Woodworking is a fun hobby, but can also turn into a profitable part-time or full-time business. If you plan to sell products you made in your woodshop, you will need to legally set up a business, and may need to charge sales tax, depending on your location.
While making things with wood can be a lot of fun, realize that running a business is not always fun or easy. Many times business can take something enjoyable and relaxing and make it stressful and boring. For this reason, it is best to start a woodworking business on the side, and see if it is for you, before quitting your job and trying to start a full-time business from scratch.
Often, the difficult aspect of selling woodworking products is that many customers don’t appreciate the time and skill it takes to create something out of wood. You will possibly be competing with cheap foreign goods produced for pennies. You will need to market your products as something more than just a dollar store item. Using terms like “handcrafted”, “custom”, “locally-made”, “craftsman”, and other similar terms in your marketing materials will help separate your work from the mass-produced items. Make sure you can create some quality wood products to sell.
There are basically two types of woodworking business models: Production and Custom. A production shop can mass-produce multiple copies of a single item such as a bench, bowl, cabinet, etc. Once you have a template or prototype made, you can continue to copy a particular item in an efficient way. These products can still be of a high quality.
A custom shop will produce unique, one-of-a-kind items according to specifications of the customer. Some examples of this may be a plaques and signs, a commissioned table or other furniture. This type of shop may still do some small production runs, but is not set up to complete large quantities.
Most home-based woodworkers with a small shop will do custom work, or custom with some small scale production pieces.
As far as selling woodworking products is concerned, there are a few different markets you can appeal to including modern, rustic, americana, classic, etc. Different woods (including old,rough-hewn wood), faux finishes, and accessories made from stainless steel or cast iron help differentiate these different styles.
For more on starting your woodworking business legally: How To Start A Woodworking (or Carpentry) Business
Here are some tips on choosing a business name: Woodworking Business Name Ideas
You may also want to check out 11 Ways To Promote Your Woodworking Business for tips on attracting customers.
Below are a number of ways you can sell your woodworking products once you get your part-time or full-time business started:
Set Up Your Own Shop
This can be as simple as setting up a small workshop and store in your garage or even in a section of your shop. Be aware that depending on where you are located, you may be subject to zoning laws regarding commercial space.
Craft fairs are full of all different types of hand-made items and may be the right source for you to sell your products.
Flea markets often include hand-made items along with all sorts of other odds and ends.
Some consignment shops are geared toward hand-made products, and woodworking products are often a good fit.
Ebay can expose your products to a worldwide market, or you can limit sales to just your own country. You can choose to sell via auction, or you can set your own price.
Etsy is the largest online marketplace for handmade goods. Many woodworkers sell on here, and there will be competition in certain types of wood-related goods. You should do well if you have a specialty wood product, as long as it is not in an obscure niche.
Craigslist is for local sales. Customers will often look for furniture, so tables, benches, and other custom pieces may do well.
Your Own Website
A website is a good way to showcase your work. Unless you market your website effectively, no one will know it is there. A basic website is not difficult to set up. You can get a FREE domain with web hosting purchase and check for website name availability here.
You could set up a small store in your home around certain holidays. Customers are looking for decorations for their own homes as wells as gifts for others. Pre-Christmas (November) is a good time to have a sale. Wood-related ornaments, decorations, and gifts are popular items that may do well at this type of sale.