Custom moldings price

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Forum topic by Al Killian posted 12-17-2008 04:15 AM 1494 views 1 time favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Al Killian

273 posts in 3775 days

12-17-2008 04:15 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question milling shaping

I know everyone ask how to price work, but this really has me stumed. How do/should I price custom molding? Example: Custumer needs 20’ of a odd panel molding. I get a price on the knife and he approves. I order the knifes and make 20’ for him. Knifes cost $108 for the pair including shipping. Lumber, white oak. Amount needed, two width 1.25 wide x 10’ long., total cost of lumber is 6.20 for 2 bdft. Total cost for the materail is $114.20. I charged him $2.50 per linear foot and he said that was cheap. He also paid a $20 setup fee. Amount of time to mill it all to specs was around half hour. What would you charge? I am trying to come up with a formula or scale, so when someone ask I can give them a more accurate price without under priceing my work?

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

5 replies so far

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3915 days

#1 posted 12-17-2008 07:21 AM

I think its kinda like looking at clothing, shopping for gifts, flipping the price tag over and realizing that there is no way on earth that you would ever pay that much for shirt, or pants, or custom tailered suit.

Figuring out why a custom tailered suit causes the shock and awe effect on a persons jawline when viewing the pricetag is no different then the shock and awe effect you see on a persons face when you give them the estimate on a truily “custom”piece of trim. Most cities have enough of a variety of “millworkers” with off the rack ready trim…....................much like buying a suit at a chain store…...........................but then again, fools soon part with thier money and some folks might pay for “custom” when its right in the rack at a shop nearby.

In essence, charge a lot, otherwise you are going to loose money. Just asking the question of “How much do I charge?..............tells me that maybe you should stick with what you are doing, that makes money….

That said… cant go wrong charging “time and materials”................then you cant loose. If you can find clients willing to go that route, then sooner or later, you can answer your own question and if your honest, your fair in your hourly rate for what you know… will stay employed ?


-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 3837 days

#2 posted 12-17-2008 02:29 PM

If I read your post correctly, you made -$44.20 ($114.20 – $50 – $20)

With us, customer always pays for the new custom knives. If the customer only wants 20’ of moulding, they pay the cost of the knives. Ownership of the knives is also a question. Most 20’ clients wouldn’t want the knives (homeowner, contractor, etc.) A designhouse might if they are trying to sell that profile to other clients. Generally speaking, we always retain ownership, since we have the moulder (although, a client could take them somewhere else….but that’s alot of trouble for them.)

If you charge the customer for the moulding and setup…I think you’ll find you end up with a lot of knives you’ll never use again and at $2.50/ft you’ll run out of money pretty fast.

Some clients, once aware of the cost, will choose a stock design close to their original profile. But we do get clients that want a specific profile and pay to get it.

Also, I think $2.50 for a custom moulding is too cheap. I think I would have priced it at $5.00/ft, plus set-up, plus the cost of the knives. It also took you time to send the design, order, receive, get approval on the knives, phones calls. That time adds up.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4028 days

#3 posted 12-17-2008 03:30 PM

Depends on who the customer is really. You run the risk of alenating a good repeat customer if you come across as having unyeilding profit formulas in matters so trivial as 20 ft of moulding. We have to weigh these things. In certain circumstances, theres a bigger profit to be had in selling at cost or even giving it away.

I had a few hinges i couldn’t find to save my life a few weeks ago. A guy i’d never met who owns a local cabinet shop happened to have them, and he GAVE them to me. I won’t forget it or him. THATS a wise business man, who can at times forget the math, and remember hes dealing with people.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View barlow's profile


129 posts in 3762 days

#4 posted 12-18-2008 12:57 AM

Al, I am in the millwork business, I understand your pain with pricing small runs like this one these are always difficult. I would have to agree with your customer of your price being too low. If im going to run anything under 250 lineal ft there is at least a $25 set up charge, if its under a 100 lineal ft the set up is $50. I have a profile grinder and do not have to order knives, but i do have to order a template ($40 for a custom/35 stock) and knife stock which is $6-$9 an inch. We have matched profiles for restoration on older homes and made single 8 foot pieces that cost several hundred dollars after you add the template, knife stock, grinding time, set up time, and running the actual 8ft piece i probably lost money possibly broke even, due to the fact of down time from larger orders i could have been running. I dont no what kind of moulder your running, but I run a Weinig, which is around $60k for the one i have, and i dont like to see it sitting still.

The formula i use for pricing of millwork is as follows for example a 3” base from #1 white FAS hard maple ($2,225 a thousand): you take your rough width of the piece in this case it would be 3 1/4” and divide it into 12 to give you the yield of pieces per bd. ft. In this case the number is 3, you take that number and divide it into your cost per bd ft which is $2.23 which equals $.75 (always round up to the next cent) Now you have the price per lineal ft at cost. Now take the cost number of $.75 and multiply by 3.15 which is $2.37 per lineal ft. That is the final cost covering the lumber and machining. If needed to get the template and make the knives, it would cost $40 for template, it would take 8” of knife stock costing $48, grinding 1 hr @ $30hr, set up fee of $50. For 20 lineal ft of this custom profile it would total $215.40 or $10.77 per lineal ft. The more lineal footage ordered the cheaper the price per lineal ft. Many people would say that they would never pay that much, but you would be suprised how many will just to get what they want, i run orders like this 25-30 times a yr. If you have any questions about this feel free to ask, i was trying to keep it as simple as possible and put it in word form. As for the question of ownership of the knives, there should be no question, they are always yours and in the case someone should want to buy them double the price, you are the one with the contact who got the knives made, shipped and so on. As for giving away 20’ of trim, go ahead if its off the wall over runs, never custom work or you wont be in business long. Hope this can be of some help to you, if you have any other questions feel free to give me a shout.

-- barlow

View Al Killian's profile

Al Killian

273 posts in 3775 days

#5 posted 12-18-2008 03:55 AM

I make it clear that any knife I use will remain with me and they pay the full price of it and other cost of getting it. If they are intrested in the knife I tell them to look else where.Barlow, I will keep this article in the shop for future use.Most of the stuff I make is standard case/ base molding. I am running a Woodmaster 725(25”). Usally have it setup to cut the front profile on one side and back releif on the other half. Next time I will figure a higher price. This guy that I made these for is a cabinet maker, so their is a good chance I could be makeing plenty more for him. Thanks all for the help.

-- Owner of custom millwork shop

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