I have never tried to sell any of my work. I just recently realized I love making things from wood. There is nothing like taking a piece of red or white oak, cedar, or maple and making something useful and beautiful. I hope to be at that level someday when I can share them with someone else.
I started woodworking because I didn't want to buy sawdust furniture anymore. My friends and family loved the stuff I created so much that they talked me into selling my hobby. I enjoy creating things for people, and it gives me a sense of pride when they get the piece and it's just what they wanted. The money side of things usually takes care of itself. You can't get as much as you would always like in today's economy, but it usually balances out to make a decent profit on things as a part time job that you love. I enjoy it a lot and anyone that loves woodworking should find a market in their community. You can start on a low level by building small stuff that can be sold at festivals or community garage sales and work it into custom work by the contacts you make from those sales. I have a lot of repeat customers and they are referring me to their friends. And that's a kind of business anyone would like.
I've sold pieces in the past for only materials because they've gone to family and friends. But just Friday I transferred a piece to a co-worker that I built for him. I charged more than materials including a new raised panel bit that I had to purchase, but no way close to my time. However, I did not expect to earn my time as I took this project as a challenge to myself and experiement if I could build it. He knows he got a good deal and I made a little extra cash.
The only regret is that I have great pride in the piece and I hate to let it go and that I can not see it again and again. It really pleased me that I could overcome the challenge and make such a good piece. But, I'll get over it.
And now, I'm donig a dining room table refinish job for an extended family member that I know I won't get my time back but like the prior job will make a little more cash in hand.
So I guess I could say that I want to do more. The only restriction is the grief I get from postponing my/wife's projects.
I have sold projects in the past. My experience has been mixed. I rarely feel like I get what the project is worth in terms of material and labor. Sometimes it is a project I am motivated to do because it sounds like an interesting project to build from the outset, but by the end it becomes nothing more then a project I am wishing would just finish up so I could move on to something I would rather be doing in the shop. There are a couple of projects for our house I really need to be doing. I recently did a paying gig project and I had hoped the profit I would make off of it would go towards offsetting the cost of materials for a breakfast room L-shaped bench and a dining table for the bench seating. Unfortunately I don't feel I made all that much profit to make the effort of building the paying project worth my while.
I've been working with wood since the age of 14 first in a factory and now to get away from computers. Like Mike K. I do it because I love it and can't quit. I do sell my work, but only when I get the time to do the pieces I want to do. This is an outlet from my creative nature and I love it. We do a few shows and a lot of demos. My wife is very supportive, but I have a job, I don't want another.
I have been doing woodworking/woodturning my entire life, for over 5 decades as a way of expression and more importantly as an escape from the dog eat dog world we live in. I've sold many pieces and know from experience that making a living at it or even turning a profit is nearly impossible, more importantly the few that I do know who make a living at it are always stressed out.
I sell most of the boxes I make (which isn't that many, lately, but that's mostly because I've been focusing on being a dad more than being a woodworker the last two years).
I don't worry about how much time I put into a piece and whether I'm making a fair wage for my efforts. This isn't my career; it's a hobby. I enjoy the time I spend in the shop, regardless of what I'm doing - making something for me, making something for my wife, or making something for a client - so I'm happy to do anything that gets me in the shop, working and learning and improving my skills.
When figuring out how much to charge for a piece, I always start with the cost (including shipping) for all materials used in the project. That can be quite expensive in itself, because I use the best hardware I can find. I'm not going to spend 15 hours making a box and then put some crappy pressed hinges on it. I tend to use Brusso brass hinges and box hardware from Whitechapel, Ltd. So my material cost can be upwards of $150 or $200 for a box. Then, on top of that, I make a rough estimate of about how much I want to get paid for the box. Usually, it's a couple hundred dollars, but it could be more or it could be less, depending on the box.
When I started seriously getting into the woodworking hobby, my wife only laid out one stipulation. I'm not allowed to use any of our normal, budgeted monthly income for woodworking. Anything I spend has to come from money I get from somewhere else (birthdays, Christmas, selling stuff). My main goal with selling my projects is to make money for me to buy myself better woodworking tools and wood for my own projects.
It seems there is a turning point where your craftsman skills and time efficiency allows you to sell at a price that is worth your efforts. I'm not there yet. I would have to sell a Windsor chair for the price of a new Lexus just to get minimum wage. With my garage-sale tools and a workbench made from my children's bunk beds I can produce nice quality, custom designed garden structures (arbors, trellises etc.) and still buy some sand paper.
I am having tough times so I was forced to sell some of my creations. I found it satisfying but aggravating too because people don't realize the time and effort that goes into a project and don't want to pay what its worth
I would love to be able to turn my hobby in to a side business. Turning pro may not be a reality, but to make some extra cash would validate my taste and ability.