How to start a woodworking business

We all put things off until later. An unanswered email. An unwashed dish. An unwalked dog. 

Some things though, are too important to put off. Finding a career that makes you happy can have a huge impact on your overall enjoyment of life. If you’ve always told yourself you’d love to start a woodworking business ‘one day’, then our question to you is, why wait? 

Of course, the answer is probably some variation on, ‘because it’s scary’. Changing careers or starting out from scratch can be daunting. Going through the process of learning, developing your skills and heading out into the unknown can seem so overwhelming that it’s practically impossible. 

Starting a woodworking business is not without its own set of challenges, but it’s certainly not impossible. So many of our graduates have gone on to pursue fulfilling careers in woodworking and furniture design. 

Recent graduate, Honor Dalrymple, became disillusioned with her role as a structural engineer. After re-training as a furniture designer and maker, she set up Honors Furniture, and has developed a range of Scandinavian-inspired home furniture. 

Mike Whittall, founder of Aberdeenshire-based furniture company, Ochre and Wood, studied with us following a 25-year stint in accounting. He explains, “I knew that it would give me an outlet for something that I was really passionate about – you only have one life!”

If it’s time to stop putting off your dream of starting a woodworking business, here are some helpful steps to begin. 


If you want to start a successful woodworking business, developing excellent technical woodworking and furniture design skills is essential. Understanding the nuances of materials and techniques and gaining a keen appreciation of both ancient and modern approaches to woodworking will set your woodworking business up for success. 

Learning can take place in a number of ways. Many woodworkers learned their trade as apprentices or from highly skilled family members. Another approach is to learn at a professional woodworking institution like Chippendale School, where you can quickly develop your skills to industry standard. Our intensive nine-month Professional course provides woodworkers of any level with the skills they need to start a woodworking business from scratch.

Develop your business plan 

Once you have acquired those all-important technical skills, it’s time to start developing a realistic business plan. Your business plan should contain everything from the details of the product or service you’re going to offer to a breakdown of your financial forecast. 

Our graduates have gone on to start woodworking business with a number of specialities, ranging from bespoke furniture for private clients, artisan wooden homeware, restoration and even large-scale commercial projects. Defining your offering will help to give you clarity and focus.

On the Professional course, our students are taught not only how to be a woodworker, but also how to hone the skills necessary to start your own business. In addition to the business modules that we run alongside technical courses, we have developed close links with business specialists such as Business Gateway who can offer expert advice to our students on how to set up and grow their woodworking businesses.

PR and Marketing 

Arguably one of the most important things to focus on when starting out is developing a strong PR and marketing strategy. Even the best woodworker in the world won’t be successful if nobody knows they exist! 

A strong marketing strategy helps you to communicate with clients in order to generate interest in your business and drive sales. Knowing how to develop and implement a marketing strategy is key, especially when you are first starting out, as this is a period where you can drum up excitement about what you have to showcase. 

Our Professional course places a significant emphasis on marketing your woodworking business – as part of the course, we teach you how to understand your customers and effectively communicate your unique offering to them. 

Use all the help you can get

When you start a woodworking business, there is so much to consider that it can be a little daunting. Setting up everything from workshop premises to a healthy supply of materials and even securing your first commission takes effort, especially in the first months and year of your business.   

Generally, the woodworking community is a highly collaborative and supportive one. You will always be able to find someone who is willing to lend a hand or offer some advice – show that you are open to help, and many people will gladly support you.

One of the most valued services that we offer at Chippendale School is Myreside Studios – an incubator workshop where our graduates can rent a workstation for up to three years as they set up their woodworking businesses. This is a highly supportive environment where residents can benefit from the invaluable knowledge of our course tutors whilst developing their customer base. 

Do you want to start a woodworking business? Discover more about the Professional course and get the skills and support you need to set yourself up for success.

Scroll to Top