“ I’m gonna start a woodworking business “
Chances are if you are reading this article you may have thought or even said that phrase It’s
super exciting, and if you have tried then some of these next topics may sound familiar. If you are
looking to say that phrase, then maybe there will be some topics to think about. First off, I am in
no way trying to discourage anyone from trying to reach the dream of becoming a woodworker nor
am I saying it can’t or won’t happen because, believe me, I myself am working towards that same
dream. But a couple of things I have learned in the last couple of years I thought I would mention in
efforts to help you get through the times where doubt, frustration, confusion, and even creative
blocks will be facing you head-on.
We as woodworkers find ourselves comfortable in our shops just making that sawdust and
when those 4 feelings may creep in, we look at our shop and think, “Can I really make it in this
space? Is it too small, do I have the right tools, or even what on earth am I going to build? How do I get people to know about it?” Then we look for answers and inspiration but where do we start?
More than likely we click on that YouTube app and start watching all those videos that
make it seem easy to start this business. This is not to say that they don’t have struggles but,
on the surface, we don’t see them as they truly are. When you are building a business there is so
much behind the scenes we need to consider.
Materials – That’s right we need to have them to build our products. So do we go to the big box
store, or do we find a lumber yard or specialty store? We have to think about how much to buy,
where to store it and how much we need. When considering these answers remember this is
spending money at this point to hopefully make it back and if all goes well make a profit.
Tools– Here is where it’s easy to get drawn into the trap of videos. You see when you watch all
those videos to get ideas to build and now you have the lumber in order to build it. It seems there are so
many tools needed and/or lead to believe are needed to make that item. This can be dangerous
because when starting out we trust what we see others using and believe we NEED to use
those tools. But I can tell you from experience, I have tools that I bought early on that I have used
once or never used at all. Yet at the time I thought I couldn’t build without them. Don’t let the
hype suck you in that you have to have it. It may be nice. It may work well. And may even
simplify the build to a degree. But until you start to learn about building with basic tools you may
find that it’s wasted money.
Products– Now that you have started building your items you may think to yourself, “I really enjoy
making these. I could do this all day long !“ However, you will soon find out that if it’s too repetitive you
could actually get bored, or maybe even sick of, creating the same thing over and over. Now, this
is not to say don’t build things that are reproducible because I have products that I make over
and over because they do sell. I’m saying not to lock yourself into something that will rob you of
the joy of creativity. Look for ways to make it fun in a way that won’t ruin the build but still allows
you to make what sells.
Marketing/Advertising- Another aspect of the business is getting the word out to people. You
can start with social media like Facebook and Instagram to say “Hey, I make these great products”! Next, you may look into setting up a booth at a craft show and let the people come to
you. Now I still do craft shows and would like to share some insight. You may have great
products. They may be unlike anyone else’s, and you know how awesome they are. But when
you’re there at the show you can’t control most of the circumstances. Remember some people just
like looking to get out of the house, some may be looking for something specific or even have a
limited view of what types of things they like. Remember it’s not you personally. It’s not that your
items are bad. Sometimes it’s the venue itself that draws a certain crowd of customers that your
items just don’t appeal to. It will take time and trial and error to find the right atmosphere (venue)
or the crowd that your items stand out. Your gonna just have to try, but remember to do these
shows will take money to pay for the space, time to make your products to sell, and all the things
needed to set up a booth ( tent, tables, chairs, lighting if needed, displays, etc…) Plus factor in
the time to actually sit at the show. If you work a regular job as well this may use up your
personal time off or, maybe like me, needs to take additional time off work to go to your show.
These are just some things to think about that sadly are not talked about when researching the
idea of trying to get a woodworking business going. There are so many little things to think of
and consider but I’ll tell you that the satisfaction of seeing someone look at your products with a
smile is such a great feeling and really gives you a sense of accomplishment. I remember when
I sold my 1st piece of furniture I actually turned to my wife and said “ I finally made it as a
woodworker.” That feeling is still with me today that I created something that hopefully they get to
enjoy for a long time. It’s those moments that keep me going in spite of the things listed
above (and those things I still have to deal with).
So what’s the takeaway? Don’t let videos build a false sense of the needed work and effort
required to start on this journey. Don’t let the little stresses rob you of your joy of trying new
things as a woodworker and venturing into new circumstances to become visible for your craft.
Remember that you need to be balanced with your obligations in taking on new challenges
with the responsibilities that you already have in life. I know woodworking gives me great joy,
learning new techniques, using different types of products, and expanding my products is super
rewarding. I hope to continue to grow my business but also help others avoid some of the
difficulties and mistakes I’ve experienced in the last 4 years.
Thanks for reading and happy woodworking!