Imagine yourself spending all day in a quaint shop on the back of your property. Slowly shaping and sanding wood for your next custom piece of furniture. This is a daydream I have had more than a few times and luckily it doesn’t take much time or money to make money woodworking from your home.
Whether you are interested in producing finely crafted furniture that sells for thousands of dollars or small crafts to sell at the local holiday bazaar there are tons of great ways to get started selling your woodworking.
Here at The Money Family headquarters, we run a – what we would consider – moderately successful woodworking Etsy shop. In the shop, we primarily sell kitchen tools with a focus on bread baking. They always say the riches are in the niches!
My primary role during the day is a full-time parent so my time is limited to around 5 – 10 (at most) hours per week in the shop. In a given month we typically do around $1,500 – $2,000 in sales with a 65% profit margin. It’s a great way to make some extra money with a very part-time job that lets me work my own hours and enjoy the time in the shop.
Tips to Get Started Making Money Woodworking
Let’s take a look at some woodworking projects that sell and what you need to get started.
What Tools Should You Buy to Get Started
Woodworking, like many hobbies, can cost very little or can cost tens of thousands of dollars. It all depends on how deep you want to get into the business.
A basic setup for any beginning woodworker looking to sell projects should include the following:
- Circular Saw – making straight cuts on lumber and plywood
- Jig Saw – making curved cuts or cutting out interior shapes
- Power Drill – Drilling holes and driving screws
- Orbital Sander – Sanding the final work
The entire set of tools linked above costs less than $200! Throw in some sandpaper, drill bits, and some finish and you can get started for right around $200.
We recommend that if you’re just getting started, go with projects that you can make using only these tools. As you progress and begin to make sales then you can start upgrading and purchasing more specialty (expensive) tools as needed.
The best part of this set of tools is they will take up very little space so you can easily work in a corner of the garage and store everything away when you are finished.
What Tools Did We Get Started With?
When I started woodworking I began with a cheap miter saw, circular saw, drill, jigsaw and sander. My shop was a backyard shed with no power so I had to make do with the space and power limitations that I had.
As I have progressed in my woodworking and now have more space to work with I have upgraded my tools to include a table saw, router, clamps, wood lathe, bandsaw, planer, and jointer. Some of these were purchased new while others were craigslist finds.
This set of tools allows me to start with rough lumber and turn it into almost anything I can dream of.
Where to Buy Wood for Your Woodworking Projects
If you’re just getting started with woodworking you’ll want to look for wood that is ready to be finished.
Often when buying lumber at a specialty wood store you’re buying rough lumber. This means that the edges are not straight and square and the board faces have a rough finish.
If you’re making something like a rustic sign this may be perfect but for most woodworking projects you’ll need surfaced, or s4s, lumber.
Many lumber stores will have a small section of s4s wood available but you will be paying a premium price for it. Big box stores like Lowes and Home Depot have also started carrying more s4s lumber both in hardwood species as well as common softwoods like poplar or pine.
These softwoods are a great starting point for projects as they are inexpensive and easy to work with.
One other option is to just work with framing lumber which is available at almost any hardware store. These would be your 2x4s and 2x6s used to build a house.
Projects like picnic tables or rustic dining tables or benches utilize this type of wood frequently.
How to Sell Your Woodworking Projects
Start Selling Locally
We have found the best way to start marketing your woodworking projects is to start local. Build a basic picnic table or rustic sign for yourself and post it on Facebook or craigslist.
These types of items are inexpensive to make and can be sold for very attractive prices on those sites.
I have also seen local woodworkers who fill up their truck with their projects and park along a busy street. Putting out a sign saying, “chairs for sale – $75 “, always seems to attract interest.
Other great local sales avenues to pursue include:
- Holiday Bazaars
- Craft Fairs
- coffee shops or restaurants willing to display your work
Selling Your Woodworking Online
Selling your woodworking online is a great way to build a business in 2020.
99% of our sales come from our Etsy shop. Etsy makes it super easy to list products, collect payments, manage shipping, and attract customers. When we first started we listed a few items on our Etsy shop and pretty much left it alone. We’d make a few sales a month but it was nothing spectacular.
After that we started to really focus on our listings and promoting the shop.
Photographing Your Woodworking for an Online Shop
First off we revamped all of our listing photos to make sure they stood out. High-quality photos of your work are absolutely essential to running a successful online shop.
Spend the little bit of money required to get a lightbox if you’re shooting smaller items or invest in a set of lights and a photo backdrop for larger items. We shoot all our photos on a DSLR camera but newer cell phone cameras are more than up to the task as well.
There are a TON of Youtube videos available with tips on how to set up your shots and take great product photography. Also spend a few minutes touching up the photos to make sure they are bright and properly show off your work.
Promoting Your Woodworking Shop
Promoting your shop is where the real money will be made. Etsy tends to boost listings that sell well so a little work up front to get the ball rolling will result in sales rolling in on a consistent basis month over month.
Find places online where your potential customers are hanging out. This may be Reddit, Facebook groups, online forums, etc. Since we are in a fairly narrow niche of bread baking supplies we have joined a number of sourdough Facebook groups and will occasionally drop a photo of one of our products and just say “hey check out what we made.”
95% of the time this leads to numerous people asking if we sell them and at that point, we’ll lead them to our shop.
Easy Woodworking Projects to Make and Sell
Here are some great projects that can be made with our starter set of tools. These are great for anyone who is new to making and selling their woodworking projects.
This picnic table plan from Ana White is super simple as it only uses framing lumber, deck screws and a can of paint. These tables can easily sell for $150 – $200 and the material costs will only be around $50.
Make and sell a few of these can you can upgrade to a miter saw to make quicker work of the angled cuts.
These shelves can be made extremely fast and can be easily modified to custom sizes depending on what a customer is looking for.
Note that if you need to buy plywood for a project like this most big box stores will cut it for you so it can fit into your car. They also often have a section of smaller plywood pieces available for sale but they will cost a bit more than buying a full 4’x8′ sheet.
Rustic signs sell like hotcakes and are incredibly easy to make. You can even make them using pallet wood or other reclaimed (free) lumber which makes your project margin almost infinite.
Planter boxes are an easy and inexpensive way to start a backyard garden. The planters in these plans can be made for under $10 each using only cedar boards used for fencing.
Small Woodworking Projects To Sell
These small projects are perfect for anyone short on space for tools and materials.
This pallet wood coat rack plan utilizes free pallet wood and is easy to recondition or paint to make it modern and sleek or farmhouse rustic.
This step stool plan uses pocket hole screws but it can easily be modified to be done without them as well.
We recommend taking a look at a pocket hole jig as it can really expand your woodworking capabilities and the basic jig is usually available for under $30.
This super simple project requires nothing more than cutting wood to length, drilling holes using a forsner bit, and adding some stain or finish to the wood.
This project can be modified to include a planter at the bottom to really up the wow factor. Once again it uses a very small set of tools with the brad nailer used in this link being totally optional.
Our Favorite Wood Projects that Sell
Blanket ladders are a perfect introduction to furniture style work. They look great, photograph well and best of all they require very little material and only a few tools.
A traditional ladder is comprised of two vertical pieces of wood with wooden dowels used as the rungs. Specialty lumber stores sell these dowels in a variety of hardwood species if you wanted to really up the wow factor.
Other customization options include using copper or other metal tubing, alternating the rungs using leather straps or even having steel straps custom fabricated!
Picture frames are an item that, when done well, can sell for a substantial markup.
But learning how to cut half-lap joints using your circular saw you can really up the wow factor. Keep an eye out locally for reclaimed wood as this makes for a great marketing pitch.
Our Secret Item
I have a specialty kitchen tool that we sell in our Etsy shop. It is made out of solid hardwood (I usually use scraps of cherry or maple) and each one only uses ~$0.50 worth of wood. I can easily make a dozen of them in a couple of hours. There is very little competition. And they consistently sell on Etsy with very little marketing on my end.
Final Thoughts on Ideas to Make Money Woodworking From Home
Woodworking can truly be an inexpensive way to make and sell projects around town. I love that it is both an enjoyable hobby that allows me to disconnect for a few hours and build something with my hands.
Finding items in your woodworking niche is a great way to bring in consistent, recurring sales to help you realize your goal to make money woodworking.