How to Become a Professional Woodworker

How to Become a Professional Woodworker

For those who truly love it, woodworking is a combination of artistry and hobbyism that allows for self-expression and provides a cost-effective solution to buying furniture and other products you can make from wood. However, as those who’ve made the jump will tell you, professional woodworking is very different from practicing your craft as a hobby.

If you’ve been considering turning a corner in your woodworking career and pursuing the dream of selling your wares as a source of income, there are a few things to consider. Here are the questions you ought to ask yourself before taking the plunge.

What Is My Overhead?

Overhead costs are costs associated with running your business. And since that’s exactly what you’ll be doing as a professional, you can no longer conveniently dismiss them the way you could when you were woodworking as a hobby.

For example, you’ll need a place to get materials, a vehicle that you can use to move your wares or potentially work out of, you may need a storefront, and you may even need to hire additional help.

How commercially viable are your tools themselves? Should you replace them with a more robust set that will see you through your years as a professional? Do you have a steady stream of business?

All of these numbers need to be put into the equation to see whether your hobby is, in fact, a viable business. If it is, good for you! If it’s not, you’ve got a difficult decision to make. Learn how to increase profits, reduce your costs, or revert to only calling woodworking your hobby.

How Should I Manage My Business?

Perhaps you plan to corner the market on box-shaped backyard birch wood bird baths. Great! Your business plan will need to take into account only the materials you need to make them and will rely on there being enough demand to maintain a healthy cash flow. It’s more than likely you’ll have multiple products and will need to factor in the value of your time to create a schedule that allows you some kind of work-life balance.

It’s true that when you’re starting out, you might need to invest some extra time, but the goal should be to arrive at a viable career with this, not just to pay into a project that will never mature into something that can support you. You may need to work on your soft skills rather than your woodworking skills to make the business go. As the sole proprietor of the business, you will need to be able to do all the selling, sourcing, and finances yourself. Unless, of course, you’re making enough money to grow, in which case you will have to choose the right help to keep the business healthy.

It’s not impossible. Many people before you have started their own business and succeeded. With trade jobs becoming more and more difficult to fill, there are probably lots of people who’d love to find a skilled woodworker to craft items for their home. Take pride in your work and be tenacious in getting things off the ground.

Then, have a backup plan if you need a little extra money, but only use it if there’s a defensible reason and a sustainable business at the end of the tunnel. Good luck!

Scott Huntington is a writer from central Pennsylvania. He enjoys working on his home and garden with his wife and 2 kids. Follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington

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