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Forum topic by johnnymo posted 08-30-2009 05:47 AM 1849 views 0 times favorited 31 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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309 posts in 3445 days

08-30-2009 05:47 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question tip

Hello All,
More and more people I know are starting to see my work and asking about small projects that they have in mind. Some friends, some relatives, but mostly parents. You know how it goes. They see your latest project and start talking about things they would like to have made. You mention something about pricing and they get a look on their face that reads something like, “what! But I’m your best friend, or Mom, or Dad, or Buddy”. Who out there goes through the same delima and how do you respond to them? I would love to hear what your going through and how did you handle it, or how are you going to handle it.

-- John in Arizona (but it's a dry heat!)

31 replies so far

View scrappy's profile


3507 posts in 3669 days

#1 posted 08-30-2009 09:53 AM

Told mine, Gifts are for birthdays/christmass, The rest of the year, If you want it you have to AT LEAST pay for materials.

Mostly went OK Son in law likes to play with trying to sneak something out. But he is just jokeing.( I think)

-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Mike's profile


391 posts in 3856 days

#2 posted 08-30-2009 12:37 PM

Samr here. I’ll make a gift. I’ll help in the home improvement side.

Or the neighbors Rabbit cage, I’ll help build that. Even toss in some treated wood I have. They won’t take money for watching my 9 year old after school for an hour or so.

If family want something built they at least buy the material.

-- Measure once cut twice....oh wait....ooops.

View Craftsman on the lake's profile

Craftsman on the lake

2846 posts in 3676 days

#3 posted 08-30-2009 01:02 PM

Ha! Right now I’m practicing certain skills. I’ve made all so far for others as long as they pay for materials. After I’ve made a bunch of mistakes I’ll tackle stuff for the wife and myself.

Actually, I’ve enjoyed people funding materials so that I can have them to learn with. And they’re getting some decent furniture.

-- The smell of wood, coffee in the cup, the wife let's me do my thing, the lake is peaceful.

View Abbott's profile


2570 posts in 3542 days

#4 posted 08-30-2009 02:12 PM

If I have the material laying around I will use it and give them the item. If not and the project has a cost to it that I can’t use scrap for then they usually pay for the materials. My folks are gone but I have a mother-in-law who I like so we (my wife and I) make or give her items all the time.

My wife is a top notch seamstress and she makes the grand kids clothes at no charge but if I see their milk money laying around I will snatch it for costs!

-- Ohh mann...pancakes and boobies...I'll bet that's what Heaven is like! ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

View jussdandy's profile


157 posts in 3446 days

#5 posted 08-30-2009 06:21 PM

I look at it diffrent than some, my woodworking is a hobby, relaxation, I sell NOTHING, that would make it work, what I tell people is ya cant afford it if I build it, If I can afford it, I will GIVE it to you or I will help you. worked for me for a lot of years now.

-- Randy I have the right to remain silent, just not the ability ; )

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3607 days

#6 posted 08-30-2009 08:28 PM

Everything I make is for family and friends. I make things and if someone shows they really like it, i give it to them. When someone asks me to make them something, only say they get is what it will be used for. ie:Linen storage, sofa table. They get NO say in material or design. All my projects are one off designs without plans or recommendations. I tell them that if they don’t like it, someone else will. have not had a turn down yet! LOL

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 3674 days

#7 posted 08-30-2009 10:29 PM

Before I retired I was involved in the IT world (computers, networks etc) and when I got home after a mind bending day I got phone calls from people having problems with their home computer. Most of the time it was an Eye Dee Ten Tee problem——-(ID10T -that’s a tech termfor users who don’t have any idea) and took a lot of time and patience to solve their problem – all fror free! I found a way to stop it though – when they called and told me their problem I replied “Will this be Mastercard or Visa” – the calls stopped.
As far as wookworking goes, gifts are free to family but anyone else who wants me to make something gets the “who do you think I am, Mr. Bountiful? – I’m retired through bad health and rely on a SS check”, we negociate a price after that.
I have always found the best way is to be honest and let them know you cannot make things for free. On the other side of the coin, if you charge them your work needs to be good.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)'s profile

Dustin Ward (aka Tearen)

176 posts in 4189 days

#8 posted 08-30-2009 11:57 PM

I do make things for friends and family for free (such as Christmas gifts, etc.), but I charge for anything that is not a surprise gift or a request. A lot of my work uses materials that are scraps/free to me, so I just charge people a labor rate. For friends and family I knock off 25-50%

I have made it clear to everyone that the time I spend in the shop may be hobby time, but I also use it to make money for family vacations, christmas for the kids, and a shop toy fund for me.

Jonnymo, if you bring this up in normal conversation before they ask about building stuff it goes much easier. Statements such as “I have decided to start doing craftshows, custom orders, etc…. to make some extra money…. because of the economy… kids… whatever…” Once I started bring this up, every one started asking “So, how much would it cost to make this…..” Then you give them what your normal cost would be and then the deal you will give them for being a friend or family.

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4244 days

#9 posted 08-31-2009 12:04 AM

Charge them enough so they wince, but not so little that you do.

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

View GMman's profile


3902 posts in 3936 days

#10 posted 08-31-2009 12:08 AM

Everything I have made and will make in the future is for myself or family, friends well they would have to pay for the material at lease.

View knotscott's profile


8178 posts in 3614 days

#11 posted 08-31-2009 12:50 AM

I think it’d be fair to ask for material costs, but there’s no way I could look my mother in the eye and ask her for money unless I was really broke or it was really expensive….otherwise, I figure I owe her far more than she’s ever gonna ask from me.

For other close family members and friends, I’d discuss material costs right up front. I usually tell them I’m happy to do it as time allows, and tell them that it’s gonna be a while….most people have no idea how long it takes to build something, and many seem to think it should cost less than the Ikea equivalent. Most poeple just really don’t have a clue, so I’m fairly open with them. So far, I don’t have anyone who’s really “overstayed their welcome” in my shop, so it’s not really a big deal to do a small piece or two for people I’m close to.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 3461 days

#12 posted 08-31-2009 02:17 AM

I think Knotscott hit on the most important part of this….most people don’t understand how long it takes to build something. Especially if you do not have a lot of tools!! I already have a lot of people wanting the bandsaw boxes I have learned to make. When they realize that even for a simple box it can take 8-10 hours (I have to do a lot of hand sanding) they don’t seem to bother me as much.

-- James -

View mtkate's profile


2049 posts in 3564 days

#13 posted 08-31-2009 02:24 AM

I will make anything for anyone who brings me soup when I am down for the count. They just have to realize that making soup takes FAR less time than whatever I will be taking :)

View Karson's profile


35153 posts in 4639 days

#14 posted 08-31-2009 02:33 AM

I have a friend that gives his family a gift certificate at Christmas that is good for 8 Hr’s work and he might give them 10 certificates. That way they have to pay up. His form states that they have to pay for materials, but he has never charged them.

Like I said this is for family, I don’t think he gives them to friends.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia †

View poroskywood's profile


618 posts in 3603 days

#15 posted 08-31-2009 02:53 AM

I made a coworker a small sofa table, I wanted to mess around with it, so I said just buy me a gallon of poly ($50) and we’ll be even. He comes back with a pint “the guy at home depot said this would be enough to do the table” He was right, it was just enough. I should have just asked for fifty bucks.
Mom and Dad are always Free.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

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