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Forum topic by Rcwatts89 posted 03-12-2018 12:53 PM 943 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1 post in 846 days

03-12-2018 12:53 PM

Topic tags/keywords: beginner tips howto advice

Im new to all this and so far i have completed a end table and coffee table and im just wondering how ha go about pricing got stuff. I am wanting to sellthe coffee table and two end tables as a set. Plus if anyone had any advice in general like good guides on getting into woodworking for a complete beginner looking to get into making furniture/maybe cabinets too. I’ve invested quite a bit on tools like dewalt planer. Bosch router. Router table. Clamps and a bunch of other stuff. Would like to learn to make my own plans. Haven’t figured the router out yet. Well either way I wanna know what you all think this coffee table n 2 eND table’s are worth.
Hopefully I got the right pics. I wanna learn the right way to do things instead of spending so much time to go back n fix a mistake.


5 replies so far

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

2423 posts in 933 days

#1 posted 03-12-2018 01:34 PM

what part of the country are you in ??
look on your local CraigsList to see what others are asking for similar items. (as a guideline).
do you know how to effectively advertise your wares to be sold on the internet ?
good quality photos without a lot of background clutter will be your first starting point.
your tools and the money you have invested in your tools should not play a part in your pricing.

not to hurt your feelings, but, I think the burned look went out of style in the ‘80s
and it depends on your prospective customer base if the rustic furniture made out of pine
2×4 lumber would fit their decor. I made a coffee table when I was 18 years old and I thought
it looked terrific. my father told me, you will never see the joints or glue residue on a professional piece
of furniture. also, other people must like it and it must fit their home, not just for you.
although it was a bit harsh, I learned from it. outside opinions will only make you better and stronger.

again – good quality photos with attention grabbing descriptions will put you ahead of the pack.

this is an example of a good photo to display your table for sale:

as a learning exercise, you could stage the furniture in your home and then gather the feedback
of your family, friends and neighbors of how they like it (or don’t).


-- I am a painter: that's what I do, I like to paint things. --

View jamsomito's profile


547 posts in 1197 days

#2 posted 03-12-2018 01:51 PM

Do a search on youtube. There are several stories of the youtube creator’s lives and several of them started by making and selling stuff, then went into the more production/education field with their channels. Some that come to mind are Jay Bates and Dave Picciuto (Make Something). There are lots of podcasts too, like Making It with Jimmy Diresta (who did that for most of his career) among many others.

Tables look nice. I’d be a little worried about the joints at the corners of the top trim getting loose over time because of panel expansion, but they’re not excessively wide so they might be fine. I could see someone up here in Michigan buying those for a cabin up north.

As far as pricing goes, you’ll probably want to log your time or estimate how many pieces you could make in a day (not including waiting time for glue or finish to dry) and charge a flat daily rate divided out over how many of those pieces you could do in a day. Your price needs to cover materials plus overhead stuff like your time, utilities, insurance, facilities, taxes, and profit. You might not have some of these if you’re just starting out, but if you’re serious about making it a business they all need to be taken into account or you’ll price yourself out of business.

I’ve been discouraged as a beginner because I spend so long on each piece – still lots of learning, not the right tools to do things efficiently, I have a day job, etc. I’ve found that I can’t charge enough to cover my time and still be competitive enough to move pieces. I can make money, but not what my time is worth. As I build out my shop though, this is getting better. I don’t want to discourage you, but I’ve found it’s tough as a beginner unless you can really nail down an assembly line for one thing, do a bunch, and make decent money on it too.

As John says, you’ll have to find something that “goes” in your area too – everyone’s tastes are different. And I agree, good pictures will help with good prices (for you).

View UncleBuck's profile


253 posts in 851 days

#3 posted 03-12-2018 03:00 PM

been at this around three years now i mill and dry my own lumber so i don’t have that cost, but still have not found the right spot to sell been on Facebook but unless you are selling garage sale items there are not any sites in the bigger city markets that let you sell or advertise your business i give a lot away to donations thinking that will get me noticed but the new customers don’t come. i have my regulars that will pay whatever i charge no questions, but most want things for nothing, got a shop full of furniture that won’t sell unless i get it down to there price. makes you want to ask what they will pay and barder from there. good luck hope you are in a bigger city small town people don’t want to pay for handcrafted stuff would rather go to walmart for fake wood. rant over thanks

-- Terry Uncle Buck Carvins "woodworking minus patience equals firewood "

View gargey's profile


1013 posts in 1546 days

#4 posted 03-12-2018 03:12 PM

You may want to get more experience working for someone else, if you hope to make money at this.

You have no developed sales channels/reputation/word-of-mouth, and will have terrible cost absorption given your total lack of scale.

Also would more quickly develop your skillz.

Just my 2 cents.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3285 days

#5 posted 03-12-2018 03:48 PM

I sold my first commissioned piece of furniture in 1971. It has been a part-time endeavor my whole life, but I can safely say I’ve sold or refinished thousands of pieces. Some, just a simple two-three piece cutting board, some whole sets like your tables. I have refinished three grand pianos. On the other hand, I’ve scrolled out multiple Christmas ornaments and sold them. It’s all wood…

What I’ve learned:
There is a LOT of talent out there. To make matters worse, the majority of this talent is not even recognized, and a lot of them who are selling are getting hosed for outstanding work, since they don’t have a name. But you are STILL competing with them, as well as the better known people.

For instance, I built two glass river tables in the style of Greg Klassen. This is a guy who has made a name for himself with these glass river tables of all types. Not unusual for him to get thousands of dollars for one piece.
I got $250 for my first one, and the other is still up for sale at $295. Do mine look as good as his? I think so. But apparently most of the buying public does not agree with me. Get used to it. No one knows some old guy from SE Tennessee. Klaussen is in New York Galleries…

When it comes to what you do, try to stick to something that is unique, fairly new, and time yourself on how many hours you rack up building these pieces. Try to keep your pricing reasonable.
I have struck it multiple times, but every time, the items die out, as people move on to other things. No new products? No sales.

Learn at most, two or three decent finishes, and stick to them until you can apply them in your sleep. You need some kind of oil finish, some kind of matte or semi-gloss finish, and some kind of gloss finish that is a mirror. Stop there. For me, I don’t use shellac or water based finishes, but there are guys on here that can make those finishes dance. Settle on one brand of stain and learn everything on how it works. General, Minwax, does not matter, as long as you know how it will react in all conditions.

Lastly, you need some breaks…This sounds hard, and it is, but if no one who cares really ever sees your stuff and knows they can buy it, you will die on the vine.
I have been very lucky to have landed a very good gallery in my area that is attached to a museum, and I have done very well in there. I had a second, but just left it as they didn’t try hard enough on my stuff and were not open weekends. I did about $600 in four months in the second one. Not worth my time if I’m going to seriously pursue a hobby for money.

I don’t do festivals or fairs, but I know people who almost make a living doing that “under the tent” thing. Once you embrace the technology of how to handle a credit card with your cell phone in under 30-45 seconds, you can sell almost anything under a tent. I personally just don’t want to stand there all day, weekend after weekend. And they can be tough. Weather, people knocking down your prices, and guys like me with cell phones taking pictures of your stuff and knocking it off…

Once you get a product, a way to sell it, a decent price you can live with, and customers, you have to remember insurance, taxes, your local, state and federal returns, so on and so on. I just scaled back about a year ago, now most of my problems with taxes are handled by either my accountant or the gallery who collects taxes on the sale, and I can bypass that hassle on the stuff I sell there. Still, I pay my accountant hundreds to do my return every year.

Finally, remember that you need time. Years in some cases. When I started building guitars, it was eleven months before I sold the first one. That was actually pretty quick. I had to give three away to a band so people could see them. Cheap advertising. Number 86 is on the bench, and I am actively trying to stop building them.

As far as tools, buy decent tools that will last, but not top of the line. You can buy plenty of clamps from Harbor Freight, but your bandsaw, tablesaw or lathe should come from a higher source. Settle down on a decent glue. I use 99% of the time, Titebond III.

As you go along, don’t be afraid to give a few things away. Sign ALL of your work. Get a logo of some type.
That’s enough, I’m tired of typing!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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