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It's all about the $$$$ :-)

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  • #456107
    TimelessQuality
    Pro
    Central America, (Kansas)

    Starting out, be careful not to be too cheap.. once you have that title, it’s hard to shake it.

    You’ll be OK on the benches if you do the second at the same price… It would have been better if you did both at the same time though.

    The little chair was just good will… I find myself doing little things like that for the elderly and for veterans.

    --Steve

    #456114
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    Starting out, be careful not to be too cheap.. once you have that title, it’s hard to shake it.

    Absolutely. You also don’t want to be the guy that’s too expensive. Not in a small town anyways. Unless your work reflect it. I do not want to be the guy that just scrapes buy. It’s just a hard balance! Hopefully things pick up a little and then I won’t need to focus on pricing.

    All the suggestions are great. Some of them are just harder to do. I should have charged more, but I still would have made profit for less… Sometimes paying the bills and getting work means something too!

    You’ll be OK on the benches if you do the second at the same price… It would have been better if you did both at the same time though.

    The nice thing is with doing the second now is that I know for sure that they like the size and style etc. It won’t take an hour to complete, which is nice. It’s quite simple. I spent more time messing with the domino then building the darn thing.

    The little chair was just good will… I find myself doing little things like that for the elderly and for veterans.

    I find I do that more often then I should, but I think it goes a long way. Especially in a new community.

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #456132
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    Brad, the rocking chair repair could be considered good will. Not much time invested and a whole lot of people will hear what a good guy you are. Can’t buy that kind of advertising anywhere.

    Great point. I’ve used this method a number of times on jobs. For example, if I’m in someone’s home and I notice that a door knob is loose or a toilet is running, I’ll just stop and fix it for them. 99% of the time, it’s things they don’t even notice anymore that they really appreciate being taken care of. If the customer starts Asking for a bunch of stuff though, they will probably get charged, but doing a few extras always makes the HO feel good about the whole thing.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

    #456137
    yellaD
    Pro

    I know it’s a regional thing, and a “secret” sorta thing, but I really struggle with what to charge for jobs.

    Typically I go with a rough hourly estimate (a range) plus materials. I haven’t lost on too many things but I haven’t tackled many big projects so it’s been pretty straight forward.

    On kitchens I have my linear foot calculation and “style” costs. I only do three door styles so it’s also pretty easy…

    But I am starting to get into some furniture making (pretty basic so far) but I really struggle with what to charge. I got permission from my client to post pictures of these simple benches I am building.

    They are made from reclaimed lumber. Which apparently I can charge more for these days. It matters to some. Pine/fir legs with cedar tops. It’s well made, but I wouldn’t consider it “fine” furniture just yet. I spent about 1/2 day on it so far and will have another few hours into it once it gets finished. The second one will go faster.

    What would you charge for it??

    IMG_3310 by Brad Taylor[/url], on Flickr

    Or how about stuff like this. Little old lady brought me a rocking chair that she said was her mothers baby chair. The screw had stripped out and someone tried to use a plastic plug and just made a mess. I drilled it out and put in a proper wooden plug. Stained it and replaced the screw with a proper period screw. The finish was pretty rough and it really needs a complete strip…

    I had maybe 20minutes into it…. I didn’t even charge her for it. I bet she brings baking or perogies over this week. (small town stuff, I know as I would have charged an hours rate in the city.)

    IMG_3307 by Brad Taylor[/url], on Flickr

    IMG_3306 by Brad Taylor[/url], on Flickr

    Yeah, I’m in the same position as you. Done a couple things for the neighbors but I don’t feel right charging for little stuff. I’ve borrowed a couple books from the library about “turning your WW hobby into a business” and gave me some good examples of success stories that I could learn a bit from. I’m still in the “reclaimed wood furniture” trend and agree it’s not “fine” but it’s a learning experience, I guess. Those books were a help though, took out a few so I don’t remember the titles.

    #456161
    roninohio
    Pro
    New Franklin, OH

    I made a living for quite a while making furniture. There were 2 ways to make money at it that I found.
    The first is doing custom furniture that no one else makes. The store I built for had 40 shops making furniture for him. When a customer saw a table or a china hutch etc. that they liked but wanted it different in some way then it would be made in my shop. I charged double for it.
    The other way is make in volume. When you set up a machine to run one part it takes very little time to run 50 more thru the set up. The production shops have a machine set up for each step and they make one product. We all know that once you make something the second is much easier! After you make hundreds it gets real easy as you know the exact material , all machines are tweeked right in .
    For @thedude306 I think your best bet is to have a hourly rate and then add material cost for your jobs that come in.
    I personally can not even buy materials to build a cabinet for what I can buy a finished cabinet for. The small guy just can not compete with a factory.

    #456172
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    Well, I am going to go the route of making things that no one else makes or at least no one else can get around these parts. I just need to charge for it. I’m confident in my skil set. I can make anything better then the junk that’s out there… Just not sure if I can do it fast enough to make money 🙂

    Thanks for your insight Ron. The material cost have sky rocketed. I did a kitchen est. just before Christmas and materials alone for the cherry and walnut was just under $15K. They went with an ikea kitchen. I got the install which is great but people really have a hard time spending that cash on something the wife will want to change in 10 years. It’s not like the buy it once and build it to last mantra of years gone bye.

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #456173
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    Oh, and I really don’t like the title of my thread…

    I really enjoy the construction trade. And the furniture/woodworking trade. If I didn’t I wouldn’t do it. It’s been GREAT. I get to build things. And for me there is nothing better then working with my hands and my mind to figure out how something goes together. I love it.

    It’s not really all about the $$$$

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #456196
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    materials alone for the cherry and walnut was just under $15K.

    Brad you ought to the prices of automotive paints and materials. The materials alone can cost up to $1000 for an overall repaint.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #456212
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    materials alone for the cherry and walnut was just under $15K.

    Brad you ought to the prices of automotive paints and materials. The materials alone can cost up to $1000 for an overall repaint.

    In my previous life I was a rep for PPG (for almost 18 years). Guys would just laugh when I would tell them a quality paint job was going to be 8K-10K

    But then people go into maaco and want (and get) a $250-$500 paint job.

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #456217

    I appreciate this discussion as I have been asking to do a piece of furniture and I have struggled with pricing, given the amount of time that goes into it. I am not certain if most people are willing to pay a “fair” wage, hopefully there are still enough willing to pay for solid hand built furniture.

    Will

    #456219
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    Well, I got the second bench glued up. As I thought it was under and hour. I actually got it done and the first one sanded and ready for finish.

    So I am happy.

    It’s been a great discussion and I appreciate the PMs as well.

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #456221
    cranbrook2
    Pro
    Belgrave, Ontario , Canada

    I would’ve charged more than $250 for the bench. It doesn’t matter that you had the wood. You had around 3 hours in the making. I’d go $100/hour for the labor (skill,blades,equipment,electricity,sand paper,etc,etc) and profit.

    I agree ! That is my going rate and I have no problem getting it .

    #456235
    redwood
    Pro

    I’m going to be in the same boat as Brad shortly, at least I hope. Now I was a contractor for 40 years, so I knew how to price the work I did and the market I was in. Now I’m switching gears, hoping to get into exterior furniture building and in a totally new area.

    I have no idea what my labor rate should be here. Housing costs are almost a tenth from where I came from. How much does the affect your rate, if all else is close.

    Mark E.

    Pioneer, CA

    Working Pro 1972 - 2015
    Member since Jan 22, 2013
    www.creative-redwood-designs.com

    #456249
    thedude306
    Moderator
    Foam Lake, SK

    I have no idea what my labor rate should be here. Housing costs are almost a tenth from where I came from. How much does the affect your rate, if all else is close.

    Same here as far as housing goes. Not sure if that should matter. It should mean that people have more disposable income. And from what I see that’s the case. The 20K+ sleds and quads and 80K boats tells me there’s money here in my area…

    I just have to figure out how to get it into my pocket 😉

    The big thing is quality first. No exception, no short cuts. Just like any industry/trade. It will bite you in the butt.

    Brad T
    Self employed Pro since 2014!!

    #456278
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    I have no idea what my labor rate should be here. Housing costs are almost a tenth from where I came from.

    Housing rates pretty much determine the income levels of the people in the area as well as population density. With lower housing rates than what you are used to then a reduction in your labor rate will probably be needed.

    In the automotive world several trade magazines do an annual review of labor rates in different areas of the US. Changing a water pump on a certain make and model of vehicle takes the same time in Atlanta as it does in San Francisco. The difference in the bills is the labor rate. The highest labor rates are found in the northeast and in California where population density and income levels are high. The lowest labor rates are almost always in the south and southeast, low population density coupled with low wages. Same job different labor rates.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #456295
    smallerstick
    Pro
    North Bay, ON

    I have no idea what my labor rate should be here. Housing costs are almost a tenth from where I came from. How much does the affect your rate, if all else is close.

    Same here as far as housing goes. Not sure if that should matter. It should mean that people have more disposable income. And from what I see that’s the case. The 20K+ sleds and quads and 80K boats tells me there’s money here in my area…

    I just have to figure out how to get it into my pocket 😉

    The big thing is quality first. No exception, no short cuts. Just like any industry/trade. It will bite you in the butt.

    Definitely good thinking, Brad.

    Housing rates pretty much determine the income levels of the people in the area as well as population density. With lower housing rates than what you are used to then a reduction in your labor rate will probably be needed.

    Have a look at average income levels as well. You can get them sometimes from the MLS pages for your area.

    BE the change you want to see.
    Even if you can’t Be The Pro… Be The Poster you’d want to read.

    #456314

    As you know, Im not in the trades, but I have sold a couple of pieces of furniture over the years, and I regularly price out jobs in IT as part of my day job

    One of the best tricks I discovered was to do what is called a PERT estimate.

    The idea behind it is to break down each task or materials cost with a, Optimistic number (wishes and candycanes level optimistic), an all goes to hell estimate, and your gut feeling of what it will probably take. It takes an average of those, with 1 part optimist, 1 part pessimist, and 4 parts realist. There is a second formula pre-made to add padding based on confidence level. If the spread is huge, the contingency is bigger (1 standard deviation from mean is the default)

    Looking over each number, it will call out the ones with a huge spread, and you can look into further breaking those down to tighten up the spread. In the end, you have a really good estimate, and a good reason to explain to a customer why your estimates are what they are.

    An example.
    Im working on a chair. Task to do:
    Disassemble and remove broken bits, Repair and reassemble

    First one could take an hour if all goes well (hide glue, mortise and tenon in ok shape) or could take 20 hours if it all goes to hell (if its titebond, old nails, cracked wood, someone did a bad job jamming in a plug. I figure about 10 hours total effort
    Optimist: 1 hour
    Realist: 10 hours
    Pessimist: 20 hours
    Average: 10 hours
    Uncertainty: HUGE

    I will then strip and restain the same chair
    Figure if all goes well, it will take 8 hours. If there are some real stubborn bits, it might take up to 12 hours. Best guess is 10
    Optimist: 8 hour
    Realist: 10 hours
    Pessimist: 12 hours
    Average: 10 hours
    Uncertainty: Small

    For both, the average is the same, the best guess is the same, but the uncertainty is very different. For the first one, I would estimate 13.75 hours, for the second 10.5 hours.

    Maybe for the first one, I could go back, and figure out whether some of the unknowns were knowable – do I see screws, is it hide glue, does it look to be in good shape. Maybe I can change a 1-10-20 to a 5-10-15. Now Im more sure

    I have an Excel template done up that does all the math for you – PM me if you would like me to email it to you.

    #456376
    woodman_412
    Moderator

    When I price up a job for a quote I usually figure out roughly how many hours it will take me and multiply by my hourly rate. I’ll usually go a little higher on the hours because things always take longer than you’ll figure. I usually add in about 10% for overhead and consumables and put a bit of a markup on materials depending on what it is.

    As for furniture I’ve learned over the years that at least around here it doesn’t pay. Too many hours involved for something that people will compare to what you can buy in the store and say why would I pay that when I can buy it at X store for half of that. I started off in furniture making when I got into woodworking but now out of necessity I’ve pretty much completely moved away from it. Just doesn’t pay the bills.

    As for your bench Brad I would say $250 is a little low but not by that much. It really depends on what things are worth to people and I’ve found that most people just don’t appreciate hand made furniture anymore. Massed produced stuff from China is far cheaper and looks ok from a distance and they can switch it out every few years. Sometimes I wish I lived in a time period when everything was made by hand and not mass produced off shore. As for the rocking chair I think that was a nice thing for you to do for the lady and given the same situation I would probably do the same. It can be hard to charge well for that sort of thing and for the right person doing it as a favor is great. Some people will take advantage of that so that’s why I say for the right person.

    Dan

    danpattison.com

    #456407
    roninohio
    Pro
    New Franklin, OH

    Here are a few custom things I did . Every now and then someone is willing to pay for a good product.

    #456414
    jponto07
    Moderator
    Bloomington, IN

    The big thing is quality first. No exception, no short cuts. Just like any industry/trade. It will bite you in the butt.

    Yes sir…regardless of the price point, I try to over deliver.

    Jon P.
    Timber Carpentry & Construction
    https://www.facebook.com/timbercarpentry/
    Instagram

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