Is Woodworking An Expensive Hobby? (Full Cost Breakdown)

Introduction

Before investing in a new hobby you might want to ask how much it’s going to cost you.

Woodworking is a versatile hobby that does not have to be expensive and mostly depends on what you want to specialize in.

If you’re looking to get started with woodworking, then at its most basic level you will need some wood to make your projects with and a set of tools that are appropriate for what you’re trying to accomplish.

This picture shows an example of basic woodworking tools
Chisels are great for more intricate cutting techniques and are essential for most woodworking specializations.

This could range from spending as little as $50 on some basic kit such as a mallet, chisel set, saw, wood glue, and lumber, all the way up to $5000 for some projects and beyond.

It’s also worth considering the element of time (as it can equate to money) and how much you’ll need to invest in this particular hobby as larger woodworking projects could have you working over many weeks on just one thing.

No one ever said hobbies were going to be an efficient use of time though and it’s important to enjoy the process for personal gain and happiness rather than worrying about the financial aspect too much — just make sure you leave enough left for the weekly shop!

What tools and materials do you need to get started?

The tools and materials needed for woodworking will vary so it’s important we cover some of the most popular woodworking specializations to explain what kit you may need.

Wood Carving – Cheapest Specialization $

Wood carving is one of the cheapest woodworking hobbies you can take up and helps you get to grips with some of the most foundational tools.

To get started with wood carving we recommend investing in a good chisel set as this will allow you to make precise cuts for your piece of wood and a mallet to give you enough force to scrape the wood out if needed.

You can also use specialist wood carving knives that allow for more precise scraping of the wood material, however, they do require regular sharpening for maximum effectiveness which can be done via using a leather strop.

If you’re wanting to make more intricate curves or shaping of the wood then you’ll also want to check out some wood scoops which can make the process far easier than trying to use a chisel.

You can source wood material from many different places without having to spend much money; in fact, some of the best wood you can find for wood carving can result from a long walk down the beach (washed up logs) or a hike in the woods.

Some local shops will only use wood pallets once then they will disregard them which is an opportunity for both the shop and yourself to get some much needed free lumber once they’re done with it.

Lastly, for larger wood carving projects then you may end up wanting to buy a jigsaw or perhaps a more permanent fixture such as a band saw for quicker turnaround of project completion times as this will allow you to make intricate shaped cuts that would take hours otherwise.

Here is a great video showing some of the tools needed for wood carving and how they can be used effectively:

Here is a similar kit for starters from elemental tools that also includes a “handy” pair of cut-resistant gloves and retails for less than $40 on average which is a great way to get your feet wet.

If you prefer a set of dedicated tools then here is a list of what you’ll want to invest in:

Wood Carving Kit

Average Startup Cost – $217

Expert Extras (Non-essential items)

Wood Carving Cost Saving Tip

Most wood carving experts agree that you should start small with your projects to get a better understanding of the tools and techniques used to shape the wood into what you want.

An added benefit to this is that it will save you money in the long run as you won’t have to invest as heavily in large amounts of wood which may potentially be wasted.


Woodturning – Medium Spend Specialization $$

Woodturning is a medium-spend specialization in woodworking that often requires the use of chisels and a lathe as the primary tools for crafting different objects.

You’ll often be crafting various cylindrical objects such as candlesticks, rolling pins, pens, and bowls by turning the lathe and using the chisel to scrap away wood material at different depths to eventually create a nice rounded item.

It’s worth considering that the space required for woodturning is a little more than you would need for wood carving meaning it’s a little less economical in general as you will probably want a dedicated area or setup.

With that said, most lathes can be bought in a smaller form factor which gives you the option to customize your setup depending on the space requirements.

Primarily the lathe is what will take up the most space or will require the most thought when planning out your setup.

Just like wood carving, you can generally use a wide range of different woods with plenty of options that can be sourced for free which will end up saving you plenty of money in the long run.

It also requires greater creative input working on wood that hasn’t been pre-prepared and is often a more satisfying outcome once the product is finished.

Wood turning requires more care before investing as some of the tools are quite specific and not all lathes come included with the necessary equipment for what you might be trying to accomplish.

Here is a great video explaining some of the essential equipment you’ll need to start woodturning and what tools you may require.

In the video, it’s mentioned that you may need some additional extras for your lathe — rest assured the kit we have linked below includes everything you need to get going.

Woodturning Kit

Average Startup Cost – $560

Expert Extras

Furniture Creation – High Spend Specialization $$$

Furniture creation usually involves a high-degree of skill required to manipulate the tools you will be using to make exquisite tables, kitchen benches, chopping blocks, shelves, and a whole host of other niche products that come to your mind.

Due to the size of most of these creations, you will need to front up a larger investment on getting the right equipment for the task — You’ll also need a dedicated space such as a garage, shed, or workshop.

There are many ways to skin a cat so to speak; furniture pieces can often end up with the same result by using different equipment if you know how to use it.

For example, the main tools used in furniture creation would include a compound miter saw, table saw, track saw, and circular saw.

You may ask, aren’t they all large spinning disc blades that cut?

Well yes, however, they can be utilized in different ways for varying degrees of efficiency depending on the task you are trying to accomplish.

With that said, skilled woodworkers and craftsmen can manipulate all of these tools with a specific jig that can guide the process — For example, you can achieve a similar result on a circular saw with a track jig to guide the cut compared to spending lots more money on a dedicated track saw.

Overall though, it’s important to have a starting point without overcomplicating the process which is why we’ll give you a brief rundown on some of the equipment you’ll need to get started.

Here’s a great video from Steve Ramsey’s YouTube channel explaining some of the tools and their applications for what you’re trying to achieve.

You don’t need to spend an absolute fortune; it’s worth bearing in mind that most less well-known brands can accomplish similar results to the more expensive brands such as Makita, Festool, Dewalt, etc.

It’s very easy to get drawn into spending huge amounts of money on these top brands, for example, a Festool track saw could set you back by $600-1000 on just that alone.

If you know how to use it then it’s a very worthy investment, however, for many beginners it simply won’t be a reasonable investment especially if you end up with buyers remorse.

Here’s our recommendations on the equipment to pickup to get started in furniture creation:

Furniture Creation Kit

Average Startup Cost – $1493

Although furniture creation has the highest overall startup costs of any of the woodworking specializations, it’s also the most profitable in most cases as you can sell large projects such as dining tables for thousands of dollars.

It’s also perhaps one of the most satisfying getting to see a huge projects eventually come together after weeks of toiling which is really great for your mind as it can keep you focused and fit.

Top 6 Woodworking Cost-Saving Tips

Here is a handy list of cost-saving tips that we collated from across the internet and specialist woodworking forums or networks.

This picture shows an example of someone saving money
  1. Bulk Buying – Buying goods in bulk such as wood glue or lumber is a great way to net consistent savings across the course of the year which is especially important if you plan to make woodworking a regular hobby.
  2. Use recycled materials – Using recycled materials such as pallet wood, scaffold boards, or disused wood from local stores can be an important way to cut down costs for your woodworking hobby.
  3. Plan your designs in advance – Before embarking on your latest creation it’s important to make sure you’ve planned it out carefully as otherwise, you could be using excess materials that may not have been wasted otherwise. As they say, measure twice, cut once.
  4. Select your materials with care – Some lumber may have a wide range of imperfections such as knots or cracks which means you have to spend more money optimizing the piece or may even lead to excess waste.
  5. Check local ads – Some people don’t know the value of their furniture when they’re getting rid of it and will often just want it removed to save them time; this is a great opportunity for you to utilize the material for your new projects which can cut down on cost significantly. See the caveat in our next point ***
  6. Machining your material – Not all second-hand furniture or material will be in a perfect state which is why you may need to process it before using it. Investing in machining equipment such as a jack planer to level out lumber is a great way to cut down on the cost of buying perfectly straight or level boards provided you’re happy to put in the time.

Is woodworking profitable?

Not everyone goes into woodworking, or any hobby for that matter, to make a profit but it’s worth mentioning that if you need some extra pocket change then woodworking is one of the best hobbies.

Some of the most exquisite pieces of wooden furniture involve using expensive hardwoods such as oak or walnut that need to be machined to perfection and require lots of weeks of preparation.

This picture shows someone holding lots of money.
Woodworking is a great hobby for making extra money and can even be enough to retire early on if you take it seriously.

Pieces of wood like this can easily range from $300-2000+ upfront but can then sell on for many thousands of dollars and can net you a very health profit, enough to retire early we dare say.

This fact alone should be considered when you weigh up the initial investment against what you’re potentially going to be doing with your work once its finished e.g. selling, keeping, or gifting.


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Conclusion

In conclusion, woodworking has varying levels of expense and depends on the specialization you want to follow. For example, wood carving is the cheapest hobby within woodworking and furniture crafting is usually the most expensive.

Hopefully our guide has given you some useful insight on how to cut costs and what tools you may need to get started with your new found hobby.

It should also have given you an expectation of the amount that you’ll probably need to invest initially to carry out the work you’re wanting to do in a professional and safe manner including some ways on how to give that expert touch.

Depending on if you want to make your hobby profitable then you could consider the upfront investment negligible as you should easily be able to recoup those costs once you start getting better at making wooden objects and furniture.

On reflection, woodworking has a high upfront cost but a low ongoing expense provided you follow some of our best practices and tips such as using recycled or disused materials to get yourself a bargain.

You can even find some great material out in the woods or washed up on the beach that might be perfect for crafting your next masterpiece that doesn’t cost you anything at all.

You should consider cost-cutting as part of the creative process with woodworking as it may require you to get more inventive if you don’t have a lot of cash to spare.