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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
hi folks,
this is always a stumbling block for me and id be interested to know if anyone else has the same problem,
say someone asks you to make a piece for them after seeing one of your masterpieces (ha ha).
perhaps a small lamp table,made from say walnut.
ok the raw materials cost you £50.00 ($100 usd).
the project is a one off so you have no templates
you have to go pick up your wood then machine it slightly bigger than your finished sizes and then leave it to acclimatise.
im sure you all know the drill.
when the article is finally finished working at it part time whenever you can, it has maybe taken 20-30 man hours in total.
how on earth can you charge a realistic price for it ?
by realistic i mean
materials - £50.00 $100
labour - [email protected] say £10 ($20) per hour
thats a total of £350 $700
its hard to ask that when its only a small lamp table
i know its a one of a kind but most people i would make for couldnt afford it and can go to a furniture shop and buy a massed produced mdf veneered version for a fraction of the price that as far as they are concerned looks the same.
phew !! did i really write all that ?
looking foward to your comments and advise !!
 

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I usually interject that somewhere in the conversation...that it is a custom piece and they are not mass-produced. After years of struggling with it, I have finally decided to just look 'em square in the eye and say..."That'll be $800"
If I know it took me too long to figure something out, or had to go buy a special router bit, I take all that into consideration.
I hand them the bill and show a total AND a discount. I just tell them I spent too much time on this or that and am passing a discount on to them.
So far, so good.
But, I'm still amazed that someone will hand over $300 for 6 hours cleaning their gutters but $300 is way too much for a fine piece of woodworking you spent 6 days on.
 

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I usually know how long it will take and can figure material on the spot so I give them the total cost right then or maybe go home and do some research and then email them a contract with the total and a description of what they are getting. They then decide if they want it or not. Usually if they are going to a cabinet shop to have something made they know it is going to be high but it will also last forever. Figure that your $700.00 table will last for 80 to 100 years and the closest peice of crap at Wal-mart will only last 15, if taken care of, at $150.00. A reasonable person will realize this and want something that can be handed down to their children and grandchildren and you just can't put a price on that.
 

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I just tell people right up front - it's going to be expensive. My shop rate is $60/hr plus material marked up by 20%. Most small to medium pieces will cost between $650.00 - $2000.00. If you can't afford it, I'm real sorry. I get folks saying that they can get something similar to what they want at Bob's Discount Furniture or HD or some other place that buys mass produced stuff from over seas. But they want it a little different or taller or longer or it needs to fit in this weird space or whatever. Then they can't believe because I need to make it 3" longer it will cost 3-4 times as much. I just can't compete with those prices, so I don't. You need to charge what you need to make your shop work for you. If you don't you'll be doing nothing real soon will lots of bills to pay and no income to pay them with. Just tell them up front that you build high quality "Real Furniture" that will last generations. You will build it as a one of a kind and it will be unique. If they still find the price unreasonable, you don't need the job. Make'm pay what you're worth or let them buy crap at a discount store. My 2¢.:thumbsup:
 

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I find that often the clients who make the biggest fuss over pricing are the ones who can afford the most!

Last year I quoted a client £30.00 ($55.00) an hour for installing some shelving in her home office. She was horrified. I knew that she worked as an 'emotional therapist' from this very office so I asked her what she charged.

'Oh, I charge £45.00 ($80.00) an hour' she replied, completely failing to grasp the irony!

Bearing in mind that she has absolutely no overheads, and that while I am working in her house my workshop is still clocking up bills for rent, local taxes, insurance, etc, etc, the disparity becomes ever larger.

I think it comes down to snobbery. 'Professional' people like lawyers, doctors, accountants etc often seem to think that the likes of you and me who work with our hands deserve less recompense.

BULLSHIT!!

The above experience has changed my attitude completely. I am now totally upfront with my clients and tell them I need to clear £50,000 ($90,000) a year, which is why I have to charge £200 ($370) a day for work whether it's on site or in the shop. I also double up on materials which pays most of my overheads. In theory I also make on the two guys who work for me as I charge them out for a lot more than what I pay them.

In theory...

This makes pricing up a doddle.

Material cost say £100.00 x 2 £200.00

Time 3 man days @ £200.00 £600.00

Total Price £800.00


And guess what - I've never been busier!


It all comes down to whether woodworking is your job or your hobby. I love my job, but it isn't a hobby!
 

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Extreme Birdhouse Builder
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I have always had a hard time putting a price on my work.
I may look expensive but i,m not.
I don,t build anything for the money .

I love what i do and i feel lucky to be able to do it when i can.

Since i get most of my materials free i usually just charge for my time.
Most of the time everything i build is for me anyway. :laughing: :cowboy:
 

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Forgotten but not gone
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It is practically an unavoidable uneasiness that any woodworker, or craftsman of any trade faces when first starting out. You almost feel guilty for charging what it is worth so you "knock some off" but you do this to make YOU feel better about yourself.

You have to get over it.
There is a time period you must endure to establish yourself in your community until you get the reputation of "His work is great but man is he expensive." this is the reputation that you WANT. You have to realize there will always be people willing to pay what you percieve as "high" wages for your work because these people know they are getting what they pay for. You do not want to get swamped with people asking you to build a $700 piece and saying ". . . but can you do it a little cheaper?"

I am in the remodeling business by trade although I do not advertise and haven't for 15 years. I get 3 - 4 calls a year from former clients and referrals from former clients. i have an established reputation of excellent work, high integrity, and premium prices. I don't get calls from tire kickers. But when I get a call it is from someone who already knows they aren't going to get a guy who attempt to compete with the lowball bids. When I do a remodel I am going to make a higher than industry average profit because I do the little things that set me apart from the average Joe who can barely pay his advertising costs.

You have to do the same thing. If you are relying on your woodworking to pay your bills then make sure you have other income until you are established enough that people know when they step foot in 'ol Gary's workshop they aren't going in to haggle, they are going in hoping that you will agree to build their heirloom piece of furniture and they know it will not be cheap, but worth every shekel you ask for it because you are talented, honest, and IN DEMAND! You can do this.

Remeber - good meat ain't cheap and cheap meat ain't good!

I learnt that from someone who paid me a premium to do a major add-on and remodel for him. I still make money off of him because he has sent me at least two ot.her customers that i kjnow of :thumbsup:
 

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Forgotten but not gone
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. . . . I am now totally upfront with my clients and tell them I need to clear £50,000 ($90,000) a year, which is why I have to charge £200 ($370) a day for work whether it's on site or in the shop. . . . .
I tried this strategy at some point when I first got started but it didn't work for me. I seemed to notice that although people will respond positively to it and say "Oh yes I understand yah yah yah ....' most of them i think resent the fact you feel as though you are worth that much, weather or not they make that much or not.
So over the years I developed a different tack when dealing with a new customer if they wish to ask how much I charge or make or that it's too high etc.
Scenario:"Kevin I know this kitchen Island is going to be expensive but I am on a limited budgte. is there a way you can do it a little cheaper that what you normally would"
I have an arsenal of responses to use but here are two.
1) Mrs. TightBudget, I have the same persoanl living expenses as you do plus a little more with kids as you might imagine. I also have the higher additional expenses of running a business. The fact is Mrs. TightBudget, my CPA tells me I need to raise my hourly rate but I am trying to avoid it. That's my serious answer for those who don't have a sense of humor. Here's my answer for clowns like me ...
2) Yes, I can, but I will have to cut corners and compromise on quality to do it which hurts my reputation so I have to charge alot more for this service. :laughing:
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
i hear ya guys !!
im sorta caught in the middle between John in cranbrook and everyone else !!
the reason i gave this thread its title is because i love every minuite i get to spend amongst the shavings. i understand that i cant do it for nothing, but at the same time i now renovate homes for a living and so far so good
i dont have a lot of people asking me to build them furniture, mostly family and friends, but you all know that it can lead to others enquiring
"where did you get that from"
its great to be able to get everyones views, i think i will have to toughen up a bit when it comes to my expenses.
on another note TexasTimbers you are so right in what you say about the price to make YOU feel better.
i was always thinking " that sounds too much" and adjusting a little. NO MORE !! when i see the mess that other so called tradesmen charge a fortune for i work out my price and add a little more for my quality.
no problems so far !!
keep the good advise coming its great !!
remember YOU ONLY GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR !!!!
 

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Hacker of wood
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I think it comes down to snobbery. 'Professional' people like lawyers, doctors, accountants etc often seem to think that the likes of you and me who work with our hands deserve less recompense.
This is a problem I have often come up against. Many so called "professional" people feel that blue collar workers are uneducated and have absolutely no idea of the investment in equipment you have made. I am learning to just walk away from bargain hunters that don't realize many crafts people take numerous classes and bring years of experience to the table. Over the years, I've made some good money repairing new installations where people felt my quote was to high. When this happens, I'm charging by the hour and you know they are getting hit with a knowledge fee.

Tom
 

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I don't think it's a matter of snobbery among doctors and lawyers, but rather a matter of ignorance among new money. I've noticed that those who grow up on several generations of wealth know that custom craftsmanship costs a lot of money, and they expect to pay it. However, the new doctors and lawyers who grew up in a working class environment don't seem to out grow the Walmart mentality. It's not so much snobbery as it is charlatanism. Of course, that's not all inclusive by any means. Some old wealth can be really cheap and there are plenty of new wealth who appreciate fine works of wood, but I'm referring to those who just don't have a clue what things cost.

You mentioned something about they can go to the furniture store and get something off the shelf for so much less. I think a better analogy is that they can go to a custom shop and order the same thing, and it will cost just as much if not a lot more.

One of my customers who is also in the trades (go figure!) told me that he lands on average about 10% of the jobs he bids. I think that's a good average, as the other 90% want a Rolls Royce, cheap. You have to charge what you're worth, even if it means some people won't like you.
 

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Great thread, you guys all nailed it. In the neighborhoods I work in there is a standard in pricing and quality. Above average prices for above average craftsmanship. I don't want to turn this into a racial debate but where I work most hispanic workers have cut the legs off a majority of the blue collar workers in pricing except finish carpentry/woodworking.

We've been able to make an honest living that is compatible with our own rising costs of living, especially here in N.J. My point is, I never got into this to become rich, but I did see that in our area there is a large number of people willing to pay for the "good stuff" no questions asked.

We've all toiled over a price at one time or another but until you are busy enough that losing a job here and there over the price is not a big deal, then you may have to come down a bit.

I can't tell you how many times I've given an estimate on my normal day rate and sat there and thought in my head. "I can't believe how much this came out to" and the customer has said "oh ok, great. When can you start?" " Or "wow, cool, I thought it was going to be a lot more" and that's at four hundred a day...

Stick to your gut. If you know your work is worth the premium than as others have said, a reputation will build and provide.
 

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Great topic, the fact that you are able to take something from concept to completion has value in itself. A lot of people dream of having nice things and are unable to create them. Some people would like to have nice things and are unable to afford them, and more would like nice things and are willing to sacrifice to have them. It is not the woodworker’s job to sacrifice so that others can have nice things. You are the creator of other dreams; you are entitled to fair payment for that ability. And 20 dollars per hour is giving it away in my book.
 

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This is a problem I have often come up against. Many so called "professional" people feel that blue collar workers are uneducated and have absolutely no idea of the investment in equipment you have made. I am learning to just walk away from bargain hunters that don't realize many crafts people take numerous classes and bring years of experience to the table. Over the years, I've made some good money repairing new installations where people felt my quote was to high. When this happens, I'm charging by the hour and you know they are getting hit with a knowledge fee.

Tom
That is called be paid from the neck up for products produced from the neck down.....you need to be charging twice for that abilty. They are getting twice the value.
 

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I guess for me pricing items is pretty simple. If the lumber costs me say $100 dollars then I just price the item at $200. I let people know that my labor is the same as the cost of the lumber. So far no problem. Now if your trying to make a living at this, my method will not work. But if I am not out in my shop doing woodworking then I am working in the yard or fishing. So my times is not really worth $20 dollars an hour.
 

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I do this for a hobbie, but the way I see it for you guy's. A lawyer or doctor spends 8 years or so in school. It takes that long maybe a lot longer to be a skilled craftsman.
 

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Andrew Close
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I guess for me pricing items is pretty simple. If the lumber costs me say $100 dollars then I just price the item at $200. I let people know that my labor is the same as the cost of the lumber. So far no problem. Now if your trying to make a living at this, my method will not work. But if I am not out in my shop doing woodworking then I am working in the yard or fishing. So my times is not really worth $20 dollars an hour.

what if they offer to supply the material? :laughing:
 

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what if they offer to supply the material
:thumbsup:
Same thing - most folks are honest and will tell me what the price was - anyhow I have a pretty good idea - with 20 years in the lumber retail business, anyhow the labor price again goes for the same as the material. Being poor - I sometimes just do it for the same amount of lumber - then I can have lumber on hand for my own projects.
 

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I think everyone needs to be aware that some make a living at wood working and a poor one at that, because so many see no value in the ability. I look at some of the products that are posted and yes….they are not really of value, so small payment is advised, but those that do real nice work and have great ability should not give anything away. I am not dissing anyone here…..please do not misunderstand. But twenty dollars per hours does not even cover the cost of the shop and tools for a person trying to carve out a living….if anyone could do what you do then fine 20 per hour to keep the wife off your back but those that are skilled and really feel the need to put themselves out there…..be smart and treat it like a business rather then a pass time, you will be benefiting both your self and fellow woodworker…
 
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