How to Start a Carpentry Business

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Image of a man nailing two pieces of wood

Starting A Carpentry Business – Quick Overview

Starting a carpentry business can be an appealing option because of low cost for initial startups.

Carpentry jobs are divided into two areas: rough (or structural) and finish (or detail) work. Rough work is framework or roofing or other construction that becomes the skeleton of the building.

When the building is complete, the internal and external parts of the building cover the rough work. Finish carpentry, however, includes detailed work such as wall trim or cabinets. Detail and precision are important in this type of construction.

You must also have proper training and qualifications in carpentry as well as some experience.

Lack of training would result in low-quality final output and this would significantly affect the competitiveness of your products in the marketplace. Therefore, if you lack knowledge and training, it would be a very good idea a take a course on carpentry before you start a business. A technical college would be the ideal place for training and education.

Apprenticeships usually last between three and four years, so look for a company that can provide you with a variety of experiences. Larger companies are often better able to do this than smaller ones. After the apprenticeship is over, you will receive a certificate indicating that you are now a journeyman carpenter.

If you want to diversify even further, consider getting additional experience that can land you electrician jobs. Remember that the more skills you have, the more job opportunities you will get.

You can also take the route of hiring tradesman. You focus on the business aspect rather than the technical aspect. This may work to your advantage if you’re knowledgeable in the industry, and are good at finding and closing contracts.

Skill Set:
  • Handle the necessary machinery and equipment adequately
  • Skilled and knowledgeable about all types of necessary tools
  • Building experience a plus
  • Calculate estimates
  • Remodeling
  • Building custom, shelves, and cabinets
  • Proficiency in trim work, drilling and setting hardware for doors and windows, setting windows, stair layouts, etc.
  • Ability to read blueprints
  • Ability to manage paperwork such as employee time sheets
  • Ability to perform physically demanding tasks such as crawling for long distances and climbing extended ladders
  • List of Common Business Skills
Employee and Job Consideration During The Start-Up Phase or In The Future:
Approximate Daily Hours Needed:

Depending on your location, this job typically has longer hours that span from early in the morning to early evening and, often, weekends.

Depending on the niche you’re filling or what aspect of carpentry work you are doing, you may be required to be on the premises with other work crews very early in the morning.

Equipment, Supplies, & Services During Start-up OR In The Future:
  • A variety of hand tools including:
    • Hammers
    • Speed Square
    • Chalk Line
    • Chalk Line Clamp
    • Chisels
    • Carpenter’s Pencils
    • Framing Square
    • Utility Knifes
    • Framing Hammer
    • Cat’s Paw
    • Screwdrivers
    • Measuring tape
    • Level, Grease pencil
    • Tool belt
    • etc.
  • Staple guns
  • Nail gun
  • Portable air compressor
  • Table saw
  • Bandsaw
  • Angled chop saw
  • Cordless drill with assorted bits
  • Hand-held circular saw
  • Nails, screws and other fasteners
  • Work truck with ladder rack and utility box
  • Sledgehammer
  • Trucks, Vans
  • Composting containers
  • Essential office Equipment
Monthly Expenses and Operating Costs To Consider:

In addition to our list of common business expenses, your carpentry service will require a budget for the ongoing cost of building supplies, such as nails, staples, drill bits, wood, etc.

Licenses:

You will need to check with your local authorities regarding zoning laws and any required permits to operate at your home or at another location.

It’s preferable to be bonded and insured. Check with your homeowner’s insurance company to see if your current policy covers a home-based business.

Perhaps the trickiest obstacle is bidding on home remodeling jobs. A balance of price fairness and profitability can be accomplished, one expert says when you are getting about 25% of your bids accepted. Licensing requirements vary for home remodelers, so perform your due diligence. Some states have a cost limit before a contractor’s license is required.

You may decide to take additional courses to obtain Journeyman Carpenter status and be able to charge more for your work.

See Our Page on Licenses and Permits

Approximate Minimum Startup Cost:

The average startup cost may vary from a couple hundred dollars if you already have a lot of the equipment to thousands of dollars if you want new, top-of-the-line equipment. You can start off small and expand your crew and equipment as you grow.

Pros And Cons:

The Pros:

  • If you have the skill or workforce it’s easy to start
  • You have the advantage of being your own boss
  • You get to do creative work with wood
  • Completely Expandable

The Cons:

  • Work tends to slow down during the winter months
  • A lot of times your work adverse weather conditions
  • Physically demanding: a lot of heavy lifting and skill running woodworking equipment is required
  • The equipment that you work with could be potentially dangerous
Type of Customers:

People looking to build their custom home, people looking to purchase new homes.

Many people today prefer to keep their existing homes and renovate them rather than upgrade to a larger or newer home. This is where your carpentry skills help with outdoor woodwork framing, finishing, and incorporating innovative storage areas into places where none existed.

Homeowners replacing their “make-do” cupboards and cabinets are major customers to those in the carpentry industry.

Statistics:

Carpentry jobs follow the trends of the construction industry. In booming times, the need for carpenters is great. In lean times, the need is less so, but carpenters can focus on repair work, not just new builds. This means that even when the housing market slows down, work is still available in repairing and refurbishing buildings.

See the Bureau of Labor Statistics for up-to-date information.

Revenue:

Organizational skills and a professional demeanor can keep your home remodeling business humming at a minimum of $50 an hour. The construction trade, in general, is expected to expand by 10% through 2016, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook.

Resources

A Day In The Life of A Carpenter:

Carpenter Careers | The Princeton Review

What is a day in the life of a Carpenters like? | Studentscholarships.org

Carpenter Description | Thebalance.com

See our page on How To Become A Carpenter – Here’s What You Need To Know

Starting Your Business

How To Start A Business Step By Step – A list of important issues you need to address when starting your business, created in a checklist style.

 

Business Plan:

Construction Carpenter Business Plan Sample | Bplans

Free Carpenter or Carpentry Contractor Business Plan | TheFinanceResource.com

 

Business Articles & Tips:

Start Your Own Carpentry Business – A Concord Carpenter

How to Start Your Own Construction Business | Chron.com

Carpentry Business Idea Center | Entrepreneur.com

7 Tips to Start a Successful Carpentry Business | Noobpreneur.com

10 Steps to Success | THIS is Carpentry

10 Steps To Building A Successful Construction Company | Shawn Mccadden.com

Business Ideas for Carpenters | Azcentral.com

 

Carpentry Tips:

The Best Carpentry Tips and Advice | The Family Handyman

Carpentry tips and tricks | Carpentry-tips-and-tricks.com

10 Finish Carpentry Tips | Ask the Builder

Top 10 Carpentry Tips and Tricks | Diycozyhome.com

 

Carpentry Niche:

Find Your Niche and Own It | Finehomebuilding.com

Carpenter Idea Center | Entrepreneur.com

Making Money on Built-ins | THISisCarpentry

Contractors and Remodelers | Decide Your Niche and Then Go Get It!

 

Books:

How to Start a Home-Based Carpentry Business

How To Build A Carpentry Business: The Only Book You Need To Launch, Grow & Succeed

Marketing For Carpentry Business: 50 Explosive Marketing Secrets, Ideas, Tips & Tricks For Carpentry Business

The Woodworker’s Guide to Pricing Your Work (Popular Woodworking)

Working at Woodworking: How to Organize Your Shop and Your Business

Woodworking Business 101: A Basic Business Guide For Woodworkers

 

Training / Courses:

Wood University | Wooduniversity.org

Carpentry Courses | Everest

Carpentry Schools and Training Programs | Trade-schools.net

Carpentry Courses – Online Training | Penn Foster Career School

 

Forums:

Starting Carpentry Business! – Business – Contractor Talk

Starting a Building & Carpentry Business | Small business forums

Do It Yourself

Contractor Talk

DIY Chatroom

Woodworking Talk

 

Software:

SketchUp for Woodworking | SketchUp

CAD interior fit-out software for joiners and carpenters – Palette CAD

Invoice, Estimating & Scheduling Software For Carpenters | Powerednow.com

Job Quoting Software, Estimate & Quoting App | JobFLEX

Carpentry work | Cadwork

SketchList 3D – Cabinet Design and Woodworking Software | Sketchlist.com

 

Supplies & Tools:

Fine Woodworking Project & Supplies at Woodcraft | Woodcraft.com

Woodworker’s Supply | Woodworker.com

Woodworking Hand Tools, Power Tools | Garrettwade.com

Fine Woodworking Tools | Highland Woodworking.com

Trim and Finish Carpentry Tools | Acme Tools

Klingspor’s Woodworking Shop | Woodworkingshop.com

Best woodworking tools – Mike’s Tools

Wood Crafting & Woodcraft Products | American Woodcrafters Supply Co

Peachtree Woodworking Supply | Ptreeusa.com

 

Associations:

United Brotherhood Of Carpenters

Associated General Contractors

NAWIC

Association of Woodworking & Furnishing Suppliers

Architectural Woodwork Institute

Businesses For Sale:

Wood Products Manufacturing Businesses for Sale | BizQuest

Woodworking Businesses for Sale | Globalbx.com

Businesses For Sale in US | BusinessesForSale.com

 

News And Industry Sites:

The business side of woodworking | Woodindustry.ca

50 Woodworking Blogs/Websites You May Not Know About | Jays Custom Creations

Top 100 Woodworking Sites | Woodworkers Guide

Top 27 Woodworking Blogs for Beginners | Woodworkingtoolkit.com

25 Best Woodworking Blogs For 2016  | Drum Sander Specialists

Trends:

Carpenters in the US Market Research | IBISWorld

Carpentry Contractors Industry Statistics Market Research Report | Anythingresearch.com

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