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Pricing for built-in cabinets

by wooddude
posted 09-21-2013 06:49 PM

16 replies so far

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5329 posts in 4929 days

#1 posted 09-21-2013 06:57 PM

Most shops will charge by the linear foot and finished.
I usually charge 1/3 materials, 1/3 labor, and 1/3 profit margin.
Put in your costs/time and see how you come out.

-- [email protected]

View Deycart's profile


444 posts in 3226 days

#2 posted 09-21-2013 08:32 PM

Bill – Figuring materials is easy. Do you just triple it and then you get your total?

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 3938 days

#3 posted 09-21-2013 09:03 PM

Did you keep a track of how many hours you put into it?

View Loren's profile


10927 posts in 4616 days

#4 posted 09-21-2013 09:50 PM

That’s nice work. It depends on your market but for work
of that grade I would say at least $240 per lineal foot
of the taller unit and at least $150/lf for the shorter

It looks like recessed panel doors. Raised panel would be
more. Do consider the quality of the drawers and the
sanding involved in doing them in solid wood. $100 per
drawer in addition to the lf price for the casework and
doors for nice drawers is not unreasonable.

View wooddude's profile


67 posts in 4384 days

#5 posted 09-21-2013 10:19 PM

Bill, thanks for the thumb rule on 3x the materials. I need to do a better job of keeping up with the materials!
Renners, heck no. It took me a looong time. I had to figure out how to make the doors and drawer fronts. I learned alot though.

Loren, that is exactly what i needed. That is great info on some pricing rules. One foolow up though, Is the lineal foot pricing you gave based on unfinished?

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 3082 days

#6 posted 09-21-2013 11:56 PM

Go over to woodweb and read about pricing. There is a lot of good info there on this subject.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4254 days

#7 posted 09-22-2013 12:11 AM


I wrote a blog series on how to price your woodworking that may give you some ideas on how to price your work to actually make a profit.

Just remember; a professional woodworker will price his work differently then a hobbyist (or at least they should), so you will have to decide if you really want to make money building things or just do it for the fun and learning experience.

-- John @

View waho6o9's profile


8964 posts in 3546 days

#8 posted 09-22-2013 01:45 AM

You’re wise not to finish your fine work.

Excellent advice above.

View wooddude's profile


67 posts in 4384 days

#9 posted 09-22-2013 05:52 AM

John, that was an excellent read. You presented a lot of info that I’m sure has already helped many, and will help many more. Thank you for your time in doing that so that others can benefit from it. That gives me more to consider for setting a price. Thanks!!

View Douglas's profile


424 posts in 3529 days

#10 posted 10-08-2013 02:24 PM

I see two mistakes:

- first, your client wanted to hire you “to save money”. You can’t compete with a production cabinet shop on price, so that was never going to happen.
- second, you’re near the end, and you’re just now trying to figure out how much to charge? You need to have that figured out first. And with your client expecting it to be cheap, either you take a huge hit, or he gets shocked.

I’m glad I’m not going to have to be in the room when you have that conversation. Good luck.

-- Douglas in Chicago -

View hobby1's profile


349 posts in 3266 days

#11 posted 10-08-2013 03:00 PM

Douglass made some very good points.

1. Did you show your neighbor the design, as you drew it up, to see if it is in the area of his interest, if he wanted a cabinet made by you, instead of purchasing from a professional shop to save money, then whatever design you come up with, you needed to show him and get his approval that that is what he anticipates you to do for him, he may have been satisfied having something made at the hobbyist level, where your average diyer would do.

If you showed him the design and what is involved in bringing it about, and he liked it enough to give you the goahead, then he is aware that the cost would have to match the work you are introducing to him, so you can charge him full cost, where he agreed upon by approving your design concepts.

However if you designed and built it without his approval of the design or knowledge of it, then there is a dilemna in this, because it all depends on what you and him agreed upon fore the build.

Your workmanship, has showed BETTER than cabinet shops, you went into great details in the construction, you went the extra mile to show perfection in your work, HOWEVER, was he aware you would go this extra mile to build this, or was he only wanting something built at a less perfect workmanship, at a lower level of quality.

Thats where the rubber meets the road, in this situation.

Hopefully he was fully aware of the work you were putting into it, and was fully giving you the goahead to produce such a fine piece of furniture.

Hopefully he would be wiling to pay what you deserve in this build favor for him.

View wooddude's profile


67 posts in 4384 days

#12 posted 10-16-2013 12:13 PM

Well….... I’ll go ahead and air it.
This was the first built in I have ever done. First set of dovetailed (even though they were with a jig and router)drawers, and definitely the first custom drawer fronts and 5 piece doors. I did draw it up on the computer and showed him the drawings (front, side, and top-down vews, all so that he could visualize it in place). I made a couple of adjustments based on his feed back (number of drawers, width of doors and drawers), and showed him the new drawings. He liked them, and was excited about it. I worked on it here and there, and he was patient about it. I felt bad it was taking so long, but he never complained. He came over a few times, and was impressed. He bought most of the material up front, but I spent a couple of hundred of my own during the build. He helped me relocate the pieces from my garage to hs house. I spent a few hours over a couple of days installing, and cutting/installing the final trim. After that, and after considering the responses I got above, in addition to some previous dscussions on other forums, I came up with a price.
I did not know the full material cost, but I estimated. I took that off of the final total, and came up with… $3600.

He felt that was “excessive” and “unfair” amount. I told him that since I did not give him a price up-front, I would not hold him to that amount. It is not fair to do that. I didn’t want any tension, and neither did he. He agreed to go shop around. He came back with a check. He more than once told me that he is very proud of it. Basically, I made $1700 considering what i spent during the build. I feel that’s low, but what’s worse is, I still think he thinks, I was trying to get one over on him with the bill I presented.

Take away, it’s all on me. I should have starting thinking about the price sooner. I was just happy to build. I did learn many lessons. If I am concerned about how much I will make, then I need to be concerned about that up front. Obviously, I have a much better idea now how to price something like this. The way I look at this now is that this build was a learniing experience for me, not a money making venture. I put a few more tools in my toolbox of woodworking, and for that I am very pleased. All joy!

View LakeLover's profile


283 posts in 2908 days

#13 posted 10-16-2013 03:18 PM

Nice work. Reasonsonable price with at least not a – sign.

He still beat you down. Design time, getting materials, processing etc. Should all be paid hours.

This is something it took me a long time to learn.

But when ever I hear people say materials X ? = price. That is sooooooo wrong. I can buy rough 1×6 birch maple etc for a about $5 a bd ft. For S4S it is over 9 a brdft.

I can turn the rough into S4s faster than I can drive to a different lumber yard. So right there is one big no no.

Because I have a good relationship and get a better price on premium ply with one supplier. Should that alter the finished price. Same labour to cut up $40 a sheet vs $150 a sheet.

Material in one row, labour in another, wear and tear on your machines and truck in another.

Also I never ever ever let some on finish my work. 99.9% of the time the finish is planned way before I cut the 1st board.

My 2 cents Canuck Style.

View jumbojack's profile


1691 posts in 3593 days

#14 posted 10-16-2013 03:59 PM

So, you cleared $1700.00? You said you spent a ‘couple hundred’. So 1500 clear? Either way for a ‘hobbyist’ I think you did OK. That said, you did a spectacular job on the cabinets. Your neighbor got a great deal, you got some great time in your shop. Gained a ton of experience, got a few tools. You got the recognition from the community here. Smile brother, you are a winner.

-- Made in America, with American made tools....Shopsmith

View endgrainy's profile


251 posts in 2857 days

#15 posted 10-16-2013 05:42 PM

Excellent built-ins wooddude! I read your thread with interest as I have a friend who’s asked me to make some built-in shelves for their living room.

Just out of curiosity, what did you estimate the materials cost to be? Is that maple? Veneered plywood for cases with solid wood face frames? Again, thanks for sharing – looks great.

As a hobbyist I think you came out well in terms of price. Got paid to do what you like at your own pace.

-- Follow me on Instagram @endgrainy

View wooddude's profile


67 posts in 4384 days

#16 posted 10-21-2013 11:53 AM

Thanks all. I did gain alot from it.
endgrainy, I estimated another $700 in addition to what I spent, just spitballin. He was on the fence about it, but decided it would be painted. With that, I went went birch ply and poplar.

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