for One-of-a-Kind Pieces from woodweb.com
a question that comes up in woodworking: how much do you charge for
something that you make? This discussion provides some insight into
how a few professional woodworkers think about the issue. Here's how
the discussion started. - Editor
recently had a request for a cafe style table. The client purchased a
maple burl slab for the top and I am to make the base. I was just
wondering what some others would charge for a similar piece." -
here are some responses, including breakdowns. - Editor
any project that has labor and materials. Materials are minimal on
this one. Labor -- layout or engineering, the time spent figuring out
how to build it. Then all the millwork steps to prepare the blanks,
cut the shapes, any templates. Then assemble and finish detailing
(putty and sand). Then finishing, plus a PITA factor (pain-in-the-a**
factor) of 25 percent to 30 percent on a quirky job like this. You
will spend around 10 hours building this thing and want to charge
around $1,000.00. Your customer will no doubt think it's too
expensive and find something else." - Stanley S.
8 to 9 hours labor plus materials. What's so hard about taking 10
seconds to give the guy a guesstimate? You spend more time explaining
why you can't make a guess than actually making a guess." -
All depends on your overhead, and how much you want to pay yourself.
Design is certainly interesting. Make sure the slab was dried well. I
would still consider adding some more support under the top to keep
it flat. Remember they probably won't be looking at it while sitting
on the floor, very often." - Mike
original poster did come back with the price he offered the client. -
really appreciate the responses. I ended up charging $1,500 plus. I
consider the table more of a piece of art than a ordinary table. Yet
to hear a response. Will keep posted." - J. K.
prompted a response from another forum member who thought it was
underpriced. - Editor
you guys work cheap. No wonder I'm not getting as many jobs as I was
before, the competition is just trying to keep the doors open. How
about charging a reasonable hourly rate that actually pays overhead.
I built an almost identical piece with a clients slab and charged
$3,500, which didn't seem like enough at the time. Surfacing the
slab, designing the base, finishing both, visiting the client, all in
10 hours, really? Maybe I work really slow, but I doubt it. When we
all start charging what things should actually cost, maybe we will
all be better off." - Bob
the original poster responded to that. - Editor
glad someone is charging more than me. I was really surprised that
some people stated that this design should only take 8 to 10 hours. I
always thought I worked fast. Well, I'm happy to say that the client
gave me the go-ahead and is happy with the price. Maybe this will
encourage others to boost their prices." - J.K.
Style vs. ? from Woodweb.com
this discussion, a customer asked a woodworker to make a "Mission"
style project out of a wood other than quartersawn oak. Is that
heresy, or is it an individual design decision? - Editor
am being asked to build a Mission style sideboard/server and, after
showing my wood samples, the customer has picked ribbon-stripe
mahogany instead of quartersawn oak (although I was pushing the oak).
My concern is it's just not true to the piece. It's going in a place
to be seen by a large number of members. Any thoughts? Suggestions?"
thought that it didn't matter, as long as it was what the customer
wanted. - Editor
worry about it. Build what the customer wants and just take the
'Mission' label off the piece.
You will be building a ribbon
mahogany sideboard in the Mission style.
No one but you will think
twice about it." - Kerry F.
the person that signs the front of the check is in charge. Our
job is to make what they want, the color they want, but the
construction and technical aspects are our job -- that's why they
came to you as a professional."
would follow the others advice and go ahead with the project. I mess
around with different styles of furniture and mix woods that would
not normally be considered correct. It used to get my dander up when
asked to step outside of what I considered proper, but over time I
relaxed my attitude quite a bit, and now I find these types of
projects to be much more enjoyable. I am writing this from my
personal desk that follows the Shaker design, but has legs and rails
made from mahogany and a top that is a salvaged black walnut bar top.
While a pine, oak or different wood would have probably been more
appropriate in my area, this desk is one of my favorite pieces. You
may want to also consider what the new piece will do for your
portfolio when you can show pictures of a furniture piece in
different woods to future customers." - Mitch S.
opinion was "it could have been worse." - Editor
be glad it's not knotty alder! Then you'd really have something to
gripe about..." - Dean
glad that you were not asked to make it in maple and dye/stain it
blue, or other misuse of wood." - Walt T.
want what they want. Serve them, hope the check clears. I turned a
bowl out of elm, and it was gorgeous -- heartwood, sapwood, beautiful
grain and figure. Guy buys it, comes back a week later, wants to know
if I can stain it. I was going to suggest that I use his blood - that
would stain it real good - but instead I was diplomatic and urged him
to really look at what it was (as in, you bought it, idiot, now
ignore what your wife is telling you) and appreciate it for what it
shows of the tree's life. Meh, what are you going to do - make stuff,
earn some money, move along." - D.
still others thought it boiled down to a woodworker's own philosophy
and business plan. - Editor
the old 'sell what you make vs. make what you sell' discussion. If
you want to focus on authentic Mission design, then do not show other
woods or offer to step away from the core activity. You didn't see
George Nakashima doing Federalist tables. If you want to be pure
custom and do whatever, be ready to paint burl veneers, dye maple
blue and worse." - David S.