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Thread: I don't believe

  1. #1
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    I don't believe

    People actually make money selling wooden products. I've been building all my life to some degree and never sold anything for profit. The junk I've seen that actually sells, so they say, cutting boards at the top of the list. What a m8nd numbing way to make your money back. Seriously, I walked by a booth at a craft show and the guy had the boards and wine stoppers and all this woodcraft marketed stuff. Nobody even slowed down. What's the truth? What can I learn to build out of wood that someone might actually want at a price that covers the hours and materials?

  2. #2
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    IMO to make a decent living as a solo woodworker you need to find a niche thatís not easily filled by mass production.

    Artsy studio furniture / one off pieces sold to wealthy clients fits this criteria - assuming you can find the clients. You are providing a unique piece of furniture that none of their friends have. But you need to be good at marketing yourself and develop a brand.

    Turning a profit making cutting boards, wine stoppers etc. requires the economies found in mass production. Not something Iíd want to do. Now if you enjoy doing it as a hobby that makes some money on the side and you like sitting at craft shows talking to people, thatís a different story.

    The individual craftsman making a living building one item at a time became the exception during the last Industrial Revolution. Recall that even the great James Krenov was supported by his wifeís income as a school teacher for years before he made a name for himself.

  3. #3
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    SMC contributor Zach Hoyt uses a mixture of hand and power tools. He is productive. His blog is encouraging. Most of the cutting board guys I see at craft fairs have power shops. I have a retired friend who is able to sell quite a few craft items. He also has some power tools. Having your items in the right store in a good location is helpful.
    Best Regards, Maurice

  4. #4
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    Let me just add, I don't need to make a living at it. It would be nice to earn a little extra. I'll c9me up with something I'm sure.

  5. #5
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    Making money at any creative endeavor, let alone making a living, is a tough hustle. At least outside of purely commercial pursuits. Aas an example, I know more cabinet makers that make a living at it than I do purely custom furniture makers. The same is true for the people I went to art school with. There are fewer doing well with gallery shows than commercial pursuits. It's why I code for a living now.

    I don't personally know anyone who actually makes their money back, including paying themselves, at craft shows.
    ~mike

    happy in my mud hut

  6. #6
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    Sigh, maybe I should build decks. Nooooo, I'm to old for that. Oh well, that's why I decided to work part-time at my job instead of retirement. That way I can continue to have fun with hand tools and such.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hutchings View Post
    People actually make money selling wooden products. I've been building all my life to some degree and never sold anything for profit. The junk I've seen that actually sells, so they say, cutting boards at the top of the list. What a m8nd numbing way to make your money back. Seriously, I walked by a booth at a craft show and the guy had the boards and wine stoppers and all this woodcraft marketed stuff. Nobody even slowed down. What's the truth? What can I learn to build out of wood that someone might actually want at a price that covers the hours and materials?
    First off you are never going to cover your hours and materials let alone make a decent profit. Think about it this way you can build a very nice dining table from fine wood and maybe a live edge or epoxy inlay and advertise it at lets say $5000.00. The time and material you will have in while it sits around looking for a buyer if you ever do will give you heart burn.
    On the other hand you can build small stuff that everybody brags about that builds fast and sells for high profit. here is a huge list of folks making a killing selling woodworking stuff , https://www.youtube.com/results?sear...hat+sell+fast+

    one guy in that list even talks about making 2.6 million on one product https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpphSeKdxw0.
    This guy makes cutting boards has it down to a science and is doing very well from what I can discover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GJTNwx4FyT8

    The reality the $$ and time you spend in materials , making, marketing, or getting someone else to market for you are seldom recovered.
    My own personal story that has just recently just started to take off is segmented bowls. I make them because I like them but I also want to sell them. On Etsy and ebay the bowl pictured below would sell for about $175.00 based on the similar stuff I see posted there. That is before the middle man gets a cut my time to pack it, ship it and so on. I have sold the three bowls shown here over a period of about 5 months. But I had them placed in a high end gallery in a high traffic tourist town. The problem there is they are selling but the gallery takes a 40% of the retail price. So for 3 bowls so far that I could struggle to sell myself if ever I have found a process where I make and drop off product and rely on an established venue to sell my stuff. My net for the 3 products pictured here is just over $600.00 not much for my time and materials and everything that goes along with making segmented bowls of some complexity.

    The bottom line is.... the bottom line isn't .
    calabrese55

    55-16-4.jpg
    BOWL 55-19 (3).jpg
    BOWL 55-9 11-2022 (33).jpg
    Let your hands tell the story of the passion in your heart

  8. #8
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    What's the difference between these identical tables?

    Table A. $60,000.Screenshot 2023-11-18 110353.jpg Table B. $1000.Screenshot 2023-11-18 110353.jpg

    $59,000,

    Table A. is "made" by someone famous and can sell for $60,000 and one Table B. is made by a "nobody" and will sell for maybe $1,000, which is less than the cost of the materials.

    Value is a fictional concept created in the mind, it has no basis in the physical world. It is a perception created by influence.

    For instance table A. may never actually have been made by George but by a nobody that worked for him, could be the very same nobody that left George and worked from his own shop and made table B.

  9. #9
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    Perth, Australia
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    I am probably never going to have the time to build for money. I don't care. My payment has been worth much more than this.

    There is quite a goodly investment in tools over the decades, which is offset by the furniture it has built, not to mention a couple of kitchens and house restorations. Over 80% of our house is furnished by my builds, and I have made dents into the homes of family and friends. The payment is priceless, and the demand will see me through at least a decade more.

    I have often thought about an extra monetary income, but it always comes back to the same point - I'd rather have the time to do what I want for myself than give it away for an inconsequential income.

    Regards from Perth

    Derek

  10. #10
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    So Cal
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    Marks right we saw this happen when Sam m. Passed nobody wanted his chairs without his signature on it. From what I know the workers didnít want to drop their prices.
    I havenít been able to enter the small handcrafted market in my small town tried going high tried going low.
    I havenít done a craft shows for years the last one felt like trying to sell buggy whips to cars driving by.
    Maybe someday until then Iím have fun.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  11. #11
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    It helps to have a healthy appetite for cold dog soup and rainbow pie while you attempt to create a body of work.

    IMG_1714.jpg
    Best Regards, Maurice

  12. #12
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    "What's the truth? What can I learn to build out of wood that someone might actually want at a price that covers the hours and materials?"

    The answer is nothing or anything! Nothing if you are a nobody, anything if you are famous!

    You have to build a perception!
    A perception that you are special, everything that you touch becomes special, every one that knows you something about you, or owns something you made becomes special. That's what people pay for, not the work that you have done, only the feeling they get from owning it.

    Figure that out and you wont have to work hard.

    James. Screenshot 2023-11-18 124848.jpg George. Screenshot 2023-11-18 125514.jpg Sam. Screenshot 2023-11-18 125648.jpg the best of the best Pablo gettyimages-517720912-2048x2048.jpg

  13. #13
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    Dayton Ohio
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Hutchings View Post
    People actually make money selling wooden products. I've been building all my life to some degree and never sold anything for profit. The junk I've seen that actually sells, so they say, cutting boards at the top of the list. What a m8nd numbing way to make your money back. Seriously, I walked by a booth at a craft show and the guy had the boards and wine stoppers and all this woodcraft marketed stuff. Nobody even slowed down. What's the truth? What can I learn to build out of wood that someone might actually want at a price that covers the hours and materials?
    Question: What type of work do you want to do? Some people can't handle case work because of size/weight. Some must use power tools for joinery. Some don't have a lathe. If you work in a garage weather might be an issue. Transporting finished pieces or shipping them? So Richard, do you have any limitations?

  14. #14
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    So Cal
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    I believe there is a way around earning prestige if someone doesnít already possess it.
    Collaboration through a guild were woodworkers come together and seek out beauty through hard truth. Whatís good design and whatís garbage.
    Its not difficult to learn techniques and understand woods. Getting around individualistic beauty is the problem.
    My wife thinks all my work is the best in the world. Not everyone is my wife.
    Good Luck
    Aj

  15. #15
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    What can I learn to build out of wood that someone might actually want at a price that covers the hours and materials?
    The hard part of making a living out of anything is it can involve losing the joy found in doing something you love.

    You may have to work when you don't want to work.

    You have to look and see what others are making. You have to investigate to find what people in your area are wanting to purchase and how much they are willing to pay.

    I used to sell my wares at a local Farmers Market. It didn't make much money. Here are a few of the things I sold:

    Benches and other items.jpg

    Other sellers sold whirligigs, ice chest cabinets and bird houses. City dwellers are looking for different things than people who live in a rural area. There will be some cross overs, that is where the cutting boards come in.

    I kept a page from a competitor's catalog to show folks what a potting bench would cost them:

    0 Potting Bench.png

    This was from about ten years ago, prices have likely changed.

    Potting benches were one of my best selling items. It got to a point for me to try and have the parts to build two on hand so if one sold it could be replaced before the next market day.

    The boxy item under the top of the bench is a box that holds a plastic tub for dumping or holding soil. It is covered by a section of the top that lifts off. The bench was made using wood sized to make the top, shelf and legs without any waste. That is important when making things, less waste = more profit.

    Here is the build thread for a potting bench > https://sawmillcreek.org/showthread.php?227535

    The item sitting on the bench is a box that holds plastic shopping bags. It is a handy item for folks with dogs. The ribbed area at the bottom is a drawer.

    The sitting benches did okay. The ones with the hinged top sold better. People like hidden storage.

    Another item that sold well was Adirondack chairs:

    Adirondack Bench.jpg

    This bench didn't sell, it is still in our yard and gets used at times.

    Single seats sell well in pairs. At Farmers Markets and Craft Fairs you can often close the sale by negotiating the delivery cost. Offering a price drop, if they can get it home without you, will get them to start dialing for friends with a pick-up truck.

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

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