The Should I Own A Business Podcast
The Should I Own A Business Podcast

Turn your woodwork hobby into a woodworking business


If you spend your spare time working with wood, have you thought about turning your hobby into a woodworking business?

This article explores the things that you would have to consider to turn your woodwork hobby into a business.

The COVID economic downturn has triggered many people to look for new ways to boost their income and change their lifestyle.

Many apprenticeships in carpentry, cabinet maker or joinery have stopped leaving keen young people out of work.

Now 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 any use of wood, such as: 

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

Woodworker’s tools include hand and power-tools or 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 in 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 could be qualified engineers, apprentice trained tradespeople or amateurs. 

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

Amateur woodworkers may have no formal qualifications but heaps of talent and passion

Often woodwork enthusiasts develop their 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 hobby woodworkers might be active in internet forums or have YouTube channels themselves.

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 as they come up with designs and make physical products that solve problems, although they might 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.


The typical home woodworking tools

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

  • bench drills
  • saw benches
  • band saws
  • hand saws
  • hand drills
  • planes
  • air compressors
  • lathes 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 woodworking business? 

For your woodwork skills to generate the major part or all of your income, you will need to scale up your business. So that you could have a constant supply of work, you need some marketing and sales activities.

Building your past-time into a business will require some systems and disciplines.

Some questions that spring to mind are:

  • What is it like running a business and would you like it?
  • Which products would you make?
  • What services would you offer?
  • Would you need to attend work-sites to install?
  • Are there enough customers out there?
  • 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 amateur into 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 is to help you answer this question.
  • There is some personal preparation that you can take to increase your chances of success greatly. 
  • 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 the other Critical Business Functions.

Critical Business Functions are in all businesses, and they have to work harmoniously for the business to thrive.

Episode 6 Critical Business Functions is a good place to hear what some of these are.

TIP You might like this blog called What is it like to run a manufacturing business? 


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?

Owning a business does not suit everybody. We created The Should I Own A Business Podcast to help people who are thinking of starting a business find out what it’s like.

The Should I Own A Business “Pathway” covers the essential things you should consider and how to prepare yourself to be successful.

For example, Episode 14 is called How To Evaluate Your Business Idea, which explains why to use a simple Business Model Design before writing a business plan.

Other episodes such as You-360 and Understanding Your Motivation help you work out if owning a business is right for you.


Understand The Reality of Business Ownership

The Should I Own A Business Podcast explores the reality of being a business owner in plain language.

Local manufacturing and fabrication present a huge opportunity for new business owners.

Here are some other resources you might find helpful:

We also have a great article on Manufacturing productivity for beginners.

Our free Business Readiness Test highlights areas you might need to prepare more before starting a business.


About the author: Brendan Barrow has extensive experience in leading and managing manufacturing businesses on 3 continents.

Brendan Barrow Co-Host 

The Should I Own A Business Podcast-Listen Before You Leap.

Avoiding new business failures, one owner at a time.