9 min 46 sec

HVAC Craftsman Carves Out Woodworking Income

This heating and air company sales rep had all but given up on his childhood love of woodworking. But after a six-year break and a random Instagram post, he found his interest rekindling.
Arts & Crafts Product Retail Social Media

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What It's About

A side hustle that clears the chopping block.

Business Model
Skills Required
Woodworking & Design
Profit Potential

Words of Wisdom

James says it's important to not let your ego get caught up in your business. Be willing to change and move with the market. He says that ultimately it's your customer’s demand which will decide if your work is worth paying for. So give the people what they want!

Fun Fact

While working in a cabinet shop, James lived at home to save money to buy portable woodworking tools he could take from workshop to workshop.

Notes from Chris

Episode 787

James Barrett found his life’s calling while still in high school. He took a woodworking class at the Junior College next door to his school and instantly fell in love with the process. He enjoyed shaping and bending wood, learning how to create a beautiful finish, and talking with the other members of the community who came to use the facilities.

But, most importantly, he loved building things that last.

Keeping this passion in mind, James left school and went straight into the world of work. He took a job at a cabinet shop in the Bay Area so he could spend his time rubbing shoulders with professional craftsmen. He started off as a lowly apprentice, cleaning glue off the machinery and sweeping the floors, but slowly began to work his way up the ladder. The more responsibility he gained, the more he learned about craftsmanship and the inner workings of a small business.

James’s life eventually took him in a different direction away from his woodworking passion. He took five or six years to travel the country and live in different places before eventually settling in Boise, Idaho and beginning a job in sales for a heating and air company.

Once settled, James felt he had a woodworking itch he needed to chip at, and offered to make pieces of furniture for his friends they ever needed it. He didn’t have any desire to turn this into a business, he just wanted to make pieces that would delight his friends and family for years to come. And, it wasn’t long until he found himself inundated with offers and spending his evenings and weekends in his garage that was now a workshop.

James noticed something funny happened every time he created something for a friend. When they came to collect their furniture they’d ask questions like, “How much do I owe you for this?”, or “Why are you making these for free? They’re good enough to sell!” After enough people had said this to him, James seriously began thinking about turning this passion project into a business.

James and his wife decided on the name of Mahogany House Woodworks, because, well ... it just seemed logical and simple! Also, they had to decide right then.

Due to that time-intensive nature of woodworking, and the fact James was still working full-time, he made the decision early on that he wouldn’t do all of the work. He didn’t want the business’s growth to be limited by the amount he could create each month, so James hired a part-time woodworker from the local community to work with him around 15 hours a week on projects. James also works around 15 hours a week on running and growing the business.

By dividing his products into laser-focused categories, and splitting the workload, he’s able to generate around $1,500 per month in profit.

At some point, he wants to work more on larger pieces, and expand into a larger workspace. But for now, he’s just happy creating things that last for his customers all over the country.



Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,


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Quote of the Day
"Many new side hustlers undervalue themselves or their work when they’re really offering much more to the marketplace than they think."
—James Barrett #SideHustleSchool

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