How to turn your woodworking hobby into a woodwork business?

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If you spend your spare time working with wood, have you thought about becoming a small woodwork business owner?

This article explores both the actions you would have to consider, and the mindset, to turn your woodwork hobby into a business.

Many people to look for new ways to boost their income and change their lifestyle whatever stage in life they are atNow could be a perfect time for hobby woodworkers with excellent carpentry skills to start a business.

What is our definition of woodworking?

Our definition of woodworking can include the use of wood in any of the following activities; 

  • cabinet-making 
  • furniture making
  • wood-carving
  • wood-turning 
  • joinery 
  • carpentry
  • boat building
  • Art or sculpture

Woodworker’s tools include hand and power-tools as well as larger tools installed in workshops.

Commercial woodworking is usually done in workshops, or light industrial units and these businesses are part of the manufacturing industry.

Some trades such as carpenters or joiners may also work exclusively on building industry construction sites.

There is a wide variety of woodworking products and services, such as:

  • fine furniture 
  • clock-making
  • boat building
  • cabinetry
  • kitchen specialists
  • outdoor decking
  • outdoor furniture
  • joinery
  • construction framing
  • concrete formwork
  • artisans

Which type of people are woodworkers?

Amateur woodworkers come from a variety of backgrounds and could be qualified engineers, apprentice trained tradespeople or amateurs. 

People who have partially completed carpentry, joinery or cabinet maker apprenticeships, often have a keen interest and the right aptitude.

Amateur woodworkers may have no formal qualifications but heaps of talent and passionOften they develop their carpentry skills and knowledge over time and reach a competent standard in their chosen interest.

Many amateur woodworkers are members of groups and attend meetings or events in their area of interest. Some of them might also be active in internet forums or have even run YouTube channels!

They get a buzz out of working with wood!

In many cases, amateur enthusiasts do not have experience in running a business.

Are woodworkers creative?

Woodworkers are often highly creative, coming up with designs and making physical products that solve problems. Often, though, they do not consider themselves as “creatives”. 

Some woodworkers produce sculptures or decorative wood art as opposed to functional products worthy of Pinterest and Instagram followers!

Other woodworkers are artisans that only use woodworking hand tools to make unique creations.

If you are an artisan you might find this article about starting a part-time artist business helpful.

Woodwork business jig saw as a tool example

The typical home woodwork business workshop tools

As a hobbyist, you may work from a shed or garage and have hand or power tools in your workshop such as:

  • bench drills
  • saw benches
  • band saws
  • hand saws
  • hand drills
  • planes
  • air compressors
  • lathes
  • sanding machines
  • planing machines
  • routing machines
  • wood bonding adhesives, resins and sealants
  • dust extraction

Perhaps you work to plans, drawings or sketches of your designs or even imagine designs in your head.

You probably do one project at a time because of limited time or space.

TIP – What is the difference between DIY and professional-grade power-tools?

What is the difference between a hobby and a woodwork business? 

For your woodwork skills to generate most or all of your income, you will need to scale up your business. To do that, and attract a constant supply of work, you will need to engage in some marketing and sales activities.

Building your past-time or hobby into a business will require you to adopt some systems and disciplines.

Some questions that spring to mind are:

  • Do you have the knowledge and skills to run a business?
  • Would you enjoy being a small business owner?
  • Which products would you make?
  • What services would you offer?
  • Would you need to attend work-sites to install your products?
  • Are there enough customers out there?
  • Do you need a website or just use social media?
  • How would you tell the world you exist and get work?
  • What prices would you charge, and when should customers pay?
  • Are there any local licences or restrictions that you must meet?
  • What would be the best legal structure for a backyard business?
  • How would you produce designs for customers to approve?
  • How do you work out how much money you will need?
  • Will you make enough money?

How do you get from being an woodworker to a business owner?

  • If you like the idea of owning your own business, the first question to answer is Should I Own A Business? The purpose of the “Should I Own A Business Podcast?”, and our specially developed pathway to business ownership, is to help you answer this question. After all, being a business owner is not for everyone and our Small Business Stories are a great resource.
  • There is some personal preparation that you can take to greatly increase your chances of success. 
  • You must also establish that customers will keep buying before you become a full-time business owner.
  • Owning a successful small business requires many things to work in harmony, and it is vital to have a good understanding before you leap in. That’s why our Podcast tag line is Listen Before You Leap!

What is running a woodworking business like?

As a part-time or full-time woodworking workshop, you will be spending time running and growing your business.

This means that not only will you be the “chief woodwork manager”, but you will need to be across all of the other Critical Business Functions.

Critical Business Functions exist in all businesses, and they have to work harmoniously for the business to thrive.If they are not done to a high standard, there will be trouble ahead!

Listening to Episode 6 Critical Business Functions is a good place to hear about many of these functions.

What changes to your workshop and mindset might you need?

As a hobbyist, you might handle one project at a time which suits your choice of tools, workshop floor area and your free time.

However, to scale your business up in size, you may need to review things like:

  • the type of tools you need to make you more productive 
  • upgrading to professional or commercial-grade tools
  • a bigger workshop area to cope with multiple jobs
  • a commercial vehicle such as a van, pick-up truck, ute or trailer
  • decluttering and re-organising the workshop floor to increase productivity and safety
  • the amount of lighting 
  • dust extraction
  • a fire prevention and escape plan
  • an organised storage area for materials 
  • if the electrical power supply in your workshop is big enough
  • your timber suppliers and their service agreement
  • any new products that you might offer

You may need to improve some systems to speed up things like:

  • design software
  • cost estimating
  • price quoting 
  • purchasing materials
  • warranty terms and conditions
  • customer order acknowledgement 
  • workshop job instructions  
  • invoicing
  • stock management
  • bookkeeping
  • work health and safety
  • quality control and quality assurance
  • any licences or certificates you may need
  • insurances for your workshop, products and people

How do I know if this is a good business idea?

Also listen to Episode 14 called “How To Evaluate Your Business Idea” which explains a 3 step process to use.

Other episodes such as You-360 How well do you know yourself and understanding your motivation help you work out if owning a business is right for you.

Our Small Business Stories uses case studies about practical business situations so you can feel what it’s like.

Are you ready to own a business? Try our free Entrepreneur Personality Quiz highlights areas you might need to prepare more before starting a business.

Written by Brendan Barrow
Brendan Barrow is the Co-Host of the Should I Own A Business Podcast. Brendan has a wealth of business experience across many different businesses and 3 continents.

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