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IWF Woodworking Today

From Woodworker to Manufacturer

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October 18, 2023 | Dan Wellens

Sometimes woodworkers crafting projects for sale can become obsessed with perfection—and in that pursuit become their own worst enemy. This self-sabotage often takes the form of overly complicated joinery, which requires extensive labor but offers little financial reward. Meanwhile, buyers typically seek quality products that seamlessly fit into their daily lives. An ornate joint may be a marvel for its creator to behold, but what matters most to the user is the functionality of the finished product.

To prove this point, I participated in two nationally acclaimed Art Shows last summer. In each two-day event, I offered for sale three distinct types of cutting boards. The first was artistically complex featuring multiple intricate designs. The second was moderately fancy with one contoured pattern producing a simpler appearance. And the third option is a basic wood cutting board with a straightforward shape and a quality oil finish.

My experiment produced results consistent with expectations. The premium-priced, elaborately constructed $199 cutting board attracted some attention. But it was the mid-priced moderately fancy $129 model that captured robust buyer interest and orders with more than 275 units sold. Surprisingly, the basic $79 wood-cutting board found its fair share of buyers.

So what’s the takeaway? In almost any product type and lineup, buyers typically default to the middle option in a classic compromise between price and perceived quality.

The lesson here for woodworkers is clear: pricing models can significantly influence consumer choices. When crafting items for sale, consider not only the labor and materials but also the prime target buyer preferences. Simplicity can often win over complexity, especially when it comes to everyday products like cutting boards.

PRO TIP: Relinquishing the affinity between you and the product you are selling. (Sometimes we as woodworkers put too much of our heart into each creation. Passion and pricing go together like oil and water.)

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