Wood Crafting, Woodblock Prints, and Other Business Startups

This installment of an ongoing business startups feature includes submissions from a Tennessee reader who started a wood crafting business and a Missouri reader who creates woodblock prints of buildings.

| May/June 1983

The following are business startups that readers established after reading articles in MOTHER EARTH NEWS.

Wood Crafting Business

The interior of our new home was unfinished when I was caught in a layoff last year, and being short on income and long on time I decided to complete the job myself. It turned out fine, too. That "practice," coupled with a good dose of inspiration from MOTHER EARTH NEWS, gave me the confidence to use my newly honed skills in a home-based woodcraft business.

I began by making decoupage plaques since I could fashion them without having to invest much cash in tools and materials. I started with a borrowed jigsaw, a small hand plane, a packet of sandpaper, and a good-quality paintbrush. Working with a 14-foot 1 x 12 pine board (it cost 49 cents per foot), I was able to make a dozen 12" x 13 1/2" wooden rectangles, which I darkened with a walnut stain (purchased at $2.99 for an 8-ounce can), decorated with glued-on prints or historic documents (such as a copy of the U.S. Constitution), and then coated with clear polyurethane varnish (costing $5.07 for a quart container).

I relied solely upon word-of-mouth advertising, and was easily able to sell my first 12 decoupage plaques for $10 each. My materials expenditure for that batch totaled $16.17 (without considering the cost of the tools; with proper care they should last indefinitely), so my profit was $103.83 for about eight hours' work.

Cheered by my quick success, I added towel racks, tabletop reading or music stands, and other items to my repertoire.  I recently cleared $230 in one week from the sale of such decorative and functional items. Also, I've slowly collected additional tools, which make my job easier and enable me to tackle the more complex tasks I run into with special orders.

In fact, among the several requests I've had for custom projects was an order from a neighbor who wanted me to build a child's table and chairs. (I modeled the seats described in A Stool Styled by Zapotec Indians. )

I'm getting a great deal of satisfaction from working at home and at my own pace, and I'm grateful to MOTHER EARTH NEWS for helping to give me the courage to try it "on my own".

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