What is the average profit margin for a cabinet shop?

Being a former owner of a cabinet shop, I must tell you that margin is only one measure of profitability, as there are capital investments in materials and machinery that span years, not to mention specialized tooling and skilled labor.

The cabinet/woodworking business is tough, as you compete with mass produced items that sell for much less than anything you could produce.

The key is having a niche market, or a “rent payer” product that you manufacture for a client on a continual basis. I had a florist supply that I made little mirrored boxes for; many times it paid the rent.

Alan Chenkin Fabricating Teak Countertop for Custom Kitchen.
Alan Chenkin Fabricating Teak Countertop for Custom Kitchen. Note the alternating Teak and Willow woods to resemble the deck of a ship.

You also have to know your business; computerized cutting programs save money and increase yield. Batching orders can reduce or optimize milling costs, and buying equipment at wholesale auctions can reduce your cost of capital equipment. Shops are always selling their surplus equipment, and a good deal equals money in your pocket. Saving 10% on materials by buying in bulk (i.e.; buying a skid of 40 sheets of plywood vs. the 20 you need), you know you will use the inventory – this can put 10% back in your pocket. My shop had a standing “inventory” of Plywood and lumber, usually bought at discount.

My thought on the matter is that cabinet shops have 3% to 10% profitability, depending on their market and flexibility in lean times. And lean times can be seasonal, especially if you build cabinets for the housing markets or remodeling.

I often miss my shop, but not having the rent/equipment lease/payroll/saw sharpener/dumpster costs helps me sleep at night.

Welcome to the Chenkin Workshop!

Dad's Table Saw

Woodworking is a craft that is non-exclusive, and inclusive; almost everyone can do it!

My father was a woodworker, a mechanic, and a teacher.

I was blessed to have access to his creative side, and his ability to make all sorts of items, from tables and toys to additions on houses.  He shared his advice and skills, and was always open to building something in our basement workshop at home, or at his “Industrial Arts” workshop at Thomas Edison High School, in Jamaica, Queens, New York City.


When I started a career in Woodworking and Cabinetry, and opened my first workshop, my Dad was there for me.  Almost every Saturday he came by, with a project or two, and suggestions on how to improve the flow or make a better product.

I am carrying on in his tradition.  My son, a career Firefighter and Paramedic, has a great set of tools and fearlessly will tackle projects – calling me for advice and suggestions on how to build a model, or showing off the latest work in his apartment.  His son is now calling on Grandpa (Me!) to build his Desk, the hutch on top of it, and a footlocker for special GI Joe toy soldiers.  This is an honor and a calling to carry on the tradition, and see how my children are capable to build, create, and feel proud that they have furniture that will outlast their use and hopefully be used by their children.

I am proud that my daughter calls on me whenever she has to do something – and knows that Dad “has her back”, whenever tools and fixing things are involved!

Oak and Pine desk built for my Grandson

This Blog is part of the story – you can see projects in work;  answers to woodworking questions (from my family and friends, and from the Quora.com community).  I am a most-viewed author on the Quora website, and freely share my knowledge and approach to woodworking.

Feel free to read on, both here and on The Chenkin Report (My original blog).  I also appreciate any comments or questions, and will answer as my schedule allows.
Having a blog means I can publish more links to products and sources, so you can see products on Amazon and Ebay as well as my writing.
Thank you for reading, for learning a bit about woodworking, and joining me on the journey to understand, build, and create with wood.
With appreciation,
Founder of MPA Woodworking, Farmingdale, NY (1980-1999)
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Over One Million Views on Quora.com
Free lance Carpenter for hire, Photographer, “Mr. Fixit”

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