Start Woodworking Business from Home

Start Woodworking Business from Home with image of mallet chisel and forstner bit

When I was younger and played around with woodworking projects on the weekends I wondered what is needed to start woodworking business from home? 

To start a woodworking business you will need some skill, a place to build, some woodworking tools, and you will need customers to sell your woodworking projects to earn a profit. Although that answer may sound obvious and simple doesn't mean that any of those requirements are easy. To learn more how to ensure you have everything you need to start your business, let's look at each with a little more detail. 

The making profit part Near the end might blow you away. 

In this post, I will review the skills required, what type of area you need to build, what type of tools are recommended, and how you can get your customers. 

Woodworking Skills Required

This is a tough topic as some advanced woodworkers that may have had years of training and apprenticeships may argue that if you are just a weekend project person you're not really a true woodworker.

I can respect the love and dedication for those that have decided to make woodworking their life by getting the proper education to understand the science and techniques that can be taught from one generation to the next. Their determination and skill will help preserve the wood artisan trade for generations.

There is also something to be said for those weekender tinkerers that go to their garage, basement, yard shed out back to create woodworking projects for themselves and learn the skill in their own way.

To me, the weekend woodworker will more likely create unique work, similar to a self-taught artist who paints works of art that is worth millions versus those trained in the arts and are able to create standard home decorations.

“Normal is not something to aspire to, it’s something to get away from.” - Jodie Foster

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In other words, you don't necessarily need a formal education in woodworking in order to start a woodworking business.

I do suggest to learn the trade by producing woodwork projects for yourself before trying to sell them to family, friends, or other customers.

When I look back at some of my early projects I am so pleased that I didn't try to sell them to others. Some were so flimsy or wood would split after a few weeks...they were horrible.

With practice though, my wood projects for my own home improved enough where family and friends would see them and started putting their orders in without me asking, I digress, we will get to the selling and profits later.

Space Required for Woodworking from Home

You can start a woodworking business from a corner in your bedroom to having 10,000+ square workshop. The size of place you have doesn't really matter as long as you scale your woodworking product size to the space you have.

You need to be realistic about what you can build with the space you have available.

My first project was at a house that I rented with my now wife and it had some kind of shed in the backyard. It was not heated and it had work area that was about 3' x 6' but it had a small workbench so I was excited to create my first ever wood project.

That is where I used my hand saw, hammer, and screwdriver to build my first TV stand with basic 2x3 spruce lumber.

When I moved to our first purchased home I had a 20' x 20'  garage, it offered more than enough space to build small to medium size furniture.

I once built a full size 12' x 8'  wall unit but that proved to be a little difficult with that size of the project. 

I continuously had to move stuff around to accommodate the furniture while I worked on various parts.

That size of woodworking shop was ideal for smaller furniture like coffee tables, hallway benches, and storage chests to name a few. 

At that point, I had gathered a few extra tools what I would consider basic or essential powered woodworking tools.

Woodworking Tools Required to Start a Business

I literally started with a hand saw a hammer and a screwdriver.

That was when I built that first TV stand in that little shed in a home we rented. It took me hours putting those screws in without any pre-drilling.

Once we moved to our first home is when I started buying tools. 

The first tool I bought was a belt sander of all things. I was able to convince my soon to be spouse that it was needed to build our centerpieces for our wedding reception. 

They were little wooden windmills and I needed the sander to make the peaks of each windmill. I basically placed it upside down and used it more like a sanding table.

Then my parents found a table saw for a few bucks at an estate auction, picked-up a circular saw here, power drill there before I knew it I had a dozen different power woodworking tools in my workshop.

With those tools, I was able to cut my work time on wood projects in half or less.

I really appreciated the efficiency of having power tools.

Power tool saved me loads of time and it also allowed me to expand my knowledge and expertise on building various wood projects.

 I didn't get all these tools with the plan of starting a woodworking business. I was really only buying them so I could make our own furniture for our new home.

My wife and I would go shopping for new furniture, I would see the price and the poor quality of the furniture in the store and say to my wife that I could build that for half the price and it would be much better quality.

That is how it all began. ​

I started by building a wood bench for our small entrance. We wanted something where we can sit to put our shoes or boots on but it couldn't be too big for the small entrance.

So I built a custom size bench with a back and small storage in the seat for gloves, mitts, and toques.

The home woodworking projects went from there to building coffee tables, storage chest, our bedroom set, and more.

With all that said there really isn't a  minimum or maximum amount or type of tools required to start a woodworking business at home. 

If you have no tools, pick up a few basic ones and start from there but start building and you will see your skills progress.

How To Find Customers for Your Woodwork

In my case, I didn't have to go out to find customers.

They actually came to me.

Remember, I acquired those woodworking hand tools with the sole purpose of making furniture for our new home not to start a woodworking business.

Then family, friends, and neighbors would come for diners or visit us at our new home and see some of the wood projects I had made and would ask if I could make something for them.

So I would make them what they asked, they would pay me for the material and my time.

Before I knew it I had to start keeping a list of the various projects people asked me to build. 

“Don’t try to tell the customer what he wants. If you want to be smart, be smart in the shower. Then get out, go to work, and serve the customer!” -Gene Buckley

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This was all during the time my wife and I moved into a new home, and both started new full-time jobs that involve shift work. 

The shift work was actually a good thing because I found myself having a lot of time on my own at home while my wife worked an opposite shift to mine. This provided me with free time to work on all these wood projects.

Things were going well until we had one more variable added to our routine...we became parents to our first newborn son.

That meant no more free time and I had to quit the woodworking side business.

The woodworking business out of my home started just by people seeing my work and word of mouth to their family and friends.

This all before the internet was really a thing, I know, I'm dating myself but that type of networking still works today.

If you really want to find more customers then you now have so many more ways to get customers with online marketing. 

It was a hard thing to do, seeing all my tools and workshop setup just sitting there doing nothing. The odd time I would use my tools to make a little 1-hour project or something but not much more than that. 

I had to quit just as I was getting more comfortable asking an appropriate amount of money for my woodworking projects and was actually making a profit.

Now I've started a different work from home business that you can read more about here.

How To Price Your Woodwork for Profit

In the beginning, when family, friends, and neighbors were asking me to make stuff for them I basically only charged for the material and minimum wage for the time it took me to build their furniture. 

I felt that I couldn't ask more for my time when I was starting as I felt I wasnèt a skilled woodworker, so I couldn't be asking more than minimum wage.

With time though, I was becoming more skilled at woodworking and I would start charging more for my work.

I had heard that woodworkers would calculate the cost of material and just double the price of the materials to estimate what it would cost to create wood furniture.

It turned out that all of my customers had no problem with those estimates. They wanted a custom piece of wood furniture and they were prepared to pay for it.

So near the end of my woodworking business growth, before the birth of my first born, I would calculate my woodworking projects differently.

I would estimate the cost of a wood project to be the cost of the material, plus my fee per hour of work, plus a 40% markup for other expenses and profit.

As an example, let's look at what I would charge for a simple rustic coffee table made from pine today:

  • Material:  $50
  • Work: $30/hour x 4 hours =$120
  • 40% markup= $68
  • Total: $238

Some woodworkers out there may think that is way overpriced but in reality that is still a great price for a solid wood coffee table that could last generations.

Sure, you could go out and buy a coffee table for $50 but it will probably be out in the landfill within 2-5 years.

I know that people in my neck of the woods would have no problem paying that amount of money for authentic, handbuilt furniture.

Other Considerations To Starting Woodworking From Home

As I described earlier my "woodworking business" took on a life of its own without any plan in place. 

If I had continued I would have had to stop to create a business plan and look into a few other things before getting into trouble.

Here are a few things I would look into before starting a woodworking business from home.

  1. Financial implications – tax and insurance implications. I would recommend a consult with an accountant and your insurance broker to understand all that there is to know about having a business in your home. How much can you make before paying taxes, do you need to add taxes to your sales, what can I deduct as business expenses?  Do I need a specific type of insurance or can I lose my home insurance having a business in my home? Many important questions to ask ahead that will save you headaches later.
  2. The space – You’ll need to realistically determine what you can build depending on the size of space you have. Don’t end up being that guy who builds a yacht in the basement with no plan on how the heck to get out to sea. If you are using a corner in your apartment, you may want to build small items like wooden jewelry or pens. If have a basic 1 or 2 door garage, you can probably get away with building regular size furniture for the common a household. Have a 5000 square foot workshop? Get out of here, I hate you! Seriously though, if you have a workshop with thousands of square feet, you have serious room for a full-time business profitable business.
  3. Noise/ Dust / Smell – Yes woodworking is noisy and dusty. You may be able to get away with the mess when you make small items that can be cut with a hand saw, but you will still need to do a certain amount of finishing such as sanding, painting or staining. All these steps create noise, dust, and smell. Larger projects when using power tools will definitely require some type of air filtration and dust collection system, soundproofing space wouldn’t hurt either, I’m sure your spouse, partner, children or neighbors will appreciate it.
  4. Zoning: - Check with your municipal/county bylaws for running a business from your home. Generally, it will depend on the amount of traffic, noise, and materials left lying around the house to determine if you can start a woodworking business in your home. This is one of those situations where it is better to ask permission first and not forgiveness once being caught. You can be on the hook for some fines if you get caught.

Conclusion

Anybody can start a woodworking business from home no matter your skill level, size of your workshop or what type of tools you have.

The most important part of starting a woodworking business is getting started.

You can research and think about it as much as you want but you do need to make that first step. 

You need to stop what you are doing now and get a piece of wood and make something with it now.

In summary, here is a list of tools I recommend you start with:

  • Table saw, -preferably a belt driven saw with a side and back-end extension
  • Sliding Mitre saw – preferably a belt driven saw with side extensions
  • Router  and router table
  • Drills and drill press, and set of high-quality wood drill bits.
  • Pocket Hole Jig
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Orbital and Belt sanders. Ideally both palm and table types.
  • Clamps -lots of clamps – variable sizes, did I mention lots of clamps?
  • Dust collector system
  • Lots of glue and screws

Now find a corner, your garage or back shed to start your first woodwork project. 

Show it to your family and friends, see what happens, you will be amazed.

If the word of mouth techniques doesn't work as well for you then start marketing online.

You can learn all about marketing and building your own website at the same place I learned about and built this and other of my websites by clicking here.

Do you have any experience in starting your woodworking business? I would love to hear about it. Please leave your story, comments or questions below.

Cheers

Paul

About the Author Paul

My online journey started in 2008 when I was tired of working for somebody else. I searched the internet for years trying to find out how to make a living from home with an online business. In 2015 I finally found the information and support from a website just like this one

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