Do you enjoy woodworking as a hobby? You are in good company. Roughly 15 million households in the United States engage in some type of woodworking for fun. With a resurgence in wood craft popularity, you can turn your hobby into a profit making business. For you, what may just be a fun day woodworking in the garage or workshop can produce an incredible object that others will value.
Many people see turning wood into something useful as nothing short of ‘magic’.
The list of possible woodcrafts is almost endless. So if you would like to turn your hobby into something that makes money, it would be helpful to know what people are actually buying. In this article we list and describe the hottest selling categories of woodcrafts so that you can pick out which ones might be the best opportunities for you to create based on your skill level.
1. Wooden Toys
One would think that plastic toys would last forever. But with breakable parts, these toys usually end up in the trash much sooner than expected. One the other hand, wooden toys can last decades, to be played with by generations of children. Wooden toys are instant classics and family heirlooms that not only entertain kids but also look great in children’s rooms and nurseries. Even when strewn all over the floor, wooden toys can be charming while plastic counterparts just look like clutter.
There are literally thousands of wooden toy ideas on the internet and in woodworking books. From train sets to dolls, building sets and many more, all of which span the whole range of woodworking skills.
2. Coat Racks
Having a place to hang coats and scarves in the entryway reduces clutter and allows visitors to feel instantly at home when they walk in your door. From rustic to ornate, coat racks are one of the simpler woodworking crafts to produce.
3. Fruit Bowls
Fruit bowls make wonderful centerpieces even when empty. They can be made out of a single piece of wood or from numerous parts. Shaping these can require a special lathe equipment.
4. Picture Frames
Wooden picture frames allow you to add character and potential color to your walls. Once you get the hang of production, wooden frames are easy and cheap to make. However, people do place a premium on frames. So these represent a large potential profit margin for the seller.
5. Plant Boxes
Plants are a wonderful way to brighten homes both indoors and out. Plant boxes enable you to raise plants off the ground and place them under windows or other locations where pots won’t work. Manufacturing plant boxes are pretty straightforward but allow for any number of embellishments.
6. Wooden Cutting Board
Wooden cutting boards add warmth to kitchen counters and are extremely practical. Several designs exist and vary widely in complexity, ranging from simple solid piece squares to boards made from several pieces of different colors.
7. Wooden Utensils
Wooden utensils such as spoons and forks can be ornamental or used practically. Soup ladles, salad serving forks and tongs are just some examples.
8. Corner Wall Shelves
These shelves can often be nothing more than just stained pieces of lumber, cut to fit the buyer’s desired dimensions. Like other woodcrafts, you can play around with various ways to improve this very basic concept. If you have never heard of corner wall shelves, they are basically shelves that occupy the corner of a room. This can be a triangular shelf that mounts to both sides of the right angle of a corner.
Another variation is perpendicular shelves. Imagine the corner of a room with a shelf mounted so that one end butts up against the other wall. The next shelf below is mounted lengthwise on the other wall with its shorter side butting up against the wall on which the first shelf is mounted.
9. Jewelry Boxes
Jewelry boxes are one of the easiest woodcrafts to sell. They make great gifts and are small enough to transport easily. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to make in their simplest form. However, they can be embellished to a very high degree. Adding a lid-mirror, felt padding, different compartments, and even a wind-up ballerina are all ways of adding value to this timeless classic.
Another top seller are birdhouses. Many people enjoy birds in their yard and providing birds a place to live brings nature even closer. Designs and sizes can vary by species of desired bird, but the concept is the same. These houses can be painted to mimic any number of buildings or can simply be decorated with the colors of one’s favorite school or sports team.
11. Storage Box
From a toy box to a blanket chest, wooden storage boxes are one of the oldest types of woodcraft. They can be made to any size with any number of compartments and features. Some of the more sought after woods are cedar, for its ability to keep away cloth eating pests, or redwood for its durability and lovely coloring.
12. Chess and other game boards
What can simply be a piece of square wood with other squares painted on it, or a board with different types of wood inlays, game boards are another hot woodworking seller. Any number of games can be played on a surface you can fashion from wood. Making a board with storage underneath can take more skill but also adds profit value to your project.
13. Wooden Letters
Wooden lettering is great for home decoration and can be made in an endless number of styles. You can buy stencils and patterns for various fonts and sizes or design your own. Combining letters allows buyers to customize their purchase. You can also make whole words or even phrases which you feel will sell well.
14. Dog Beds
Pets are members of the family. And giving your best friend a nice looking wooden bed not only says “i love you” but also gives your space a nice cozy feel. Plastic beds are cold and ‘manufactured’ as opposed to wood which says ‘crafted’ and ‘warm.’ Size varies by dog breed but the basics are the same. Finding bedding can be another step altogether for a woodworker, but there are many options for sale online, if you want to sell the complete bed. Or you can just sell the box without the bedding and let the owner use their pet’s favorite bedding.
15. Rustic Headboards
Headboards make a statement in the bedroom. They can be ornately carved or simple and rustic. Modernist designs are also possible. The size and scope of a headboard can challenge even the most experienced woodworker. But these items can truly be works of art that can become family heirlooms. They also can command high prices due to their size and the fact that people usually will buy one to last decades.
16. Box Shelves
Box shelves are a fun way to liven up a wall and reduce clutter at the same time. As their name implies, these shelves are open boxes with four sides that are mounted to the wall, which forms the fifth side. These boxes can be made with two, three, or any number of compartments.
17. Wooden Sand Box
Not many things shout ‘childhood’ like a sandbox. Designs vary but the concept is not very complicated. Shipping or transporting these to and from markets etc can be challenging. Prefabrication with ‘some assembly required’ is a great way to get around these issues and makes it easier for buyers to transport the sandbox home. Lids are a great feature as this keeps neighborhood animals from using the sandbox for other things besides playing!
18. Wine Racks
Wine racks are a wonderful way to store and display your wine collection. They can be as small as one bottle to ones that can fill an entire wall with wine. Many designs do not include difficult skill cuts. More complex designs can incorporate wine glass storage. These are great sellers at wine festivals. You can also partner with local wineries to sell out of their retail space.
19. Coffee Mug Trees and Racks
Coffee mugs take up a large amount of kitchen cabinet space. Coffee mug trees and racks provide people with a way to store mugs that save space and enable a way to display mugs. Coffee mug trees and racks cut down clutter and are an efficient use of counter space. Alternatively, they can also be mounted to the wall.
20. Napkin Holder
These practical kitchen and dining room items represent a great opportunity to add more decorative options. They can be made to match any number of design decors. Many designs also incorporate a place for salt and pepper shakers.
21. Blanket Ladders
In spite of their name, blanket ladders are not meant to support human weight. They are designed to store blankets, towels or clothing in a way that is easily accessible. They can be used to display quilts and other fabrics that otherwise would be folded up in a closet. Displaying these can add another dimension to your room’s decor as well as reduce crease and mildew damage due to long term storage. Blanket ladders can also be used in bathrooms to hold and dry towels.
22. Wooden Bath Mats
Wooden bath mats are a chic addition to your bathroom. Unlike cloth mats they don’t absorb water as easily, allowing moisture to evaporate. Wood is also more resistant to mold growth. They add texture to your bathroom floor and can really make an otherwise boring ‘utility’ space a point of design interest. A number of wood materials can be used such as bamboo, teak, cedar, and other water resistant varieties. You can add rubber grips to the bottom to further prevent the risk of slipping.
23. Step Stools
Step stools may seem to be very simple items but they are very good woodwork sellers. First, they are extremely practical. They can be used all around the house for any number of reasons, including reaching kitchen cabinets or helping small children reach the bathroom sink. Step stools can be very ornate, have a modern design, or be rustic and simple. The main thing to remember is stability. Many have recommended installing no-slip rubber grips on the legs.
24. Coffee Tables
Coffee tables are an opportunity for decorators to add an extremely functional conversation piece to a room. Based on the room’s layout and the prospective owner’s taste, coffee tables can come in a very wide variety of shapes and sizes. While usually sporting right angles, coffee tables can take any shape including circular and oval. These shapes reflect differing levels of skill. Coffee tables can be challenging due to their generally large size. You need room to work as well as enough storage space to keep them out of the weather while you wait for them to sell.
Here are some steps for making money with woodworking projects.
Step 1 – Niche Down
The more similar your crafts, the fewer tools you will need and the more practiced you will become at making them. Narrowing down your crafts also allows you to build your ‘brand’ and a following of customers. Children’s toys, practical furniture, kitchen items, and home decor are just a few of the areas you could focus on.
Step 2 – Product Research
Find out if a wood project is within your skill set. Look it up on online seller sites. Are there a lot of them for sale? This is an indication that people are buying them.
Step 3 – Location, Location, Location
How do you want to sell your crafts? In person at fairs, farmer’s markets, festivals, etc., or online? Or both? Online and in person each have their own unique pros and cons.
Step 4 – Be Better Than The Rest
Make your products unique so that they stand out, but not so different that they don’t fit within a large portion of potential buyers’ tastes. If this sounds tricky, it is. Make a survey of what others are making. More importantly, observe what is selling. Take some time to visit places where woodcrafts are being sold in your area. Watch what people buy. Then think about how you could put an individual spin on those items. Maybe start out with a range of products and see what sells over time.
Step 5 – Build It & Sell It
Don’t forget that you are now running a business, not a hobby. You may have made that jewelry box for your daughter out of the most expensive wood available, but think about making that box 20 times. The costs add up. And most folks won’t know or care that you use wood that is the next level of quality down from what you would have chosen originally. This increases your profit margin.
Use your competitors to get an idea about pricing. Be sure you are comparing yourself to other craftsmen and not companies which are ‘mass producing’ items. Companies will usually have lower prices but also noticeably lower quality products.