Can You Make a Living Out of Woodworking?

Woodworking has been a popular hobby over the years – it’s easy to learn the basics, and people of all ages can pick it up. But, a lot of woodworking hobbyists might wonder if you can make a living out of woodworking.

It is possible to make a living through woodworking. The success of any woodworking business depends on the following:

  • Products offered
  • Size of the customer base
  • Investments put into the business (money, space, skills, etc.)

If you dream about turning your passion for woodworking into a full-time gig, then keep reading! In this article, we’ll share with you everything you need to know about how to make a living out of woodworking.


You Can Make a Living Woodworking

If you take a walk through a craft fair or do a quick search on Etsy, you’ll see that so many woodworkers are making money off of their products. However, many factors play a part in whether any given woodworking business will be successful. We’re going to break these factors down below. 

Your Woodworking Skills 

Before becoming a professional, you should do a frank, objective evaluation of your woodworking skills. You might be able to build a stunning table, but you should also factor in how long it took to make the table and if whether you’d be able to replicate that table relatively easily and to the same standard.

If you are a skilled woodworker, you are already ahead of many. 

On the other hand, if you’re struggling to make a high volume of quality products in a short amount of time, be honest with yourself, and consider the fact that this could be an issue. You might need to practice and develop your skills further before launching your business. 

Your Wood Shop 

It’s definitely possible to start your woodworking business from a garage, shed, or basement. But you should make sure that your shop is well-lit, well-organized, and moisture controlled. You’ll need enough space for the following: 

  • Make your products
  • Store your wood and tools
  • Store your products 

You’ll also need to make sure your wood can’t get damaged by changing weather conditions and humidity.

It’s also a good idea to soundproof your space – woodworking can be incredibly noisy, and if you’re working in your shop full-time, you’ll want to be conscious of any noise affecting your neighbors

Your Financial Stability 

Even if you’re starting with the right skills and an organized, well-stocked woodshop, starting your own business can be very unpredictable. It takes time to build your customer base and turn a profit. So, it’s always good to have some financial cushion to keep the bills paid while you get your business on its feet. 

Depending on how you’re planning to sell your products, it can be a good idea to invest in marketing your products and building an online presence. You might want to build a website, get professional photos of your products, or even hire some marketing help – and all of that takes some cash flow. 

Starting Your Woodworking Business 

Once you’ve decided to give professional woodworking a try, some of the first things you should figure out are the products you’re going to make and where you’re going to sell those products. 

What Products Can You Sell? 

There are so many things you can make and sell as a woodworker, including: 

  • Tables, chairs, and bookshelves 
  • Custom-made frames for photos and artwork 
  • Kitchen cabinets 
  • Bowls, plates, and other kitchenware 
  • Unique signs and other home decor items
  • Wooden games and toys 

When deciding what products you’ll offer, you’ll have to figure out what might actually sell. Some woodworkers have stated that making furniture is the most profitable for them, while others have found success with decorative signs made from reclaimed barn wood

Many pro woodworkers recommend that you figure out early on what products you’ll make and what your niche is. Some woodworkers only sell one kind of product, whereas others prefer to make a variety. Either way, it’s good to figure out what you’re best at making and what you can make relatively efficiently. 

Of course, it’s also perfectly fine to start with products that you’re passionate about! 

Where Can You Sell Your Woodworking Products? 

You may not have been aware, but there are several places you can sell your wooden creations. We’ll jump into those below. 

  • Craft fairs: Some woodworkers recommend starting out selling your products at craft fairs, where you can meet customers face to face. At these kinds of events, you’ll get immediate feedback on your products, as well as how much your customers are willing to pay for them. 
  • Retailers: Some woodworkers can sell their products through local retailers. Doug Magrath, a woodworker who supports himself selling wooden bowls, has made most of his profit by wholesaling his products for 50% of their retail value. If you can build a solid relationship with a retailer, this is another good way to make money off your creations
  • Online platforms & social media: There are quite a few online platforms where you can sell your products, like Etsy and Facebook Marketplace. Some woodworkers even sell their products on Instagram. These platforms can be a great way to expand your customer base beyond your local area. 

Some caution against selling online – with thousands of other people selling their products on places like Etsy, the competition can be stiff. And, the costs of shipping and handling can eat into your profits. But, if you have a unique enough product and a great marketing approach, you can stand out and turn a profit selling online. 

Tips from Professional Woodworkers

You can’t go wrong learning from experts. The following tips come straight from successful woodworking professionals. 

Start Slow  

You might dream about being a full-time woodworker, but it can be wise to start pursuing your passion part-time. This can be done by occasionally selling your products at a weekend craft fair or creating an Instagram for your woodworking. By starting part-time, you’ll be able to figure out which of your products are the most in-demand before you’re financially dependent on your woodworking. 

Stay Frugal and Start Small 

Many woodworkers suggest starting with what you have. It’s tempting to want to buy top-of-the-line tools or establish a woodshop outside your home, but when you’re starting a new business, it’s important to keep your spending as low as possible. 

Design products that you can make with the tools you already have, and use recycled or reclaimed wood when possible. If you can make a profit using what you’ve got in your shop right now, you’ll have more cash to invest in your business as it grows.

Refine and Tweak Your Products  

Once you figure out what your customers are most interested in buying, don’t be afraid to tweak your products so they better fit what your customer wants. After all, you don’t have a business without customers! 

Don’t Lose Your Passion 

Starting any business is incredibly hard work, and it can be exhausting and disappointing at times. But, so many professional woodworkers recommend that you find ways to keep feeling that passion that brought you to woodworking in the first place. Your love for woodworking is what will keep you going through the ups and downs of running a small business.


Final Thoughts

If you’re organized, skilled, and frugal, you might be able to turn your passion for woodworking into a full-time gig. It can take time, but there are definitely ways to sell your crafts and make a profit doing what you love. 

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