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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Northern NSW
    Posts
    13

    Default Making a buck from your woodwork?

    Hi, Happy New Year everyone!

    Noobie here. I'm wondering how many forum members use their home-based workshops to make wooden items that they sell regularly - furniture, small wooden household utility items, etc. I've looked here for threads asking similar questions, but haven't seen any so far.

    I plan to set up my home-based workshop with at least some part-time income in mind. Semi-retired older dude and not chasing global corporation status

    I have quite a bit of general woodworking and carpentry experience, but I need to learn more - how to set up my workshop with money-making in mind, the most likely best-selling items, and so on.

    I'd greatly appreciate any advice Thanks in advance,
    - Josh

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  3. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    bilpin
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    3,041

    Default

    I don't think you could have picked a worse time. Ive been in the timber trade for over 50 years and have been making furniture for at least half of that time. I still do a bit as asked but the asking is getting pretty quiet these days. Sure, things will improve. The big question is when? In the meantime, i'd be taking the oportunity to buy some cheap but good fire sale machinery and source some suitable timber at a realistic price. Without these two commodities you are fighting a losing battle. Setup cost vs income is critical.

  4. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Perth WA
    Posts
    1,881

    Default

    I find that you have to make it and they will come... eventually.
    Experienced in removing the tree from the furniture

  5. #4
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Location
    Auckland, New Zealand
    Posts
    838

    Default

    I have a home based shop and generated steady and increasing income for close to 10 years now - whenever I made money I put that in the workshop by buying more efficient machines.

    You need to find your market, something you can do quickly(really depends on what it is), properly and something that is in the "trend" and something that is competitive when compared to imports.

    Once you have build up your name then the orders will come - My advertising spend is zero, I dont even have a website, but I am busy all year round making stuff people wants.
    Machines: Masterwood OMB1V, SCM 5 RRCS1100, Danfoss VT2882, Griggio Unica 400, Felder AD951, SCM TI 145EP, Holytek DC006, SICAR Top6, Chicago Pneumatics CPRS10500, Ceccato CDX12
    Power tools: Festool DF700, DF500, HK55, CT36, LEX 3, OF1010, OF2200, DTSC400, VAC SYS, Starmix 1635


  6. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Canberra
    Posts
    1,117

    Default

    I don't do this anymore but a few years ago I did a small ad on gumtree saying I could make kids Toy crates, boxes,.and little storage shelves etc all targetted towards kids and keeping their stuff tidy as that's what I was doing for mine

    Every request I received was for something completely bespoke and custom for adults ha. Desks, floating natural edge shelves , boxes etc etc which surprised me. Then people thanking me on Instagram spread the word and I had more orders come in.

    The thing that surprised me the most was my opinion that I can't compete with the big stores on material costs but all the people that approached me were looking for that custom piece they couldn't find on those stores and were willing to pay for it. There was enough of a niche that it kept me damm busy and was able to invest money back into my tooling. I enjoyed it and will do something similar but smaller scale later

    Sent from my Nokia 5.3 using Tapatalk

  7. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Elizabeth Bay / Oberon NSW
    Age
    73
    Posts
    875

    Default

    Each of my three children sought my advice when choosing their subjects for the Higher School Certificate. They were all asked the same thing. What are you good at? What do you like doing?

    You have a full set of personal resources. The way to success is to use them wisely.

    Good luck with your new venture.

    mick

  8. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2020
    Location
    Northern NSW
    Posts
    13

    Default

    Thanks for your feedback everyone, much appreciated.

    (Sorry Albert, I accidentally clicked on the "pictures please" thingy, meaning to hit "like this post". Thanks again for your post.)

  9. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    South Australia
    Posts
    16

    Default

    Register it as business, get an ABN, then get tax write off on equipment.

  10. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Bentleigh East
    Age
    47
    Posts
    418

    Default

    I haven't done it myself but from observing other people it seems easier for a small business to offer the service rather than the product. People typically turn to smaller businesses when they want something bespoke they can't find at the shops, like Delbs said. Usually something to do with specific dimensions or features. If you choose what to make and then try to sell it, it becomes one more of a million other available products. Not impossible to sell, but harder.

  11. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    25,621

    Default

    At the budget end of things, long term you will never compete with the likes of Ikea. I've seen this often at the mens shed, where people come in expecting something to cost less an "Ikea price". I've lost count of how may times Ive said "I cannot even purchase the materials for the price you can that (item) bookshelf at Ikea"

    This leaves the full service approach.

    My experience is to succeed at the latter either you have to be the best of the best (eg Sam Maloof) where you can adopt a "take it or leave it' approach, or have good interpersonal and negotiating skills to determine together with client what the final products will be. I'm far from the former and have tried the latter a few times and found I was pretty poor at doing this. Either I'd argue myself out of the job or end up doing the job for $5 an hour. In other words I reckon you need to be a people person to operate in the is space - maybe even more so to certain extent than a quality woodworker.

    Good luck with whichever approach you take.

  12. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Bentleigh East
    Age
    47
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    418

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BobL View Post
    At the budget end of things, long term you will never compete with the likes of Ikea. I've seen this often at the mens shed, where people come in expecting something to cost less an "Ikea price". I've lost count of how may times Ive said "I cannot even purchase the materials for the price you can that (item) bookshelf at Ikea"

    This leaves the full service approach.

    My experience is to succeed at the latter either you have to be the best of the best (eg Sam Maloof) where you can adopt a "take it or leave it' approach, or have good interpersonal and negotiating skills to determine together with client what the final products will be. I'm far from the former and have tried the latter a few times and found I was pretty poor at doing this. Either I'd argue myself out of the job or end up doing the job for $5 an hour. In other words I reckon you need to be a people person to operate in the is space - maybe even more so to certain extent than a quality woodworker.

    Good luck with whichever approach you take.
    Hi Bob
    The correct answer to the IKEA argument is to show them this photo and tell them "Sorry, we don't make things out of paper here"


    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against paper furniture and it does have a place in my house for certain things, but I do understand what I'm actually buying. Those people need to be told when to go to IKEA and when to come to you, and that's your job unfortunately.

  13. #12
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    25,621

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Spyro View Post
    Hi Bob
    The correct answer to the IKEA argument is to show them this photo and tell them "Sorry, we don't make things out of paper here".
    Sure but when some folks are just after something like, a solution to a storage problem, they don't really care what its made of, it just needs to last them a couple of years and then they'll move onto something else.

    Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against paper furniture and it does have a place in my house for certain things, but I do understand what I'm actually buying. Those people need to be told when to go to IKEA and when to come to you, and that's your job unfortunately.
    Yep, People skills.

  14. #13
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    Sep 2016
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    Bentleigh East
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    418

    Default

    If we could stand dealing with people we wouldn't be doing so much woodworking

  15. #14
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    bilpin
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    3,041

    Default

    One can waste an awful lot of time preaching to the great unwashed. This is how you end up on a rate of $5 per hour. You cant spend half your time in deep and meaningful negotiation when you have wood on the bench awaiting your creative genius.
    Most professional woodworkers have spent their formative years learning their trade and perfecting what they have learned for the rest of their working lives. Often, you find yourself up against a fiesty little cuss who has the people skills and subtleties of a brick hurled underarm but his work is magnificent!
    Bespoke work is time consuming at all levels (but I love it.) Making for the masses, in my opinion, is dead boring unless you are producing arty stuff that keeps your creative juices flowing.
    Now add to all this the state of the Nation and the number of people with reduced incomes and you are pushing the preverbial up hill. It is a buyers market at the moment. That is, of course, if there are any buyers.

  16. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Location
    Canberra
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    4,077

    Default

    I personally think the problem is saying "no", not finding the business.

    Once they find you they wont leave you alone.


    The prime problem is people are genuinely unaware of how much gear is needed to do a "good job". I find it is part education and showing lots of examples.

    I've never had a person ask for something like Ikea but cheaper. Come to think of it I cant recall ever not getting a job after advising the price.

    Price, at the end of it, is a secondary consideration. Focus on quality and you'll win every time.

    Put up a decent site showing a FAQ and examples.


    I miss my studio

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