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Forum topic by Don posted 09-13-2015 05:00 PM 1170 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Don's profile


551 posts in 2666 days

09-13-2015 05:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hey folks, a local sink making company owner contacted me to see if I was interested in making multi-wood above sink cutting boards for him. It tweaked my interest and we chatted through email. When I gave him my pricing, he balked and we eventually settled on a price that (kind of) fit both our needs.

I made a prototype and he liked it but I needed to modify it a bit, no biggie. He would like the price lower though. He wants me to investigate how to reduce material cost to “figure out what is the optimal quantity of material we need to order to get the best possible pricing.”

I’m out in the workshop today finishing up the prototype board and the above quoted line keeps ringing in my head. He wants my price lower but I’m betting his price for selling them doesn’t drop. All I can think about is that it’s a lot of work for not a great return for me.

At this point, I feel like emailing him and backing out of the deal, mainly because of the amount of work versus return for me.


-- -- Don in Ottawa,

17 replies so far

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1170 posts in 1137 days

#1 posted 09-13-2015 05:29 PM

I know exactly that feeling from my professional life. It can be quite bothersome if clients are too focused on the bottom line and not enough on quality, process and the joy of doing business together.
If i get that feeling i usualy politely say someting in the lines of “No, that is too cheap and give a quality that i am not comfortable having my name on. I am sure there are other people who are hapy to do business with you. Howewer, if they do not deliver as expected you are more than welcome to contact me again”
Quite often i notice that this gains the clients respect. And some come back later.

Have you done the math what it would cost to have a person sell these products in your name instead?

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View Daruc's profile


459 posts in 557 days

#2 posted 09-13-2015 05:42 PM

Don’t back out, just give him the price you ARE comfortable with and let him make the decision.

-- -

View TheFridge's profile


5683 posts in 910 days

#3 posted 09-13-2015 05:59 PM


-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 655 days

#4 posted 09-13-2015 06:03 PM

Take your current quote (quote = X) and give him the following: X+10%= new quote for dealing with your nit picky butt.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View JAAune's profile


1617 posts in 1741 days

#5 posted 09-13-2015 06:03 PM

Don’t pick on the sink company. They have to make a profit too and the owner probably knows his internal numbers.

Your job is simply to do the same: know your numbers and protect your business interests.

Dealing with wholesale is a much different game than selling direct to customers. 100% markup is not uncommon and most woodworkers aren’t geared up for the wholesale market. Your production process has to be super fast and efficient to pull it off. Accomplishing this will require setting up work cells base upon the product line, creating custom fixtures and setting up dedicated machines.

Either get busy and start overhauling the shop or avoid wholesale. You won’t be of service to yourself or your customers if you accept the work but fail to take the leap.

-- See my work at and

View Don's profile


551 posts in 2666 days

#6 posted 09-13-2015 06:54 PM

I have to ill feelings toward the owner of the company. He’s in the business to make as much money as he can. I have to protect my interest and not give work away. Beyond this, I have to do what makes me happy. Perhaps if I still wasn’t shackled to a full time job, it would be a lot easier to do but right now, this is still hobbyish for me and I can’t devote all my time to just producing cutting boards. He’s better off going to a large company that pays guys minimum wage to feed machines. They can mass produce a lot better than I can.

When I quoted him originally, he balked immediately. He said it was more than what he was going to resell them for. I adjusted my price and it looks like he wants it even lower….can’t do that.

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View JAAune's profile


1617 posts in 1741 days

#7 posted 09-13-2015 07:10 PM

If you’re not doing this full time then I’d definitely recommend that you take a pass on this one. I do a fair amount of it (not cutting boards) and it’s a hefty commitment. Coming home from a day job and having to immediately run to the shop and crank out several dozen items to hit tomorrow’s deadline would be pretty stressful.

Another point is that he plans on selling at a low price. That means his client base is too low-end to be in the market for your products. If you are going to wholesale, I’d suggest looking for people who sell at higher prices than you currently get for your products. Doing otherwise will devalue your own products.

-- See my work at and

View Picklehead's profile


993 posts in 1353 days

#8 posted 09-13-2015 07:20 PM

If you feel this way now, imagine how you’re going to feel halfway through the job when you can’t back out. Your gut is telling you something.

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

View Don's profile


551 posts in 2666 days

#9 posted 09-13-2015 07:46 PM

Well, I followed my gut and sent him an email telling him that I have reconsidered, basically telling him it’s not where I’m at with my ‘hobby’ right now. If I could devote 100% to the ‘hobby’, then it would be different.


-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View robscastle's profile


3324 posts in 1628 days

#10 posted 09-13-2015 08:27 PM


I just finished reading your forum post, and the associated comments.
Without knowing all the facts and figures financally and the qys and dimensions materials wise its hard to make a DIY judgement call on your questions.

I can only assume its the reuse of the cutouts from the bowls to match the sinks.

Emotionally I would have done the same as your final decision,

I know from experience that customers know what they want but unfortunately sometimes have very little idea on the amount of effort required to do what they are thinking about.

Its a bit like decoding a message the customer asks why it takes so long and then when the process is explained they may understand and appreciate the effort

If you are lucky Degoose may PU on the post and add some expert opinion oherwise go check out some of his blogs and work processes for info.

-- Regards Robert

View BurlyBob's profile


3499 posts in 1689 days

#11 posted 09-13-2015 08:44 PM

I think you made the right decision. I’ve done a couple of very small things for folks. I found I put to much pressure on myself to get it perfect and way more time than it was worth. I also found that the enjoyment factor just wasn’t there. I decided that when it no longer a fun hobby and starts being work, I quit.

Now Don, go make something fun.

View Don's profile


551 posts in 2666 days

#12 posted 09-13-2015 09:47 PM

Hey Robert, he wants (wanted) me to make edge grain cutting boards to fit over the sink using mainly exotic woods. Boards would measure 17 1/2” x 12” x 1 1/2” with the bottom recessed to allow it to sit in the sink and the rest of the board to sit over the lip of the sink. I have a formula I use to figure out the price of my boards but of course, when you are dealing with someone who wants to re-sell, they want as low of a price as possible. He can get them made by a company in Vermont cheaper than I can but he wanted to keep it local, if he could. Shipping would be $0 even with the company so shipping isn’t an issue.

I was hesitant when he approached me but figured, edge grain boards, no biggie, if I could get a good price. The price we agreed on still would have put some extra coin in my pocket but him wanting to get the price even lower by getting the wood cheaper bugged me and has been bugging me for a while. I know his bottom line is to get my price lower and keep his higher, it’s business and I get it.

I’m doing a pretty good business (hobby) now, turning people away as it is and the mass production of cutting boards was a path I didn’t want to go down yet. Maybe in 2 – 3 year but not now. It’s tough enough doing the 9-5 thing and still run a biz on the side.

-- -- Don in Ottawa,

View Ghidrah's profile


667 posts in 646 days

#13 posted 09-13-2015 10:23 PM

I’ve similar conflicts in the past with a number of GCs and privates, my MO was you came to me because you know and like my work, We’re on the job every day, we don’t juggle projects to try and keep multiple GCs happy, we don’t cut corners, I build to the print, any error on the job has been due to the architect, you never see my errors because I correct and absorb them and you know the Town BD has no qualms with my work.

What follows is what I’ve said to every GC or private customer that broached the protocol.

This may sound rude or impertinent to you but since you opened the door, this is what I need to make minimum profit, if you aren’t happy with my work you’ll find someone else, GCs always do. Have I ever told you what to charge your customers?

-- I meant to do that!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

21591 posts in 1762 days

#14 posted 09-13-2015 10:59 PM

I will side with Wooddust. Give him your price and let him back out or accept.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Clarkie's profile


380 posts in 1265 days

#15 posted 09-14-2015 01:03 AM

Seeing your post, I would just say, your part is to produce a good product at the price you need to have. If he wants a less expensive price, let him make them, he has no power over your requested price for your work and ability. He needs to find someone who has no experience and who will both build and allow him to set the price. Have fun, make some dust. I have to agree with Bob, if I don’t enjoy my trade I shouldn’t be doing it.

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