Wood Turning for a Living: Can You Make Money Wood Turning?

We all know how the saying goes, “If you do what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” This simple sentence that resonates with thousands if not millions can be said about almost any job or work. Wood Turning is not much different. But how practical is it?

Can you make money wood turning? Is it possible to make Wood Turning your day job?

These questions do not really have simple yes and no answers. Depending on your skill level and expertise, the answer to all these questions would be different. But fear not, as we are here to help. Stay tuned till the end of this article to have all your questions answered.

Table of Contents

Can You Make Money Wood Turning?

Before we go in-depth with how and if you can make money from wood-turning, let’s take a brief look at what Wood Turning is:

Can You Make Money Wood Turning

What is Wood-Turning?

Wood-turning is a process that uses a device to spin wood and use a stationary tool to engrave or shape the piece of wood the way you want.

The Lathe is the tool that makes it all possible. It spins the piece of wood on its own axis at an incredibly high RPM while the craftsman holds a stationary piece of chisel, sandpaper, or any other tool to make grooves or reshape the wood.

What is Wood-Turning

It sounds easy enough, but in reality, wood-turning has a high skill ceiling. Most beginners will make bowls, canes, or small boxes, but with enough time and patience, beautiful works of art can turn out of a flat piece of wood.

Can You Make Money as a Beginner

The key thing to note is that you will not make any money when you start taking up this hobby.

Most of your days at that point in time will go into mastering the basics and creating small crafts that give you a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Soon enough, your house will be filled with bowls and boxes and spindles, and you will start giving your craft away as gifts.

Wood-Turning as a Beginner

When you feel like you have got a pretty good hold on your craft, perhaps after a year or two, making money becomes a real viable option. But how much? And how often?

From Mass Turner to Artisan

At this point, maybe you have gotten pretty good at making a bowl. You even sold a few to your friends or that local crafts fair.

As this is your hobby, you may even visit forums and websites where you see Artisan bowls selling for thousands of dollars. So, what exactly is stopping you from making 5 grand a bowl?

Well, what these forums don’t tell you about is the artists behind these thousand-dollar bowls. We can guarantee that they have turned wood religiously for at least two decades. As a newbie with a couple of years of experience, that level of work is still pretty far away from your grasp.

Mass Turner to Artisan

Do you give up then? No. Every master had to start somewhere like you will have to. Keep turning those bowls, or any other thing your heart desires, and maybe it will catch the eye of a local shop, and you will get an order of a few hundred pieces.

Which Products Do Sell well?

Bowls are one of the most common wood-turning products, so obviously, the market for them is very saturated. So, what else can you make that will not be very time-consuming, at the same time, have demand in the market? Here are a few suggestions that you can master:

Wood-Turning Products
  • Salt Cellars, Salt and Pepper Shakers, Pepper Grinders.
  • Bottle Openers, Jar Lids, Bottle Stoppers.
  • Spoons and Forks.
  • Vase, Christmas Ornaments, and Art pieces.
  • Rings.
  • Pens.

Trying your hand out in a few of these is a good idea as you never know which one will speak to you. There will also be a trial-and-error phase of figuring out what will sell. Listen to your customers and take their suggestions. Also, be involved in your local market to know if there is any particular demand for any one product.

How and Where to Sell?

Self-employment requires the ability to be an excellent salesperson. No matter what you do or make, you have to sell it to the right people to make a living. In the realm of Wood Turning, it is almost the same. Here are a few of the most common methods of getting orders or making sales:

How and Where to Sell

Personal Website

In the age we live in, this is perhaps the most common and useful method of flourishing your own business. You can showcase your beautiful works as well as take orders directly without a third party taking cuts.

Even if you don’t consider yourself a “techy” person, there are readily available services at a low price that can help you build an attractive website from scratch.

Etsy

This website can be considered as eBay for artisans. If you have a camera (and, let’s face it, who doesn’t?), you can create listings for your products very easily. Although this market is very saturated, something unique will sell as Etsy has a worldwide reach.

Etsy

Contracts

Many construction workers and architects turn to smaller woodturners for stair railings, sinks, and spindles. This method comes down to networking on your part because it is important to drop your business card anywhere you think it will help.

Wood-Turning Projects Contracts

Shows and Fairs

Almost any small or big city will have art shows or crafts fairs from time to time. Do keep an eye out for these. Although sales from these places aren’t guaranteed, they can help you get to know or impress the right people.

Shows and Fairs

Home Gallery

If you are fortunate enough to have a big home or workshop, consider separating a small room for a home gallery. Given that you manage to decorate it well with the right products, you will get foot traffic.

Marketplaces

Facebook, eBay, or other similar sites have become large hubs for eCommerce in recent years. Although they are not specifically catered to artisans and often can be very, very saturated, create listings as often as you can.

Marketplaces

Art Gallery

It is the Cream of the Crop. This is where those thousand-dollar bowls are sold. However, these also happen to have tough crowds to impress, and unless you have something thoroughly unique, you will have a hard time.

What About Costs?

To make this hobby a viable business, keep books of every cent you spend because the cost has to be paid back by the customers for you to make a viable profit. You obviously need a lathe and the necessary tools.

Even though they are long-term investments, over time, they will need maintenance. Keep track of all that.

wood Turning

Sometimes, people new into this world disregard the costs of cheap items like sandpaper. Please do not make that mistake, as it adds up in a long enough timeline.

Professionals say that sometimes they buy sandpapers worth up to 1-3 thousand dollars in a year. That is no small amount that can be ignored.

The raw material cost for each product, like wood or epoxy, will be paid back by each customer. So do not worry too much about those. However, do not go out of your way to buy expensive tools as any money saved in production will be money made in terms of income.

Should You Quit Your Day Job in Favor of Wood Turning?

Quite frankly, if you have to ask that question in the first place, the answer is probably no. Exceptions cannot be examples, and if you have a family to feed, risks like these being worth it are entirely up to you to decide. Keep at it as long as you have fun, but also be optimistically cautious.

Meanwhile, you can write articles or blogs about your hobby, the ins and outs of it. Also, check with your local institutes if they are looking for course teachers on wood-turning.

Job in Favor of Wood Turning

These will provide you with a constant influx of motivation, and you will also meet a lot of people in the same field who can help you reach your goal sooner. Consequently, you might make some money on the side too.

What you need to understand is that making a viable amount of money is a lengthy process, and unless you project an income where you can afford to pay yourself enough salary to replace your day job effectively, it’s not time to leave your day job yet.

Conclusion

So, can you make money wood-turning? We hope you now know the answer.

Your trip to the top of the wood-turning pyramid is not going to be an easy ride. But with passion, anything is achievable. The most important thing is to keep practicing and keep turning until you make a name for yourself.

That is not to say that you should be discouraged. Do not be. Wood-turning is a beautiful and rewarding hobby that can very easily be a side business to make you some extra cash while providing you with an enjoyable time.

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