Updated: Oct 16, 2020
We do a lot of talking on our YouTube channel about being efficient with how and what you sell in your woodworking business. Honestly, the majority of that is due to the fact that we (and so many woodworkers like us) have full-time jobs and do this “maker” thing on the side.
For example – we don’t have enough time to do a Queen Anne Highboy in a reasonable time period right now that people would want to pay money for! The customer would have to wait MONTHS if not a YEAR for us to finish that. And the bigger question there is….do the people around us really want one of those? Is there a market for those in our area that it’s worth saying no to tons of other business just so we can spend a year making this elaborate walnut highboy?!
The answer to that question for us (right now anyway!) is no! Who knows, though, maybe someday we’ll be doing this full time with dozens of employees and it will be worth our time, labor, and materials.
But for now, we’ve found what works for us and what allows us to grow our business, make money, and plan for our future! We thought that maybe sharing these 5 things that we’ve found sell BEST for us (and when we say best, we not only mean that we sell a lot of them, but that their profit margins are well worth what time we have left after we get home from our full-time jobs) would help others accelerate their businesses too. So here we go:
Number one: Desks! A ton of people in our area have requested custom desks whether it’s because they’re going back to school or because they simply want to fill that odd spot on the side of their kitchen to pile up mail…..okay maybe that’s just me…. Either way, they’re fairly simple even with all bells and whistles and provide a nice profit margin.
Walnut Custom Desk Build
Number two: Coffee Tables! You wanna talk about efficiency in making multiple sales with one client…..here it is. the coffee table. I say this because very rarely do we ONLY make somebody a coffee table. People usually request them to match another piece we’ve already made, or they request additional furniture to match the coffee table. We love our coffee tables because just about every single person wants one in their living room. They’re a staple that allows people to express their overall home style with the design. This is such an awesome opportunity to say, “hey you know what would match this table perfectly?! A bookshelf in the corner made from the same type of materials. It would really tie your whole look together”.
Modern Plywood Coffee Table
Number three: Cutting Boards! Everybody uses them and you can batch multiple out at once. They’re an extremely efficient use of time and the additive profit margin from selling multiple can be equivalent to selling a large furniture piece. You can also upgrade them to a more expensive, customized piece if the customer wants something like an end-grain cutting board or a board with rarer woods. Ya know what goes great with a cutting board…..a set of matching coasters! Always be thinking about what else the client may be interested in purchasing from you.
Oak end-grain cutting board
Number four: Blanket ladders! These have become a bit of a trend over the last few years and people seem to love them! They’re very versatile in the sense that you can incorporate whatever look you want with them. Christmas? Throw some red blankets on there. Spring? Wrap some flowers around it. Winter? Throw a blue glittery blanket on it. You get the point. It’s a decoration delivery system that’s super easy to batch out and takes very little time.
Number five: Kitchen tables! This is the largest piece out of the 5 and we usually only take on 1-2 of these at a time, but they also offer great profit margins. While you typically can’t batch these out, kitchen tables are an AWESOME opportunity to grow your skills as a woodworker and sprinkle in a few larger projects to get you used to building at scale and incorporating a workflow into your shop.
Solid hickory and steel kitchen table
So there you have it!! The 5 projects we swear by – our “ride or die” products as the kids these days would say. We challenge you to find your 5 products that sell best in your area and that offer you a worthwhile margin with the time you have to put towards your business. But you want to know the best part?? We don’t expect these 5 items to always be what sells best for us! We are by no means tied to desks, coffee tables, cutting boards, blanket ladders, and kitchen tables. As your free time changes, location changes, and customer base changes, your best 5 products will most likely change also. And that’s okay! That means you’re putting in the time to find the right customers and paying attention to what they actually want.
Check out the video we did on this topic as well!
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This post may contain affiliate links for products we used to create this project! If you’d like to check them out, we do get a small percentage of the sale and they are of no extra cost to you! It all goes towards supporting the content creation of Jennie and Davis. BUT – we do not take tool sponsorships and there were no tool endorsements. Just our honest opinions!