MarkN1975

What would YOU make first time out?

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I'm starting out as a maker (everything from Claro Walnut live edge slab dining tables to cheese boards) for the first time in California. I moved from England a few months ago but I've worked with wood my whole life. Following in my grandfathers foot steps, it's a family thing...

I'm not sure yet what's selling and what isn't so what would you guys recommend would be a small, simple, easy seller to get me out of the gate?

Any experienced tips highly appreciated.

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Lots of people will chime in about popular items to batch out that will sell quickly. You should also consider building higher end items as gifts for your home as well as family and close friends. It justifies material costs when they are gifts, and it lets you build a suitable portfolio to show future clients.

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Yeah you're going to get so many ideas and opinions that your head will be spinning.  I think the important thing is for you to find your own niche, get good at building a few things WELL...and QUICKLY.  What those items are is up to you...what you enjoy building, what you're good at building, and what you can sell.  Good luck with your venture!

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Dang it, Eric!

I wanted to say find a niche. You beat me to it.

But seriously, everyone who's successful finds a niche that fits them.
There are tons of factors. Size of shop, time that you have, and don't under-estimate the fact that its better if you like what you build. You'll do a better job and avoid drudgery.

 

In a direct answer to your question. I get tons of commission requests for dining room furniture these days. Seems lots of folks, myself included, are sick and tired of the crappy dining room sets passing themselves off as "fine furniture" that are sold in furniture stores these days.

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Mitered boxes are pretty popular, kind of boring (okay, REALLY boring), but still popular.  I make boxes when I'm between larger projects; they're basically a good way to zen-out and generate some passive income.

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Welcome to the forum :)

After you find what you want to make, look in some online galleries for inspiration.

Even the woodtalk gallerie and the lumberjock gallerie are full of amazing pieces and ideas.

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Maybe try building stuff that the majority of people need or use on a daily basis, but make it worth buying. I know a lot of people are suckers for some bling and by bling I mean "purty" looking wood. Develope one really good item and batch them out!

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Welcome to America. 

First, let me say, I’m not an expert at selling wooden products.  I’m thinking the distribution model, not the products is the first thing I would need to fully understand.  Answer the question: how will I find customers?  Or, how they will find me?  Example:  If you are selling through craft fares then I think it’s probably 85% low cost utilitarian items (spoons, butt joined boxes, puzzles, and like that, and a few “nice gifts” (Intarsia, sculpted, humidor jewelry boxes), probably one or two percent of unique, tourist nick knacks.   If on the other hand you are selling through a “high end” gift shop the mix is very different, might also include furniture.  Internet sales would probably again a different mix.  I’ve seen some beautifully done boxes (jewelry, humidor, treasure etc.) that are easy to build with semi exotic wood that occupied a large retail footprint (must be selling?) from $400.00 - $1,200.00 each (high margin?).   I’ve also seen crappy little carved key chains that are $4 but seem to sell by the hundreds (high volume?).  So my advice is to first figure out where you are going to be able to sell and then see what’s selling there.  Next figure out how to position products in your distribution channel to get a lot of attention. Perhaps evaluate the volume, pricing and or margin opportunities.  Then choose the product.  That’s what I think.

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Dang it, Eric!

I wanted to say find a niche. You beat me to it.

But seriously, everyone who's successful finds a niche that fits them.

There are tons of factors. Size of shop, time that you have, and don't under-estimate the fact that its better if you like what you build. You'll do a better job and avoid drudgery.

 

In a direct answer to your question. I get tons of commission requests for dining room furniture these days. Seems lots of folks, myself included, are sick and tired of the crappy dining room sets passing themselves off as "fine furniture" that are sold in furniture stores these days.

 

Couldn't agree more, I was going to suggest furniture as well.

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Browsing through Etsy, there is definitely competition out there. It seems like there is a base level of craftsmanship that 80% of the products have, and the remaining 20% is half awesome and half crap.

 

Cutting boards seem to be a crowded market, but are popular enough to be fairly price stable from what I scanned through.

 

Boxes were pretty wildly varied, but seemed to offer pretty good potential.

 

I think wooden toys would also be a good choice, especially from August to November.

 

Pick a product you can differentiate yourself with and focus on it.

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