Wooden crafts are so beautiful to me. I love the wood’s inherent character and uniqueness – no two can ever be exactly alike. And I’m not alone! Lots of people these days prefer natural, handmade wooden crafts over mass-produced, environment-harming versions.
If you’re good with wood, you might find a big market for your wooden crafts on Etsy. A lot of search traffic to this site includes terms like “best selling wood crafts on Etsy”, which makes me think a good number of people are curious about either buying or selling wood crafts.
This article is a small tour of just some of the thousands of fantastic wooden crafts out there on Etsy and what you can learn from these featured shops.
PS: I’m not a woodworker myself, so if I got something wrong about your craft please leave a comment so I can correct this article.
PPS: I selected these shops myself and I don’t know the owners of any of them. I’m sorry if I overlooked your shop or another great shop. Etsy is huge, and I’m just an Etsy addict who loves to feature shops that catch my eye. (Leaving a mean comment will not get your shop featured.)
Painted Wooden Signs
Wooden signs are awesome: you can make them say whatever you want and there’s no shortage of things to say. They can be very inexpensive, too: just grab some wood (reclaimed, recycled, brand new, scraps from a previous project, anything works), think of something to say, and paint it on! Competing successfully with the bigwigs would require finding a unique angle, such as personalization or saying something they’d never print on a sign sold at Target.
TrimbleCrafts (10,900 sales) has so many funny signs I don’t know where to start! This shop is a great example of how to combine craftsmanship with a well-developed sense of humor. Something I love about this shop is how many of the signs are pretty similar in size and style, leaving buyers more free to focus on choosing a message and colors (and probably allowing for more predictable shipping containers and weights for the seller).
CrowBarDsigns (560 sales) makes made-to-order signs for homes and bars using reclaimed wood and weathered-looking paint. I like this shop because of its casual sense of humor. Whereas a lot of signs are inspirational and uplifting, this shop makes signs I actually laugh at. 😀
ASign4Life (500 sales) Of course, if you get into sign-making you can make ’em say whatever you want, be it serious, sentimental, inspirational, hilarious, commemorative, or any of the above. This shop has wonderful photos, which caught my eye, and even though the shop is just over a year old its been selling signs at a rate of about 1 a day!
The Summery Umbrella (1,500 sales) goes beyond signs (though they do sell signs, too) to also offer cut-outs and other cool shapes to decorate with.
How to succeed with wooden sign-making
The most successful sign-makers on Etsy have an excellent sense of typography (fonts) and composition. They know how to put words into a rectangle in a way that pleases the eye and puts emphasis in the right places. They’re pretty clever when it comes to choosing what to say. I found plenty of signs decorated with stretched out Comic Sans, and if you have no idea why that’s horrifying, you may have an uphill battle building a successful Etsy business out of sign-making. But if you’re great with text and graphic design (and marketing your shop), there’s always room for fresh talent!
The painted wooden sign category on Etsy is saturated. Thank a low barrier to entry (paint words onto wood, done!) and a pretty much endless variety of things to say. Signs can be heavy and awkward to ship, so costs could end up being a concern, too. Sign-making suffers a little bit from “I could make that myself” syndrome, though the best signs are clearly the result of a talented eye and a steady hand.
Laser-Cut Wood Crafts
Laser-engraved and laser-cut wood is a little off the beaten path as far as handmade crafts go, but the results are professional and stunning to look at. This woodcraft category definitely does not suffer from “I could make that myself” syndrome, and there is some truly unique stuff out there. It’s also a pretty untapped market (and what few artisans there are in this space seem to be doing well with hundreds, if not thousands, of sales) and potentially a lot more lucrative than sign painting.
Here are a few laser-cut wood craft shops to inspire you!
TheLaserCo (437 sales) Don’t let the “low” sales number fool you, this very successful laser-cut woodworking shop just opened in January 2014 (meaning this shop is making well over a sale a day!).
Valek Rolling Pins (8,000 sales) is a great example of a laser-cut woodworking shop serving a distinct niche. (Serving a niche is a good thing – it means you’re a specialist and an expert in what you do. If you do one thing fabulously well, there’s little need to try to do everything. Through specialization, Valek is the shop for customized rolling pins.) Decorate your dough with the original laser-engraved rolling pin! A clever idea well executed. Photographing embossed cookies along with the rolling pins was a smart idea, because I would have totally doubted the magic of engraved rolling pins. (Now I just really, really want one!)
Elements Inspiration (16,700 sales) Laser-cut wood crafts don’t have to be limited to finished, complete products. This shop’s specialty is in making little trinkets and embellishments that other crafters might purchase and attach to their own crafts. The variety in this shop is overwhelming! There’s really something here for everyone. (I wouldn’t be sad at ALL if these little wooden Tardis minis showed up in my mailbox :D) This shop is a great example of serving a need: unique, quality embellishments made of wood for other crafters. The thousands of positive reviews make it clear that this shop is getting it right.
SarahMimoClocks (192 sales) **Undiscovered artisan!** My first thought at seeing these stunning clocks was “wood can do that?!” SarahMimoClocks takes laser-cutting and clockwork to a whole new level! This shop is another great example of choosing a niche and just completely owning it.
PhDs (700 sales) makes beautiful laser-cut maps well-suited for historical sites, offices, and other high-end professional uses. Yet another example of choosing a niche and owning it.
How to succeed with laser-cut wood crafts
The most successful laser-cutters seem to have chosen a niche to perfect their craft in. Whether it’s maps or clocks or little trinkets, the best selling wood craft shops have mastered their niche. Aspiring laser-cutters will need to master their machinery and software as well as having a good handle on design and composition. Interestingly, this is one of the few woodworking crafts that doesn’t really require a steady hand, since most of the work is done by the laser and you via the computer.
The equipment you’ll need to laser-cut wood is pricey and there’s a definite learning curve, but the possibilities are infinite and competition is relatively thin.
Handcrafted Wooden Toys
The market for handmade wooden toys exploded over the last few years as parents turned away from cheap crap made in questionable conditions overseas in favor of natural, simple toys from local artisans. Let’s meet some successful wooden toy makers!
ImaginationKids (9,100 sales) caught my eye with their brightly painted toys. A lot of wooden toys on Etsy are sold unadorned or with a clear veneer, so the stuff in this shop really stands out! These toys also look hand-cut, rather than laser-cut like most others.
Little Sapling Toys (31,000 sales) is the reigning champion of sales in the wooden kids toys category on Etsy, and for good reason: their toys are gorgeous! And adorable. And many of them are rather clever, too. They’re just plain and simple toys, and many have the option to be customized with the child’s name.
Little Wooden Wonders (2,260 sales) makes personalizable wooden children’s toys with a cool twist: many of their toys are interlocking, like puzzle pieces!
HowellsProducts (2,600 sales) picked a niche and owned it: toy building sets!
SmallthingsbyAmanda (1,878 sales) creates adorable tiny dollhouse furniture. Etsy runneth over with building blocks and stacking toys, but dollhouse furniture seems to be mostly a lost art outside of vintage. This shop stands out with its sheer variety of adorable micro-size options. (I also wish I had a pink gingham lounge chair in my own home!) If you’ve got a steady hand and love working “miniature”, then consider making little toys for slightly older kids!
ArksAndAnimals (5,080 sales) found yet another great niche – little animals and play scenes! I’m a big dork for dinosaurs so this warmed my heart. I love this shop’s focused product line and clear name.
How to succeed making wooden toys
The market is wide open, and if you can bring a unique perspective you’ll do even better. Think beyond baby blocks and wheeled cars, and you’ll have an easier time standing out. Most people shopping for wooden toys are looking for something “classic” or “natural”, so be sure to play up those points if they apply to your product. Personalization is also a big win.
You’d be competing with the big dogs (and every Chinese toy factory on the planet), but there’s a hungry market out there eager for quality. Bonus points if you have children (or know someone with children) to test out your toys and pose with them for Etsy shop photos.
Artisans making childrens’ toys their niche have a considerable responsibility to ensure their toys are safe. Make sure everything you sell is rugged and too big to fit into little mouths. Also, the top shops selling wood crafts are all clearly working with laser cutters. If you weren’t digging laser-cut wood crafts, you might find lasers unavoidable in the kids toys realm as well.
Wooden Home Furniture & Decor
If you like to dream big with your wooden crafts, you might find enjoyment in furniture making!
SereneVillage (1,100 sales) sells rustic-looking farm tables, picnic tables, TV stands, and more – all made from reclaimed wood! It’s not furniture, but one of my favorite items in this shop is this decorative food tray for food photography. This shop finds is voice in vintage-looking one-of-a-kind pieces.
DesignedForUse (271 sales) sells stained and painted crates! It might look like you’re getting a completed shelf, but you’re actually just going to recieve all the crates needed to build it yourself. While this probably saves on shipping and is a clever way to offer customization, it wouldn’t hold up in an earthquake prone part of the country! (A few nails of your own might help with that.) Still, I think it’s a neat idea and certainly easier than moving a full-size bookshelf every time you relocate.
ShabbyShores (780 sales) capitalizes successfully on the “shabby chic” beach cottage trend. (And if you think 780 sales isn’t impressive, consider the shop is only a year and a half old.) Everything in their Etsy shop has that same “well-loved” look to it. Something I didn’t realize as I initially explored this shop is that most of the furniture is actually small jewelry boxes! These pieces are so detailed, I originally thought they were dressers and nightstands.
How to succeed with home furniture on Etsy
Pick an aesthetic and stick with it! The best-selling furniture shops on Etsy do one style and they do it well.
Reclaimed and “shabby cottage chic” is everywhere on Etsy. I’m sure there’s room for yet another mason jar rack, but if that’s not your style, don’t feel pressured to follow the crowd.
Wooden home decor and accessories
This last one is just a catch-all for all the cool wooden crafts on Etsy that are useful and/or beautiful but don’t fit into any of the previous categories!
BatelierHandicraft (715 sales) makes beautiful iPad stands, book holders, and other small wooden things that are useful around the house or office. This shop’s photography is beautiful, which help its simple but efficient products shine.
KidBizLetters (880 sales) sells beautiful monogram-style letters crafted out of 1/2″ Baltic Birch and painted your choice of colors. This shop caught my eye because I think the dying art of cursive and monogramming is super cool, and because these monogram decorations look really well made. I bet this shop does a lot of business around the wedding season! Customers love custom stuff, especially when it comes to keepsakes like this.
How to succeed with wooden home decor and accessories
Offer customization, a variety of finishes, and a top-notch product. There is a lot of competition in this category from retail stores, but you can stand out if you’re offering something extra, like a choice of finishes, a quirky feature (like a built-in chalk-board!), or an engraved name. This stuff is essentially small home decor, so you’ll want to think like a home furnishings store and offer a variety of finishes to match different tastes and styles in home furnishings.
Nothing really to be aware of here, just make sure you’re making quality stuff and marketing the heck out of your shop. Find a unique angle wherever you can, like this artisan who makes a kitchen-themed iPad stand (which would look nice in a kitchen) or this one who makes an iPad stand in the shape of a cutting board.
I hope you had as much fun looking at these handmade wooden crafts as I did finding, analyzing, and sharing them here. If you have a woodworking shop or know of a great one, please share it in the comments and tell us if you’ve applied any of the lessons from this article to your own shop!