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Pricing your work: Starting out

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Forum topic by DrJosh posted 10-29-2011 06:16 AM 2083 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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DrJosh

50 posts in 1613 days


10-29-2011 06:16 AM

I have recently been asked by a friend to build a bookstand for him. I’ve always built my projects to give as Christmas gifts. I’ve never sold anything. I was originally thinking of charging him for lumber, hardware, and supplies only. However after reviewing the plans, I realize that this project will require a significant amount of shop time and effort…mainly because I’m only a recreational woodworker. Anyone have suggestions about how to price the work? Should I just choose a lump price or a state a price per hour rate? Please forgive me if I’m asking everyone to beat a dead horse, but I’m still new at this and I’ve not been able to review all 27 pages of posts in this forum. Thanks to all in advance.

-- Josh....in Nashville, TN


15 replies so far

View rance's profile

rance

4145 posts in 1880 days


#1 posted 10-29-2011 06:29 AM

You would be lucky to only find 27 pages worth. :)

Charge for all materials, including any fasteners, and don’t forget about consumables such as rags, etc.
Maybe charge a little for gathering materials. It DOES take gas, etc. to go get them.
Charge something for your labor. Consider what YOU think is reasonable, what your FRIEND thinks is reasonable. Then compromise between the two.

Don’t do it for free, that just hurts everyone involved. Another approach is to figure how many hours you think it will take. Don’t tell your friend. Then ask your friend how much they should pay you per hour, then do the math to get your labor charge. Then add materials on top of that.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View childress's profile

childress

841 posts in 2262 days


#2 posted 10-29-2011 08:52 AM

Ahhh, too much math and time “figuring” stuff out like that…. Charge $200 per linear foot (lower and upper, so if the cabinet is between 3 and 8 ft tall, a 3 ft. wide cabinet is 6 linear feet… get it?) That should cover everything for you. good luck!

-- Childress Woodworks

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jerrells

860 posts in 1605 days


#3 posted 10-29-2011 03:34 PM

WELL – I’m going to take another path in this one. YES charge for all materials and include a littel for picking them up. Above that, in your case, I would charge a FLAT RATE (let’s say $200) that you and him agree on. Don’t do it for FREE and, as he is a friend, don’t charge way too much.

Hope this helps.

-- Just learning the craft my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ practiced.

View Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist's profile

Greg..the Cajun Wood Artist

5218 posts in 2028 days


#4 posted 10-29-2011 07:14 PM

It is difficult to say how much to charge since you only stated that it will take a significant amount of shop time. How much time is significant and since you don’t normally do this professionally how fast do you work? How good of a friend is this? Alot of variables involved and a tough choice on pricing.
Good Luck!

-- We all must start somewhere in our journey of doing what we love to do.

View Loren's profile

Loren

7809 posts in 2368 days


#5 posted 10-29-2011 07:28 PM

Are you going pro? If you are, there’s a whole lot involved in figuring this
stuff out. There are some decent books on the topic, but a lot of it
will be school of hard knocks.

If you’re just selling some stuff you can do within the limitations of the
equipment you have, a good rule of thumb is to multiply your material
cost by 6.

-- http://lawoodworking.com

View a1Jim's profile (online now)

a1Jim

112501 posts in 2297 days


#6 posted 10-29-2011 07:32 PM

I say look at the 27 pages It’s worth the read.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Puzzleman's profile

Puzzleman

345 posts in 1664 days


#7 posted 10-31-2011 08:23 PM

It all depends on what your goal is.

If this is just a way to recover material costs and some extra cash, price it to how much you want to make.

If this is a first time thing and you really want the job and gain experience, maybe price it a little lower but let them know that you are doing them a favor by learning on the job.

If this is a start to a business, be it a side or full time, guesstimate the hours and multiply by an hourly rate that you wish to make. Add 10% to that number to cover taxes and stuff.

The most important thing that you can do regardless of what you price it at is to keep a log of different steps involved and how long each step takes. By tracking this, at the end of the job, you will have a clear idea of a couple of things. 1. how many hours did it really take. 2. how much did you make per hour. 3. if doing it again, I know what steps and how long for each step. 4. is there any steps that could have been done differently to save time?

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler, http://www.hollowwoodworks.com

View EandS's profile

EandS

73 posts in 1182 days


#8 posted 11-01-2011 06:57 PM

You COULD charge him by the hour but if I charged all my clients by the hour they would end up selling there homes to afford there new dining set. I remembering someone saying on here once that if you intend to make a living doing this get ready to work crazy hours. Therefor if we all charged by the hour (Unless of course we are super human, make no mistakes and do everything with god speed) our prices would be far to high. I typicaly price by the week on large pieces. A dining room set for instance? (Which I have coming up soon) What do I need to make on a WEEKLY basis reasonably to live? I add this number in conjunction with the matireal and handling costs, which are bumped up a slight percentage to create a safety buffer. I do flat rate. Thats my strategy anyway.
But like was already stated…The school of hard knocks will teach you…fast and hard

-- ~ eandscarpentryandwoodworking.com ~

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

636 posts in 1411 days


#9 posted 11-01-2011 07:06 PM

Dr Josh, It sounds like you are like I was in the beginning. When I did work on a project for people in the beginning I would charge cost of ALL materials,(find that total) then charge double for the labor. So if a project cost 200 dollars in materials I would charge them a flat rate of 400 dollars for the project. This way you make the material cost back and have the cost of the materials as a profit for your time. If you like you can charge fees for the wear and tear on the equipment but that is minimal. This worked well for me in the beginning and as you get better and faster your rates can be charged on an hourly basis with fees for the upkeep of the shop and utilites used to run it.

-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1570 days


#10 posted 11-01-2011 07:32 PM

Drew, could you clarify this please?

“This way you make the material cost back and have the cost of the materials as a profit for your time.”

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View darinS's profile

darinS

398 posts in 1587 days


#11 posted 11-01-2011 08:23 PM

Lee,

I think what Drew is saying is that by charging $400 for the item, you get back the $200 in materials and have the $200 extra ($400 – $200) as profit. I hope I explained that well enough. If I’m wrong Drew, feel free to kick me.

-- If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you!

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

636 posts in 1411 days


#12 posted 11-01-2011 08:44 PM

Darin, you are right on the money.
Your profit is the double “labor” fee you charged. So the way Darin is putting it is right: $400 flat fee – $200 cost of materials = $200 dollars profit from labor. However, the flip side to this is I never go over the flat rate. If you screw up and have to buy more materials then you eat that out of the profit. It is only good business that if you quote them a price, you stick to that.

-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1570 days


#13 posted 11-01-2011 11:27 PM

I take issue with the use of the word “profit” in that context.

Profit should be the part of the price that does not cover materials, labor and overhead. In this case, that money ($200) would be a start at covering the latter two of those, and should not be construed in any way as profit.

Profit is the income that allows your business to grow and thrive. It is there when the job you just said “yes” to requires that you have a 5-speed dinglewhanger, a minimum of 2 plutzpower with an elliptical sheave-shifter. Now you have the bucks to buy exactly what you need, without compromise.

If you never have any profit in your numbers, your self esteem will be on a downward spiral and your will to grow and improve will become dry and dusty and leave a bad taste in your mouth.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop's profile

Drew - Rock-n H Woodshop

636 posts in 1411 days


#14 posted 11-02-2011 09:11 PM

That is understandable Lee, and I appreciate the words of knowledge. However, since my woodworking is a side business for me and not my profession, my profit is what I don’t have to spend on materials. My labor is the pleasure of creating something with my hands and making what others dream into a reality, and getting paid to do it. Profit to me is money I make after material are bought and the growing you speak of is the growth in my ability in what I can do better with every project and if I use that “profit” to buy another tool I need or want, then so be it. To most of us hobbiest and on the side job woodworkers, profit is just one’s perogative who’s may differ from others. Mine just differs from yours, doesn’t mean I’m right, it is just how I view it. I’m sure it will change when I make this a profession.
By the way, Lee….You do fantastic work!

Drew

-- Drew -- "I cut it twice and it's still too short!"- Rock-n H Woodshop - Moore, OK

View DrJosh's profile

DrJosh

50 posts in 1613 days


#15 posted 11-05-2011 05:27 AM

Thanks everyone for the information and suggestions. I prepared a cost estimate for my friend so that I could quote him the total costs of the lumber and hardware as well as a “labor” charge. I simply quoted a single dollar figure for the the labor. As I’m only an amateur woodworker and I just do this for fun, I’ll probably spend more hours in the shop on this project than is reflected in my labor charge. But, this is my first “commissioned” piece and I’m still trying to figure out this pricing business, so I’m not overly concerned. This project is for a friend afterall. I’m off to the lumber yard tomorrow to purchase the raw stock for the project so I can get started.

-- Josh....in Nashville, TN

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