It was during high school when you started in the carpentry program. You spent time learning to use power tools and hand tools. Next, you took classes where you learned about OSHA and the building codes you would need in a business. Then, you took the most boring class, the history of carpentry from Stone Age Europe to Neolithic and the finally modern construction of new homes. After high school, you might have worked in an apprenticeship program at construction sites until you graduated and went to college. Since then, it’s been a hobby and you’ve sold about a piece a year but now you’re ready to have your own real carpentry business.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like you. Maybe carpentry was just something you learned under your father, a finish carpenter that worked in general construction and loved to spend his free time in the wood shop crafting furniture and decorations. Perhaps you stayed out there with him during the weekends where he taught you all the carpentry skills that you know today. Over the years, you’ve learned by trial and error and now want to follow in our father’s footsteps by creating your own business and getting out of your boring day job.

Does that sound like you? No matter why you want to turn your hobby into a business, today we’re going to talk about how to do it. We will go into how you can turn your past work experience in building frameworks, finish carpentry, and blueprint reading into your very own weekend or full-time business!



Getting Certified, Take Classes & Join Groups

The most important thing that you can do when starting your own carpentry business in today’s world is to make sure you have the right certifications and knowledge, starting with at least a high school diploma and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) certificate if you live in the USA. Check with your local unions or community colleges to see about any other vital certificate programs or classes that could get your better prepared to enter the business world of construction and carpentry.

Speaking on local unions, this is a great opportunity to talk about joining groups like the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America. There will be many other local groups that you can join and they will offer job openings, job training, and other classes that can help you network and get more experience while trying to grow your business.



Take Weekend Jobs for Hands-on Experience

Though you might already have a job, if you are really certain that you can to take your hobby fulltime, it is best if you take under a journeyman carpenter where you can learn about your preferred filed from rough carpenters and finish carpenters to repairing structures and framing. At this job, you will have the opportunity to get better networked in the construction industry as well as learn the ins and outs of modern building materials and job site safety.

If construction projects aren’t what you are looking for, then try looking at jobs with furniture crafters as you will be able to learn about joining wood and making beautiful creations over utilitarian style woodworking like timber framing or balloon framing. Other related occupations you could look into include picture framers and woodworking artists though those will be harder to find and you might need to do some networking to get a job learning under them.



Filing Paperwork & Becoming Real

After taking classes and learning under someone you have the foundation to begin the real work on your own business. Depending on your nationality, be it in North America as an American or Canadian on in Europe as a British or French person, you will need to check with local laws to see what you will file as and how you will start your business. For those in the United States, check with the Bureau of Labor Statistics and your Secretary of State’s website to see what you should form and what rules you will need to abide by. In all cases, you will need at least liability insurance if not more depending on where you will be working and if anyone will be working with you. It’s good to have some coverage even if you are working out of your own shop alone in case anything happens to the shop or if anything happens to someone from a product you sold.



Prepare Your Business for Opening Day

Though it may seem like all the hard work is over and done, now you need to start the business which might be the hardest part yet! Though you might have had a full shop for your hobby work, you need to make sure that you can do any or most of the jobs that come at you. To do this, take a look at the type of carpentry that you need to do and make sure you have all the tools you need. If you are doing finish carpentry or detailed work where you will make use of hand tools, check to see you have all you need in either you toolbox or shop. If you are doing heavier work in fields like building construction you will probably need power tools in your truck and ready to go. Why should you do all this before you get a job? Many times carpentry can be a “show up today” type of business and you don’t want to have to say “I can’t” because you didn’t prepare all your tools ahead of time. If you are creating furniture, you want to make sure you have everything before you begin so you don’t have to stop and order something halfway through!



Network and Work Jobs

It’s time, you’ve taken classes and gone to certificate programs. You’ve worked under a journeyman carpenter and learned more about the field of carpentry that you want to go into. Lastly, you’ve filed all your paperwork, gotten insurance, and readied all the supplies that you will need for your first jobs. All that’s left is to get a job. Go back to your local union, your club or group and maybe even your old job to see if you can find anyone that needs you. Advertise on social media and ask friends to share your posts to spread the reach you have. Go to local networking events for construction and carpentry to see if you can meet anyone there that needs you or that wants to work with you on a job. THough it might take a while, it can be done and you will find your first job. After the first, it’s like running down a set of stairs, it will get easier and easier. You will get more and more jobs and eventually you might be rolling in jobs with the need to hire someone to work under you yourself.

Working as a carpenter is a noble blue-color job that has been done since before the Stone Age in Europe from designing dolls and statues to modern times in new-home construction. Though it may be hard, turning your hobby into a business can be done with a little preparation and a bit of networking. Try going to local unions and working under people at job sites where you can learn. Find a mentor to show you how to start the business and get all the paperwork done. Get your insurance and make sure that you have all the tools you need. Soon enough you will be rolling in clients and your days in an office will be a distant memory.

Written by: John Brown
John has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. He grew from a star insurance producer to owning one of the largest agencies in the country; he's a reference regarding contractor's insurance, commercial insurance, and builders' risk insurance.