How much would you charge for this?

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Forum topic by mporter posted 07-28-2014 11:54 PM 1965 views 1 time favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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253 posts in 1996 days

07-28-2014 11:54 PM

So I would like the help from the Lumberjocks, please let me know what you would charge for this TV stand. It’s made of oak plywood, pine, and red oak. It has three drawers one on each side and one in the middle. The pics are before the drawer pulls were put on the middle drawer. I fear that I may have undercharged for the piece. If you think it’s a crappy piece let me know. Thanks for all your help in advance.

20 replies so far

View bigblockyeti's profile


3569 posts in 1138 days

#1 posted 07-29-2014 12:05 AM

Based on what you’ve shown, described and assuming the finish is fairly simple, I would charge between $400 and $500. Certainly NOT a crappy piece.

View Loren's profile


8158 posts in 3066 days

#2 posted 07-29-2014 12:24 AM

Minimum $150 per lineal foot, so at 72” that would be $900,
including the finish. Finishing is significant time cost. You’d
want to consider whether you can get the plywood out
of one sheet as well and so on.

I sometimes break things out like $100 per drawer and
then I think about the carcase, the parts that need
to look good and be sanded a specific way and so forth.

View bigblockyeti's profile


3569 posts in 1138 days

#3 posted 07-29-2014 01:59 AM

You don’t have your location on your profile, that can play pretty big factor into what you can get for what you make. Big cities (like LA) can demand more, but your base cost will likely be more too.

View mporter's profile


253 posts in 1996 days

#4 posted 07-29-2014 02:22 AM

In a college town in missouri. You guys might make me sick, I charged 250 for this piece. Pricing your work is the hardest part of woodworking I think. Might need to force myself to charge more. The finish is 3 coats of general finishes java gel stain and 4 coats of arm-a-seal.

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1353 days

#5 posted 07-29-2014 03:14 AM

Ouch. That wasn’t enough. I hope you at least covered your material. I have done 4 serious commissions to this point and I am still having to force myself to mark my stuff up. I look at the prices I come up with and think, “You’re nuts Dave, no one will pay that”. But often they do, and I am very glad I priced it the way I did. I implore you to sit down and spend a few hours thinking through your build process (hours) and your parts and pieces (materials) before you start. Saves me A LOT on every project, plus I have a build sequence to follow because I have thought through and written down my whole process. One other thing, don’t forget gas and such. I usually spend $50 or $100 on gas by the end of a project.

I log hours as I go to see how accurate my manhour estimate was. I am getting much better and starting to make money after a few go-rounds.

Also, unless this is a full-time job, be pickier about jobs you take on. You are the one with the skill and talent. If they don’t want to pay you for it, just keep on having fun building yourself stuff. But take it from me, don’t build boring stuff for other people for no profit. It’ll make you want to hang it up.

Hope this helps

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View OldWrangler's profile


731 posts in 1012 days

#6 posted 07-29-2014 03:48 AM

I have found selling your work is a bit dicey. People seem to only want to pay what they think the materials cost and get your labor for free.
Add up all material cost…..wood, glue, screws, hardware and finish. Then add 30% . Keep track of your hours building the piece and try to get $25/hr. I think this method is too cheap but customers will complain and want a better price anyhow. Set the price high enough to leave some wiggle room to back down to.
Making a living doing woodworking can be done but it is tough.

-- I am going to go stand outside so if anyone asks about me, tell them I'M OUTSTANDING!

View Loren's profile


8158 posts in 3066 days

#7 posted 07-29-2014 04:25 AM

Well, you have to start somewhere. Building your
skills and portfolio is important if you want to sell
work. You’re you’re doing an apprenticeship for
yourself. It’s something I continue to do after
15+ years.

I think it’s a good idea to take on smaller but technically
challenging projects that build your skills but don’t
take a lot of room to store or require tying up a
lot of dollars in materials. One guy on here does
carved boxes that he must sell a lot of. They sure
do look like seductive gift items to me.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 2703 days

#8 posted 07-29-2014 11:33 AM

TheWoodenOyster covered it very well.

-- John @

View harveysoriginals's profile


107 posts in 904 days

#9 posted 07-29-2014 01:14 PM

A customer was talking to me last summer about my prices, the prices of hardwoods, etc, and while she was complaining, I asked her what SHE thought the time of an American craftsman was worth these days and after she answered, I raised the asking price! She bought the cutting board for my original ask by the way! Don’t underestimate yourself or your products! This thing looked great!

-- The most dangerous tool in my shop is the one I am currently using! Harvey

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1275 posts in 1353 days

#10 posted 07-29-2014 02:17 PM

This is something I have wanted to write a blog on for a while, so I went ahead and did it. Here it is.

Huff, listed above, also has a stellar blog series that covers this topic. I took a lot from it when I read through it. I linked it here as well

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View SamuraiSaw's profile


513 posts in 1382 days

#11 posted 07-29-2014 03:43 PM

I agree that Huff has a good description of the business end of woodworking. I never just “throw” a price to someone, but instead always spend some time developing a price. That includes material, supplies, and amount of time to complete the project (don’t forget to include the time you spend developing the bid. ALL your time is worth money!).

”Set the price high enough to leave some wiggle room to back down to.”

Sorry, but NEVER do that. The worst thing you can ever do is “negotiate” your price. Set your price at what you consider a reasonable level based on the complexity of the project and stick to it. If the customer wants to haggle, reduce the value of the project by eliminating hardware or some other feature. Backing down lessens the value you represent to the customer and will cost you more in the long run.

You definitely undercharged for that piece from what I gather. I’m currently working on an entertainment console that is 68”x22”x32”, made of poplar and maple, lacquered white, with a solid cherry top. Here is the companion piece:

Total price is much higher than $250.

-- Artisan Woodworks of Texas....

View Loren's profile


8158 posts in 3066 days

#12 posted 07-29-2014 04:00 PM

For me, I get a lot of inquiries where the communication
ends when I produce a rough estimate as in “we’re talking
in the $xxx range.” That’s life with doing custom work.

The only people who reliably know what stuff should
cost are pros like architects. Most everybody else on
the client side comes into the conversation in a delusional
trance in my experience.

The cooler your portfolio work the more you’ll be able
to charge for everyday casework and things of that
ilk. Not that you can go crazy, but the stronger your
body of work is the more clients are to consider you
the real expert and accept your pricing.

View Matt's profile


182 posts in 836 days

#13 posted 07-29-2014 04:56 PM

I’ve barely made anything – much less sold, but I’d have to say you way undersold.

Ikea: $299, painted particle board, you put it together:

Take your pick of mass produced furniture from Jordan’s (big chain around me).

It’s a great piece by the way. Very nice. As a consumer I would pay 3x what you charged without flinching for a quality piece like that.


-- I do this for fun.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2263 posts in 1787 days

#14 posted 08-27-2014 08:13 PM

It s a great piece by the way. Very nice. As a consumer I would pay 3x what you charged without flinching for a quality piece like that.


I second that. I don’t build to sell, so i don’t know the market. But after seeing what things of lesser quality sell for in stores, If I we’re getting that piece made custom, with the materials you used, I would consider 3x that a more than fair price.

I’m currently building a 18”Wx12”Dx42”T bookcase for a friends nursery, after she couldn’t find what she wanted in a store, and couldn’t spend more than particle board prices. 1/2 sheet of 3/4” maple ply and leftover 1/4” birch ply back from HD, cherry face frame and edging from scraps, and trimmed with HD base/cove molding. I only charged her for what I spent when I went to the store, which was $40 (that included a candy bar and an iced tea), she is going to paint it white, and it should last a long time.

Hopefully you made this for a friend and you can chalk it up as just being a good friend. Or, you chalk it up as a lesson learned.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5839 posts in 3003 days

#15 posted 08-27-2014 08:53 PM

I said it all before and I repeat it again now.
People expect to pay a fraction more than Ikea prices for bespoke hand made funiture.
Many time what they offer wouldn’t cover the good high quality prices of lumber,when ikea use cardboard and always thin crap paper plastic junk.Many times using holllow materials which look very substantial until you pick them up with one hand, all of these pieces will be trash in less than five years if your lucky. and I have never seen or heard of them using hardwood or good plywood even. This is a well known fact.
I was taught years ago to simply ask them how long they would like to have these pieces last? That is several hundred years, as all the antique furniture does. Or several years only as a stop gap .Bespoke furniture well made including modern top quality plywoods and hardwoods cannot be fairly compared with cheap junk sorry my two cents.
I think you guys would be well advised to explain this to those people, who to be fair ,have perhaps never really understood the massive difference between the two items.On top of this Ikea make everything with a rolling conveyor mentality .They do not employ one single well trained craftsman as they are simply superflous to Ikeas requirements in their push button factories. Thsi always makes you and me angry.If you required surgery you would not entertain having it done by unqualified factory workers would you? I should hope the answer is definitely not thank you. Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

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