The real cost of business

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Blog entry by sawblade1 posted 06-20-2010 07:08 PM 905 reads 1 time favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hello fellow LJ’s my buddy A1 Jim kinda help set the tone for this blog entry with his topic how much is your woodworking worth ? Well I am writing about the cost of doing business as a wood worker. A wood working business is pretty much the same across the board regardless who started it, most of us dream of getting some form of compensation for our labors and heaven forbid materials but what does it really take for us to make a living off of woodworking. Let’s examine my company a few years back as I was doing this as a hobby I was making portraits of lions, scriptures, and other scroll sawn items. I was profitable but only slightly let me explain one plaque I did that was a popular seller took me 1hr to cut out frame and finish as I got a price of 25.00 for my plaques however closer examination show material cost at around 10.00 for each frame as I figured out to start stack cutting 5 out at a time I was able to bring down labor cost as I could do 5 per hour now you may say wow I like this 125.00 worth of sales in a day !!! now adding in material cost to play of 50.00 – 125.00 = 75.00 WOW I hear you say already but wait add in blades, glue, paint thinner for removing patterns, electricity, shipping for raw material, gas to get frames locally and misc that pops up totaling about 30.00 75.00 – 30.00 = 45.00 per ca pita or gross profit for me to live off of this food, rent, other hobbies or interest etc. I would need to make and sell at least 150 frames per month requiring at least 160 man hours to complete now this is a full time job just to live off of what you make. my shop rate varies and can doing smaller and more manageable projects part time allows me to be profitable and get a better start. take for example the arts and crafts table I am currently working on Google it and you find prices ranging from 198.00 to 575.00 depending on where it was produced it took me about 12 hrs to complete due to hand cutting mortises if I invest in a mortiser and I shave off 2.5 hours and am more accurate so figure it out 10 hrs x 35.00 per hour
(shop rate) + materials 125.00 = 475.00 and you make about roughly 275.00 per ca pita or gross profit now I only need to make and sell 4 tables to live off of my wood working a little harder to market but not impossible.
The other factors and cost are not monetary but read a few of the postings fellow lumber jock Todd Clippinger wrote at American craftsman workshop and you will see how too much work, or getting sick or distracted can affect your life out of the shop, plus if you have thin skinned neighbors are they going to put up with your constant noise, and is your spouse,friends and family with you 100% look at all of these factors before you start chasing the dream? :) As Todd put it you can’t live the dream if you don’t spend time in the shop!!!

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

4 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3600 days

#1 posted 06-20-2010 07:30 PM

A lot of great points. I just says you have to look at woodworking as a business when you want to do woodworking as a living. Another good point is what will your neighbors think about the noise.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Hacksaw007's profile


614 posts in 3212 days

#2 posted 06-20-2010 10:19 PM

Now I am depressed….....sob…....

-- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

View doordude's profile


1085 posts in 3005 days

#3 posted 06-20-2010 10:31 PM

sawblade; now you’re thinking outside the shop; to get a different perspective.if you keep at it you’ll find something that is different enough to make some money and keep your self happy woodworking.this may take some time,
so don’t quit your day job yet.

don’t forget to breathe…

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4122 days

#4 posted 06-21-2010 06:53 AM

Hey man! I just had some time to check out the LJ posts and came across this one.

You are correct in laying out the numbers. Over the years I have tracked my numbers and I know, very accurately, what my annual mileage will be, what my gas & power will cost, and what repairs will average.

All of this has to be figured to understand the monthly operating costs and knowing how much work I really need to do.

Unscheduled surprises like an injury or illness will absolutely wreak havoc on the schedule. This also means lost money.

Thanks for sharing your experience and perspective. I know it will help give insight to a lot of guys.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

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