Right time to ask for a deposit?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Sweating for Bucks Through Woodworking forum

Forum topic by Brian posted 09-08-2009 10:45 PM 1574 views 1 time favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Brian's profile


79 posts in 3711 days

09-08-2009 10:45 PM

If a client accepts that their project will take minimum 3-4 months for delivery and I wouldn’t be actually making the piece for 3 months or so due to current orders, should I ask for a deposit now?
I wouldn’t be buying any materials for 3 months either.
TIA for any and all replies.


15 replies so far

View DaytonB's profile


154 posts in 3866 days

#1 posted 09-08-2009 10:56 PM

I get at least 10% or $250 down. Then request the remainder or at least an additional 75% when you start work on the piece with the remaining 15% on delivery.

It helps to be up-front and specific about the “rules” and people will seldom have a problem with you or them.

Good job Brian, keep it up

take care


View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1305 posts in 3773 days

#2 posted 09-08-2009 11:47 PM

We collect a 50% deposit to put them on the schedule regardless of the time factor. The second 50% on delivery.

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3585 days

#3 posted 09-08-2009 11:52 PM

I agree please don’t allow any ambiguity to develope, or come, into this it will only cause problems with misunderstandings later on.Just be firm but polite and set out your stall right away keeps both you and the customer on the right and same footing good luck. As for deposit whatever you think is fair and agreeable do so in writing have a contract drawn up keep it simple.let them know that if the don’t pay the final or any part of the payment the property remains and becomes legally yours and is resellable without refunds. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View mmh's profile


3676 posts in 3722 days

#4 posted 09-09-2009 12:17 AM

I also agree with the 50% down upon order, as it solidfies the contract. If they are serious they will not mind. If you go to a store, they have you pay 100% up front. Unless you have an ongoing demand for your work and you know that it will readily sell to the next person in line you need to protect yourself from “Looky-Lews” as your time is money too.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View GFYS's profile


711 posts in 3470 days

#5 posted 09-10-2009 03:57 AM

a deposit is to secure your clients spot on your calender.

View kolwdwrkr's profile


2821 posts in 3590 days

#6 posted 09-10-2009 05:59 AM

geeze, I wish I was back logged for 3 months. LOL. I’m glad you’re busy

-- ~ Inspiring those who inspire me ~

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 3875 days

#7 posted 09-10-2009 06:40 AM

On custom furniture I ask for a 50% deposit to sheadule their item into production.
On cabinet work I ask for 30% deposit to scheadule into production, then 30% when the cabinets are ready and then the balance after I install them.
I use to just trust clients on their word, but after having two of them back out after materials were purchased and construction started, I changed policy’s.

Are you back logged making rocking chairs ??

View doyoulikegumwood's profile


384 posts in 3992 days

#8 posted 09-10-2009 06:50 AM

i would also look into your state laws i know here in Minnesota on a cabinet order i can’t ask for more then materials up front because it is considered construction but on a commissioned piece its all up to me because it then art work

-- I buy tools so i can make more money,so ican buy more tools so I can work more, to make more money, so I can buy more tool, so I can work more

View Brian's profile


79 posts in 3711 days

#9 posted 09-10-2009 12:01 PM

Dave>>Not backlogged on rockers. It’s other custom work.
I like the 10% down idea and then upon getting ready to do the actual work get 50%.
Thanks for all the replies.


View bruc101's profile


1200 posts in 3541 days

#10 posted 09-12-2009 06:24 PM

Due to the down turn in the housing industry and getting hung out to dry on a couple of kitchen cabinet jobs we now not only get 50% down as usual but upon inspection in my shop upon completion we get another 40% down and the remaining 10% after installation. So far no one has bucked us on this and if they did and I didn’t know them then I would advise them to go to another shop.
On furniture I get a 50% deposit and the remainder when completed before delivery or shipping.
I recently had a lady tell me she thought she could get her cabinetry about 1/2 price due to cabinet shops not having any work and so many of them having to close. I asked her where did she buy her groceries for 1/2 price…we needed to shop there also….out the door she went.
Get paid for your craftsmanship and the hours you spent designing and doing the build. You’ll not stay in business very long if you don’t.


-- Bruce Free Plans

View BeeJay's profile


71 posts in 3187 days

#11 posted 09-14-2009 12:14 PM

Yeah, sometimes its hard to ask, but lets face it. Its their piece they ordered and your time. If they back out you don’t lose on material costs if they cover at least the wood. Personally I work out the total cost and ask for 50% every time When the piece is ready for finishing(in particular a stained piece) I ask for another 20% before staining and finishing. That way you are pretty much covered if they don’t cough up, leaves it open for a finish to suit someone else.

-- If you try to fail and succeed, what have you done?

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3285 days

#12 posted 09-18-2009 03:07 AM

Brian, Over the years I’ve struggled with your delima, but what seems to work for me is I get a 40% deposit to schedule and lock in the order (no matter what my lead time is). 40% draw at preview ( when it’s built and ready to be finished). Sometimes this is a great time for the client to come by and see their project and we can make any final decisions, like finishing, etc. The 20% balance when delivered. I used to do the 50/50 payment, but I don’t like having that much of my money held to the very end. I always have my terms printed on my proposal so it’s clear for the client and I’ve never had a problem. One other item I’ve done on my proposal since everything I do is custom; I put on my proposal that all deposits are non-refundable.

-- John @

View okwoodshop's profile


448 posts in 3174 days

#13 posted 09-18-2009 04:13 AM

there are alot of people who are under the impression that if you build something out of your home workshop it should be cheaper than getting it from a big old factory with lots of workers, A lady asked me to build an entertainment center she had a picture of from a magazine, the ad said wood products and assembly required(china) she wanted it made out of solid wood, delivered and setup and cheaper than the magazine price. I handed her the ad back and walked away without a word. Get your deposit and you will sleep better.

View WhittleMeThis's profile


125 posts in 3372 days

#14 posted 11-14-2009 06:51 AM

50% to hold their place in line.

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3893 days

#15 posted 11-14-2009 05:36 PM


As a rule I take 50% down, balance on completion.

If its a big project where I have do design work I take a retainer, anywhere between 5 and 10 thousand, non refundable but if the job proceeds, I draw off that retainer for my design time, my research time, my travel time, any consulting, sub-contracting time. If there is anything left its applied to the construction contract. Another way is to charge 10% on all sub contracting and they pay the sub directly.

Small projects, in the design phase I bill out at 85 an hour.

If its just an installation I bill out at 500 a day per man, paid upfront.

Sometimes I take 10% down and take draws as the project progresses based on what percentage is complete.

One thing for sure is that I never leave myself in a finacial position where “I” would owe a supplier or worker money for “their” project. Been there, done that. To date I have been stuck with some ones else bills in excess of 200,000…..............and touch wood, that will never happen again.

A lot of shops charge 50 down, 40 on delivery, 10 % on satisfactory completion.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics