Many woodworkers would love to sell a few items they make just to pay for the wood, sandpaper, and finish product they use so that they can replenish their stock and in an ideal world maybe even sell a wee bit more to pay for a new tool. Wouldn't that be nice!
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Most woodworkers that I know are not really interested in going "into the business" of woodworking, they just want to be able to sell enough to cover their costs. Not an outlandish request, and the first thing they think about ... is what product can I make that will sell? But there is MUCH MORE to selling than just picking a product as you will see later on in this article ...
The truth is, everything sells! Some things sell more than others and some things sell well in one area while other things sell well in different locations so how do you pick what items you want to make in order to make a few dollars.
The items you pick to sell can be just as important as where you are selling them, but I will talk more about that in future related articles, for right now we are mainly concerned about what products sell that are more of a sure thing.
Before we jump into naming products, it's important to recognize that when you select a product, it's best to have a small selection of items to be able to offer your customer. The items you pick to make should be something you enjoy making because woodworking for most of us is supposed to be enjoyable and not a chore to do, so have some fun and make a variety of items. As consumers, we all often like to have "choices" in what we select and your customers are no different, they want to be able to see different items and pick the one that they like the best.
Often what will happen, is some people will like what you make but they may have a special idea in mind and will often ask if you can custom make something for them. This is quite common and if you have a selection of items, it shows your customer you know what you are doing because you have a few items and should be able to make what they need. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS take a deposit !!!! It is too easy for people to ask for something to be made to their criteria, and then in the end not want it. If they really want it, they will pay a deposit and this is often half of what the agreed price will be.
At the top of almost every list of woodworking products that sell are cutting boards, but also related to that are kitchen items made of wood and there are lots of different things you could make. The 2 cutting boards below are very plain looking but the selling point to these is they are "working for cutting boards" not pieces of artwork, and they are the safest cutting boards you can have and they will last a long, long time.
These cutting boards are made from a single White Oak board, easy to make and use and the tannin in the Oak works like an antibacterial so they a safer than many other products, and they can be sold less expensively. Don't kid yourself, you do not have to make expensive, exotic end grain cutting boards to make money selling them. Not everyone can afford them and many people are just looking to refresh what they have in a safe, economical way.
Wine racks are always good sellers and there are TONS of different designs that will hold a variety of bottles. Smaller racks like this one are more popular than bigger wine racks which are more costly to stock.
Another item that sells well is Signs and there are many different ways of making them. You do not need a CNC to make signs, a simple stencil works fine too and you make signs with many different sayings on them or cater to specific needs or specific industries. Here is where the custom making of signs can be an asset.
Entertainment items are another item that is always popular. Drink Coasters, Cheese Trays, Serving Platters, Drink Holders or Drink Carriers, Wine holders, and Carriers, are many items to think about.
Anyone who is a turner, probably already knows that Pens can be high on the list of sales items. Don't ever think these are a thing of the past, pens have graduated from plastic stick pens to "works of art" and using one of these pens is more like having "writing jewelry" at the office or home. We don't use pens as often so when we do use them and they are attractive, people notice them.
Of course, there are many, many other items, this is just a sampling of things that I know sell because of many of the woodworking contacts that I have and what makes money for them. But selling items is not just about the item, it also concerns pricing, if your items are priced wrong, they don't sell so next time I will delve into how to price the items you have so that they will sell and what you can do to possibly increase prices and in a further, related article and video I will be talking about locations for selling, another element to understand in your sales cycle, so stay tuned for those follow-up episodes.
Copyright Colin Knecht