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Forum topic by Cozmo35 posted 12-28-2010 11:43 PM 1988 views 1 time favorited 35 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2200 posts in 3183 days

12-28-2010 11:43 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I don’t know if it is just me or if this “problem” has affected any of you other wood workers. Like many of us, I enjoy it when people dote over my projects. It makes it all worth wild to me to know that there are actually people that think my work is worth having. For years, I never sold my woodworking pieces. I just took the sheer enjoyment they brought to see the gratitude and appreciation it brought to the recipients. I recently began selling some of my work. I made a promise to only sell what I had already made, but “the best laid plans” right… Well, I have had a few people that feel totally comfortable with the phrase “will you build me…” without and regards to the cost of the wood or the time it takes to fill request that is hap-hazardly spoken. Sure they are appreciative of my efforts when they get the product in their hands, but DAWM! It has become all too frequent! I consider myself a very generous person and will do almost anything for anybody, but I feel as though I am being taken advantage of here. How can I address this issue without offending people?

-- If you don't work, you don't eat!.....Garland, TX

35 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16276 posts in 4366 days

#1 posted 12-28-2010 11:54 PM

My standard reply (delivered in a most good-natured way, of course) is something along the lines of:

“This is a hobby that I do for pleasure, so I only build things I want to build. Building things for someone else makes it too much like work.”

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View DaddyZ's profile


2475 posts in 3188 days

#2 posted 12-29-2010 12:02 AM

My Reply is something like “Paid in advance” “wood has a mind of its own” ” when its done its yours” Of course I will try to keep it to what is discussed, But , etc.etc

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)'s profile

Sheila Landry (scrollgirl)

9237 posts in 3067 days

#3 posted 12-29-2010 12:10 AM

If you want to sell stuff to others other than what you already have made, you really need to set an hourly wage for yourself and count the hours it will take to make the project. You then need to add the cost of the materials on to that figure. You (and they) may be completely shocked at the price you come up with. I think that if you are just doing this occasionally for people, this should be enough to cover your base and make it worth your time to do something you like to do anyway. In knowing you from here at the forum, I don’t really think you want to make this your ‘business’ so these loose guidelines may be enough to do it for you.

If you find you are still getting too much work and don’t have time to do the projects you want to, then I would consider giving yourself an hourly wage increase.

If people balk at these prices, then you just have to walk away. Nothing will ruin a good hobby and take the pleasure out of scroll sawing and woodworking more than feeling trapped into doing something that you don’t feel you are getting enough money to do. You need to be firm right from the start and I think the people that really do appreciate and want your work will pay what you ask for without trying to negotiate you to a lower price.

Go into it with an attitude of knowing your own worth and don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to those who don’t see it the same way you do.

I am sure that others will have additional advice, but I hope this helps you a little anyway.

Good luck! Sheila

-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs ( Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3131 days

#4 posted 12-29-2010 12:18 AM

Charlie’s answer is pretty much the response I give as well. There are only one or two that I would consider doing something for and she lives with me so I’d better in her case. LOL

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Dan's profile


3630 posts in 3028 days

#5 posted 12-29-2010 12:26 AM

For me it all depends on who is asking. If its a close friend or family I have no problem building for them. If its someone that I am not all that close with I will usually say yes but I tell them that they would have to give me some money for materials first. I have never had anyone follow through and give me the money to start making what ever it is that they want… I think people just think since we are into woodworking that we have an endless supply of free wood on hand… I wish..

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View live4ever's profile


983 posts in 3157 days

#6 posted 12-29-2010 12:37 AM

You need to differentiate the people who are asking because they see an opportunity to save money (you will be taken advantage of regardless of their best intentions) vs. the people who are excited about having a custom woodworker at their disposal (people you may want to build for).

The people who think they’ll save money over buying a cheap piece of furniture at the store need to be educated on how much wood costs. That usually gets rid of them…

-- Optimists are usually disappointed. Pessimists are either right or pleasantly surprised. I tend to be a disappointed pessimist.

View CampD's profile


1715 posts in 3633 days

#7 posted 12-29-2010 01:20 AM

X2 with Sheila’s comments.
X2 on Live4ever’s

-- Doug...

View pommy's profile


1697 posts in 3839 days

#8 posted 12-29-2010 01:23 AM

im all for wood costs alot and its yours when its finished and not before conversation oh and i will only take 50% cost upfront then they can fill their boots lol

-- cut it saw it scrap it SKPE: ANDREW.CARTER69

View GuyK's profile


356 posts in 4227 days

#9 posted 12-29-2010 01:42 AM

Charlie has the right idea. Most times people will say did you build that and I say yes. They immediately reply can you build one for me and I say I will put you on the list. What they don’t know is that, that list is so long now, it will out live me. ( wife adds something everyday and she moves to the front of the list ) . It is nice to know that people think that your work is good enough that they want one and are willing to pay for it. Sometimes though when you give them a price their eyes light up and you can see they are thinking “are you nuts”. I just laugh and go on having fun with my woodworking. I do sell enough to keep me in glue and sandpaper, but that is about it.

-- Guy Kroll

View Pop's profile


427 posts in 4094 days

#10 posted 12-29-2010 01:42 AM

There is an old woodworker’s story that goes somewhat like this. A guy is in Mexico and comes across a craftsman with a beautiful carved chair. ” How much” says the guy. “Fifty dollars” says the craftsman. On hearing this price the guys ask ” how much for eight chairs like this?” “Three hundred a piece” is the answer. “My gosh!” says the guy. “I thought you only wanted fifty bucks”. “Ah!” says the craftsman, “one is pleasure, eight are work”

Building what YOU want is fun. Building what THEY want is WORK! Charge accordingly.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3795 days

#11 posted 12-29-2010 01:47 AM

While your mom might appreciate a gift a lot most people don’t much
value things they get for free. When you charge for your time or workmanship,
people will actually appreciate owning the thing more, so don’t be ashamed
to ask to be paid.

How you get compensated is up to you – you may want to barter or do some
other form of exchange.

Even in the cabinetmaking business where prospects are expecting to pay for
the work, many have champagne tastes on a beer budget. Start phrasing
the way you answer inquiries in a manner that says you expect and deserve to
be compensated for your work. If people are thinking they can save money
by having a custom builder reproduce a furniture piece that came out of a
factory, they are usually mistaken. Some high-end furniture is marked-up
quite a bit by the time it makes it into stores or catalogs however and you
may be able to copy such pieces, make a fair wage for your skills, and save
the client some money by eliminating middle-men, freight costs and even
substituting local woods.

View jim C's profile

jim C

1472 posts in 3246 days

#12 posted 12-29-2010 01:50 AM

All GREAT answers.
Build what you are interested in, not what becomes a disinterested project. Then sell it (or admire and keep it) because you loved doing it.
All the great masters painted what interested them. Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, etc.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3516 days

#13 posted 12-29-2010 02:01 AM

I build what I want to out of what wood I want it from. If they want it OK, If not, someone else will.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51457 posts in 3628 days

#14 posted 12-29-2010 02:44 AM

I dont often do work for hire, but if someone asks me if I could build something for them and I have the time to do it, I will usually say sure, and this is what it will cost you. I try to give an accurate estimate, and I am not shy about asking what I think my time is worth, not to mention the materials. If they still want it, then I give them the anticipated completion date and then we go from there. My real job is a program manager, and I have come to hate time lines and due dates so I dont do too many woodworking projects for a paying customer because I feel they deserve a completion date and I need to stick to it. :-)

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

View Alexander's profile


193 posts in 3258 days

#15 posted 12-29-2010 02:58 AM

One time I stopped by a law office in need of an anwer to 3 questions. The office person gave me a cup of coffee and ask me to waite. The lawyer ask me to his office, I asked my 3 questions and he gave me 3 answers. A couple of days latter I got a bill for $35.00.

Remember it is up to you who you give your work to and who you will charge. As a craftsman you should be paid for your work. Sometimes the price will bring out just how much they want what you build.

Happy New Year

John, near Sugarloaf Mountain

-- John at Sugarloft Mountain........Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

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