When it comes to wood -- a beautiful material that lasts and is easy to fabricate -- your choices about what to make are limited only by your tools and skills. You'll have the greatest success with products that reflect your passions and needs. If you're a bird-watcher, you may want to make bird feeders or carvings. Research the local market to find out what wood products are in demand, and then determine the products that interest you and are within your reach.
Begin With Outdoor Furniture
Many thriving furniture makers started out by building outdoor furniture. With a small investment in tools and basic woodworking skills, you can make many products, such as lounges, picnic tables, rockers, benches, settees, barbecues and planters. Because these products are popular, you may face stiff competition from other woodworkers. Ask the owners of garden and home improvement stores what products are needed or underproduced.
If you make lamps, you can earn a rate of $35 to $50 an hour for products that retail anywhere from $50 to $300, according to "The Woodworker's Guide to Pricing Your Work" by Dan Ramsey and Danny Proulx. A distinctive design that is easy to make can translate to even more profit. Floor lamps, table lamps, desk lamps and study lamps are among the types you could build in styles ranging from classical to ultramodern. Use exotic woods or standard wood stock. Talk to the managers in local lighting stores and lamp shops and let them know what you're doing. Ask them for ideas about lamps and lighting fixtures.
Jewelry, Boxes and Holders
You don't need much space or many tools to make jewelry, small boxes and holders. If you're a whittler, you'll need even fewer tools to make ornaments. Wood jewelry can include barrettes, beads, brooches, ornaments and chains. You can then make the box to hold these trinkets. Or you can make business card or pen set holders, keepsake boxes and wine racks. Visit local gift shops to determine what products are popular, and create your own custom designs for those products.
Tables are one of the most popular woodworking products. They include dining tables, coffee tables, nightstands, fern stands, tea tables, work tables, parlor tables and drop-leaf tables. Woods include chestnut, pine, birch, oak, maple, cherry, walnut or poplar. The more distinctive and detailed the table, the more profitable your enterprise will be. Even though you'll use same tools for both products, you'll earn more by making an elaborate oak drop-leaf table than by making a plant stand. Customers will perceive greater value in a product that appears handcrafted as opposed to a generic product that can be purchased at a big-box store.
- vitpho/iStock/Getty Images