Make and Sell Trestle Tables & Desks

Today I will be looking at the manufacture of two similar products that are sold to completely different markets: Trestle table and trestle desks.

A trestle table/desk is a table or desk consisting of two or three trestles/trestle support/trestle legs over which a board or tabletop is placed.

This is what a common local  trestle table trestle support/trestle legs looks like (R200 from Takealot):

They can be classified mainly in two families fixed trestle legs and folding trestle legs, the one above is folding (this is important because tables often uses folding legs which are easy to assemble and disassemble and many desk use fixed legs)

Trestle tables
The common local trestle tables (Afrikaans: tafelblad en bokkies / bokkie-tafel) are often used at functions . It is common both indoors and outdoors: in places such as halls or markets, wherever there is a need for cheap tables, tables that can be easily transported or tables that can be easily taken apart and packed away when the event is over, or when the the venue such as a hall needs to be used for another purpose. Trestle tables are also a popular product offered by hiring companies.

Trestle tables are cheap and easy to manufacture. Often both the trestle support and the table top is made of the same wood such as pine. The tabletop is basically a few pieces of wood knocked together. The manufacture of trestle tables does not require a lot of skill. The target market to sell this product to include venue owners, event companies and hiring companies. Or anybody that needs collapsible tables that are easy to assemble and store.

This is basically what a trestle table looks like (usually it’s not as nice as this but you get the idea):

Trestle desks
Trestle desks on the other hand is often marketed as a high-end product. Better quality wood is used and the wood is either treated or painted. It is more time consuming to make than trestle tables and requires more skill, when making trestle tables you can get away with rough edges, but a desk requires better workmanship. The profit margins on a desk is also higher. But the main place to sell a desk is through a retail channel, if you are manufacturing desks you need to get it into a store and as mentioned above you will be held to certain quality standards.  Let’s look at some trestle desks sold locally, essentially your competition if you were to enter this business:

Game – R1299

Mr Price Home – R2300

Simply Home – R2400 – R2600

Trestle South Africa – R2600 – R3400

Coricraft – R7999

The manufacture of these two products is a business to look into if you have some woodworking skills. You can also start it by hiring people to do the manufacture for you if you don’t have skills. But success in both depends on marketing.

Business Model
This is a manufacturing business, the materials are bought from a supplier and the table or desk is made using woodworking tools.

Marketing & Sales Channels
This is what makes or breaks this business, yes quality is important but you need to get your product to market so people can buy it. The most common route is to get into a retail shop. You can also sell via online marketplaces like Takealot, Bidorbuy or even Gumtree. Selling from your own ecommerce website is another option to look at but you may need to spend a bit on advertising for your shop to be known.

Just to deal with some semantics: some places use “trestle table” and “trestle desk” interchangeably. We use it for completely different things:
Trestle table: a table to sit at and to put stuff on
Trestle desk: a desk to work from whether home or office

Image credits: takealot, theweekendedition, game, mr price home, simply home, trestle south africa, coricraft