|Project by WoodHoarder||posted 394 days ago||1066 views||6 times favorited||8 comments|
This is a gate made of clear grade western red cedar. It is a first for me as it was my first non-friend/relative client. It was quite a learning and growing experience for me. If only it were as simple as woodworking.
The Gate went together beautifully, all M&T joints on the frame and T&G on the slats. I bought the wood rough and milled it to my specs. It was very cooperative for once. The mortises were cut on my delta mortiser and the tenions on the table saw. For the curve, I needed to refer to lumber jocks for techniques to obtain a consistent curve. ().
I made a template and routered the final curve with a template bit.
The finish color, type and brand were specified by the customer. It was an acrylic semi-transparent and after the application is when I started losing sleep. I have never worked with acrylic stains despite them being the only thing still legally available in my part of California. (Oil based typically obtained through unconventional means). After the first application the finish turned out too light, after a second coat the finish was blotchy, after the third it was blotchy and tacky. After a couple days of panic, my father in law stepped in to help. We removed the top coat with steel wool and applied a very thin coat using a rag. This resulted in a dark finish with a distressed look. Which I thought looked beautiful.
Upon delivery, the client was happy with the gate but preferred a darker color. The finish was still slightly tacky but I wasn’t too worried as it still was within the 24 hour drying time. The client hung the gate himself and I haven’t heard any further problems.
So the reflection begins. I truly have respect for you who do this as a living. On the business side, I made some errors. The first was estimating the final price. In my excitement to get the job, I ignored some sound advice from my wife in estimating the time involved in a project. She has learned that when I say something will take one hour it ends up taking four. She is correct.
Another mistake is that I quoted the project based on the material prices of knotty cedar. I told the client at some point that I would be using clear cedar. I realized my mistake when it came time to purchase materials. Instead of a $100 material cost, I ended up closer to $300. Being true to my word, I ate the difference and didn’t mention the mistake to the client.
In terms of dealing with clients, I learned some other valuable lessons. The client was self admittedly very picky and very involved. I had illusions on my head of sending progress pictures and keeping the client involved in every step of the process. I learned this is very time consuming as it is hard for a non-wood worker to appreciate the jointery and process. All I got was a client panicking that he hired a woodbutcher who admires a square hole in a piece of wood. Sometimes less is better.
So after all the CAD design revisions, sight visits, reassuring the customer and dealing with difficult finish…I made minimum wage off the job. Still, it was worth it to learn the process and have an appreciation of what it takes to do woodwork for a living.
-- Christ was a carpenter...a fact that humbles and inspires me.