Pricing and Estimates for Woodwork

Pricing and Estimates for Woodwork

If you’re looking to make the leap from hobbyist to professional, it can be tough to figure out pricing for your woodwork. Not only do you have to account for materials and time, but you need to ensure you aren’t underselling your work and that you still remain competitively priced for the local market.

Valuing Your Work

In a world that favors ready-made, particle board pieces from big box stores that will fall apart in a matter of years, pricing your work and creating estimates is also about reminding people of the value of expertly crafted woodwork. The work you do on custom cabinetry, for example, is unique and built to last. A bookshelf you create will last generations with proper care.

Your pricing can’t compete with big box stores: instead, you’ll be looking to other woodworkers and craftsmen for an idea of the market worth of your creations. Be wary, though: many professional artisans and crafters undervalue their work in a vain attempt to compete with mass manufactured goods. This sets up an expectation in the heads of your clients and customers that your work is cheap or inferior.

Pricing Materials

Everything you work on requires materials — wood, glue, nails, stain, sandpaper and so on. Keep track of how much you pay for materials and how much of them you use on a given project. Factor this figure into your pricing scheme for finished or made-to-order projects.

If you’re working up an estimate for a job, consider highballing your materials estimates: it’s better to have a little leeway in case you need to test a new stain or finish. If you don’t use as much on materials, your clients will be pleasantly surprised by the lower cost of the final job.

Pricing Labor

Pricing your labor is a matter of paying yourself — how much would you expect to make per hour multiplied by how many hours you put in on the job. Add this in to your pricing scheme when figuring out how much to charge for a project. Use your hourly wage multiplied by the estimated hours it’ll take to complete a job when working up an estimate.

The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics cites a median pay of $14.61 per hour for general woodworkers. Depending upon your specialty, how many years you’ve been working, any education, accolades or acclaim you might have and your local market pricing, your work might command more per hour or less.

Factoring in Overhead Costs

Overhead costs are those pesky things that you still have to pay for but can’t class as materials or labor. The electricity it costs to run your saws and sanders, gas to get to and from a job site and rent on your workshop are all examples of overhead costs that your work will have to cover. Consider these items when deciding on prices for finished items.

When working up an estimate, consider adding enough under the cost of labor or materials to cover your overhead costs rather than itemizing them down to the cent for clients.

Pricing Your Woodwork

Pricing your woodwork and creating estimates for clients can be tricky. When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to undervalue your work since you may feel as though your work is in competition with flimsy, mass manufactured items. Look to other woodworkers for an idea of your area’s market pricing, charge enough to cover materials and overhead costs and pay yourself a fair wage, too.

  1. Larry Schweitzer09-22-2018

    Over the years I’ve had several employees go off and start their own woodworking business. None ever succeeded! They always undervalued their work. A prime example of why: After a few years one came back and said he had a good size job he could get but he didn’t have the equipment to do it. He said he’d like to use my shop and would pay me for any materials plus my overhead cost per man. I asked him what he thought my OH costs were, $3 to 4/ hr. That’s why he didn’t have decent tools! He didn’t even have any way of cleanly cutting a veneer panel square. Can’t be done on a table saw, efficiently! Sheet goods don’t come square! I have 3 ways to cut panels accurately. An SCM sliding table saw with scoring, a Schelling beam saw and a 5×10′ Komo router. When that employee quit he said he was tired of me making a profit on his labor! What other possible reason would there be for employing someone? If you can’t show me you are worth more, your odds of getting more than a cost of living raise are slim to none! For what its worth that $14_+ labor rate seems pretty low.

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