What Do You Guys Sell?

After owing my shapeoko for a little over a year, i made a new years resolution to try and start making a little money with my machine. With the sheer amount of possibilities, I’m sort of at a loss as to what I should narrow in on. My skills are still pretty limited, I don’t have any experience with 3d carving yet. I have made lots of signs/plaques from wood and pvc, small boxes, little ornaments and the like. Just started playing around with epoxy as well. I’m obviously not looking to rip off anyone’s designs or anything, but I was hoping some folks could share the types of things they have made that sell well.

I think the biggest question for yourself is do you want to make a business or just keep it as a hobby?

I already have a full time job so i kept mine as a hobby and do projects here and there, maybe an average of 4 a month. I dont advertise or have an online store like etsy. Just spread word of mouth through friends and family. Mine are more personalized for the buyer so Im not making a lot of volume of the same items. I mostly do signs, flags, and coasters, recently some cribbage boards. Ive made enough money to pay for my machine and thats all i really care about. If i use it once a year or everyday from now on it doesnt matter because its paid for. I let people know it will be done as soon as possible but it may be a few weeks because i dont want to do 2 full time jobs at once.

Thanks for your input! I originally bought my machine to assist with my current small business making alumnuim blanks for hand stamped jewllery. I do use it for that but i find myself cutting aluminum less and less, i just find cutting aluminum kind of fussy. I ve come to enjoy working with wood much more.

I have a small Etsy shop and a Facebook page where I sell mostly cribbage boards. I have a clock up there as well but have only ever sold one locally through my Facebook page. I mostly focused on posting only things I like making and I am kind of glad the clock does not sell well. I don’t really enjoy it. I will also do signs and laser etched coasters locally. I found shipping them is not worth it to me and there are a ton of shops out there selling those already. I focused on posting things that fit into a couple of standard box sizes that I bought and that is it. I don’t want to have to have packaging material for tons of different sizes of things. anything odd I focus on local only. Here is a picture of the items in my shop so far. Make sure if you are wanting to make it a little (or big) business you price it so you cover all your costs. The image shows the price including shipping and even then I don’t really make a lot since I include cards and pegs with each order too.

I am gradually building it out and it keeps me so I don’t lose too much money on my hobby. I get to buy a new tool now and then with the money I make from this. Busy times are around fathers day and Christmas so far. This past Christmas was my busiest so far and I made around 15 cribbage boards in November/December. It is not much really but this is just my hobby.

When I decide on something to post for sale I make sure to design it in a way that is very repeatable. Anything that requires double sided carving usually gets a jig designed right away. I really want to make it as easy as possible for me to design it once and then only have a small part that gets customized with each order. If I get requests for something very customized I will make sure and give an estimated date with plenty of time for me to make it as well as try to design it in way that I can repeat again if I like making it and want to post it for others.

I know there are a lot of other people doing what I do so I went into the sales side of things with a very clear expectation that I won’t make a lot of sales. I have been doing this for almost two years now and really last Christmas was the only time I got really busy and probably spent more time that I had budgeted for in the shop.


If I’m not making cold hard cash the afternoon my machine arrives, my wife is going to kill me. I have some ideas, but plan to start local as well. I really hate sitting at farmers markets though, so we’ll see how long it takes me to get an online presence going.

Thanks for sharing your cribbage boards, they look fantastic! I don’t have all day everyday to spend on my cnc work but can definitely make the time if i come up with a few things that sell well. Ideally small scale items that i can make up pretty quickly and ships easily. I do have a few ideas for larger projects but they would be for local sale only, shipping would be too much of a hassle. Also items that lend themselves well to customer customization I think would be a good idea too.

There are a lot fewer competitors at “farmers markets” than online. The good stuff you sell online will appear on Etsy etc. at one-tenth your sales price. :smiley:

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At the moment nothing with my CNC, but planning to incorporate it into my etsy store in some way if it presents itself.

Trying to make something to make money is an age old question. My advise is to figure out what you want to make and try to sell that. You can do market research but if it is not fun you wont want to do it. There is plenty of bad advise on youtube but some of the videos are pretty good about how to hone in on a market. I have discussed making money as a maker with others. The craft show and other types of markets become a grind because it is circuit. You make products all week, go out of town, buy a table, pay a motel and spend the money on travel and it is boring. So that can work for local stuff but if you have to travel every week or two it will get old. The online is likely the most advantageous because you either stock up things or make it on demand. As others said etsy.com is very competitive but it is basically passive. You set up your store and if it does not work out you do not have a lot invested. etsy collects the money and tax and you ship and get paid. So maybe start with that and try the craft show circuit.

I turn pens and go to gun shows. There was a man that was retired and made nice pens. He had been doing it for a few years but was getting tired of the grind. Selling face to face is not easy. So price your work for what the market will bear but do not discount it just because someone asks. If you cannot sell it then discount it. People in farmers markets and craft shows will usually pay the asking but many will try to get a discount. Stick to your guns.

The old business model of volume over quality. You can sell a lot of volume of low quality or a few of good quality. Both make you about the same in the end. Volume is a lot more work but at markets there is a price point that is an impulse buy. If you are selling $1000.00 pieces there is a very small market for that at those type of events but you never know when a whale comes by and snags an expensive item.

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You are welcome. I am gradually building out a set of products. I don’t have all day either. My orders were all handled evenings and weekends. I have many more years of full time work before I retire. I am lucky that I get to do my full time job from home still though. It allows me the option to apply coats of finish or do small tasks on work breaks. The kids are starting to get much more independent too so that does allow a little more time.

Try making a “free” sign for something like the American Legion and presenting it to one of the officers. OR you could do the same thing for any large business around you although you would need an inside contact for that. OR do a free plaque for a local Teacher.

Just by word getting around those types or organizations you should get some requests for more items and those you charge for. slowly build interest IN YOUR BUSINESS and by word of mouth your customers start recommending YOUR BUSINESS to others for other types of work too.

thats exactly what i like about my etsy store. I promote it here and there on Facebook as its relative to a few of the groups i am in, but otherwise it just hangs out and does its own thing, and somewhat offsets the costs of my 3D printing & now CNC hobby, and helps out a small portion of the car community in the process.

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