Work pricing book

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When you take your car to the shop, they have a basic book on what the repair costs, which reflects how many hours it should take. So brakes are X amount pretty much anywhere you go, except when to you go the dealer.
Has anyone devised such a book for woodwork? About how much it would cost someone for a bookcase, a coffee table, &c?
When people ask, how much would it cost for you to make an X, it would be a good reference.
Thanks,
S.
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Think for a minute what you are asking; if you are talking about standard carcass construction cabinets, you can get software that does it for you, including pricing out doors, drawer fronts, etc. For that matter, go to HD for carcass style construction. It works for them because they used standardized contruction methods, standardized hardware, standardized dimensions, standardized materials, and standardized finishing protocols.
Just in this group, I'll bet you if you gave 10 people a dimensioned drawing of a bookcase, with no specs on wood for structure, the kind of joints you want, what kind of glue to use and no assembly protocol, etc., you would get 10 very different projects that would appear to be the same, but stop at appearance.
Different techniques change the amount of time spent not only on contruction, but on finishing. The variables are too many and the differences are to vast to make a standard call on the prices.
Robert
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I can easily do database analysis/development for $100 an hour, but when I ask $20 for my woodworking that's too much. The truth is, there's too much emotional attachment to everything I make out of wood. Most furniture today is made from particle board and I can't even buy the wood for less than the furniture piece. And then, someone overseas works all day for $20 and carves elaborate decorations.
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Wed, Oct 31, 2007, 12:23pm (EDT-1) snipped-for-privacy@samson.net (samson) doth query: <snip> Has anyone devised such a book for woodwork? <snip> Too many variables to be viable.
JOAT It's not hard, if you get your mind right. - Granny Weatherwax
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AWI has a cost book.
It costs more to join AWI to find out what the book is about than what a small shop makes in a month.
I got one.
I was a little disappointed.
Regards,
Tom Watson
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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Depending on detail, most things should be priced 2 to 3 times the cost of materials. That makes life a lot easier. Again, that depends on how much you want to charge for your labor.
Tim

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I can't believe that successful businesses would still price like that. There are far too many factors to trust any "rule of thumb" pricing schemes it you want to be profitable and competitive. I've been involved with pricing for many years (different industry) and the companies that used to price that way are long gone. Some of our jobs are 2X, others are up to 10X.
Your first three words "depending on detail" are the most important part of pricing.
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It may make life easier, but it isn't always realistic. Cost times three is great for a fairly simple project, but, in fact, cost times two almost never works, and cost times three can be tricky. Cost HAS to include time, and more complex projects run well past the materials cost times three area when you include time. Let's not forget little things: mechanic's mark-up on parts (used to be 35%), current garage charges for labor seem to range from $55 an hour up, mostly up (for some reason Mercedes dealers charge much, much more for their mechanics' work; I never knew metric wrenches were that much more expensive).
That is for repairs. Generally, when you build a project, you are not repairing, so what you want is a final project cost, for which you charge enough to make a decent living. Today, 20 bucks an hour isn't a decent living in many areas (it's close to great here). There is an awful lot that has to be covered, and too many of us fall for the "times cost" bit with materials being cost. Not so. Shop expenses, from tool amortization to electricity to light bulb replacement needs to be considered, as do phone bills, computer costs and similar budgetary fun items.
Actual cost of a project, without labor, is probably gong to run at least 1-1/2 times what most of us have been figuring. At that point, add your labor. A reminder: do NOT tell the customer how much you charge per hour. This is not a repair. You are not giving estimates. Do NOT charge 20 bucks an hour, either, unless you're in hobby mode. Sit down and figure your labor costs plus your other costs. Add them. Multiply by 1.15 to allow for waste (time, material, whatnot). Now, figure how much profit you want, or need to make. Use a percentage: 15%, 20%, or, for high art work, 150% or more. Your choice. Tell the customer.
Most will probably walk on by. You are usually just as well off without that kind of customer: the particleboard junk at WalMart is what they're using for a pricing guide. You can't match it. You don't even WANT to match it. If your work is good enough, you'll make it. We've got one guy near here who has been selling beautifully designed and made furniture for years, training apprentices and so on, and, a decade ago, Mike was getting $3,800 for a double bed. This is not a one-off. It is limited production, from a guy with excellent training and who does superb work. I don't know what his prices are today, but bet on higher, not lower.
It is not an easy way to make a living, as Tom Watson will attest. He has the skills, the training and made it for many years but finally went where things were better, if not easier.
Rant over.
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"Charlie Self" wrote

Well said, Charlie. That's the kind of informative post that are few and far between these days ... and from someone with the knowledge/track record to back it up.
Worth paying attention to ...
--
www.e-woodshop.net
Last update: 10/25/07
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Thanks, Swing. I've got an "Oops" in my note: Mike is getting $2,800 for his canopy bed (canopy frame is nearly $600 extra). The spindle bed works out differently, depending on what footboard is selected. He used to apprentice four or five younger woodworkers each, provide room and board, and train them for a year. I don't know if he still does, but for anyone who wants to work in solid wood, almost all cherry with walnut accents (drawer pulls, etc.), MT Maxwell might be a place to consider. Most is power tool work, but the designs are really superb...and the local scenery (Blue Ridge Mountains) is hard to beat. Actually, it's unbeatable, IMO.
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On Thu, 01 Nov 2007 12:08:18 +0000, Charlie Self wrote:

Now you're going to start a scenery war :-).
We're between the Cascade and the Cabinet mountains and not all that far from British Columbia - I'll see your Blue Ridge and raise you a Cascade :-).
But you do have a much better local hardwood selection.
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Yes. Cherry. Walnut. Several kinds of ash. Several kinds of oak. Much tulip poplar. Hickory. Pecan. Apple. Magnolia. Actually, too many to name, really, and almost all of it in abundance.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says...

Good info, Charlie. Thanks.
S.
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I'd love that kind of markup! I'm doing 3 goblets now for a client and the blanks were $40 each...
mac
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samson wrote:

A hundred bucks might be too much for a coffee table or ten thousand might be too little, depending on the design, materials, workmanship, and detail.
You _might_ be able to work up costs for specific tasks, like "machine-cut dovetails" or "mortise straight leg for two aprons" but even there there are going to be dependencies on the shop setup and the quantity and the specifics of the design--you have both setup and recurring costs and someone cutting dovetails on an Incra jig is going to have a different setup charge and productivity rate from someone using a Leigh for example even if the result is identical.
Then there are intangibles. If I were to make an exact copy of a Maloof chair (assuming I could) I doubt that I could get a tenth what he can get for it because he's established himself as an artist and nobody's ever heard of me.
The bottom line is that furniture is worth what people will pay for it.
--
--
--John
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A secondary point: you're comparing a flat rate manual for auto repairs with charges for the creation of furniture. Apples and donuts. They're not even both fruits. If you need to make the comparison, get the cost of parts for building a car, then figure the number of hours needed for assembly (in the past, back when cars were a bit more reasonably price--say $5,000 or so---I was told this figure would range upwards from $27,000, just for the parts..1978? God knows, today, with car rices hanging around the high 20s).
Even then...I recently shot photos of a Dodge Challenger R/T ('70, none of this new stuff) for a magazine. The guy who rebuilt this bought the body after the garage it was sitting next to burned out. Talk about a mess. It was already pretty well rusted. The heat ruined every plastic part on it. Using mostly used replacement parts, plus his own labor and skills (and new pistons, rings, gaskets, etc.), he dropped about 25K getting it to show ready status. He even did his own painting: he's good, but not top notch, but a top notch painter for vintage cars is going to charge about $8,000 a pop for a vehicle that's mostly ready to shoot. I know another guy who put $100,000 in a '53 Buick convertible, only to yank it from the restorer because of a lack of progress...he's now doing the work in his spare time, which he tends to lack, so the work is going even more slowly (but a lot more cheaply).
You simply cannot use a flat rate manual for everything.
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Charlie Self wrote:

A better comparison might be a collision repair shop to a custom or race car builder creating parts from scratch.
In one place they're bolting and/or welding mass-produced parts together, maybe with a little shimming and filling, then finishing. The other takes raw materials and creates the parts first.
In the scratch building arena, use a hood as the example. One part might be a simple, relatively flat, race car hood, the other might be a classic reproduction, with fair curves created by hand on an english wheel. On a secondary note, the race car hood has to be "good enough" to look good from a distance, the restoration part needs to look nice under gloss black lacquer, viewed up close.
As to pricing as a multiple of material cost, both examples might use the same amount of materials, but would command far different finished prices.
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Good points, Barry..
I'm a turner, mostly, but My guess is flat work has to at least as dependant on what the wood used is...
If the "value" of the piece is based on a multiple of the material costs, all my projects would/wood be done with VERY exotic wood... *g*
mac
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Hi, Mac. Good to see you over here, too.
Pricing woodturning is a totally different color of horse, and is almost completely dependent on the popularity and recognition of the turner. Woodturning seems to be priced more as an artist's works are priced: some starve to death, and others prosper apparently with no rhyme or reason. A wonderful 12" maple bowl from XXX will fetch $250 (or more!) if signed, but that same quality of bowl from YYY will be looked at as a salad bowl and get about $60 at a show.
Everyone has their strong suit at the lathe, and that is usually the type and style of turning piece they produce. I have seen wonderfully talented people on the lathe that take 3X as long to do something as the demonstrator I saw doing the same process a couple of months earlier. So how do you price?
For lathe pricing, I take what I think >> I << should get per hour, then after a few practice pieces, come up with and average time per piece to determine the price, reflective of included materials. If I cannot sell the pieces for my desired price, then I don't sell them. They become gifts.
And I have found few that will pay for any kind of exotic wood work. Pens, OK. But no one is going to pay a couple of hundred dollars for an oil lamp just because it is made from Cocobolo. I can dye maple or poplar to look like cherry and sell them all day long for $45 - $55, but that Cocobolo lamp I would probably take to my grave. It is far better to use your exotics as accents on your cheaper woods to enhance their appearance.
In all the demos I have attended, all the discussions I have had with different "recognized" turners, VERY few have ever thought they could support themselves with turning alone. What a hill to climb there... They all teach, get sponsors, demo, write articles and shill different products to make it worthwhile as they could not support themselves on selling turned pieces.
Price your stuff by the hourly rate you want, and see where you come out. For me, that not only helped me determine >what< to turn as an easy sale to pay for more turning "stuff" (damn that's an expensive hobby) but to also make some extra cash.
Juuuuust my 0.02.
Robert
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On Thu, 01 Nov 2007 11:13:53 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@aol.com"
The best advice that I got when I moved to Mexico (think new start) was to get into the mind set of "artist".. I still have a hard time doing it, but I sort of force it.. Everything in life is marketing, and "art" sells for much more than "hand made in my shop".. Another example of your salad bowl would be the 6" to 9" diameter bowls I sell... If they're "art" and will be displayed, they're worth up to $100 each... because someone loves it and wants it.. If they're going to eat their cereal out if it every morning, I might be able to sell it for the $10 - $15 that it cost me to make it..
I've also found that most people will pay more for "art" from an "expert" or "dealer" than they will from the artist... Might be because if the artist is out selling his stuff, they think "starving artist" or something?
I have a lady that sells some of my stuff for a commission and she can talk about the "highly skilled artist" all day... If I said that, they'd laugh...
I guess perception really DOES become reality? lol

mac
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