Making money as a woodworker has been a dream of mine for quite some time. The idea of earning a living doing something I love is very appealing to me… as it is to most people I think. This dream recently led me down a path of research in an attempt to figure out what I should sell as a product(s). There are a multitude of articles and endless videos out there in which entrepreneurial woodworkers have conveyed what best sold for them while in pursuit of the same dream. After reading countless articles and watching hours of video I began to see patterns in what were considered “best sellers”. Following this realization I started keeping a tally of these “best sellers” and eventually compiled the information into a list of products that are widely considered to sell the best on platforms such as Craigslist, Etsy, and Facebook Marketplace.
What follows is not an exhaustive list and is by no means considered to be a definitive path to starting a profitable woodworking business. It is, however, a good resource for potential woodworking projects that may sell well in your local area. I suggest picking a few projects from those that are discussed in this article and see what gains traction in your locale. It may take some trial-and-error and a good deal of effort but based on the success of other woodworkers it is likely that something in this list will work for you… maybe even a couple somethings.
Through my research I identified 24 woodworking projects that are relatively easy to build. Most of these projects can also be built with minimal upfront cost as well. I will present the list starting with the items most popular among woodworking entrepreneurs and end with the least popular. That being said just because something is at the bottom of the list it doesn’t mean that it may not sell well where you live. The last item in this list is just as worth exploring as the first item is.
The Top Ten
1: Coffee Tables
By far DIY coffee tables were the most notable of all the selling options that I researched. There are many different styles and variations to choose from. The most popular style I came across was the farmhouse style. This is usually characterized by darkly stained table surfaces with a mildly distressed white base. The type of white is rarely pure white, in fact usually if was some form of off-white, eggshell, or cream. Next in line were the shaker and arts & crafts style tables. These styles are a little more involved and describing the characteristics could be articles all to themselves. There are two questions you need to ask yourself if you choose to pursue this option… Is my skill level high enough? Can I make them quick enough to turn a profit? What you may find is that this is probably more of a custom order option rather than a prebuild and market item.
2: Console Table
This is a multi-purpose item and, by that very nature, is one of the most attractive items on this list. A console table is a project that can be marketed with several different names… console table, hall table, sideboard, buffet, credenza… take your pick. On top of that the styles and uses seem to be endless. If you’re not familiar with this piece of furniture then all you need to do it type its name into google and look at a few pictures. I promise that you have seen one of these in a friend’s house or a furniture store at some point in your life. Like a coffee table this can take a little skill to produce so don’t bite off more than you can chew.
3: Entryway Bench
Think of these as like console tables you can sit on. They can be very simple, a surface with four legs, or very fancy and incorporate storage for shoes, outdoor wear, and toys. If you want my advice… save the fancy versions for custom orders and design a simple one to produce in large quantities and sell. You see these mostly right inside the front door of someone’s house littered with shoes underneath. As is the case with console tables, there are many variations and complexities to this item. Don’t fall down the rabbit hole obsessing over making heirloom quality benches. Instead, focus on making a functional and attractive bench that someone can see themselves putting inside their home. Depending on the design, this is a project of which you can crank several out in a single shop day.
4: Blanket Ladders
Who doesn’t have blankets? A crazy person is the answer… I own more blankets than I care to confess. Given that I am sure this is the case for many people, a blanket ladder is a great way to organize them. It has the addition of being a stylish home ornamentation for living rooms, spare bedrooms, and other spaces that go otherwise unused most of the time. I personally have seen many of these adorning walls in show homes and staged rooms on DIY TV shows. For the most part they are simple to make, you will likely spend more time finishing them than on the build itself. This, unlike many of the projects on this list, doesn’t require a high level of woodworking skill and is totally achievable for a beginner.
5: Cutting Boards | Charcuterie Boards
Although one of the easiest to crank out in large quantities, this project category is also the most market saturated. There are so many cutting board sellers out there that it is close to impossible to stand out unless the boards are unique enough to grab a buyer’s attention. Simple multi-species striped cutting boards aren’t going to suffice it anymore. My suggestion here is to play around with the shape and cutting board features. What do I mean by cutting board features you ask? Make it so the cutting board has a waste catch, can span a sink and hold a bowl, or possibly incorporate built in knife storage. Someone must see that board and think “I’ve never seen that before”. The same goes for charcuterie boards… Don’t just make a charcuterie board, instead build charcuterie boards that aren’t necessarily just for meats. Off the top of my head a charcuterie board can also be a sushi roll platter with recessed sauce holders, a fancy beer flight holder, and possibly a boojie cheese plate. You have to step outside the box with this one to be successful with it.
This is probably the most difficult of the options in this list to build as a novice woodworker. It will also have the most expensive initial out of pocket investment. Personally, I would reserve this one for special orders. My reasoning for this is that building a desk that is universal and cheap enough to compete with places like IKEA is going to be very difficult. Desks are typically high priced items, if being made from solid wood, and the number of customers you’ll encounter willing to pay that price will be much fewer in number. That being said… if your market has a high demand for this sort of item the income possibilities are enormous. Before embarking on this as a business focus do some research and see what the market is like in your area.
7: End Tables
Everyone needs an end table next to their couch otherwise where will you put your beverage. These can be very simple or very intricate depending on what style you are going for. A lot of what I said from the entry way bench and console table sections of this article applies here as well. My suggestion would be to pick a style you feel your skill level is commensurate with and put one up for sale on FB Marketplace. Use the trial-and-error method to figure out what is popular and what isn’t. If it takes really long to sell your first end table then switch up the finish, style, sizing, or wood species until you find a winner.
8: Key Holder | Dog Leash Holder
I personally really like these, mostly because they satisfy my anti-clutter OCD personality. They can be very appealing as both a wall decoration and a storage solution for someone with lots of keys and pets. I plan on building one of these for my own house pretty soon and will likely build a few extra to sell. There are many different styles out there so do your research. I suggest making a couple different types to sell since they are fairly simple to build. They will likely sell pretty well if your price point is good for your market. Keep in mind that customers will not pay a premium for something like this so source your materials well and don’t get carried away with expensive wood species. A few select stains, paints, and common 2×4 lumber can go a long way in making this a successful venture.
9: Stove Top Cover (Noodle Boards)
Noodle board you say… When I first learned of these I thought it wasn’t a real thing. None the less, it is a large stove covering that turns your stoves surface into extra counter space. It has a double purpose as a kitchen decoration as well. You often see these with tea kettles and other ornamentations adorning them in model home picks and fancy country kitchens. If counter space in your home is at a premium then I can see how these would be appealing. This will likely be one of those products that you have to test the market with. My reasoning behind this is due to their size and the time it will take to build. Noodle Boards will not be a project you can necessarily batch out a ton of in a short time. Depending on the market in your local area this may be an item relegated to the custom order category.
What the what is a trivet?!? I didn’t know what this was initially either and had to do a little research. Essentially, this is a surface that you rest a hot pan on so that it doesn’t burn your countertops. It also serves a double purpose of allowing the pan/pot to cool off after you’re done cooking. Most wooden trivets are designed so that air can circulate underneath the pan/pot which allows it to cool faster. If you own a CNC then this is a great project you can batch out in a hurry. Most trivets that I saw had some kind of geometric design either scroll sawed or CNC milled into them. This is an incredibly easy project to get started in and you can make them with a variety of inexpensive tools. That being said, as mentioned earlier, if you have a way to automate the process with fancy machinery take advantage of it.
The Not So Top Ten | Product Ideas 14 – 24
For the sake of brevity, as if this article isn’t already a novel, I am not going to cover the last 14 potential products as I have the first ten. They are all mostly self-explanatory and a few of them can be article topics all to themselves. Some of the following, however, do require more skill and time invested to produce then others. If you have any specific questions related to these items leave a comment down below and I will try to answer to the best of my ability.
- Floating Shelves
- Planter Boxes
- TV Stand
- Dog Kennel
- Wall Décor
- Step Stools
- Dog Bowl Holders
- Outdoor Furniture
- Framed Mirrors
- Toy Boxes
- Corn Hole Boards
- Wine Racks
- Bird Houses
It is my sincerest hope that if you made it to the end of this article than you got something out of it. I put considerable research into finding out what has worked for other woodworkers while starting their own businesses. This list it a great starting point, in my opinion, and as you explore the items listed in it you may find others that should be added to it. If you have had any luck selling items not listed then please share them in the comments below so that others can read what you have the say and possibly put it into production for themselves. Thanks for reading.