How to Start a Woodworking Business: What You Need to Know

Learning how to start a woodworking business requires research and some careful planning and preparation. However, anyone who enjoys doing woodworking can find a way to get paid for the work he or she enjoys by starting a business. Additionally, others will appreciate the work you do, offering a more rewarding way to earn a living. 

Starting a woodworking business also means you can work from home in a wood shop on your property. This comes with its own benefits. Skip the commute every day, dress however you want, and choose your own schedule and hours. With a more flexible working schedule, you can achieve greater work-life balance, working around family activities, travel plans, and other important things in your life.

Starting a woodworking business doesn't usually require a significant investment, especially when you already own most of the necessary equipment. If you already have a workspace, you don't necessarily need to lease or buy a retail store. Moreover, you do not need a lot of product inventory or a staff of employees. Instead, most woodworking businesses start small and expand as needed. This makes it a more doable option for entrepreneurs who don't have as much to invest. Aside from building products, you can also take part in other opportunities related to woodworking, such as:

  • writing books about woodworking,
  • teaching woodworking classes, or
  • selling your design plans.

Industry Overview

The industry of woodworking involves manufacturing wood, veneer, or engineered wood products that manufacturers or sawmills do not make. The products in this industry can vary, including:

  • toothpicks
  • cabinetry
  • broom handles
  • ladders
  • kiln-dried lumber
  • other miscellaneous items.

The housing market collapse affected the woodworking industry, although the economy has come back since that happened. As a result, the rebound in housing construction and improvements, along with increased household incomes, has improved the industry for small business owners. Some of the challenges facing woodworkers include competition against other wood substitute materials and the low cost to import products from other countries. However, lower rates of unemployment and increased residential construction contribute to strong industry growth.

Interesting Statistics About the Woodworking Industry

The woodworking industry's geographic distribution is similar to what you will see in other types of industries related to wood manufacturing. Most establishments exist in the West, Great Lakes, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic areas of the United States. Proximity to upstream industries, including millwork and sawmill production facilities, may influence the location for your woodworking business.

Some businesses also establish locations near consumer and wholesale markets. This is beneficial since most products in the woodworking industry are purchased for use in a house. Nearly a quarter of the woodworking production takes place in the Southeast. In the Southeast region, Georgia and North Carolina produce the highest volumes of products. Other locations are spread across the country. 

In 2014, statistics showed there were about 237,200 woodworkers in the industry. Within the industry, subcategories of production include:

  • manufacturing of wood kitchen cabinetry and countertops (21 percent)
  • manufacturing of industrial and residential furniture (11 percent)
  • wood preservation and sawmills (10 percent)
  • manufacturing of office fixtures and furniture (10 percent)
  • other wood product manufacturing (23 percent)

Smaller businesses may have a single owner or several workers, while large production factories have up to 2,000 people working there.

The specific working conditions of a woodworker depend on the facility and job duties. Workers may need to handle heavy materials and work in a lot of dust or loud noise. Some workers must wear safety glasses, masks or respirators, and devices to protect their hearing. 

Woodworking can also increase exposure to hazardous materials, including:

  • fumes
  • harmful dust
  • chemicals. 

As a result, many woodworkers wear masks or respirators when working. When working with machinery that makes a lot of noise, a worker might need to wear a hearing protection device. 

Most of the injuries that occur during a woodworking job involve carpal tunnel syndrome, back pain, hernias, and sprains. The injuries can occur as the result of long periods of time spent:

  • twisting
  • bending
  • reaching in awkward positions
  • repetition
  • overexertion. 

The majority of people in woodworking have till-time jobs and work during normal business hours.

If you need help with how to start a woodworking business, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel's marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work on behalf of companies like Google, Menlo Ventures, and Airbnb.