How to Start a Cabinet Making Business
Almost every building with a kitchen or bathroom has cabinets, which are made by cabinet making businesses.
With new buildings constantly being constructed and existing ones regularly being remodeled, there is a strong and steady demand for these businesses. According to IBISWorld, the cabinet and manufacturing industry has been growing at 5.2 percent annually over the past five years and brings in more than $16 billion each year in revenue.
Learn how to start your own Cabinet Making Business and whether it is the right fit for you.
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Start a cabinet making business by following these 10 steps:
- Plan your Cabinet Making Business
- Form your Cabinet Making Business into a Legal Entity
- Register your Cabinet Making Business for Taxes
- Open a Business Bank Account & Credit Card
- Set up Accounting for your Cabinet Making Business
- Get the Necessary Permits & Licenses for your Cabinet Making Business
- Get Cabinet Making Business Insurance
- Define your Cabinet Making Business Brand
- Create your Cabinet Making Business Website
- Set up your Business Phone System
We have put together this simple guide to starting your cabinet making business. These steps will ensure that your new business is well planned out, registered properly and legally compliant.
Exploring your options? Check out other small business ideas.
STEP 1: Plan your business
A clear plan is essential for success as an entrepreneur. It will help you map out the specifics of your business and discover some unknowns. A few important topics to consider are:
- What will you name your business?
- What are the startup and ongoing costs?
- Who is your target market?
- How much can you charge customers?
Luckily we have done a lot of this research for you.
What will you name your business?
Choosing the right name is important and challenging. If you don’t already have a name in mind, visit our How to Name a Business guide or get help brainstorming a name with our Cabinet Making Business Name Generator
If you operate a sole proprietorship, you might want to operate under a business name other than your own name. Visit our DBA guide to learn more.
When registering a business name, we recommend researching your business name by checking:
- Your state's business records
- Federal and state trademark records
- Social media platforms
- Web domain availability.
It's very important to secure your domain name before someone else does.
What are the costs involved in opening a cabinet making business?
The startup costs for a cabinet making business range from about $2,000 to $10,000. Where in this range a particular new business’ expenses fall depends partly on what type of woodworking shop and tools a business owner already has. The expenses go toward:
- A workshop
- A truck
Business owners who have limited funds available can keep costs minimal by purchasing the essential tools used rather than new. A two-car garage can also suffice as a workshop at first, and a truck can be rented to deliver cabinets when they’re ready.
What are the ongoing expenses for a cabinet making business?
The ongoing expenses for a cabinet making business are manageable. They include the cost of materials, paying for a workshop, vehicle expenses, employee wages, and equipment depreciation.
Who is the target market?
The target market for a cabinet making business is largely contractors, home builders, interior designers, and architects. Although property owners are the people who ultimately pay for cabinets, these professionals are the gateways to property owners. Property owners will ask for recommendations, and many will use the cabinet maker that their contractor, builder, interior designer or architect recommends.
How does a cabinet making business make money?
A cabinet making business makes money by selling finished cabinets. Cabinets might be sold individually, or a set fee may be charged for a project.
How much can you charge customers?
Cabinet prices are often discussed in terms of linear foot:
- Stock cabinets cost between $60 and $200 per foot
- Semi-custom cabinets cost between $100 and $650 per foot
- Custom cabinets cost between $500 and $1,200 per foot
Most cabinet makers end up earning between $40 and $70 per hour, and the cost of cabinets tends to be about 30 percent of a the total price to remodel a kitchen.
How much profit can a cabinet making business make?
A cabinet making business can earn a significant profit. Making five cabinets per day, a custom cabinet business could bring in between $2,500 and $6,000 daily. Making 2,000 stock cabinets per day, a large company might earn between $12,000 and $24,000 per day.
How can you make your business more profitable?
Many cabinet makers also make vanities and offer cabinet refinishing. Some business owners also get into countertops and/or furniture.
STEP 2: Form a legal entity
The most common business structure types are the sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company (LLC), and corporation.
Establishing a legal business entity such as an LLC or corporation protects you from being held personally liable if your cabinet making business is sued.
Form Your LLC
Read our Guide to Form Your Own LLC
You can form an LLC yourself and pay only the minimal state LLC costs or hire one of the Best LLC Services for a small, additional fee.
Recommended: You will need to elect a registered agent for your LLC. LLC formation packages usually include a free year of registered agent services. You can choose to hire a registered agent or act as your own.
STEP 3: Register for taxes
You will need to register for a variety of state and federal taxes before you can open for business.
In order to register for taxes you will need to apply for an EIN. It's really easy and free!
You can acquire your EIN through the IRS website. If you would like to learn more about EINs, read our article, What is an EIN?
There are specific state taxes that might apply to your business. Learn more about state sales tax and franchise taxes in our state sales tax guides.
STEP 4: Open a business bank account & credit card
Using dedicated business banking and credit accounts is essential for personal asset protection.
When your personal and business accounts are mixed, your personal assets (your home, car, and other valuables) are at risk in the event your business is sued. In business law, this is referred to as piercing your corporate veil.
Open a business bank account
Besides being a requirement when applying for business loans, opening a business bank account:
- Separates your personal assets from your company's assets, which is necessary for personal asset protection.
- Makes accounting and tax filing easier.
Recommended: Read our Best Banks for Small Business review to find the best national bank or credit union.
Get a business credit card
Getting a business credit card helps you:
- Separate personal and business expenses by putting your business' expenses all in one place.
- Build your company's credit history, which can be useful to raise money later on.
Recommended: Apply for an easy approval business credit card from Divvy and build your business credit quickly.
STEP 5: Set up business accounting
Recording your various expenses and sources of income is critical to understanding the financial performance of your business. Keeping accurate and detailed accounts also greatly simplifies your annual tax filing.
Make LLC accounting easy with our LLC Expenses Cheat Sheet.
STEP 6: Obtain necessary permits and licenses
Failure to acquire necessary permits and licenses can result in hefty fines, or even cause your business to be shut down.
State & Local Business Licensing Requirements
Certain state permits and licenses may be needed to operate a cabinet making business. Learn more about licensing requirements in your state by visiting SBA’s reference to state licenses and permits.
Most businesses are required to collect sales tax on the goods or services they provide. To learn more about how sales tax will affect your business, read our article, Sales Tax for Small Businesses.
Certificate of Occupancy
A cabinet making business is generally run out of a workshop. Businesses operating out of a physical location typically require a Certificate of Occupancy (CO). A CO confirms that all building codes, zoning laws and government regulations have been met.
- If you plan to lease a location:
- It is generally the landlord’s responsibility to obtain a CO.
- Before leasing, confirm that your landlord has or can obtain a valid CO that is applicable to a cabinet making business.
- After a major renovation, a new CO often needs to be issued. If your place of business will be renovated before opening, it is recommended to include language in your lease agreement stating that lease payments will not commence until a valid CO is issued.
- If you plan to purchase or build a location:
- You will be responsible for obtaining a valid CO from a local government authority.
- Review all building codes and zoning requirements for your business’ location to ensure your cabinet making business will be in compliance and able to obtain a CO.
Labor Safety Requirements
Cabinet making and installation involves the use of tools that can be dangerous if used incorrectly. Therefore, it is important that your business follows all labor safety requirements which can be found here.
STEP 7: Get business insurance
Just as with licenses and permits, your business needs insurance in order to operate safely and lawfully. Business Insurance protects your company’s financial wellbeing in the event of a covered loss.
There are several types of insurance policies created for different types of businesses with different risks. If you’re unsure of the types of risks that your business may face, begin with General Liability Insurance. This is the most common coverage that small businesses need, so it’s a great place to start for your business.
Another notable insurance policy that many businesses need is Workers’ Compensation Insurance. If your business will have employees, it’s a good chance that your state will require you to carry Workers' Compensation Coverage.
FInd out what types of insurance your Cabinet Making Business needs and how much it will cost you by reading our guide Business Insurance for Cabinet Making Business.
STEP 8: Define your brand
Your brand is what your company stands for, as well as how your business is perceived by the public. A strong brand will help your business stand out from competitors.
If you aren't feeling confident about designing your small business logo, then check out our Design Guides for Beginners, we'll give you helpful tips and advice for creating the best unique logo for your business.
Recommended: Get a logo using Truic's free logo Generator no email or sign up required, or use a Premium Logo Maker.
If you already have a logo, you can also add it to a QR code with our Free QR Code Generator. Choose from 13 QR code types to create a code for your business cards and publications, or to help spread awareness for your new website.
How to promote & market a cabinet making business
Aside from giving cabinets away for free, the best way a cabinet making business can market is by networking with other professionals in the industry. Meeting people in-person, explaining what a particular cabinet making business offers, and providing referrals or examples will eventually lead to relationships that provide work.
How to keep customers coming back
As long as a cabinet making business provides quality cabinets on time and on budget, professionals will continue to recommend the business. Contractors and other professionals have little reason to risk their reputation on an unknown competitor when they already have a good relationship with a cabinet maker.
STEP 9: Create your business website
After defining your brand and creating your logo the next step is to create a website for your business.
While creating a website is an essential step, some may fear that it’s out of their reach because they don’t have any website-building experience. While this may have been a reasonable fear back in 2015, web technology has seen huge advancements in the past few years that makes the lives of small business owners much simpler.
Here are the main reasons why you shouldn’t delay building your website:
- All legitimate businesses have websites - full stop. The size or industry of your business does not matter when it comes to getting your business online.
- Social media accounts like Facebook pages or LinkedIn business profiles are not a replacement for a business website that you own.
- Website builder tools like the GoDaddy Website Builder have made creating a basic website extremely simple. You don’t need to hire a web developer or designer to create a website that you can be proud of.
Recommended: Get started today using our recommended website builder or check out our review of the Best Website Builders.
Other popular website builders are: WordPress, WIX, Weebly, Squarespace, and Shopify.
STEP 10: Set up your business phone system
Getting a phone set up for your business is one of the best ways to help keep your personal life and business life separate and private. That’s not the only benefit; it also helps you make your business more automated, gives your business legitimacy, and makes it easier for potential customers to find and contact you.
There are many services available to entrepreneurs who want to set up a business phone system. We’ve reviewed the top companies and rated them based on price, features, and ease of use. Check out our review of the Best Business Phone Systems 2023 to find the best phone service for your small business.
Recommended Business Phone Service: Phone.com
Phone.com is our top choice for small business phone numbers because of all the features it offers for small businesses and it's fair pricing.
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Is this Business Right For You?
Anyone who enjoys woodworking and has an eye for detail may enjoy running a cabinet making business. Making cabinets involves working hands-on with wood, but all measurements and cuts must be precise.
Want to know if you are cut out to be an entrepreneur?
Take our Entrepreneurship Quiz to find out!
What happens during a typical day at a cabinet making business?
Cabinet making business owners spend a lot of time making cabinets, which involves measuring, cutting, fastening, and gluing. When not actually building cabinets, business owners may be designing cabinets with customers, or delivering and installing finished cabinets.
What are some skills and experiences that will help you build a successful cabinet making business?
Business owners must be skilled woodworkers, and they specifically need experience building cabinetry. Prospective owners who don’t have this experience may learn the necessary skills by:
- Working for an existing cabinet business
- Completing an apprenticeship with an experienced cabinet maker
- Taking cabinet-making classes at a local community college or vocational school
- Enrolling in online cabinet-making courses
- Reading books on cabinet making
Penn Foster offers a diploma in cabinet and furniture making, and the Woodworkers Guild of America has many videos on cabinet making. Jim Tolpin’s Guide to Becoming a Professional Cabinetmaker is one of the most highly recommended books on the subject, and he has also written Building Traditional Kitchen Cabinets.
What is the growth potential for a cabinet making business?
How large a cabinet making business can become depends partly on what type of cabinets the business makes.
Businesses that specialize in custom cabinetry usually remain small and serve a defined geographic area. They might build 5 cabinets in a day.
Businesses that offer stock cabinets can ship finished units throughout the country. They may manufacture 2,000 cabinets in a factory each day.
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Take the Next Step
Find a business mentor
One of the greatest resources an entrepreneur can have is quality mentorship. As you start planning your business, connect with a free business resource near you to get the help you need.
Having a support network in place to turn to during tough times is a major factor of success for new business owners.
Learn from other business owners
Want to learn more about starting a business from entrepreneurs themselves? Visit Startup Savant’s startup founder series to gain entrepreneurial insights, lessons, and advice from founders themselves.
Resources to Help Women in Business
There are many resources out there specifically for women entrepreneurs. We’ve gathered necessary and useful information to help you succeed both professionally and personally:
If you’re a woman looking for some guidance in entrepreneurship, check out this great new series Women in Business created by the women of our partner Startup Savant.
What are some insider tips for jump starting a cabinet making business?
Contractors can provide regular work for cabinet making businesses, but few contractors are willing to subcontract with a new company.
One way business owners can get contractors’ attention is by offering to put in cabinets for free on a project. Offering a free set of cabinets lets the contractor pocket more profit or charge less to the property owner. This may just be enough of an incentive to convince a contractor to work with a new business.
While many business owners may not want to give away so much for free, getting a contractor to trust a business can provide a great long-term return on the initial investment of materials and labor.
How and when to build a team
A cabinet making business can be run as a one-person operation, but many businesses bring on one or two employees. In addition to any employees who help in the workshop, a business also needs someone experienced in cabinet installation. The most beautifully built cabinets won’t look right if they’re installed improperly, which is why having a skilled installer is so important.