Cost to make a top??

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Forum topic by SAV posted 11-21-2015 04:08 AM 738 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 918 days

11-21-2015 04:08 AM

Good morning! I am new to making bigger things in my shop and I have someone who has oak lumber and wants me to make him a table top that is 4’ long x 28” wide x 3” thick. So basically I will be surfacing all sides and edges, gluing up and sanding and adding a walnut border around the whole thing. So after the walnut cost , what is a good estimate cost for labor??

5 replies so far

View Woodknack's profile


11619 posts in 2377 days

#1 posted 11-21-2015 05:14 AM

View jerryminer's profile


923 posts in 1438 days

#2 posted 11-21-2015 08:40 AM

Labor cost aside for a moment—- when you say ”adding a walnut border around the whole thing” are you talking about adding a lengthwise piece of walnut across the end of the table top?? Bad design situation, practically guaranteed to cause a split or three in the table top.

Is this your first table, I’m guessing? Better re-think the design, then assess labor cost.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View SAV's profile


5 posts in 918 days

#3 posted 11-21-2015 10:54 AM

Thanks rick!
And to you too Jerry. No border it is.

View rwe2156's profile


2925 posts in 1478 days

#4 posted 11-21-2015 12:17 PM

What you charge is impossible for anyone to tell you.

You generally don’t charge by the hour for ww’ing you charge by the job.

I agree he is looking for a problem with the edging.
Explain to him why it is going to be a problem.

A breadboard type cap on the endgrain is one possible solution to movement, but how will you join the corners?

I suggest you work out the edging details and explain the issues before you start.

Just agree to a price with him before hand.

If you run into issues, your $/hr will drop, but that’s the nature of pay by the job.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2511 days

#5 posted 11-21-2015 12:28 PM

For me, being semi-retired and now paying my bills from the shop, just folding money – $20 an hour is good enough, plus 10% for shop expenses, (electricity, taxes, licenses, insurance). Then I add the total cost of materials, including lumber, consumables like sandpaper, finishes, and add about 10% to that number to allow for overage.
After estimating all this, I come up with a job price. People I find are not as open to an hourly rate as they are to a firm price in the beginning.

Like rwe says, sometimes your $/hr will drop when you make mistakes, but it also teaches you to go a little slower to make sure it is right the first time. I often find that some of the projects I sell also run much faster than I thought, so it kind of evens out. Just don’t take all, highly difficult jobs!

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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