Word of mouth

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Hey Swingman,
You know that picnic table I made based on your design? It's been sitting in the side yard of the friend I gave it to and two of her neighbours are inquiring about me building them one too. Working about a dozen hours a week it took me about a month to build because I was experimenting along the way. With a set design in mind and knowing exactly how to go about building more of them, I can knock one off in a week.
I figure the first one cost me about $450 in material, but eliminating original wastage, I should be able to cut that down to $400 or so. I was wondering what I should charge total price including labour? Any ideas?
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"Upscale" wrote

That's indeed a tough question! And, with that much time and materials invested, I would first want to call it something other than a "picnic table"! :)
Sorry, this is more of an art than something that can be easily quantified with a formula, but, as a general rule of thumb for such projects, about 3 to 5 times material cost will generally put you in the ball park of what the uninitiated consumer will actually expect to pay for a handcrafted piece.
Obviously someone more discerning, cognizant, and appreciative of the craftsmanship and, hand wrought, unique nature of the piece would expect to pay more.
In any event, by quoting on the high side of the above, or more, you will be during yourself, and the friend you built it for, a favor. Simply put, if you aren't desperate for the work, don't sell yourself short.
Let us know how it goes.
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...
...
To amplify somewhat from another viewpoint altho I haven't done custom work for nearly 40 years now since I was a young pup out of school trying to make some sideline cash...
My experience would indicate the average schmoe seeing something like this will expect to pay what they would for a take-home-in-the-box pos table from the local hardware store sidewalk clearance sale... :(
I'd also say it depends on whether the week is a 12-hr working week of before or a solid "real" week to guesstimate on labor. What would you be doing in that time otherwise--is it taking away from productive time or is it simply making a little from a hobby? Do you intend it as an entry to business or as simply a favor? And lastly, how will you feel if you don't get the commission?
good luck on how ever it goes...
-duane
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Good point. I guess a little marketing savvy wouldn't hurt anything. How about Mission Style Outdoor Dining Table?

Well, at the very least, this style of construction and type of table isn't commonly available at any local hardware stores that I've seen.

Since I'd only be making them in the summertime, I'd otherwise probably be drinking a few beer on a patio somewhere. And, it is a hobby, not a business. If I wanted work, I'd do my regular job and be making more money for it. It wouldn't bother me not getting the commission as realistically, I'd only be doing it as a favour.
I've got to admit though, it would make me feel good knowing a number of houses in a particular street were using something I'd built. Guess I've got some thinking to do.
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LOL ... can you get the word "elegant" in there somewhere?
"An elegant complement to that trendy new outdoor kitchen!"
... indeed! :)
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...

... Certainly, and it's would be worth several times that price and your labor is worth not doing it for essentially nothing.
The problem an individual runs into is the perception that rather than paying a premium for the better-built and designed piece, folks generally have the mindset that since you don't have a big factory overhead you can do it cheaper. Hence the experience I previously alluded to that folks in the setting of either knowing you directly or indirectly expect essentially a gift, not a purchase and ime rarely actually will ante up the money unless it is priced as a bargain.
I'll note that when I quit trolling for business on the at-work bulletin board and set up only a small show in a corner of a commercial/retail paint/decorating business which supplied the shop space (which is too long a sidelight story to explain) and only had "professional" contact w/ potential clients the fraction of cheapskates went down markedly -- not that there were any fewer of them; the setting simply screened out having to deal with most of them. It changed the potential client base from primarily coworkers/ neighbors/acquaintances/etc. to strangers who didn't have expectations of sugar plums.
Hence the questions to try to focus your feelings about the deal--if you want to do it for the pleasure you can get out of it, that's all well and good and I'd be the last to tell you not to do so, _BUT_ there are only a very few that will come through if you actually price them as you would need to in order to make it financially worth the time if anything other than simply covering costs and a few extra six- packs or a new sawblade for the summer's work is an objective.

That's a good feeling I'll agree and not worth nothing -- and it's certainly possible it might be sufficient reward on it's own.
That was the point of buttin' in--hopefully it will help some in considering choice of action...
Again, good luck, whatever you decide.
--
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You've made some good points. Since I live in an apartment and don't have a regularly available space that I can do woodworking, it may be in my best interest to wait until I find a suitable space to rent. As well as satisfying my desire for a workshop, it would also contribute to the possiblity of marketing some of the stuff I'd like to build.
Thanks
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You mean _less_ than the pos table on clearance.
-Kevin
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Well, I'm not Swing, but ya know I can't keep my mouth shut..
I'd figure that the 12 hours might be 16 and start there... What's your time worth, depending on whether this is a profit or challenge type project..
Whatever you think your time is worth, add at least another I'd ad another 40 to 50% to that for expenses like tool wear, electricity, blades, sandpaper, etc...
Bottom line for me is that I make an offer that I can't refuse and see how bad they want the piece done..
mac
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Sounds about right. For me, this is a hobby. I'm either going to do it for cost of materials because I want to do it for you, or I'm not going to work for cheap. I don't want or need potential aggravation for $4 an hour.
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Is there a picture online somewhere?
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"Flash Gordon" wrote

The following picture was posted by Upscale on alt.binaries.pictures.woodworking on September 14, 2008:
http://www.e-woodshop.net/files/TrestlePicnic.jpg
It was in my "pictures worth saving" file ... hope Upscale doesn't mind the reposting link.
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Not my idea of a "picnic table" Looks great...er, elegant. Saving the pic, also.
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Now I'm wondering whether you posted pictures ...
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Han
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Upscale wrote:

These folks... http://www.bar-stools-barstools.com/IVG2/Y/CatID-1239-Patio-Dining-Tables-Wicker-Metal-Folding/ColorFinish-Green.htm
will sell you an 85" pine Mission Style Outdoor Dining Table for $647.40. A 69 incher is $602.16.
--

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A
Actually, those images are encouraging to me. My table is considerably more substantial than anything there and it's made out of cedar, not pine. Too, Canadian prices are unfortunately, usually higher than US prices. All things in my favour should I decide to do this.
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The reason cedar is so expensive, because we only have about a bezillion acres of the stuff. With more land and wood per capita than anywhere on this planet, why does it cost so much money to buy a house?
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The value of a house is what the next fool buyer wants to pay for it. There is no better definition.
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Han
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BZZZZTTT!!! ... The value of the house is dictated by your tax appraisal district (IOW, what your neighbor's last sold for, or 10% more than last year's appraisal, whichever is greater).
The real question is: Why do we put up with this shit?
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Karl, with all due respect, the appraised value for tax purposes is a nonsensical amount. The exact amount doesn't matter at all, provided that all properties in what you call the tax appraisal district are evaluated in the same manner.
The district needs to add up all the appraised values, and also add up all the moneys they will (expect to) spend that have to be raised from the real estate taxes, and then divide one into the other. That gives the tax rate.
If everyone's home gets appraised at market value you will get a certain tax rate. If each property gets appraised for 1/10 its real market value, the tax rate will have to be 10 times higher to raise the same amount of money. It's that simple.
This is another one of those things that gets everyone's hackles up for no reason whatsoever. The only key is that everyone's property needs to be appraised in the same manner and to the same standards. The easiest way is to make that evaluation have some relationship to "real" market value.
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