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How to Make Money Building and Selling Furniture

man putting finish on furniture that he's making and selling

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Woodworking is a great hobby and can also be a profitable business. In fact, a skilled woodworker who decides to build and sell furniture can make a living doing so if they are business savvy.

In this article, we'll discuss the viability of making money building and selling furniture, the types of tools that will help you get started, different pieces of furniture that you can make, and some business tips to keep in mind to help you be successful.

Let's jump in.

What is Woodworking?

Simply put, woodworking is a method of building goods from wood. The goods can be built with hand tools or with power tools. There are many different methods and materials used when creating woodworking projects.

Although some people use woodworking as a hobby, others turn it into an occupation. Some of these people are independent contractors that build things for their customers on demand. Others are individuals that sell their furniture in retail stores.

For a person who wants to become a professional woodworker, they need a good understanding of how business works. While you may be passionate about your craft, the key way to be profitable is to understand the business of making products, marketing them to your audience, and selling them for a sustainable profit.

Woodworking doesn't necessarily have to be just homemade furniture, but in this article, we'll focus on the finer points of building and selling furniture as a profitable business venture.

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Can You Make Money Building Furniture?

Yes, you can make a sustainable income from building and selling furniture. Many people have built long-term relationships with their customers, so what they build for them is custom built to fit their needs.

To make money building furniture, you need to be able to produce high-quality pieces and market and sell them for a profit. As you become skilled at your business as a whole, you'll get better at determining your total costs, the time you put into creating furniture, and the right price to sell your custom furniture to your customers.

Is Making Furniture Profitable?

For skilled woodworkers, building and selling furniture can be extraordinarily profitable as you can often sell the furniture you make for far more than how much it costs you to make them. For example, it's common to sell custom furniture for over $1,000, whereas you'll likely spend less than half that to make it.

Can You Make a Living Building Custom Furniture

By becoming savvy at running a custom furniture business, you can make a full-time income that can replace your full-time job building and selling custom furniture. You'll need to learn how to manage expenses, market your furniture, and price your furniture accordingly.

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What You Need to Build Custom Furniture From Home

To get started with your furniture business, you'll need some tools. While the below list is not exhaustive, these tools will make it easy for you to get started.

The tools noted below contain affiliate links to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases and this helps to support Clean Cut Finance.

  • Circle Saw: a good circular saw will allow you to cut your wood pieces quickly and accurately. Most commonly, it's used to cut straight lines in your wood of choice. Different blade types will come in handy for different aspects of your custom furniture projects. Here's our recommended circle saw.
  • Sand Paper: sandpaper is used to sand down the rough edges of lumber. Sandpaper comes in different materials, so be sure to use the right type based on the type of sanding you're doing. You can also get sandpaper in different grades, which will affect the finish of your wood.
  • Orbital Sander: You can also use an orbital sander to sand your furniture projects. Here's our recommended orbital sander.
  • Jigsaw: used to make intricate curved cuts and to cut out interior shapes in your wood. Check out this jigsaw.
  • Power Drill: You'll use a power drill for drilling holes and driving in screws. A good power drill will last a long time and won't break the bank.
  • Nail Gun: For quickly nailing items together, a nail gun is a must.
  • Clamps: used to hold your pieces of wood together before nailing, screwing, or gluing.
  • Paint or Stain: And, of course, you'll use stain and paint to finish your final product.

When starting a custom furniture business, you'll have to decide how much you're willing to spend on tools. Of course, having more tools will generally make your life easier, but if you're starting up on a budget, it may make sense to start off with just the bare essentials.

How To Set Up Your Garage or Workshop to Build Furniture

Your workshop can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. However you choose to set up your shop, there are some things to keep in mind.

  • Install one or more workstations: these workstations can be as simple as a sheet of plywood over two sawhorses or something more complex. No matter how you set up your workstations, you'll need a clean area to work.
  • Make sure you have enough power outlets: having enough power outlets within reach of your workstations is key to making the most of your workshop. It's also important that you label each outlet with what it's powering (e.g., table saw).
  • Work in a moderate temperature environment: To protect your wood, keep the temperature in your workshop about the same. Use cooling systems in the summer and heat in the winter.
  • Provide adequate lighting: your workstations should be well lit so that you can see you're what you're doing clearly. Good light will help you minimize errors.
  • Organize your tools: use tool organizers to keep everything in its place and prevent accidents. This will also make it easier for you to find what you need when you need it.

Use these tips to set up your workshop so that you're more successful in creating furniture to sell.

Where to Buy Wood for Your Furniture Projects

You'll want to buy wood based on the type of project you're working on. If you're just starting out, you'll want to keep it simple by purchasing standard, pre-cut lumber.

Pre-cut lumber comes in different sizes and thicknesses. It's usually cheaper to purchase lumber in bulk, which means that you'll want a place to store it, such as in your garage, workshop, or in a storage shed.

If you can't find the pre-cut lumber you need, many stores will cut it to specification for a small fee.

Stores like Lowes and Home Depot are great places to find lumber to work with. You can also find framing lumber at many hardware stores.

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How to Sell the Furniture You've Built

Now that you've set up shop and started creating furniture, you'll need ways to market and sell what you make.

Shipping Costs

When you first start off, you might decide only to sell locally. Eventually, you may start to sell online. When you sell locally, you might be able to arrange for your customer to pick up the furniture themselves. However, when you sell online or to a customer who can't transport the furniture themselves, you'll need to figure out shipping costs.

You'll have to decide if you're willing to ship your furniture, and if so, who will cover shipping and how much you're willing to pay for shipping. It can be quite expensive to ship heavy furniture a great distance, so this is something to keep in mind.

Storage

You'll need a place to store your furniture, depending on how long it takes to sell your furniture and how many projects you work on at once. You'll need a secure way to store things that are a work in progress as well as finished products. It's important to ensure that nothing gets scratched or damaged in any way.

You can store your furniture in your garage, workshop, or in a storage shed. To protect your furniture from insects, rodents, and the elements of nature, you may want to invest in appropriate storage containers.

Photographing Your Furniture Projects

You'll want to show off your craftsmanship with high-quality photographs of your work. This will also increase the perceived value to those who view your furniture online.

To create professional images of your furniture, consider investing in a digital camera that will provide you with the necessary image quality.

You can further extend your sales reach by creating a website and uploading photos of your furniture. From there, you could provide pricing and a contact email and make your sales directly from your website.

Writing Furniture Descriptions

Regardless of where you sell your furniture, you'll need to write good furniture descriptions to entice potential buyers to inquire for more details. When writing furniture descriptions, be sure to include the following:

  • Determine who you're targeting and what they need.
  • Make a list of how your furniture will make their life better.
  • English should be simple, direct, and informal.
  • Answer the questions in the customer's mind.
  • Create intriguing headlines and subheads.
  • Use bullet points to break up long blocks of text.
  • Mention the product's features but don't forget to mention the benefits.
  • Don't add too much information, such as lengthy paragraphs and irrelevant content.
  • Make it easy for customers to buy from you by providing an email address or phone number.

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Where To Sell Your Furniture Projects

Once you've started building furniture, you'll have to develop ways to sell it for a profit. There are many avenues you can take, and you can undoubtedly sell in multiple places simultaneously.

Craigslist

Craigslist is a good place to sell crafted furniture. You can list the furniture in your city or target a wider audience by listing in surrounding cities and states.

Craigslist is free for both buyers and sellers, but there are certain risks involved when selling this way. Craigslist allows anyone who has access to post and respond to an ad without verifying who they are or if they're trustworthy. Therefore, if you make a sale on Craigslist, it's best to meet in person and complete the transaction in a public place.

Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace where you can sell your handcrafted pieces of furniture. The site allows sellers to set up a store and list their products for sale, as well as provides a platform for buyers to find what they're looking for.

Etsy charges a small fee per item sold with additional fees if you choose to use their promoted listings or use other services.

eBay

eBay is another place where you can sell your furniture. Similar to Etsy, you'll be able to sell your products online through Ebay's website, and potential buyers can search for what they're looking for.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is a popular place to sell just about anything. This method of selling mostly targets local people, though there are options for those who want to buy from further away.

Ensure that you communicate how shipping or pickup will be done as well as providing other accurate details when you create your listing.

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Flea Markets

Many people love to shop at these types of markets. They're a great place for handmade furniture, and many times there's no fee for selling your pieces. However, finding these events will take some time and research on your part.

You'll have to bring your built furniture to the flea market, which can be cumbersome if you've created large pieces. That said, if you have several smaller pieces of furniture for sale, a flea market can be an ideal place to make sales.

Craft Shows

Craft shows are events where vendors of all kinds go to sell their products. They can be a great place to promote and sell your handmade furniture, as you'll have the chance to meet potential buyers face-to-face for feedback and more sales opportunities.

There's typically a fee involved with participating in trade shows, but this cost is often minimal compared to the potential for return.

Selling From Your Home

It's possible to sell your furniture pieces right from your home without all the hassle of advertising, marketing, and traveling. You'll want to put together a strong online presence so that customers can find you when they search for handmade items in their local area. This can be done with Local SEO (search engine optimization) on a website you create that features your furniture. You'll also want to use social media to show off your projects.

What Furniture to Build to Make Money

There are many furniture items to choose from, depending on your skill level and how much money you want to invest.

Bookcases

You can build bookcases out of different types of wood, including plywood. Bookcases are simple yet can make a big statement in your customers' homes.

Bookcases are relatively easy to build, but you'll want to keep some things in mind when selling them for a profit. Make sure all bookcase shelves are the same size and that they're not too tall, which can make them unstable.

Price your bookcases accordingly, and be sure to add value with extra features such as decorative molding or glass panel doors.

Coffee Tables

With some scrap wood and a little creativity, you can build coffee tables that are simple yet eye-catching. Of course, you'll want to consider how much space your coffee table will take up in the customer's home, as well as how to make it stable and level.

Be sure to include some sort of decoration or design on the tabletop of your coffee table. This is a great place for adding some color or flair with stain or paint; be creative! 

TV Stands

TV stands are another piece of furniture that can be built at home with some scrap wood and other supplies. These pieces should include shelves for displaying movies or other items, as well as drawers or cabinets to keep other miscellaneous items in the customer's home.

Dresser

A dresser is another great option for furniture to build and sell. You can make a large or small dresser depending on your preference.

Consider adding extra features such as drawers that roll out, storage space below the main surface area of the dresser, or unique hardware.

End Tables

You can create a simple end table with very little wood and other supplies. You'll want to make sure that the dimensions aren't too tall or wide, but you'll also want to add extra features such as drawers or cabinets, storage space below the main tabletop area, decorative molding along the top edge, and more.

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Coat Racks

A coat rack can be an ideal piece of furniture to build and sell because it's functional and decorative. You might consider building one large enough to hold several coats or jackets at once, as well as adding hooks along the bottom for purses.

Picnic Tables

You can make a sturdy picnic table out of some wood boards and other supplies. Think about how to make your picnic table sturdy, lightweight, and easy to transport for outdoor events.

Considerations for Your Furniture Business

When you're trying to run a profitable furniture business, you'll need to keep some things in mind in order to be successful. While woodworking may be your passion, you do need to keep your business running, which means you'll want to be business savvy.

Your Furniture Business is a Business First and Foremost

First and foremost, you are running a business. You may love woodworking, but if you don't learn about marketing, advertising, your target audience, and other aspects of business, you won't be profitable, and you'll end up having an expensive hobby.

In fact, building furniture can be somewhat easy for a skilled woodworker; it's the business side of things that takes practice and patience to master.

Focus on Quality Over Quantity

It's better to build fewer, high-quality furniture pieces rather than build a larger quantity of fair-quality furniture. When you build and sell high-quality furniture, people will remember you and refer their friends to you. They'll come back for more furniture as well.

Mastering your craft will make you more successful as you'll be able to attract more customers and sell your furniture at higher prices while keeping your expenses relatively the same. This leads to higher profit margins and more profit overall.

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Give Your Customers a Range of Options

When designing your pieces, make sure there are different sizes, shapes, and colors available. This allows you to offer something unique to each customer while also allowing them to choose what they want in the piece of furniture. You'll be able to satisfy more customers if you can build them a custom piece that fits their unique style and needs.

Develop a Relationship with a Local Gallery

Featuring your furniture in a local store or gallery can be a fantastic way to get exposure early on. While the gallery will take a cut for any sales you make, this is still beneficial because local customers will learn who you are and the quality of the furniture you make. In turn, they may return to you or refer others to you for direct sales.

Get to Know Other Woodworkers

It's tempting to feel like fellow woodworkers are your competitors, but one way to think about it is that you can learn a lot from others in the same business. Oftentimes you can exchange knowledge and ideas with others that are also building furniture.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, it's possible to successfully build and sell furniture and make a profitable business out of doing so.

Let us know if you've ever made money starting a furniture business and what tips you have for others who are interested.

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