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Blog entry by wilbur23 posted 05-23-2013 02:48 AM 1532 reads 1 time favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I am looking for advice on marketing and selling my woodworking. I absolutly love making things and figuring out how to do new projects. Im always learning something. Lumber jocks has helped me and given me that push again that ive not been able to find!Thank you all!

A little about me. Im 32 yrs old and i worked a factory job for 10 years. Ive had severe chrones since i was about 17 and have had surgery for it and have been on many differant meds for it. My dad passed away from cancer/chrones 7 years ago. I would love to have a 8 to 5 job but its not realistic due to my chrones. After my dad passed i have looked at life differantly. Anyways enough about me and back to my issues! My wife and i have gone to craft fairs, flee markets and everywhere you could imagine to sell woodworking. We have done well and we have done horrible! I dont mark my stuff up very high. In reality im probly not making a profit when i do sell something. I have been trying to find stores in wisconsin that would buy at a discount and then they would sell at a profit. I have my woodworking in one store as of now. Am i missing something here? Im not trying to make a million dollars but it would be nice to at least pay some bills.

Im just frustrated i guess. I am just wondering if anyone out there sees what im missing! For example i have made some cutting boards up and i am very happy with them and there quality. I have put the highest price being 50$ on my best one and people think im crazy. I was looking on the web and found one that was poorly put together with shooty craftsmanship and it sold for 130$. I know every place you go will have differnt dollar amounts on things. I have an etsy account and i can raise the price up 40% and sell it there but even that is only one or two thing here and there.

If anyone has any advice that can help me please comment! It is greatly appreciated and i will hopefully be in the position to hand it down and help someone else down the road.

Thanks Ron

5 comments so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4096 days

#1 posted 05-23-2013 03:04 AM

Your designs are clunky. Work on your aesthetic senses -
proportion, visual weight and so forth. Fine woodworking
is a better source than most for good design sensibilities –
the “Design Book” series is golden.

The cutting boards look good. The market is a bit
saturated though.

The major career directions that woodworkers in
a one-person shop can realistically pursue and make
a decent income at are:

- luthier
- custom cabinet maker (designer)
- furniture designer/builder
- finish carpenter (lots of jobsite work)
- jewelry box maker
- turner
- repair/restoration

Very few are making a living outside these broad

View Juriathe's profile


142 posts in 2967 days

#2 posted 05-23-2013 04:25 AM

Hi, Wilbur ! Here’s a site you might look at. It helps you find out what events are going on in most areas. Free to join, but paid membership gets more perks, of course. I’d stick with the free until you decide if it’s good for you.

One bit of advice someone here at LJ gave me was to mainly attend events in areas that have a high median wage, like 75k yearly. He was right; you can sell things in lesser areas but the bigger the income, the more disposable money available. I wish I had lotsa “disposable” income, too !! LOL. Did you know you can do zipcode searches to find out the average income in a given area? I didn’t, but I do now !

Another thing is to start looking at what you make from a retailer’s point of view, as well as a buyer’s. As a retailer you know an item’s value and price it accordingly. As a buyer you have to be your own critic; would you really buy what you are making, and how many others are making the same stuff. I like the bin and the boards, but the other items are specialties. You’d have to find a market that wants rustic. log-cabin-ish, stuff.
Other advice I got was basically to follow the trends; shabby-chic is still in, and I don’t like it, but she’s right, it’s hot right now and it sells. You have to decide if what you are making is for yourself, or others.

Another tip I got that I still haven’t figured out the answer to is to pick something you like and become the best at it. I still haven’t figured out what I like; I just love creating, so I’m kinda scatter-brained in the shop right now. I went down to my shop tonight to start working on a lamp post and made a child’s bench instead. The lamp post was for me; the bench is for dollars.
Good luck !

-- I'm so busy I don't know if I found a rope or lost a horse...

View Natalie 's profile


367 posts in 2415 days

#3 posted 05-23-2013 05:05 AM

Just one thought to offer at the moment. There are a least two different markets of buyer to consider. The www. market which is going to be much more diverse in what they will buy and what they will pay, and they are going to be much harder to figure out. Then there is your local market. See if you can find out what other people are selling, and what people are buying. Don’t copy that, but use it to guild you in coming up with your own product.
For example, do people seem to go for kids toys, and kids furniture, or do they go for kitchen stuff, or small living room pieces like end table and coffee tables.

I suggest you focus on your local market and then throw that stuff on the internet and see what happens there.

One more thing. When you have a booth at a market or fair, have a variety of products and maybe join up with another seller to make your booth more diverse and interesting. If you sell 50 of the same thing in 5 different sizes people will take a quick glance and walk by, but if they feel like there might be something interesting deeper inside the booth, they will venture inside and maybe get hooked.
Take Care and don’t give up.

PS “Klunky” is a matter of taste and some people will go for that. Find out what’s popular in your geographic area. I think your work shows promise and talent!

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.

View Serradura's profile


172 posts in 2392 days

#4 posted 05-23-2013 08:59 AM

Juriathe wrote:
”Another tip I got that I still haven’t figured out the answer to is to pick something you like and become the best at it.”

It can be a way to go. Invest in yourself by learning one kind of woodwork and really get the best in that. I can tell you a bit on my history. I made a good living for over 15 years on Frame making. But….. that was only possible because of the years I spend on learning the trade. It all looks so easy. But it not only takes a lot of energy but also a lot of time. You have to be absolutely sure that you are going to like what you want to do. This is the hardest part, because there are so many directions when you’ve chosen to become a woodworker. Coming from a family where music and art were all around, it was obvious that my kind of craftsmanship would rather be on the creative field than in like construction or something to do with carpentry in the buidingtrade.

Now I was lucky, I found a frame maker with 40 years of experience who was willing to teach me. I quit my (good paying) job, went to work at a bakery at nights, so I could work and learn at his workshop in the day time. This I did for 3 years (without pay) and when he said it’s time to get on your own feet I did. By that time I learned everything there is to know about framing paintings, etches etc. All the rules on acid free, special glass etc. and of course all the secrets of the trade. In the 15 years after that I went from a garage shop to a nice workshop / art dealership / restoration specialist and frame designer. Yes it took a long time to get museums as clients, it took periods of having no money at all, scary times especially in the beginning. But I liked what I was doing, and in the end…. I won the Art & Frame award for being the best frame maker of the Netherlands. Now did that make me a millionaire? No! by no means. But I guess that’s not the goal at all. As you described in the original blog, it’s about making a living with something you like to do.

Now, I’m not the best example… because when my shop got the Art & Frame award I got an offer…. I took it, because I like a challenge and moved from the flat & wet parts of northern Netherlands to the rural hillsides of Mid Portugal… to start all over again. And this is where the choices you have to make become clear. It’s all about your location…. when you are the best in something people will come to you, problem solved….. but when you are starting nobody will just think of you as a first choice when they are looking for a product. I’m in an area where people are poor, there isn’t any money spend on luxury things they don’t need. So… I just spread my interests… That is the other option! Now I’m working as a restoration carpenter doing little jobs, buidling my own workshop, make a little bit of money by running a B&B, a little recording studio and playing as a puppeteer on markets and fairs. A big contrast with my life before….

Here is where you’re choice will always influence your life… It’s asking yourself, Can I live with all the uncertainties of living day by day, taking every opportunity when it comes around? If you can… you can have a great life, doing things you want to do, when you want to do them. Don’t use the word frustrated but free to get to the solutions of your problems. In your case it’s finding your own unique style of woodworking, going out there on every venue possible, get people to know you and your work, make sure you have stories to tell, get their attention! Still it will take a long time and much energy…. Make what people need or want, but always with a touch of your own identity as a woodworker. This could scare some people off, but don’t worry about that, you can’t satisfy everybody.

Wish you luck on your search for anwers. I hope my views on the matter can be of any assistance!

-- Não só Serradura, Tomar, Portugal

View wilbur23's profile


25 posts in 2312 days

#5 posted 05-24-2013 02:26 AM

Thank you all for the great advice. Im going to take it and run with it. Going to try some new things and different avenues i believe. I can only go up!!!!!!! Thanks much

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