced and diversified mix of products will yield the best revenue, and that’s why it is also worth taking small projects. There are times when getting volume sales from a $5 keyholders is better than making $100 from a table with an intricate design.
Suppose we will only consider time as a factor, what product do you think would have the higher profitability per hour? The 18pcs keyholders that you sold for $5 each or a table which costs $100? It took the woodworker 5 hours for the keyholders to finished; while making that one table took 10 hours. Take note that this is for example only, as making a table might take a whole day to finish.
The keyholders will give you a total revenue of $90 when sold. This gives you $18 profit per hour (total revenue/hours spent on the project). Meanwhile, the table will only give you a $10 profit per hour ($100/10 hours) even if you got more revenue from it. In reality, this translates to you, the woodworker, getting almost the same amount of revenue but double the work time.
4. Be Professional
This is needless to say one of the most important things you must know and do to make money with your woodworking profession. Truth be told, there are a ton of woodworkers out there with a similar skill set like yours. How to beat them? Be proficient with your work and create every project according to the specifications of the clients.
Sites To Sell Your Woodworking Products
Etsy is undoubtedly the number one choice for craft workers to sell their products. You can find potential customers whatever your products might be: from simple products like wands and picture frames to cabinets and coffee tables. Building your own customer base is not easy and will take a lot of time. But what makes this site a great option is because of a cheap listing fee ($0.20 per listing for four months) and a 5% transaction fee.
ArtFire is another online market where you can sell handmade goods and craft supplies. The advantage of this site is the freedom to add additional features. A single listing will usually cost $0.23, but you can save more on bulk listings. To make a listing, you must avail of a plan that starts at $4.95 with up to 250 active listings. For more visibility, you can opt for the $40 plan, which gives up to 2,500 listings, seller tools, and visibility.
Folksy is the UK’s biggest craft market and is considered the best choice if you’re from this area. PayPal is the preferred payment option on the site, which is an important thing to consider. The first 3 listings are free, while the next listings would cost £0.15 + VAT per item. It’s a great site if you want to experience selling your first products online without paying something.
You need to apply to the Amazon Handmade to start selling online. However, if you’re accepted, your products can appear on the Amazon website, which is pretty useful for exposure. Listing is free, and the only cost you’ll need to shoulder is the 15% referral fee. You can also get a custom profile to promote your other products.