Doing woodworking for a living?

Discussion in 'Jims Woodworking' started by CJ21, Oct 25, 2006.

  1. CJ21

    CJ21 New Member

    Messages:
    4,303
    State:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    I am wondering is wise do woodworking as a living? I would to like build custom kitchen cabinets, bathroom vanities, and maybe bookcases.
     
  2. fish

    fish Active Member

    Messages:
    1,573
    State:
    ChattanoogaTenn
    CJ, in my experience it is hard to break into this market, it takes a long time to establish a name for yourself and a customer base. Some have broken into this field with the help of others and have done well. But to start off without someone's help is tough. Most of your work will come from repeat business, but first one must establish that business. It is hard for anyone to trust a new business as they haven't proven themselves. It can take several years in some cases to establish a good clientele.

    Some major things that will have a lot to do with the success or failure of a business is location and demand for the products, and especially quality workmanship and price. I found in my 37 + years of woodworking that there will be times that you will have so much work you cannot get to it all, and then there will be times that you will sit at home wondering when the next job will come and the bills don't stop. It is a tough business, but it can be done and is very rewarding and satisfying.

    There are many different types of people who want many different kinds and prices of wood products. You will find many who want top quality custom products, but at bargain basement prices, and it just can't be done.

    Quality products take time to accomplish and time is money. Quality materials that you build with costs more than standard materials and this additional cost must be passed on to your customers.

    CJ, I am not trying to discourage you my friend but to just let you know of a few things that can happen in starting into a new wood working business.

    Don't forget your overhead, and it can get expensive, insurance, taxes, shop, tools, supplies, utilities, phone, truck or van, etc. etc. I wouldn't quit my regular job right off the bat, but try to establish a business on the side, to see how things develop. There are a number of programs out there offered by the government to help start-up businesses, that you may want to check into.

    I am sure some of the other fellows who own their own businesses will chime in here to give you other points of view.
     

  3. CJ21

    CJ21 New Member

    Messages:
    4,303
    State:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Maybe I should keep woodworking as a hobby, or find something thats in demand, we have a couple of cabinet shops in my hometown. I might be better off getting a degree or joining the coast guard reserve.
     
  4. ShilohRed

    ShilohRed New Member

    Messages:
    4,339
    State:
    West Tn
    You might try part time and still work. Then after getting a good start. And you get where its more then you can do part time. Turn it into a full time job.
    Pete
     
  5. buddah

    buddah New Member

    Messages:
    1,622
    State:
    Pennsylvania Wi
    Well, I used to install cabinets in new constructions and even the higher end cabinets are pretty chincy. If you make a real great cabinet than find a good market you may be in good shape! The best of luck too ya!
    I am going to make High-end lures this winter and ttry to sell them for a hobby but thats all the further I'm gonna take it unless it works out, but I believe they would have to really be something special to make a living at it. I know it's not the same thing as cabinets but it's a start huh?
     
  6. Coloman

    Coloman New Member

    Messages:
    441
    State:
    Soddy Daisy, Tn
    I have found that people want what you build but....... they don't want to pay for it! At best I have made enough money building for others to build something for myself or family.
    I would suggest that you build your client base before you quit your day job. If the day comes that you are making enough to pay all the bills, then go full time.
     
  7. CJ21

    CJ21 New Member

    Messages:
    4,303
    State:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Right now, I am doing lawn service, it aint doing to well its getting cold since it aint no grass growing. I hope to get a part time job soon. and I hope try for the coast guard.
     
  8. Dave L

    Dave L New Member

    Messages:
    1,012
    State:
    Minnesota
    Cj, Jim pretty much hit the nail on the head with his response.
    Starting a wood working business takes a lot of time, dedication, and did I mention time.
    When I first had the vision of starting my own cabinet shop (about twenty years ago) I had just got married and a year later my first child was on the way. I was working a full time job at a stable company with all the benefits a guy could ask for. Yet I was determined to work for myself, doing what I liked most, working with wood.
    It started with a few things around the house and the next thing I know I start doing little projects for money. Every time I got paid for a project I went and bought a new tool to help the next job go quicker. Well after a couple of years It turned into, come home from work to go to work. I did this for about ten years re-investing every cent from every job, to buy more tools. In the process I missed my 3 childrens growing years:sad2: and I will never get that back. And that was because I was working 2 full time jobs, my day job and my wood working job. Well I got my cabinet business, about 8 years ago I found I could afford to pay the bills on just the cabinet business so I quit the day job.
    To get to this point in my life (where I am at now) I moved from my basement shop 18 years ago, to a 2 car garage I built in the yard of my first house. Soon out grew that (bought to many tools) and bought a new house on five acres with a pole building on the land that I turned into a shop, a couple years later out grew that and had to add on twice.
    Now I sit with over 5000 square feet of space full of exspensive equipment that I don't even get the time to use much. Because now I have to run an office, and play sales man, just to keep the three guys working for me busy. They get to run all the tools and work with wood.
    Did I mention it takes dedication and time, lots of time.
     
  9. badkarma

    badkarma New Member

    Messages:
    772
    State:
    Oxford,Miss
    I have a friend who had a part time cabnet shop and he almost worked himself to death.He made good money but it took up all his time 7 days a week and the taxis he had to pay on top of his full time job paycheck was killing him too so he gave it up.
     
  10. Coloman

    Coloman New Member

    Messages:
    441
    State:
    Soddy Daisy, Tn
    CJ
    As stated above being self employed is not all that it has cracked up to be. I have a heating and air conditioning company. There is no such thing as a day off, the phone can and does ring 24-7.
    With wood working you just have a different set of problems. Due dates, materials, tools breaking down and etc. as you would know being in the lawn business.
    I am not trying to discourage you! Just go into this with your eyes wide open!
     
  11. CJ21

    CJ21 New Member

    Messages:
    4,303
    State:
    Montgomery, Alabama
    Ya I know what u mean guys, I am trying to find a nich! maybe chairmaking, birdhouses, or maybe period furniture. I think its to many doing cabinets.