How we turned a profit by building a handmade gift

How we turned a profit by building a handmade gift

make money handmade giftI love rustic, farmhouse decor, but I don’t like the price tag on it. I also love updating our house and making it our own, but don’t want to pay a pretty penny to have it done.

This is how Alan and I have developed some mad DIY skills over the years. We wanted to update our last house, so we learned to install flooring, paint baseboards, refinish cabinets, install showers and repair drywall. We wanted a firepit with a circle patio, so we learned how to do that. I wanted a garden fence to keep the critters out. You guessed it – Alan built that too.

A few years ago I saw a picture of a pallet wood wall and fell in love. My dad knew a guy with a whole pile of pallets we could haul away for free. So we loaded up a trailer, brought them home, disassembled and cleaned them (not fun). Here are the results:

We had pallet wood left over and needed a new bed frame for our new mattress, so Alan built that too (he’s the main builder – I do the finishing).

A gift made with love

A few months ago, my 18 year old niece mentioned how much she would love to have a rustic headboard. I thought that would make the perfect graduation gift. But I didn’t know exactly what style she wanted, so we built two. Then she could choose the one she liked. The plan was to sell the one she didn’t want as an experiment to see if we could turn a profit on our work.

Here are the results:

She picked the more rustic, pallet wood headboard.

How we did it

Anna White is a great resource for plans – for about anything you want to build for your home. For this headboard, we used these plans as a starting point and made some minor modifications to them to accommodate the pallet wood and the chevron design.

They came together very quickly. You don’t have to be a skilled craftsman or have a super fancy workshop to build these. If you have a drill, pocket hole jig and saw, you can do it too. An air compressor and pneumatic finish nailer make the job much easier, but they aren’t necessarily required.


For the white and gray headboard, we used all new wood and I stained the wood to look like barnwood. For the gray, I used Varathane Weathered Gray stain first and wiped it off so some of the original wood grain showed through. Then I dry brushed white paint over the top (this takes a very light hand – you can always add more, but you can’t take it off). For the white trim, I painted it white. Then I dipped a rag in the weathered wood stain and dabbed most of it off the rag. With a very light hand, I wiped the rag over the white paint. The color mainly stood out on the wood grain.

For the pallet wood headboard, I left the pallet wood natural and stained the frame (using Provential stain color).

Both were finished with Varathane Interior Water-Based Polyurethane.

A new side hustle?

Total cost to build both headboards was right at $100.

And, we may have found a new side hustle! We sold the gray barnwood headboard on Craigslist for $250. Not bad for just a few hours work. I would guess we put about 4 hours in the one we sold, but that was our first go round on those plans and the staining. If we were to repeat the process and mass produce, it would cut the labor time for each piece significantly.

What do you think? Have you ever built your own furniture? Do you have a side hustle making and selling handmade items?


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42 thoughts on “How we turned a profit by building a handmade gift

  1. Those are beautiful headboards. No wonder you flipped a good profit! I like the wall too.

    We haven’t gone into DIY furniture. The closest I get is knitting stuff for a charity sale. I think the return I earn is about 25 cents an hour after accounting for yarn cost, lol. But I enjoy the knitting, and you can only have so many scarves/hats/mittens.

    1. Thanks, Emily! 🙂 I used to sell crochet items as well, and you’re sooo right, the hourly rate is horrible. So when I crochet, it’s just for the enjoyment as well – plus, I love making hats and scarves to give away.

  2. Wow! What beautiful work! I have seen some pallet craft ideas before, but this looks better than most of the “featured items” I’ve browsed. I think you could have a profitable side hustle in this 🙂

    1. Thanks so much, Mrs. Adventure Rich! 🙂 So kind of you to say.

  3. I have pallet wood coffee and end tables currently – ripping and cleaning up the pallets is not the most enjoyable process. But I love the way it looks when finished.

    Those headboards are awesome! Nice work!

    1. Thanks! Ripping and cleaning the pallet wood is not fun. But, we’ve gotten so much use out of the free wood. We’ve made frames, frame holders, and wall hangings as well. So, I do think the work is worth it. I’d love to see photos of your tables sometime! 🙂

  4. WOW – those are beautiful!! We are so busy DIY’ing things we have to learn to do (since we can’t find contractors) – that we don’t have time to do anything creative. And to be honest, we are just not that creative! We’d be the people buying things from you. If you love doing it, this is a great money maker for you. Can’t wait to see what else you come up with!

    1. Thanks, Vicki! It takes time to learn those new DIY skills, but the more you do them, the faster they become. We’re always a little slow the first time we do something. We’re swamped with home renovations right now too, but as soon as we’re finished with the house, we’re definitely going to try to do more of this.

  5. Wow you guys are so resourceful! I can totally see great demand for it. I would love to have the second headboard. I like the rustic yet modern look of it. 😉

    1. Thanks, Ms. Frugal Asian Finance! 🙂 My preference was the second one as well.

  6. Nice work! Willing to bet you can sell future furniture like that headboard for more than $250! Keep it up!

    1. Thanks so much, Lance! I think if we used a higher quality wood and got a bit more serious about it, we could probably push the price up a little. I wasn’t sure if they were priced right or not, but we got plenty of interest at the $250.

  7. That’s really cool! I am super impressed by your DIY abilities. That is so far beyond anything that I have done to date. Extra cool to be able to turn a profit on it. Congrats!

    1. Thankfully, Alan and I compliment each other’s skills. We both like to design and create projects, but he typically builds and I finish. Though we can each do both, he likes the building and I like the finishing, so it works nicely.

  8. You’re so talented! Mr. P has fixed up a few of my garbage picks that’s we’ve ultimately sold, but not like this! Kudos to you. And what a thoughtful gift.

    1. Awww, you’re too kind, Penny! 🙂 I love the idea of fixing up garbage picks and reselling them! Great idea!

  9. Those look really great! I sold furniture for a while, and there is a big market for rustic furniture! And $250 is a good price. Bring a trailer full to Montana and you’ll pay for your vacation!

    1. Thanks, Ms. Montana! I love rustic furniture – and apparently I’m not alone. Seems to be a trend. Ooooh – I have a trailer…what a fantastic idea!!! I LOVE Montana! 🙂

  10. LOVE, love, love, these Amanda! Well done. You mentioned these headboards in a comment on my site one day and I’m so glad you did a post about them. I’m wrapping up a post of things we’ve done in our kitchen with upcycling of woods and other items, hope to have it out soon. I enjoy coming up with the ideas and my husband does the hard labor 😉

    Beautiful job! Keep it up, sounds like a great side hustle for you guys.

    1. Thank you, thank you, Amy! 🙂 Can’t wait to read the post about your kitchen!!! We are in the process of renovating a rental home, so maybe I can get some ideas for the kitchen from you!

  11. Wow awesome. I have a friend who used wood pallets to build some wall décor, storage for kitchen, and other stuff. These are the times that I wish I were more handy!

    1. Thanks, Andrew! Believe me, we weren’t always handy. But, we discovered we really liked to DIY when we bought our first house 19 years ago. We have built up our skills over several years.

  12. Gorgeous work! My dad’s the carpenter in the family but once we actually have some outdoor space of our own, I’m itching to try my hand at some of this. The first project is sanding and staining our dining room table. We may not want to keep this one, but if it’s properly stained, maybe it’ll sell better on Craigslist? Wish me luck 🙂

    1. Thanks, Revanche! Sanding and staining a table is a great first project. It’ll definitely sell better if it’s freshly stained and finished. Good luck! And I hope to see a post about your project!

  13. Cool project, and nice profit! I love doing projects around the house, it’s an opportunity to pick up new skills. I usually am doing more home renovations, and haven’t done much with furniture except for painting some free pieces to update them 🙂

    1. Thanks, Mr. CK! We are the same way. I don’t think we would like to rent simply because we like to renovate and work on projects. Hey, if you’re going through Iowa anytime soon, I have an entire house (rental) in need of renovation, so you’d be in heaven!?!? 😉

  14. Great job! The wall and both headboards are beautiful, and it’s no wonder you turned a profit on the headboard you sold. I’m not much of a DIY-er, although I wish I were. This is a wonderful side hustle!

    1. Thanks so much, Gary! It’s never too late to start DIYing! You might love it!

  15. Pallets are awesome. My wife has repurposed them for *at least* half a dozen projects. She paneled the inside of our daughter’s cabin with pallet wood. She also made some holders for planters that are on our front porch.
    Both of your headboards are beautiful!

    1. Thanks so much, John! 🙂 I can only imagine what the inside of your daughter’s cabin looks like! Sounds amazing. You just can’t beat that free pallet wood for those types of projects.

  16. I have to admit that I would have probably wanted the white one over the more rustic one. So I probably would have been at your door handing you the $250 before your niece changed her mind 🙂 . That’s awesome that you’re getting a side hustle on especially with how beautiful they look. Can’t wait to see how this works out for you 🙂

    1. Thanks, MSM! 🙂 I liked the white one too. The side hustle is on hold until we get our rental property ready, but then we’re going to dive in and see how it works out!

  17. Your headboards look great! I also would have picked the grey one. Has the beach vibe going on.

    In the past, I had a pretty serious woodworking hobby. Over the years I built many tables, loft beds for my kids, entertainment centers, music boxes (Christmas gifts one year), decks, a shed from absolute scratch, etc.

    I don’t think I could have turned that into a profitable side hustle as I spent way too much time on each project. Everything had to be perfect. People would comment on how great the end product looked, but I would always see the mistake that I made along the way.

    1. Thanks, Mr. Need2Save! It’s awesome that you build your own furniture too! Sounds like you have a knack for it – that’s a ton of projects. I had to let go of the perfectionist in me when we sold the headboard – so I understand what you’re saying. It totally helps to build “rustic” furniture, where imperfections add character. 😉

  18. I can definitely see how you two could make a fun little hobby business out of this – the pictures look awesome! Building and finishing your own furniture is something I hope to get around to trying someday. Once my current obsessions die down, maybe that’ll be the next journey 🙂

    1. Thanks, Chris! 🙂 It is fun – and we both love it. Hopefully we’ll have the time in the fall to try it out a little more. I’m looking forward to your post next week – to see what you have planned…

  19. These are beautiful! Can I have an internship in your shop? Learning to make gorgeous, useful items with my own hands is heaven to me.

    1. Oh, thank you so much! 🙂 Absolutely – you can come anytime and we’ll build away! It’s been a process and we’re both still learning, but it’s something we thoroughly enjoy.

  20. Wow, stunning. Your wall and bed frame are just amazing too! I just want to go up and touch the wall – it looks so smooth. It would be great to see how you decorated the room afterwards.

    I hope that your niece loved the headboard – you guys really outdid yourself by making two for her to choose from.

    I wish Mr DDU and I were naturally inclined to be so handy – maybe one day haha.

    Mrs DDU

    1. Awww, thanks, Mrs. DDU! (Thinking about you and hoping you’re feeling great!) It’s funny, the room with the pallet wall is pretty minimalist – so not much decor beyond the wall and some furniture. The room is used mostly by teenagers and they don’t care too much about decor. But I do like that the wall makes the room a little more unique.

      We didn’t really start learning to DIY until after we bought a house and I quit my job to stay home – it was a necessity to start learning some DIY skills then. But then we discovered we enjoy it, so it’s been a win-win.

  21. Very nice! I once had dreams of being an upcycler, but then my skill set let me down. Such an impressive flip.

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