Woodworking for $$

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Blog entry by Woz posted 09-01-2012 03:26 AM 2214 reads 0 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

All, I love working in my shop-when it suits me & I am working on a project that I want to work on, regardless if it is for me, Mama, the House or a Friend. I have come to ABSOLUTELY despise working for $$, a project with a deadline or a project for a customer-even if they say “oh just whenever you get around to it”. I have decided after my last project for a customer (who couldn’t pay upon delivery-even after they upped the “delivery” date on me by 6 weeks early!!!!!) that I am done working for requests, special orders, etc. I can’t be the only one here that feels this way! I have spent a significant amount of time in the shop the lkast 2 days working on what I want to work on & have LOVED every minute of it!! Your guys thoughts? Take or leave what I make-if I make more than 1 of the item at the time.

13 comments so far

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 3473 days

#1 posted 09-01-2012 03:36 AM

i feel the same way.i don’t like the pressure of trying to make someone happy with my work other than my better half.i recently have had 5 or 6 estimates on items and they’ll order or come up with a bad excuse when asked if they’d like to order.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4549 posts in 3844 days

#2 posted 09-01-2012 03:50 AM

I can only say that people have asked me to do turned items from a wood lathe. I always get half the money up front and put it on paper when it will be done. If it needs ot be done sooner I need the extra cost up front NOW and then I will put it to the top of the list.

It has happened 4 times to me and each time but the last the person backed out of paying the extra funds.

I really hope this help you for the future. It is not hard to handle people of everything is down on paper in black and white along with a big price for putting their work ahead of someone eleses.


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View derosa's profile


1597 posts in 4119 days

#3 posted 09-01-2012 04:02 AM

Hope the didn’t pay upon delivery person didn’t actually get the item; just cause you arrive with the item doesn’t mean you can’t leave with it if they don’t produce the payment. I’ve been making some cutting boards on order but other then that haven’t got the time to make anything other then what my family needs. I only do the cutting boards because I enjoy making them and need a reason to do so.

-- A posse ad esse

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4591 days

#4 posted 09-01-2012 04:28 AM

.....The vast majorrity of my shop time consists of making pieces I sell at shows and galleries. This has worked quite well for me and I have fun doing it and enjoy going to the shows I choose. I ocasionally accept commissions for custom pieces and alway stipulate a time frame that allows much more than I need to complete it. I collect 50% deposit and balance upon completion.
Working for money is fun and enjoyable when you do it on your own terms and without pressure. I do not have to do it to pay the bills…and for me that makes quite a difference.

View oldnovice's profile


7757 posts in 4651 days

#5 posted 09-01-2012 05:37 AM

My experience is similar Woz’s. The last time I did something for $ the client was surprised at the price even when I showed him the quote that he signed.

I love to make something and then if someone wants it I can sell it. That may be my modus operandi for now!

-- "Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

View thedude50's profile


3613 posts in 3761 days

#6 posted 09-01-2012 10:06 AM

For me the key is like Arlin said a large deposit 50 percent with the order and 25 upon the half way point of the build balance due at the point of putting on the finish,I also make stocked items and sell those for cash I have a storage facility that has finished goods in it one day I will have a show room and will take orders and sell from a set inventory.

-- Please check out my new stores and

View Lenny's profile


1722 posts in 4810 days

#7 posted 09-01-2012 10:38 AM

thanks for posting this issue Woz because i too have recently experienced similar feelings. after completing a commissioned project that had a deadline and one or two hiccups along the way, i said exactly what you expressed: “i want to make something that I want make with no pressures.” i began making a little box for my wife and was enjoying it so much, i added two more, one for each of my daughters. so Woz to get back to your major point, yeah i think woodworking for fun is more enjoyable than woodworking for $$.

-- On the eighth day God was back in His woodworking shop! Lenny, East Providence, RI

View DavidV's profile


1 post in 3376 days

#8 posted 09-01-2012 02:04 PM

I am retired and woodworking is my hobby. When doing woodworking for $, it becomes a job and no longer a hobby

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 3770 days

#9 posted 09-01-2012 02:39 PM

I recently rebuilt the bathroom and bedroom in an RV for one of our long term space renters.
The agreed upon plan was that he paid for materials and I would do the work at a discounted rate, ($15/hr. instead of my normal $35/hr.). I built him a vanity with sink, installed a water heater, added new wiring because he didn’t want a propane water heater, added a sub panel for the water heater and some new lights and receptacles he wanted, built/installed new cabinet doors, removed all the old propane lines, supplied a Roof air shroud for his Roof Air Conditioner, and a lot of little stuff like minor plumbing and electrical fixes.

After 3 months he never asked how much he owed so I sent him a bill for $456.

My wife is the manager of this campground and instead of talking to me, went to the office and screamed, (yeah SCREAMED), at her about how I was cheating him and that he thought I was doing it out of the goodness of my heart.
He paid the bill, but she nicely asked him to move out anyway. We promptly cashed the check at his bank so he couldn’t stop payment.

I decided right then that I was never going to do any of those types of jobs again. What I do in the shop can be for sale or as gifts for friends and family or if it’s something like an RV interior, I will get the entire project amount up front. If the customer argues, they can go somewhere else, I don’t need the business.

To relate a somewhat related story, not about wood working, between 2001 and 2009 I did custom Detroit Diesel repair onsite for a group of people who convert Diesel buses into custom RV’s. I would do everything from rebuild an engine or transmission or front end or any other system for a base price of $35/hr. labor/plus parts and material and travel.
Over the course of the last two years that we did that work we lost a total of $20,000 because some bus owner would decide he didn’t have the money after the job was done and stop payment on a check. After court costs and lawyer fees it just wasn’t worth doing that kind of work anymore so my 2 stroke diesel tools sit and rust and seldom even get looked at anymore. I doubt my 3/4” drive torque wrench even works anymore.

Good luck on whatever you decide.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Woz's profile


46 posts in 3382 days

#10 posted 09-01-2012 05:31 PM

All-glad I am not alone in my thoughts. WW is my hobby & I want to keep it enjoyable. I don’t like having to “make myself” go to the shop to work on a project that I do not enjoy or am on a time crunch to finish. I think I may try a craft fair sometime in the future with items that I want to try to make a $ or 2. I am also tired of the “wal-mart syndrome”, very few people understand the cost of “real wood”, much less willing to pay for a skilled craftman’s time. Thanks for sharing your stories & allowing me to vent a bit!

View Tom Godfrey's profile

Tom Godfrey

488 posts in 3459 days

#11 posted 09-02-2012 01:57 AM

Do I want to make money doing my work? The answer is yes but I prefer to make things that I like making and in the time frame I set aside for that project. I worked to many years under pressure to retire and now work under pressure to complete a job in a certain time and have to worry if the client is going to like it or even pay for it.
In the past several months I have found out I prefer wood turning to anything else I have done. Its exciting, its a form of art like nothing else I know of. You begin with a rough piece of wood, you check out the grain and decide what can I made or do with this piece of wood.
There are times I have no idea what its going to be but i keep working with it until I can see something in the wood I like.
That being said I make what I want, when I want and if someone buys it fine and if not that’s fine also. I think the secret is having a place to show off your work and not worry to much about making someone for one certain person.
I have never done any shows but thinking about it and hope to be able to attend a few shows this coming year and hope by then I will have a lot of items to sell or bring back home. Either way I will have fun meeting people and will have had fun making the items that I will be selling.
Long story made short. I don’t want to waste my time trying to make someone other than myself happy. When you take the fun out of art then its not longer an art, but a job.

-- Tom Godfrey Landrum South Carolina ([email protected])

View rance's profile


4279 posts in 4443 days

#12 posted 09-02-2012 02:09 AM

Yes, projects not involving money, time, or can be much more fun. However, being unemployed, I don’t feel I have much of a choice. I still enjoy most of it though. With each new project brings education. I really like learning new things in woodworking. I’ve only had one customer not pay. In fact, he never picked up his flag box he ordered. I’ll sell it to someone else. And all future orders require a down pmt.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Alongiron's profile


654 posts in 3976 days

#13 posted 09-02-2012 02:47 AM

I normally make things in my shop for a gift or something for my house. My Brother-in-Law says that he has put a few things on Ebay and has sold them for good money….I guess if you do it that way, you can make them at your own speed and there is no pressure. I think I am going to make a nice clock or something and see how it goes.

-- Measure twice and cut once.....sneak up on it! Steve Lien

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