The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Own Carpentry Business

Starting your own carpentry business requires the right mindset, skills, and business savvy in order to be successful. This article is a guide to starting your own carpentry business, complete with a step-by-step walkthrough.

Learn how to take your business from the planning stages, all the way through to setting up your woodshop.

Carpentry is an age-old craft that has been passed down, generation to generation, over tens of thousands of years. To this day, carpentry remains one of the few construction industry skills that can’t be done by machines. The hands that carve the wood are intricately connected to the beauty of the finished product.

Owning your own carpentry business is satisfying, rewarding, and, has the potential of being lucrative.

A Guide to Starting Your Own Carpentry Business

You don’t have to be a master woodworker to start your own carpentry shop. But, if you don’t know what a power drill is used for you might be getting ahead of yourself. If you have passion without experience, the best way to start is by working in a carpentry shop.

What a Carpentry Business Does

Carpentry spans a wide range of niches, and a business can focus in as many or as few as desired. What is your area of carpentry experience?

If you plan on hiring carpenters, instead of doing the work yourself, decide what type of shop you want to own. What is it that you want your shop to focus on?

Types of Carpentry

Finish Carpentry – A finish carpenter, or joiner, does the polish work in the final stages of cabinetry, furniture making, and more. This type of carpentry is highly detail oriented and skilled.

Trim Carpentry – Trim carpentry focuses on molding and trim pieces for doorways, windows, baseboards, and mantels. Some trim carpentry crosses over into cabinetry.

Cabinetry – Cabinetmakers perform specialized carpentry, focused on the crafting of wooden dressers, wardrobes, chests, and more. Joining is an essential skill for cabinetry.

Ship Carpentry – Any steel or wooden ship on the water has very specific needs concerning the manner in which the carpentry is carried out. A Shipwright is a carpenter who builds ships on the land.

Coopers – A cooper makes wooden barrels or other round wooden containers. This type of carpentry involves the warping of timbers with steam.

Scenic Carpentry – The film, television, and theater industry are alive and well in the united states. Every production needs a set. Scenic carpentry is one of the most interesting and unique forms of carpentry. It involves the building and dismantling of every intricate detail to a set.

But, unlike all other forms of carpentry, scenic carpentry does not require you to build for longevity. Scenic carpentry is focused on aesthetic detail and structural stability, instead of longevity and durability.

Frame Carpentry – The structural skeleton of a building, is the frame. Frame carpentry is the opposite of aesthetic detail and focuses on structural integrity. For carpenters using raw timbers, rather than pre-cut studs, they are called timber framers. Timber framers are versed in the craft of wooden joint framing, such as would be used for a log home.

Luthier Carpentry – A carpenter who works on wooden string instruments, is a luthier.

Restoration Carpentry – This is the type of carpentry that is focused on the restoration of historic building and monuments, to restore a structure or piece to its original beauty.

Conservation Carpentry – Like restoration carpentry, conservation carpentry involves preserving the current integrity of historical monuments, buildings, and other projects involving old structures of note.

Green Carpentry – This is the practice of using environmentally friendly materials in a carpenters work. Green carpentry involves sourcing sustainable materials and using less of them. Conserving eco-friendly material requires a high level of craftsmanship and is often more expensive.

Upcycle Carpentry – This type of carpentry also requires a high level of craftsmanship, but, is more intensive than green carpentry. Upcycle carpentry involves sourcing second-hand and often discarded materials with which to restore or craft a new piece with. It includes cleaning discarded materials before using them. Carpenters must still build to the structural integrity of using new materials. This is often less expensive for materials, but more time-consuming.

What Skills do you Need?

The most important skill for a carpenter is math. Geometry is the name of the game. There are plenty of tools to help a carpenter figure out tough angles, but, without some math skills, the process will be slow and arduous.

Along with math, it’s important for you to be able to read blueprints. Owning your own woodshop involves creating and reading blueprints for every project. Attention to detail is crucial when reading a blueprint.

On top of that, you need some experience with basic carpentry tools. Like was mentioned, above, only open a carpentry business if you know your way around a wood shop. If not, work for another shop before opening your own.

So, let’s assume you have all the necessary skills and you’re ready to get rolling. Here is the guide on how to start a carpentry business:

How to Start a Carpentry Business

Just, go rent a shop and make stuff, right? No! Never rush into financial business decisions. The only way to be successful is to plan out your business strategy, methodically. Start with step one…

1. Write Up a Business Plan

The best way to start your business plan is to use a premade business plan template. Your plan does not need to account for every single contingency, but, it should be thorough.

Your business plan will help identify the local market for your products and services. It also makes you narrow down exactly what types of things you are going to make. A business plan is the most important step to really building your carpentry business.

It is the biggest step to your idea taking shape in the real world. Without it, your carpentry shop will forever remain an idea.

2. Employees or No Employees?

This question will come up in your business plan. The largest deciding factors that determine your workforce requirements are the following…

  • Your carpentry skill
  • Your startup budget
  • Scope of work

If you are not a very skilled carpenter, you need at least one employee. The more carpenters in the room, the more money can be made. If you have a list of clients and carpenter friends, plan on a shop with multiple workstations.

Eventually, if your business is growing successfully, it becomes difficult for the owner to also work in the shop. Keep this in mind when considering how many carpenters you need.

3. Type of Shop Needed

If you have a nice woodshop at home and are planning to be a sole proprietor, you save lots of money. But, unless your home wood shop is really big, it offers limited scalability in terms of stations, material volume, and employees.

Home-based wood shops are also troublesome because of residential noise ordinances. Look for an inexpensive industrial space to rent out monthly. The best is if you can scale up eventually, without moving locations.

4. Form Legal Entity

The way to protect yourself from being held personally liable in the event of your business being sued is to form a legal entity. Register your business as an LLC (Limited Liability Company). This also provides tax benefits, as opposed to the astronomical taxes you would pay otherwise. As an LLC, your personal assets are not in jeopardy in the event of bankruptcy.

Once you are a legal entity, you need to register for business taxes. Don’t let your company go under because you forgot about the IRS.

5. Open a Business Bank Account

The best way to keep transaction straight, between your personal and business spending, is to open a business checking account. While you’re at it, go ahead and get an accountant. You have enough stress as a business owner, so, let someone else stress over the accounting.

6. Register / Trademark your Businesses Name

To own a business, you need to own the name of the business, too. Register your businesses name under your ownership, and trademark your logo. Then, go online and buy your business’s domain name.

If you do not buy your domain soon, it will be bought out from under you. In which case, you will pay far more to buy it back than simply getting your business registered, logo trademarked, and domain licensed at the same time.

7. Get Permits and Licenses

The permits and licenses necessary to legally operate your carpentry business will vary, depending on the city and state in which your shop plans to open. Check your state license and permit requirements for starting a small business.

8. Get Insured

Any small business should have insurance. Especially when working with power tools and saws, an accident is bound to happen. Woodshops have minor accidents frequently, and so, you should have small business insurance. Depending on the state your business is in, insurance might be required.

Final Thoughts

Many career carpenters will join the carpenters union. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters offers training, education, and partnerships to help startup carpentry shop owners be successful.

But, union membership is not mandatory in order for you to start your own carpentry business.

Like any business, revenue growth comes from successful industrial marketing for your carpentry business. If you have any other questions about starting your own carpentry business, ask us in the comment section. And, get set up with all the best power tools and drills at this website.

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