not sure what to charge

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Forum topic by nate22 posted 01-07-2012 05:05 PM 1117 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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475 posts in 2898 days

01-07-2012 05:05 PM

I just got done making a couple of cutting boards and a set of coasters. Only thing is i’m not sure what to charge for them. I made the coasters out of maple and the cutting boards out of maple, and cherry. Any advice will help. Here are a couple of pictures of them.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

8 replies so far

View StumpyNubs's profile


7598 posts in 2824 days

#1 posted 01-07-2012 05:08 PM

How long did it take to make them, and how much did you spend in materials?

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View nate22's profile


475 posts in 2898 days

#2 posted 01-07-2012 05:14 PM

it took me about 2 hours to make one thats counting glueing time. And it cost me around $20 for the cutting board, and $15 for the coaster set. I used scrape lumber from another project so i’m not sure excatly how much it would cost in materials.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View lizardhead's profile


652 posts in 2864 days

#3 posted 01-07-2012 06:13 PM

Is it artistic——is it well done——is it made with love——did you pay attention to details——-was it properly finished——are you proud——Ask yourself these questions then ask yourself of the value. Worth is $$$$ that’s simple time & materials——Value is different, that’s your heart & sole

-- Good, Better, Best--Never let it rest---Always make your Good be Better & your Better Best

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20589 posts in 3128 days

#4 posted 01-07-2012 06:14 PM

Hi Nate. I did not see any pictures but the pricing goes along with what the market will pay. Scraps often make the material cost free but you do have time in lay up and machining and finishing. You often have a dollar figure in mind for labor but most times you can’t get it unless you produce a killer item that everyone wants. The best thing to do is look at similar products for sale and price along those lines….............Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3091 days

#5 posted 01-07-2012 06:36 PM

Are you doing this as a business, or just trying to make a couple of bucks from your hobby?

If you’re just trying to pick up a bit of extra cash, try pricing your work at some multiple of the material costs. Using a multiple of 1.5 – 2.0 should easily give you a “profit”, but you’ll probably find that you’re working for around minimum wage.

If you’re going into business, it’s a totally different ballgame. For that, you need to determine the cost of being in business (taxes, licenses, insurance, etc), an adequate hourly wage for yourself (and any employees) including self employment taxes, etc.

A multiple of 3.0 – 3.5 would probably get you in the ballpark, but an hour or two with a CPA would help you understand all the parameters that go into determining a shop rate.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 2873 days

#6 posted 01-07-2012 07:04 PM

Even scrap should be called out at its replacement value. I don’t allow the word “scrap” to be used in the shop. It is “material” and it has value. Having it around allows you, from time to time, to make a bonus on a project, and who wouldn’t want an occasional bonus?

Your hourly should reflect what it takes to cover your overhead—utilities, rent, taxes, tool maintenance, insurance, incidentals, etc.—plus your hourly pay for your skill, imagination, utility, artistic approach and uniqueness.

On top of that, profit so that your business can thrive.

It’s ok to do prototypes of this kind of thing and play with the numbers and run the product out there and see what happens.

What I lose patience with is someone discovering that the market will not pay you for what it takes to do this or that product and continuing to do it anyway.

There. I feel better.

Nate, coasters typically have a depression in them. They don’t need to, I suppose, but it’s pretty consistent and it says, nearly out loud, “Hey! You with the sweaty glass! I’m a coaster and I’m over here!”



-- " 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 richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3098 days

#7 posted 01-07-2012 07:17 PM

I don’t sell anything any more, but I did at one time. In fact, I sold quite a bit because my wife owned a flower shop and I set up a woodworking display there. Woodwork seemed to be a good complement for flowers.

My basic formula was 125% of the cost of materials and the equivalent of $20/hour for labor. I deviated from this formula often, but almost always on the up side. Hence, my formula was more like a minimum.

IMO – There are some items where you can make a reasonable profit and others where it is very difficult to make a profit. A profitable item tends to be something that is either unique and different and unavailable elsewhere or something that you could produce quickly by making multiple copies at one time. I seemed to have my best results with pens, bottle stoppers and cork screws (all turned on the lathe).

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2510 days

#8 posted 01-07-2012 08:19 PM

I had a commission to make a couple of standing grain cutting boards for a lady for Christmas that she could gift to her daughters in law.

This was a learning experience for me since the only real building I’ve done for the last 50 years was some coasters for a friend and restoring some expensive 18th century cabinetry. (That was a learning curve in itself).

The cabinetry, if I counted all the research I did would have paid less than a dollar an hour.
the cutting boards were another matter. They were slated to be 12”X16” and 1 1/2” thick. They actually turned out to be 1 3/8”X 10.5”X14”.. Yeah I had some screw ups and it was easier to cut them out than make a new one.
My way was to finish them in time for Christmas and let the lady know what I had in materials. I let her tell me what they were worth. She gave me $150 in cash and the next morning left a $50 check in the crack of my shop door frame.
More than I would have ever considered charging even though the materials cost n the neighborhood of $65 because I wasn’t really happy with them.

Others have said “Whatever the market will bear”, others mention time and materials. In your case I think I would set a price, based on time and materials, and see if the items sell at that price point. If they don’t, wait a few weeks and drop the price 20%. If they sell quickly, raise the price the next time by 15% and so on. Your market will find you by your work, not by what you charge.

Myself? I’m still trying to find my niche to be able to support my habits, (wood working, Bus Conversion and Beer), and not have to take anything away from our limited monthly income.

Good Luck to ya! Keep your stick on the ice.


-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

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