How to make money from woodworking?

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There a LOT of money to be made in woodworking - just not how you might at first think. It's a multi-billion pound industry but we're the end of the line, we're the consumer. If you want to make money from woodworking you need to develop a new jig, tool, DVD or widget and then market it and sell it.

It's often said that the only people who made real money in the American goldrush are those who sold the miners their picks and shovels, the hotel owners and the haulage companies - they all got rich and many are still big profitable companies today. Furniture as a "problem for humanity" has been solved by industrial automation - there is no need for handmade anymore and those who might want it are simply not realists most of the time. Furniture is a commodity - its price is based on the average cost of similar items so your prices will always struggle against Oak Furniture Land's average price - you wont win.

If you do make handmade, bespoke furniture for heavens sake make sure it looks it - DONT make it look manufactured - people will pay more for roughly hewn green oak table full of knots and with visible joinery that looks very craftsman and "handmade" than they might for a beautiful walnut one - we live in a world where walnut simply means brown stain, nobody other than you and us will ever appreciate its true beauty and the hard work and skill involved.

If I were you I'd invent a jig, make it and sell it. Here's a free idea for you, I recently thought I'd buy a scratch stock - cant be bought anywhere, unless you shell out £100 for a Veritas beading tool. They could be made cheaply and easily and they would sell because nobody ever has enough tools. Just remember the golden rule of marketing to hobbyists - 90% of them are beginners. The further you go down the rabbit hole in any interest or hobby the more you will forget that.
What are you saying Glyn?
Are you advising us to work down to a sub-standard, just so it looks 'hand-made'? That doesn't make sense, when you see items of superb furniture being sold to people with 'taste', for thousands of pounds a time.

Anything I make that wasn't as good as I could make it wouldn't be sold on. That's why 'shabby-chic' is anathema to me. If I make a pine cupboard and sell it, let the new owners distress it at their will. I won't.

As for making money at woodworking, one of the best ways is to write about it, (or produce quality DVDs on the subject.) Problem is you have to be good!
You certainly won't get far there, by 'bishoping' your dovetails, to make therm look 'rough-hewn'.

Come on Glyn. You know the liking for rough-hewn fashion is just that; a fashion, a fad or a trend, fostered by ' interior designers' who watch too much reality television. Nothing more.

If being unrealistic means preferring well-made, attractive and long lasting furniture, then I am unrealistic. I'm just a fantasist who lives in the past. 8)

Cheers and all the best.

Interesting topic, I wonder if there is a bit of a pattern: one-off handmade high quality free-standing - very difficult as the true costs (time in particular) drive the price too high for almost all. Simple things we tend to frown upon can do well: chopping boards, the wany-edge boards used as table centrepieces - easy and probably nicely profitable. Built-in/fitted stuff is popular and I think people will pay, not everyone of course.
Basically I suppose that the further you can get from comparisons with IKEA and Oak F'land, the better. Developing economies of scale by doing batch runs of something using jigs etc will help reduce the time costs, but it will become a chore I suppose.
One thing I noticed, companies will pay where individuals won't. Last year I did 8 big tables for a film company - best job of the year... and most tedious. There's a moral there maybe.
psycho_grizz":3o5mtdc0 said:
Weekend warrior here, so far everything I've built up to date is for myself or the family. however, if I wanted to make money to at the very least recuperate my costs from buying so many tools, how could i go about it?

Strictly a hobbyist here with no formal carpentry training. Do you guys sell stuff on etsy? Go to crafts fairs? car boot sales even?

American forums says stuff like clothes pegs and chopping boards sell very well and as much as I'm loving the woodworking and I can appreciate how much time, patience and expertise goes into making furniture, I can't see how anyone would want to spend hundreds on furniture as oppose to cheap IKEA crud. Thats how I started actually, couldn't justify buying a king size bed so I made one myself.


Here is the way, make wooden dust and shavings as much as you can per day.
Pack it tight in bags, and sell to horse farmers they pay very well for a few bags :)
Great money for dust, in a few years you will be a millionaire, try.
Make a nice table and put a very very good printer on it then scan some fifty pound notes .......................................
With a friend my wife and set up a pop-up Christmas shop/craft fair/tea reoom last year. We spent months making stock (wooden christmas decorations, reindeer, hot water bottle covers etc) and sold about 70%. We more than broke even on that part of the affair but if you count up the hours we did it for less than minimum wage. Where we did make a decent profit was selling the tea coffee and cake!

So the crafty stuff was a loss leader and the profit was in the cake #-o
Some of us already do :mrgreen: