First real commission as a professional woodworker

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Project by alexsutula posted 01-15-2010 09:28 PM 1953 views 5 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the first real custom commission piece that I made, not for friends or family or friends of family. I got it through an art festival i had a booth in over this past summer. I encourage all woodworkers to participate in something like that, it was an incredible experience.

All solid wood construction, except for the back, made from white oak with a stain mixture of 3 parts red oak to 1 part ebony dye. Finished with 6 coats of wipe-on satin urethane. I am very please with the end result, as was the client. I learned a lot on this first job. For example, I didn’t charge nearly enough. There was a lot of unexpected costs and expenses I didn’t foresee. I learned a lot on the design process and the collaborative of design ideas with the client.

If there is a blog or a support forum for members that have just started or have existing woodworking businesses, could someone post the link? If there isn’t perhaps we should start one. Thanks for looking

-- You can't stand apart unless you're prepared to stand alone. Alex, Cleveland

16 comments so far

View paulcoyne's profile


133 posts in 2210 days

#1 posted 01-15-2010 09:51 PM

that looks great alex i always find pricing one of the hardest parts of making stuff, once again well done looks lovely..

-- thats not a mistake... i ment that

View Mark's profile


27 posts in 2543 days

#2 posted 01-15-2010 10:20 PM

Nice work, i especially like the finish you achieved.

-- Mark, Sydney, Australia

View PG_Zac's profile


366 posts in 2478 days

#3 posted 01-15-2010 10:54 PM

Congrats on your first commission.
It feels great, doesn’t it?

-- I may be schizophrenic, but at least I have each other.

View spud72's profile


323 posts in 2583 days

#4 posted 01-15-2010 11:19 PM

Looking great, You’ll be making more I’m sure.

-- Guy,PEI

View Dusty56's profile


11781 posts in 2777 days

#5 posted 01-15-2010 11:33 PM

Is it a rolling island , or are the wheels a shop dolly ?
Your finish came out nicely. I have some White Oak projects in the works and that is my toughest decision to make …what color do I want them to be when I’m done ?

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View bigike's profile


4047 posts in 2378 days

#6 posted 01-16-2010 12:32 AM

good job, i wish i could get some commissioned work.

-- Ike, Big Daddies Woodshop,

View alexsutula's profile


96 posts in 2143 days

#7 posted 01-16-2010 12:57 AM

Dusty56- it is just a shop dolly so i don’t have to kill myself moving it around my 20’x20’ shop. Personally I prefer a natural finish, but the client wanted it dark. If it were for me I would have tried my hand at fuming it with ammonia, something i have yet to try.

Bigike- search for some craft or art festivals in your area, thats how i got this job and another one coming soon.

-- You can't stand apart unless you're prepared to stand alone. Alex, Cleveland

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13347 posts in 2762 days

#8 posted 01-16-2010 12:58 AM

Nice looking cabinet.

View mfike's profile


100 posts in 2755 days

#9 posted 01-16-2010 01:30 AM

Hey good job, that’s a real nice looking piece. I know exactly what you mean by not charging enough. My first several commissions I underbid by quite a lot. Partly because I didn’t want them to freak out and partly because it’s really hard sometimes to put a number on something that you haven’t done before. I don’t think it’s right to charge customers for the learning curve of trying a new technique or skill. I do however think you should be paid what your worth. There’s a lot of time that goes into a project. There’s a forum here called Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking
It’s in the forums tab at the top of the page.

View Dusty56's profile


11781 posts in 2777 days

#10 posted 01-16-2010 02:00 AM

I usually leave all of my pieces Natural as well , but sometimes you have to “blend” pieces together or a customer might have a color already picked out. Thanks for the feedback , and I’m jealous of the 20’x20’ workspace that you have : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View emetric's profile


158 posts in 2258 days

#11 posted 01-16-2010 02:06 AM

There is an excellent post on pricing your work at put up by the wood whisperer (I am sure you have all heard of him and if not go check it out). By the way great job on your first commision. Be sure to read the comments after the article as well, there is a wealth of info here.

-- "One often meets his destiny on the road he takes to avoid it." Master Oogway

View woody57's profile


647 posts in 2516 days

#12 posted 01-16-2010 04:08 AM

I like your cabinet allot. Good job! The first time I did a piece for money, I lost my shirt. I didn’t charge nearly enough.
What I have discovered is that there is a small number of people willing to pay what it’s worth. Good luck to you.

-- Emmett, from Georgia

View johnnymo's profile


309 posts in 2295 days

#13 posted 01-16-2010 04:14 AM

First commision…awesome!
I hope there are many more to come in your future.

-- John in Arizona (but it's a dry heat!)

View Puupaja's profile


310 posts in 2190 days

#14 posted 01-16-2010 04:37 AM

I agree with you it´s hardest part to charge, it would be ideal just only make things and some other person charge..great job you have done!!


View Jordan's profile


1389 posts in 2214 days

#15 posted 01-16-2010 08:14 AM

Wow, that is certainly something I’d pay for! Very nice color and design.


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