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    I’m currently working on a single 2-drawer night stand project. Simple design. It’s been a month long project, and I estimate I have about 60 hours into it, with about 10 more to go. With this project, I’ve looked for ways to increase my efficiency, such as gang marking and cutting, and not worrying about fully marking my dovetails before cutting (which has worked fabulously :)). But I’m not rushing the process. Just a bit each day, and seeing the piece slowly form. Working on my precision (but that doesn’t really change the timeframes much).

    I know speed can vary based on the workers’ experience, available tools, complication of the project, etc. I’m curious many hours others invest in particular projects.

    Jim Allen

    Hi GfB, I can certainly identify with what you are saying about time to finish a project. The most important thing is that you take enough time to do quality work. Speed will come when you become more familiar with working with your hands. This reminds me of tying fishing flies. When I start a new pattern it takes a couple of minutes to complete a pattern but after a while I can tie 50 – 60 in an hour. I think the same thing applies to woodworking projects. Most of my time on a new project is thinking what I will do next and how I will do it, not in the actual measuring, sawing, planing etc. Like most things speed will come naturally as you progress your skills. Like I said previously, quality of work is your first goal. –Jim

    Jim from the mythical State of Jefferson – Oregon side


    quality of work is your first goal.

    I’d say the first goal is enjoyment of the craft. You can be the best craftsman in the world, but if you don’t enjoy your work, what’s the point? I wouldn’t be building at all if I didn’t enjoy my shop time.

    And I certainly do enjoy my time out there. I don’t want to rush the process. It’s fun seeing a project “become”, however slowly.

    I was talking to a friend about just this subject yesterday. His point was, given the amount of time spent, what would you sell the thing you built for? My response was that it would be in the multi-hundreds. But so many people don’t see the value of something you built in your shop; they see it as similar to what can be bought at Ikea for $100. They don’t understand the value ascribed to your hard work. So what to do? You tell them to shop at Ikea!

    P.S. Second, surely would be quality. The pursuit of the betterment of your skills.

    Jim Allen

    GfB, The enjoyment part is a given. If I didn’t enjoy the work I wouldn’t touch it.

    Jim from the mythical State of Jefferson – Oregon side

    Michael Schoenfeld

    Price is relative but not definitive.

    I have gone through the pricing process in a variety of entrepreneurial endeavors, from products to services, and helping others due the same. there is a common miss perception that you are competing with “Ikea,” to name your example. While a large number of consumers want the “Ikea” price there are also a large number of consumers that get all their furniture used and an equally large number of “people” (big difference between consumers and people who buy quality) who want and look for high quality and will pay for it, the trick is getting you product in front of them with the features they desire.

    Case in point; I can buy a compact four door car for a few thousand dollars, or a luxury four door Bentley for hundreds of thousands of dollars. They both have four doors and get you from point A to point B, however each has a buyer with specific needs, tastes, purchasing power, and perception of value.

    Don’t ever underestimate what your product is worth to the right person, finding that person is the more difficult challenge.

    Starting out you may be competing against the small four door consumer but with time and work, like Paul, you can sell to a “Bentley” customer. I have known some individuals who can sell directly to a “Bentley” customer base at the beginning of their endeavor, but they have also taken substantial risk to do so, and are few and far between. Paul has built his reputation over decades, there is no reason any of us new comers to working wood can’t do the same.

    Hope this is useful info


    @MJSCHOENF Have you been selling woodworking pieces? I’d like to hear more of your experience, whether it is with woodworking or some other product. So far, I’ve had no luck figuring out how to connect with buyers. I have a tiger maple hall table that I built for the express purpose of seeing if I could find a buyer, but so far I’ve not even taken the first step. Some have suggested Etsy, but learning to ship a table is not a good way to start. Craigslist is another option, but that is basically an electronic garage sale and people, I expect, are looking for steals. I’ve walked the antique stores looking for one that does consignments, but so far have not succeeded. That venue needs more exploration. I’d hoped to find an artisan’s gallery and simply pay the enormous fee they collect, but haven’t found any in the area. I’d be glad for any ideas you have.

    Sven-Olof Jansson

    Googled ‘Handmade bespoke tables’ and had a long list of hits; everything from design companies to one-person shops.

    My old man was head of marketing for a company (denounced by grandma as the really black sheep), and used to say: “Show the name and the product big”. Isn’t that precisely what Internet makes relatively easy, and artisan’s fee is perhaps substantially higher than the cost for a home page.

    Also found this interesting example on “convergence”

    Sven-Olof Jansson
    London, UK; Boston, MA

    Michael Schoenfeld


    I’m not actively selling pieces “yet”, but getting close (skills need some more work). Most of my business experience is sourcing other products and pricing them for resell or helping others build a business, although I have invented some items and currently have a product I’ve been developing over the past 20 years, I could give you a diatribe about all my business experience but it would bore you. Paul has a recent blog on how he recommends pricing an item.

    If I read your post correctly you are wondering how to find customers, I am assuming you have no marketing budget. I’ll start by saying every day you need to actively do something to advertise your brand. For instance when walking through the antique store did you try and speak with the owner or manager, they may not want it, but just maybe, they know someone who would or know of another venue.

    Have you thought of entering it as a competition piece in a fair, just so people can get to know who you are.

    One avenue I don’t think is being used effectively are interior designers and home stagers, once I really focus on selling I plan to exploit this avenue. They can use the piece of furniture and advertise that it is for sale (there is a risk of wear and tear though).

    Etsy may work but I would do your research on how to properly pack it for shipment, 100% nail down the shipping costs and be clear about it in your add. I see Etsy as a venue to sell smaller items and working up to large pieces once your logistics process is worked out. There are plenty of online furniture retailers that sell whole pieces that are not flat packed.

    A craft fair or farmers markets (from my experience consulting others, farmers markets can be quirky about allowing crafts) may make sense if you use your piece as an attention getter, I wouldn’t plan on it selling though, most craft fairs sell items in the $20 – $300 range, but some one might buy it or ask if you can build something else for them (make sure you get at least a non-refundable deposit, to cover materials, from them if you do this). You will need a considerable amount of inventory that you could sell in the price range mentioned and be prepared for 12 – 14 hour days. Craft fairs do of course have costs and some large traffic ones have all kinds of rules.

    If you are near a larger city you might be able to find a boutique furniture store that would buy a one off piece from you, be prepared to sell it at whole sale, maybe break even for the first few, and this is probably a longshot since these types of retailers are becoming scarce.

    Tell all your family and friends you are looking for a buyer, and that you commission custom pieces, they may know someone.

    If you have social media accounts you can post it out there as a recent project you completed as part of your new business endeavor. I’m not if favor of using personal social media accounts as sells platforms, more as a venue to show your skills and build interest in your brand over time with a post every few weeks about something new you have built or are working on.

    Just some ideas, but whatever you do, you have to let people know you are making pieces for sell almost every day even if its saying something as simple as “I’ve starting making custom furniture, if you know someone looking for something I have a website and here is my business card.” Mouth to mouth advertising is hands down the most economical and effective marketing there is.

    Here is what I have done to build my brand in anticipation of selling future items. Over Christmas I made frames for a couple of photographs my wife took. We gave them as gifts. Other people have seen them and asked us if we have others for sell. I made a simple box for a fundraiser recently, it sold for $25.00, one person asked if I could make them a rustic farmhouse table for them. We couldn’t settle on the price I wanted but we agreed they would buy the materials, I would build it on my schedule and I could place my business logo in a conspicuous place on it, they agreed. These aren’t big but I’m trying to build my brand, its probably another 5 years before I get serious.

    If you read through Paul’s many blogs, you will find that he built his brand over several years. To do it otherwise takes considerable capital that 99% of the crafts people do not have. My personal and business consulting experience says you need 3-5 years of income as well as 3-5 years of capital to purchase raw materials and cover marketing costs stashed away if you want to build your brand over night, and then there is still no guarantee.

    Finally, throw your personal attachment to the hall table out the window, but make sure you have a personal story about it when it comes time to sell. What I mean is, you can’t take it personal if no one buys it, you just haven’t found the right buyer yet. when it comes time to make the sell you need to tell the story about it, where you got the wood, the care you took to mill the wood and do the joinery, explain and show how the joinery is superior to cheaply made products, draw them into the grain of the wood and the finish. At the end of the day that piece should be a part of their soul not just another table taking up space.

    Hope this helps, be bold and have tenacity.

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