Wood Furniture Refinishing

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Startup Costs: $2,000 - $10,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

THE BRIEF

You know that lovely washstand you picked up at a rural antiques store years ago? If it’s in need of a tune-up and a refurbished shine, the professional you’ll likely need is a furniture designer and finisher or refinisher. If you’re the fledgling entrepreneur seeking this kind of work, The Balance SMB advises that you’ll first need to be versed in carpentry so you can finish broken furniture pieces or reset broken chair and table legs.

 Then you’ll need to school yourself (or take courses) in stripping away old finish, sanding pieces and applying the new paint or stain. Reupholstering might be needed as well. 

Refinishing furniture -- depending on how far you take it -- Hobbyist? Skilled craftsperson? -- will bring you steady work once you establish a reputation. Income is not particularly high, however: A 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics survey indicates a median annual wage of $48,610. Other down sides are  that the work is solitary and involves chemicals, which in turn might require you to obtain a license from your local authority along with a well-ventilated wood shop.

ASK THE PROS

How much money can you make?

"That’s a tough question; there are so many factors that go into it. I would say in the beginning years if you’re just getting going on your own with no investment, just some savings, I’d say [you’ll earn] $30,000 to $40,000 for a while" -- Jack Garrity, founder and owner, lead designer and fabricator, Sterling and Six custom wood furniture company, Brooklyn, NY. In business for three years. 

What are the startup costs?

"It depends on how you want to go about it. For me, I’m renting space in a shared woodshop, so it lowers my overhead to rent space in a shared area where we’re all sharing costs. To start, to get the tools, to get the security deposit to pay the first few months’ rent and to give myself some freedom and a little bit of investment, I had saved $10,000 --and that went by fast" -- Jack Garrity

What kind of experience do you need?

"I strongly believe in learning by doing, so I came to Brooklyn, I got an apprenticeship essentially over the phone, got in however I could, started building in a shop, and that led to an internship finishing furniture at another shop. Then I became the lead finisher and was always, always building projects on the side. There’re places [offering courses] like Makeville and Bien Hecho at the Navy Yard, a furniture-maker that gives intro woodworking classes" -- Jack Garrity

What is the most important thing to know about this business? 

"You have to love it. And most people that get into it do love it so that’s generally not a problem. You have to care about quality above all else, and that will guide you; passion and quality kind of guide  your whole process, because in part there’s lots of years you’re not making that much money. So that has to be your lifestyle" -- Jack Garrity

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