Page 1 of 6 12345 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 87

Thread: Cutting Board Business

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    667

    Question Cutting Board Business

    I've been thinking of starting a secondary job, I work full time in a non-woodworking business. I came across someone at a craft show while at the beach this summer that sold unique cutting boards. I'm sure everyone knows that type of craft booth. I asked him how many he sold during the year and how he sold them. After guessing the average price of one of his cutting boards based on the prices of his various pieces, I figured he made about $13,000 per year gross. He sold his cutting boards primarily at about 20 craft shows a year.

    The boards were nice, but not all that unique. His woodworking skills I thought were about average and his routing really below average. He has no webpage and traveling to craft shows to sell seems like an expensive way to sell these items. I can see doing a couple of craft shows a year, but not relying on them solely. I thought to myself, I could do this better and in my spare time. It doesn't take exceptional skills to make a cutting board and I figure, with my equipment, I could probably make 10-20 of them in a weekend once I had a system and workflow down. I would need to do some research on material costs, as most of these cutting boards use "exotic" woods. I can't imagine one can have a very good margin though when you factor in the cost of the wood,time, travel and booth fees.

    Here are my questions for those of you in the business of building crafts like the one above.

    1. How do you determine your costs per piece (excluding equipment)?
    2. How do you set your retail price?
    3. If you sell on the web how much time do you devote to marketing your website (luckily, I can build a complicated backend website myself so I can save money there)?
    4. If you sell both on the web and at craft shows, which would you choose if you could only have one of those avenues to sell into?
    5. Has anyone attempted to become a seller on Amazon?


    If there are other considerations I haven't thought of above, please feel free to point them out.
    Last edited by Kent Adams; 09-04-2015 at 8:05 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Midland MI
    Posts
    828
    I tried making some endgrain cutting boards which were really nice looking, I had maybe 5 I don't think any of them sold at the craftshows, I would have had to sell them for a decent amount of money 50-75$ just to pay myself minimum wage and have some money to replace the wood I used, if you had a good system where you could make 10 a day you might be able to make money, I have seen pretty decent looking ones for what I considered cheap around my area and they were not selling well.

    They do make great gifts though.

  3. #3
    Ah..

    I have a friend who does this for a living - see http://www.serranostudios.com/ . He sells mainly at farmer's markets but does a lot of work for very little money.

    If you have web and marketing skills one option you might want to consider is setting up to market products like his -i.e. make yourself the web sales outlet for a small number of specialized wood workers who can be considered artists in their own right but aren't terribly interested in, or good at, selling. If you can find these people at various markets or on the web and offer them a low hassle, but effective, sales channel you might add a lot of value to their lives while getting some cash for yourself too.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Terrace, BC
    Posts
    519
    Although I build custom furniture for a living, in the summer I fool around in the local Farmers Market and a couple of craft shows - keepsake boxes, blanket chests, cutting boards, an small items like that. It's a good way to experiment with new techniques, finishes, etcetera. I did sell online for a while, but that became too much of a hassle (again, I do custom furniture for a living - and small stuff like this as an interesting and fun side-line.)

    I've found that there are two main types of customers at these venues; those looking for a "bargain", and those who truly appreciate craftsmanship and artistry and are willing to pay for it.

    I first tried appealing to the bargain hunters, I made simple, but well-crafted keepsake boxes that were slightly more expensive than the mass-produced stuff at Walmart. And I constantly heard remarks about how much cheaper they could get stuff at Walmart - they weren't able to comprehend the difference between dovetail construction, and some cheap pine slammed together with brads. I found there is no pleasing these folks - these are the same folks who can't figure out why the local organic farmer charges more for their produce than the factory farmed stuff available at the supermarket.

    Last year I went "high end". I started producing items with intricate inlays, nicer hardware, more "fancy" design elements, and charged four times as much - which is when I discovered the second, more discerning type of customer. I haven't looked back.

    As far as cutting boards go - the bargain hunter isn't going to understand the difference between your finely crafted endgrain boards, and the hunks of plastic or bamboo they can purchase for ten bucks at the big box store. I went to the local community college and spoke to the culinary arts instructors - I now do a slow but steady trade in custom boards (with their names or anything else inlaid), in the species of their choice, and orientation (end grain or face grain) for the aspiring young chefs who appreciate the difference.

    That's been my experience - I know of others who are successful marketing to the lower end, but personally, I wasn't satisfied to just barely cover my materials cost - which is what it would take to match the price of the mass market distributors - not to mention that I didn't want my furniture business associated with "cheap" goods.

    Your circumstances and experiences are no doubt different than mine, good luck to you.
    I love mankind. It's people I can't stand.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    El Dorado Hills, CA
    Posts
    1,311
    I made one end grain cutting board, so not much experience, but here are my thoughts anyway.

    The final dimensions were 20x14x1.5 inches or around 3 board feet. I started with 10bf of 4/4 stock. A production design would probably take around 6bf of material. It probably also took a few dollars worth of glue and other materials. Assume around $10 of consumables. My total effort was around 10 hours. This was my first design. A production run should be able to cut this down to around 3 hours in a small shop by my estimate.

    I see similar cutting boards on Etsy listed for $150-200. If you can buy wood for $3 per bf plus $10 for consumables and want to earn $20 per hour times 3 hours, then your cost is around $90. Selling it for $150 might be reasonable to also cover the craft fair booth and your time while you are selling it. This puts it into a price range that most people are not willing to pay.

    Look at the other extreme of side grain cutting boards. You can take about 1.5bf of material to end up with a 12x16x3/4" board. Mix maple with stripes of cherry and walnut to get a nice design that goes together quickly. Your consumables are much smaller and it should take less than an hour to make. Your cost (including an hour of labor at $20) is under $30 and you could sell it for $50. You would probably sell 10 times more of these boards. Smaller cheese boards for $20 would sell even better.

    I would stock my booth with a couple of nice end grain cutting boards and lots of smaller side grain boards. It is much easier (and cheaper) to build up an inventory of side grain boards.

    Good luck with your venture if you decide to do it.

    Steve

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    667
    Rudy, excellent idea. I've got lots of thoughts in my head already on how i could do that. One of the issues with selling on the internet, is that Amazon and other marketers have raised the bar on shipping times. If a person can meet the seller, then I think they are likely to wait for a product to be produced because the physical presence of the seller makes the purchase more tangible/real. In the cyber world, my feeling would be that you have a small window of time to deliver and you need to promise to deliver in a certain time, with exceptions like Woodpeckers or others that have built up their credibility and brand over time. I would think that to begin with, you need to establish your brand and credibility by shipping quickly. I think I would need to purchase inventory from the artisans first, so I could ship out within a reasonable time. Buying inventory is capital intensive, but might be worth it if I start small, say only buying cutting boards. Then, once I have some cash flow that is predictable and have figured out the niche and my customer, then move on to other products and eventually custom ordered pieces that require more time to deliver.

    I can do a great website. Its labor intensive but its not difficult at all. For instance, I could build a website that looked like this in an afternoon and for about $300: http://www.joomlart.com/demo/#ja_bookshop.
    Last edited by Kent Adams; 09-04-2015 at 12:34 PM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    667
    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Harding View Post
    Although I build custom furniture for a living, in the summer I fool around in the local Farmers Market and a couple of craft shows - keepsake boxes, blanket chests, cutting boards, an small items like that. It's a good way to experiment with new techniques, finishes, etcetera. I did sell online for a while, but that became too much of a hassle (again, I do custom furniture for a living - and small stuff like this as an interesting and fun side-line.)

    I've found that there are two main types of customers at these venues; those looking for a "bargain", and those who truly appreciate craftsmanship and artistry and are willing to pay for it.

    I first tried appealing to the bargain hunters, I made simple, but well-crafted keepsake boxes that were slightly more expensive than the mass-produced stuff at Walmart. And I constantly heard remarks about how much cheaper they could get stuff at Walmart - they weren't able to comprehend the difference between dovetail construction, and some cheap pine slammed together with brads. I found there is no pleasing these folks - these are the same folks who can't figure out why the local organic farmer charges more for their produce than the factory farmed stuff available at the supermarket.

    Last year I went "high end". I started producing items with intricate inlays, nicer hardware, more "fancy" design elements, and charged four times as much - which is when I discovered the second, more discerning type of customer. I haven't looked back.

    As far as cutting boards go - the bargain hunter isn't going to understand the difference between your finely crafted endgrain boards, and the hunks of plastic or bamboo they can purchase for ten bucks at the big box store. I went to the local community college and spoke to the culinary arts instructors - I now do a slow but steady trade in custom boards (with their names or anything else inlaid), in the species of their choice, and orientation (end grain or face grain) for the aspiring young chefs who appreciate the difference.

    That's been my experience - I know of others who are successful marketing to the lower end, but personally, I wasn't satisfied to just barely cover my materials cost - which is what it would take to match the price of the mass market distributors - not to mention that I didn't want my furniture business associated with "cheap" goods.

    Your circumstances and experiences are no doubt different than mine, good luck to you.
    Roy, great feedback and I appreciate the personal experience you have shared. I think you and I are on the same thought process here. I see these craft shows as attracting a crowd that might do an impulse buy, but not attracting a crowd interested in anything more than something they could pay out of their pocket/billfold. My idea would be to target people that were actually searching for specialty cutting boards, thus the website marketing and Amazon selling. I don't see the point (at least from a profitability view) of selling something to the general public when it comes to this type of piece.

    Your experience has just reinforced my gut feelings.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    667
    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Peterson View Post
    I made one end grain cutting board, so not much experience, but here are my thoughts anyway.

    The final dimensions were 20x14x1.5 inches or around 3 board feet. I started with 10bf of 4/4 stock. A production design would probably take around 6bf of material. It probably also took a few dollars worth of glue and other materials. Assume around $10 of consumables. My total effort was around 10 hours. This was my first design. A production run should be able to cut this down to around 3 hours in a small shop by my estimate.

    I see similar cutting boards on Etsy listed for $150-200. If you can buy wood for $3 per bf plus $10 for consumables and want to earn $20 per hour times 3 hours, then your cost is around $90. Selling it for $150 might be reasonable to also cover the craft fair booth and your time while you are selling it. This puts it into a price range that most people are not willing to pay.

    Look at the other extreme of side grain cutting boards. You can take about 1.5bf of material to end up with a 12x16x3/4" board. Mix maple with stripes of cherry and walnut to get a nice design that goes together quickly. Your consumables are much smaller and it should take less than an hour to make. Your cost (including an hour of labor at $20) is under $30 and you could sell it for $50. You would probably sell 10 times more of these boards. Smaller cheese boards for $20 would sell even better.

    I would stock my booth with a couple of nice end grain cutting boards and lots of smaller side grain boards. It is much easier (and cheaper) to build up an inventory of side grain boards.

    Good luck with your venture if you decide to do it.

    Steve
    Thanks Steve for the feedback on your costs. I think I'm leaning in for selling less for more based on my gut for this market, similar to what Roy above commented on. I think the key is to target market to those actually looking to buy a high end cutting board, not someone I'm likely to find at a craft show. Perhaps at a restaurant equipment/kitchen/home show but I'm sure the booth fees for those are much higher but might be worth it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Columbus, Ohio, USA
    Posts
    3,195
    I am an amazon seller, but, I have never listed my own things, I have only chosen to sell things that were already there.... and that is easy to do. You might consider something like etsy.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    Greensboro, NC
    Posts
    667
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    I am an amazon seller, but, I have never listed my own things, I have only chosen to sell things that were already there.... and that is easy to do. You might consider something like etsy.
    Andrew, if you have the time, can you tell me what its like to sell on Amazon and what to expect?

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Terrace, BC
    Posts
    519
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Pitonyak View Post
    I am an amazon seller, but, I have never listed my own things, I have only chosen to sell things that were already there.... and that is easy to do. You might consider something like etsy.
    Just to add to what Andrew said - when I WAS online selling, I started with Etsy. I found them an amazingly supportive and worthwhile organization - they took the pain out of the learning curve. After being with them for a year, I branched off on my own - not through any dissatisfaction with Etsy, merely because I felt that I no longer needed their assistance, and wanted to do things with a website that weren`t possible with them. I have since stopped selling online, but I don`t hesitate to recommend Etsy as a good place to start if you have no experience with online selling. I can`t speak to Amazon.
    I love mankind. It's people I can't stand.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Punta Gorda, FL
    Posts
    2,968
    An article I read in FWW featured a guy who made all sorts of cutting boards and was so busy he had to turn people away. Yet he was bored stiff making cutting boards, but he couldn't stop doing it because he was making too much money. Maybe he was good at marketing. Maybe he had good connections. I don't know. But he seemed sincere. In any kind of business, you have to find people who want to buy your product or learn to make what they want to buy.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    West Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    6,206
    I've had plenty of people tell me I should do craft fairs and sell cutting boards and such. Thing is I don't WANT to spend my time cutting the same long strips of wood and slathering on a ton of glue.

    I do ww'ing for me because I enjoy it. Making it a monotonous production environment would take the joy away for me.

    If you can pay the bills at your main gig and do ww'ing for fun, I suggest you keep it that way.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    1,495
    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Day View Post
    I've had plenty of people tell me I should do craft fairs and sell cutting boards and such. Thing is I don't WANT to spend my time cutting the same long strips of wood and slathering on a ton of glue.

    I do ww'ing for me because I enjoy it. Making it a monotonous production environment would take the joy away for me.

    If you can pay the bills at your main gig and do ww'ing for fun, I suggest you keep it that way.
    I think this is fantastic advice.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by rudy de haas View Post
    Ah..

    I have a friend who does this for a living - see http://www.serranostudios.com/ . He sells mainly at farmer's markets but does a lot of work for very little money.

    If you have web and marketing skills one option you might want to consider is setting up to market products like his -i.e. make yourself the web sales outlet for a small number of specialized wood workers who can be considered artists in their own right but aren't terribly interested in, or good at, selling. If you can find these people at various markets or on the web and offer them a low hassle, but effective, sales channel you might add a lot of value to their lives while getting some cash for yourself too.

    This is a very good idea.

    Doing all that grunt work re marketing, just for one item that you make yourself, sounds like a terrible idea, but having a a deeper product line, with "sub contractors" all using the same marketing resources, makes sense.

    One nice extra with this business is that you can legitimately write-off a lot of new tools.

    One downside is the self-employment tax.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •