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Forum topic by nwbusa posted 01-22-2013 10:03 PM 932 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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nwbusa

1017 posts in 1040 days


01-22-2013 10:03 PM

I am a hobbyist woodworker and I don’t have any plans to earn a living with my hobby. Nonetheless, I have been getting more and more requests from family and friends to build things for them. I figure that at least half my shop time is spent on these types of projects, and my available shop time is going to decrease in the coming months. I don’t charge family and friends for my time, and sometimes I don’t even charge them the cost of materials if I am using stuff I have on-hand.

I’m not complaining or anything—I enjoy the work. I’m just wondering how other LJs balance these types of “commissions” with their own personal project lists, especially if you have limited shop time available.

-- John, BC, Canada


19 replies so far

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

1250 posts in 779 days


#1 posted 01-22-2013 10:39 PM

Mess up a few projects for them, and they’ll leave you alone. Just kidding. I think.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View Tokolosi's profile

Tokolosi

673 posts in 1109 days


#2 posted 01-22-2013 10:45 PM

It takes about 5 minutes in a shop with a saw in hand before someone will come along and say something like:

I have this old wood chair with a broken rail, think you can look at it for me?”

I still consider requests by family and friends as compliments. So I generally do them. Unless its not worth the time (I dont reglue particle board) or the money (going to cost more to fix than replace). If Im asked to make something that friend/family will be using as a gift then money will be changing hands. Even if its just the ”family price” which covers material and beer. If I have made you something but you want another because you liked the first piece (or her sister wants one too or want a matching set or something) the same rule applies.

And if you really need it in a hurry then go get it done elsewhere. You are getting it free/cheap so you can wait. Im not in my shop because I’m bored. I have my own stuff I’m working on.

You better like my design/wood/finish choice. OK, I do (begrudgingly) accomodate here as best I can.

You are allowed to say ”But I can get it at (insert retail store name here) for less than $XXX” only once. After that I hope they still have stock in the veneered particleboard of your fancy.

No you cant ”just use my tools and make it yourself”. I dont have that kind of insurance.

But that is just me.

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

View JesseTutt's profile

JesseTutt

811 posts in 864 days


#3 posted 01-22-2013 10:48 PM

I would ask for them to pay for materials and a little to help with shop costs (utilities, blade sharpening, etc.).

It could always grow to the point where you can use these projects to buy that next tool you need.

-- Jesse, Saint Louis, Missouri

View RogerInColorado's profile

RogerInColorado

310 posts in 708 days


#4 posted 01-23-2013 12:26 AM

If I ask it they can cover material and they say yes, I’m willing to proceed. If they ask how much do I think that will be, I sort of double (or triple) what I think it might cost. if they say yes to that, then I proceed. If they think that’s too much, I get to go back to what I was doing before.

View whitebeast88's profile

whitebeast88

3606 posts in 944 days


#5 posted 01-23-2013 02:21 AM

i sell a few things here and there and use the money for my habit,err hobby to keep buying tools and to build my wife’s projects.that way a lot less money comes out of the budget.

plus it gives me a little more experience each project i build.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Wiltjason's profile

Wiltjason

56 posts in 716 days


#6 posted 01-23-2013 02:45 AM

For family I do it for what ever material I have to purchase, for friends who knew me long enough to know,my dad, its material+ 10%. Friends that haven’t known me that long I find the most expensive lumber price I can find and quote them that price for lumber

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Wiltjason

56 posts in 716 days


#7 posted 01-23-2013 02:48 AM

Oh and I also tell people, don’t come to mecause you think I can do it cheaper, come to me cause you want it forever

View DaveFFMedic's profile

DaveFFMedic

67 posts in 920 days


#8 posted 01-23-2013 03:06 AM

I too try to discourage family and friends from hiring me to do work for them. I use all the same excuses as mentioned before. If they persist, I try to work out an agreeable arrangement. Sometimes its materials x 2.

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

11552 posts in 1444 days


#9 posted 01-23-2013 03:16 AM

I’m in the same fix. I just traded my brother a “candy machine” that took me 3 days to build for some crappie filets.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View CharlieM1958's profile

CharlieM1958

15820 posts in 2972 days


#10 posted 01-23-2013 03:20 AM

I think it’s been pretty well covered here. It all depends on the situation. We all have certain people in our lives for whom we are happy to do most anything they ask of us. Then there are always those who abuse a relationship because they are cheap and/or lazy.

When confronted with a request I really don’t want to take on, I just tell the truth: “This is my hobby and I make things I feel like making for the fun of it. What you are asking me to make sounds too much like a job, and I already have one of those.”

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

View Wiltjason's profile

Wiltjason

56 posts in 716 days


#11 posted 01-23-2013 03:35 AM

there was a young lady that workewd at the restraunt i use to stop and get coffee at every morning and we got to be friends ( never saw her outside of that litttle restraunt). i knew she didnt have much money and she was telling me she sw some end tables at walmart she wanted to get for her new apartment. i told her to save her money and i built her 2 beautiful mission style end tables out of oak i had left over from other projects. they turned out awesome with dovetailrd drawers, mortise and tendon construction the whole 9 yards. 2 yrs later she redid her living room and sold those end tables for 20$ at a garage sale and bought 2 new ones at meijer. lesson learned lol

View Tokolosi's profile

Tokolosi

673 posts in 1109 days


#12 posted 01-23-2013 03:58 AM

Oh Wiltjason!!! That’s messed up!!! And I think you may just have said all that needs saying about working for free be it for friends or family!.

-- “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.” ~ JRR Tolkien

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Wiltjason

56 posts in 716 days


#13 posted 01-23-2013 04:10 AM

tokolosi i was so pissed i could have killed a basket of puppies! lol. now im alittle more selective as to who i do free work for lol

View runswithscissors's profile

runswithscissors

1250 posts in 779 days


#14 posted 01-23-2013 04:54 AM

Then there’s the other side of the coin. When I express a need, and a friend offers he (or her) services, I feel obliged to say,”Okay, you’re a professional; I expect to pay you for your services. I’m not asking for something free here.” It just seems more ethical to me to do that. And we always work something out.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View nwbusa's profile

nwbusa

1017 posts in 1040 days


#15 posted 01-23-2013 04:59 AM

Great replies from everyone.

Tokolosi said “You are allowed to say ”But I can get it at (insert retail store name here) for less than $XXX” only once. After that I hope they still have stock in the veneered particleboard of your fancy.”

Ain’t that the truth. I was handed a newspaper flyer from a local discount furniture outlet and was asked to recreate a cheap plastic patio storage box, but using far superior materials (i.e. wood) because he “didn’t want to spend that much money”... I couldn’t even buy the plywood for that cheap!

-- John, BC, Canada

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