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Forum topic by toddbeaulieu posted 11-23-2015 09:05 PM 1112 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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toddbeaulieu

781 posts in 2470 days


11-23-2015 09:05 PM

I got to thinking this weekend as I slaved over a kitchen island top.

http://lumberjocks.com/projects/199874

I’m very curious to hear how much effort/time you think this type of project should have taken. This was my first paid commission and I’m trying to establish a value. Yeah … you’d think I would have done that up front, but anyway.

I’d say I have about 15 hours or so into this. Milling rough lumber and figuring out the layout always seems to take a substantial amount of time, even with my large jointer and planer. Looking for that perfect layout of grain and pattern match, worm hole and spalting placement takes time. Carefully milling and sneaking up on the final dimensions to try to minimize mistakes and ruining a prime board also eats up time. I originally wanted a soft round-over on all edges, and did so by hand. Like with all projects, I let it talk to me as I go and my soft edges evolved into a larger radius. Rather than getting 95% of that done in a few short minutes on the router table for some reason I decided to use a block plane and to finish with a sanding block through all the grits. Now THAT took a lot of time and left me feeling a bit stupid. I’d say that alone was a couple of hours to get it consistent and free of scratch marks. I had to repair some cracks with super glue, which was precision work because I used thin black, which would stain the surrounding surface if I got sloppy. Four coats of Arm-R-Seal.

So I’d love to hear from you. Do you think I’m ridiculously inefficient or about right? On most projects it’s a labor of love and I take my time, enjoying the alone time and the process. As I grow more interested in trying to fund my hobby by selling work I feel like I put far too much time into these projects to be able to sell them, as I just don’t think I’d find buyers willing to pay for quality.


16 replies so far

View rwe2156's profile

rwe2156

2198 posts in 946 days


#1 posted 11-23-2015 09:39 PM

The question is whether you’re trying to do this for a living, right?
There is nothing wrong with the way you are working I don’t think 15 hours is excessive for this project.

I like the idea of hand tools, but probably wouldn’t have gone so far as to not use a power sander on a project this big.

You’ve got a great looking result there. I just hope you charged an appropriate fee.
I’ve seen those slabs sell for $6-800.

Its all too tempting to charge too low a fee and end up feelling sour about the project when its done.

As far as clients, whoever sees that countertop will no doubt be impressed and want to know who did it.
That’s how your business will grow. Give it time.

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

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dhazelton

2325 posts in 1762 days


#2 posted 11-23-2015 11:02 PM

Wood with that kind of character doesn’t grow on trees. Well, it does – but that isn’t something you can go down to Home Depot to pick out so a couple days of prep and glue up and finishing doesn’t sound wrong. I’d agree with the above price AT A MINIMUM. $750 – a grand for a one of a kind table or island top is not outrageous.

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conifur

955 posts in 617 days


#3 posted 11-23-2015 11:45 PM

20 some years ago I started my own tile installation business, I was hands on and along with my clients we worked through the/there design issues. It was a long time B4 I felt comfortable doing a job for a friend. I felt that a friendship loss was not worth the job if there were problems. It never happened, since all the work was great, and I never pushed an envelope on an installation.
You have, first is the disclaimer to your friend, he put the time frame on you, I hope you told him about the possible negative out comes, if so then it is on him. If not then you put yourself in a precarious position. Its never to late to explain to him the negatives of a rush job like this. The sooner the better.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

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woodbutcherbynight

2440 posts in 1874 days


#4 posted 11-24-2015 04:52 AM

Personally I just turn down “rush” jobs that want a high quality result. That said I do not make a living off woodworking, it is merely a hobby that sometimes gives me work that puts cash in my pocket and a smile on my face. Last week I had someone seek me out that wanted a workbench made that called for 34 drawers, all stained and poly inside and out with a Formica top. Here was the offer, $350 in labor, they would get the materials from HD. He then topped that off with, “I need it by the 1st of December. Below is a pic of close to what he wanted made:

This project was for me in my own shop and took me working a few hours each night about 5 months. Needless to say he was not happy with my answer, too cheap of a price for my time, and not nearly enough time to get he job done well.

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

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dhazelton

2325 posts in 1762 days


#5 posted 11-24-2015 01:44 PM

Oooh, he was going to give you ten dollars and a few cents for each drawer cut, glued assembled, sanded, stained, varnished, sanded, revarnished Woodbutcher? And you DIDN’T take that generous offer? People are morons!

View bonesbr549's profile

bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2532 days


#6 posted 11-24-2015 02:24 PM

You did a great job, and we’ve all had the oh crap moments. A craftsman is defined as someone who can cover mistakes… ohh sorry not mistakes but design changes. I remember once making a booboo with a tape measure and some ship lap bead boards for a back of a cabinet came up a tad short somehow(tape must have been bad). I added some bead molding all the way around and the owner went on and on about the extra detail and that I gave her extra for no additional cost made it so much better. I just smiled and said thanks.

You will discover over time that that first one went way too cheap!

As to how much time it takes. I don’t consider that as I’m not a by the hour guy.

My brother has a sign in his shop that reads: You can have it: 1)cheap, 2) fast, 3) done right…you pick two!

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Knothead62's profile

Knothead62

2581 posts in 2426 days


#7 posted 11-24-2015 04:29 PM

Hey bonesbr549, I gladd I donnt make misteaks.

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bonesbr549

1176 posts in 2532 days


#8 posted 11-24-2015 04:51 PM



Hey bonesbr549, I gladd I donnt make misteaks.

- Knothead62

Design changes…...!!!!!!!!

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

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BurlyBob

3694 posts in 1731 days


#9 posted 11-24-2015 05:51 PM

Bones, thanks for that, “design changes”. I’m going to remember that in the future for a certain to occur design change.

View ste6168's profile

ste6168

250 posts in 637 days


#10 posted 11-24-2015 07:02 PM


Hey bonesbr549, I gladd I donnt make misteaks.

- Knothead62

LOL

I guess ill share mine. I just finished, ok well, I am ALMOST finished with my first commissioned piece. It is for a coworker of mine, whom I would also consider a friend. Her boys and mine play together here and there, and we take the boats to a local sandbar several times throughout the summer.

Anyway, she wanted a table for behind the couch, I agreed to build it. Said and done, I will make about $75 profit, and have 12+ hours into the thing. That said, with two kids, an 8-5 job, I am lucky get an hour uninterrupted in the shop, so I could probably work more efficiently, if I got more time. If I were to do the project again, I would have charged more, but with this job, has already come another, which I am going to price a bit more favorable to me.

Here is a link where I have shared some pictures of the project. http://www.ncwoodworker.net/forums/showthread.php?t=57416

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JAAune

1646 posts in 1782 days


#11 posted 11-25-2015 06:16 AM



Oooh, he was going to give you ten dollars and a few cents for each drawer cut, glued assembled, sanded, stained, varnished, sanded, revarnished Woodbutcher? And you DIDN T take that generous offer? People are morons!

- dhazelton

Walzcraft charges me an average of $40 per drawer box plus $15 per drawer front for smaller drawers like that. That’s still too low a price for me to undercut.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

View JackDuren's profile

JackDuren

137 posts in 425 days


#12 posted 11-26-2015 05:47 PM

You actually buy drawers?

View Bluepine38's profile

Bluepine38

3341 posts in 2551 days


#13 posted 11-26-2015 06:23 PM

Being a little older than you, I would say you had an excellent learning experience and move on to more
woodworking. If you do not make any mistakes, you are not doing anything. My first exposure to
kitchen islands and countertops was with truck decking, a local product no longer made. I worked part
time for a wood butcher-his statement, not mine. His father-in-law was a master carpenter, we both
learned from him. Keep learning and having fun.

-- As ever, Gus-the 77 yr young apprentice carpenter

View EEngineer's profile

EEngineer

1061 posts in 3079 days


#14 posted 11-27-2015 02:08 PM

On most projects it’s a labor of love and I take my time, enjoying the alone time and the process.

This is precisely why I don’t do woodworking for a living.

-- "Find out what you cannot do and then go do it!"

View JAAune's profile (online now)

JAAune

1646 posts in 1782 days


#15 posted 11-28-2015 10:36 PM


You actually buy drawers?

- JackDuren

Yes. Trying to make solid maple, dovetailed drawers sanded and finished for the same price as a specialized drawer company is a waste of time. The few projects that require custom drawers built in-house have very high price tags. Drawer boxes made in my shop are going to run over $100 each.

-- See my work at http://remmertstudios.com and http://altaredesign.com

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