Many people are involved with woodworking as an enjoyable hobby or as part of renovating their homes. A certain percentage of these people will take the next step and begin doing woodworking commercially. A home based woodworking business can deal in everything from small, finely wrought jewelry boxes up to large furniture and residential renovations.
Making small crafts, toys and decorative items out of wood and selling them at seasonal craft fairs can be a lucrative sideline or provide a full-time income. Items that can be sold at craft fairs range from small boxes for jewelry, spices and incidentals to decorative clothes hangers to walking sticks. The Christmas season is usually the financial high point for craft fair sellers, and you may find yourself very busy throughout the late summer and fall building up inventory for Christmas crafts sales. One of the advantages of small crafts is that they use small amounts of wood, thus decreasing your materials costs.
Building full-scale fine furniture will require a more fully equipped shop than the shops for making small crafts. A professional wood shop needs, at minimum, a table saw, planer, jointer and smaller power tools such as routers and drills. You will also need a sizable collection of well tuned and sharpened hand tools. While this will add up to a substantial monetary investment, custom-made fine furniture can be sold for very high prices. It can take time to build up a clientele of people who are willing to pay for fine furniture, but the pleasure of designing and building one-of-a-kind pieces can be worth the trouble.
One of the reasons that custom furniture is so expensive is that there is no economy of scale. When you are able to work the kinks out of a production process, you can build things much more efficiently and sell them for lower prices. This is the principle behind limited production runs. If you build one pencil post bed, you need to charge your customer for the time it took to design it, build jigs and set up your shop for its production. If you build 10 pencil post beds, all these expenses can be divided between the 10 sales.
If your talents and interests lean more toward architecture than crafts and furniture, set up your home shop to focus on millwork, built-in cabinetry and architectural features. By focusing on the area of fine millwork that falls between housebuilding and furniture making, you can fill a niche market that has an ongoing clientele. Take high-quality photographs of all your work after it has been installed and begin to build a portfolio to show potential clients.