LumberJocks Woodworking Forum banner
1 - 20 of 25 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Colorfulness Font Slope Parallel Circle


Well. I want to build an Armoire. This would be for a family member so I am not going to make any money off of it. I was adding up a list to see what the damage would be if I were to make it. All these calculations are estimates, save for the sheet goods. I am really shocked by the total.

Rough dimensions are 40Wx26×72. Frame and panel build, modified from some plans I found on the net. I think I can save some money on the hardware. I could make some pulls or get something cheaper local.

Even though I am not making money off of this project I was going to use this one to gauge what I should charge for any future commissioned works. Currently I woodwork for fun, but the idea of making some money at what I enjoy doing pops into my head often.

I don't have any time calculated or Electricity costs figured up. I know electricity would be minimal but it has to be considered. Consumables like blade, bit, and machinery wear? I don't even know how to begin calculating that.

If I build, I am going to build it out of quartersawn white oak. $2.60 per board foot.

So I guess my question is how does a guy make money at at woodworking? I am almost certain the cost is going to scare them away from doing the project. I am going to try to get creative and see about getting the price down. I will start with the biggest slice of the pie, the sheet goods. Followed by the hardware.

I am probably asking the same question that has been asked hundreds of times before. Thanks for your time.

-Core2
 

Attachments

· Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
To answer your question about how does a guy make money at woodworking, find people who want what you make, who have money and are willing to let you tell your story.

Talking to people with lower budgets/expectations in relation to your output is a quick race to the bottom.

Just tell these people that it's around $765.

Let them tell you it's too much. Then very nicely and sincerely tell them to start a research tour. And that once they see what their money will actually buy, you'd be very happy to help them if they want to revisit the idea.

It sounds like they're not your clients. So you aren't losing anything. Above all, don't get huffy.

Leave them as a friend.

Howard
 

· Registered
Joined
·
88 Posts
"I am probably asking the same question that has been asked hundreds of times before. Thanks for your time."

I think it is a very good question. I can't help you- I never do woodworking for money.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
20,029 Posts
Some understand and some don't. People want something special to them. If they are sincere then they understand the cost. I don't get upset if they say it's too expensive. For some it is. I have others that believe I am very reasonable. If they want Walmart prices, there's nothing I can do for them. Luckily I have many more willing to pay my prices.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,220 Posts
How to make money doing that? It would look something like what's written below.

$750 materials

$1,500 for labor

$500 overhead

$750 self employment plus income tax

Subtotal: $3,500

Plus 7% sales tax at $245

Grand Total: $3,725

Basically you need a well-to-do customer.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,895 Posts
You are supposed to make money at woodworking? I thought it was like racing cars, if you want to make
a small fortune, you have to start with a large fortune. I know a couple of woodworkers that do make a
good living, but they are master craftsman. One of them stated one day that he had never worked a
day in his life, because he enjoyed working with wood so much that he could not really call it work, and
his excellent woodworking proved his enjoyment was not misplaced. You have to live in an area that has
disposable income, if there are no McMansions and fancy apartment buildings near you, you might have a
tough time making a living making expensive products no one can buy. I had to work most of my life to
be able to afford to buy used tools and repair them so I can afford to be a woodworker in my retirement.
I am not complaining, I had fun raising a family, and am happy keeping busy and out of trouble in my shop.
If you do a search on this site, you will find some that have made a good living at woodworker and there
are several blogs by knowledgeable people on how to make money at woodworking. Start looking and
reading, the answers are available.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,088 Posts
It is really tough to make any money at this. I have had one commission sort of fall into my lap and it actually worked out quite well. Other than that, I haven't hit pay dirt.

I will give you one useful resource: There is a user here on LJ's named "huff". He owned a woodworking business for a long time and recently retired. He wrote two INCREDIBLY informative blog series. One is about Marketing and Selling your woodwork and the other is about pricing it correctly and fairly enough for you to make money. They were instrumental in my pricing exercise for the commission that I did. They are pretty in depth and super-helpful, especially if you read them all the way through. Despite many of my own personal mistakes, I still made a decent chunk of change on my commission because of the information gleaned from those blogs.

My painful but true advice is to avoid doing "paid" commissions for family and friends if at all possible. I know family and friends are the best way to market, but I honestly think gifts are the way to go with that crowd. Of course that applies with cutting boards and small trinkets and such. In your situation, I wouldn't necessarily want to dish out that much cash to make an armoire as a gift just for fun (unless you have a bunch of cash sitting around, and if so I and others would be glad to send you our mailing addresses). You are kind of in a tough spot here. I would say tell them the price of materials, and see what they say. If it surprises them, so be it, they can find an armoire elsewhere.

Just looking at your pricing list, it does sort of frighten me for the following reasons:

1. An armoire is a large project and it is going to eat up a LOT of time. You may feel like the Santa Claus of woodworking during hour 3, but at hour 78, you might feel more like a slave-laborer. I find it incredibly hard to think about giving away all that time for absolutely nothing.
2. Given the size of an armoire, you are going to go thru some wear and tear on your machines and blades, you need to factor that in.
3. That consumables category seems emaciated to me. I don't know about you but between glue, rags, brushes, oil, mineral spirits, poly, sandpaper, sharpening stone life, electricity, etc. etc. I can slam thru some consumables VERY quickly. You probably do to, so I might add a little bit to that. Look in your garage trash bin for ideas of what you go thru.
4. Add an emergency category in there for $150 or so. Your planer is going to break or your drill press is going to break or your router bits are going to explode or something like that. It always happens and you need at least a little back up. This category is probably not necessary for professionals, but for guys like you and me, it is necessary.

Lastly,

Think long and hard about whether or not you really want to do this. An armoire is large and is going to take up probably at least a month, likely more if you are just a hobbyist. It won't hurt their feelings if you say no. Just think about sanding out burn marks during hour 81 and ask yourself if this project is really what you want to be doing in your shop for the next few months. I have learned the hard way to only start projects that I am interested in/am making money at or both.

In the end, if you don't want to be doing it, you won't do it.

Sorry for the length, but I want to help you make the educated decision.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
127 Posts
After I started building better projects and doing quite a good job, I thought what we all think: "Wow, I should make some good money for this!" Then, reality set in when people asked what it would cost for me to make them something. The typical response to my estimate was, "I can get the same thing at WalMart for $39. I told them to go for it!

A neighbor once asked for an estimate for kitchen cabinets. They were doing a total remodel and had a quote from Lowe's. I did not ask the amount. I worked up a cost for them after looking at what they wanted done. My quote was slightly higher than Lowe's. The neighbor was incredulous. I told him that's what custom woodworking is worth. He insisted that Lowe's was also doing a full custom set of cabinets for him. Yeah, right!

The only real commission I've ever done was a special cabinet for the family room at our doctor's home. It needed to completely enclose a computer system and look like a piece of furniture. I got what it was worth and they were happy.

One thing I've learned from talking with people about building for them is that I really prefer building what I want to design and build. In other words, I want to enjoy my hobby. If I build a few things that someone wants to pay me for sometime, that'll be fine, too!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
375 Posts
Looking at the sizes, you may be able to cut the unit down to 24" deep and save on the sheet goods.
I don't know how you have the material laid out but at 24" wide you can get 2 rips out of a sheet, instead of 1 rip and a drop. (Unless you're fully utilizing the drop.)
 

· Registered
Joined
·
565 Posts
Lots of very good points made so far. One that I'll add (I'm not the first nor the last to say it) is that furniture is expensive, or at least quality furniture is. Especially an armoire. 765 seems cheap to me for a quality piece. Go to a furniture store that sells hardwood furniture at about the quality that you'll be making and look at their prices for an armoire. I really doubt you'll find anything for under a few grand. Like others have said, you'll never be able to compete with Walmart prices, but you shouldn't be thinking of them as your competition. There is a reason why NFL tickets cost more than Pop Warner admission.
Not even knowing the quality of your work since you're relatively new here (as am I, welcome by the way!), I can say that custom handmade furniture is never supposed to be a cheap buy. Find an armoire on here that is similar quality to the one you'll build and PM the maker and ask them if they sold it, or if they were going to what they would consider fair.
Good luck with your project, and make sure to post it on here when you're done!
 

· Registered
Joined
·
1,199 Posts
People who say they can get the same thing down at Walmart are just plain ignorant. They haven't the slightest clue what goes into a piece of hand made furniture in terms of quality and time. Of course we all know that. You don't get solid cherry, you get a cherry paper veneer over MDF, or most likely, particle board (which I fervently hate). Also, you get a mass produced item that may or may not be what you really need, or fit in the space you have. But if you have to explain that, they probably don't care, and don't care to know.

As for Lowes, they might have decent cabinets, but they are modular, and won't be custom fit to your space. They will have to use fillers which waste space. If you could do cabinets for nearly the same price as Lowes, then why in the world would they choose anyone else but a custom cabinet builder? I'm certain their installers won't do as nice a job as the guy who built the cabinets.

I work in a cabinet shop, and we don't back down on price. If it's worth doing, it's worth charging a fair price for it.

As for the price of the armoire, I bet you'll pay $2-3K for a similar piece at Haverty's or Ethan Allen.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,221 Posts
When I made some tables (dining) for money - I looked at mid level comparisons of what folks would buy say at Eddie Bauer home, and Pottery Barn… just as a sanity check -
Knowing up front that I am NEVER going to compete with Ikea or Sauder put together stuff or Ashley furniture (table +4 chairs for 199.99)

For an Armoire I see the following:
I would be looking over the plan and thinking- if I can do 500 in materials and 1000 in labor + some overhead, I should be able to be delivering "Market Price" with a bit better quality to match ~1600 bucks.

The oak table I did - was based on something that they found at Eddie Bauer - but wanted it longer and with pull out breadboards etc. The smaller Eddie Bauer table (no chairs) was 1999.99 - - I made their table for 2500, materials were about 700 dollars.

Product Font Screenshot Gas Door


Higher end comparisons - look at Ethan Allen.
If you were doing it for money - you could say " my cost would be somewhere between Pottery Barn and Ethan Allen - -which automatically excludes Walmart from the discussion.

No reason you cannot beat the 3600 bucks for the armoire! But still show your friends the value proposition.
Rectangle Door Font Wood Screenshot
 

Attachments

· Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thank you all for your time and for sharing your experiences with me. This website (Lumberjocks.com) is great. Tonight once I get home I will respond to everyone's questions in their responses.

One quick note I was discussing this build with a friend last night and he wasn't put off by the numbers I calculated. He then pointed to a book shelf in his house and and told me he paid $800 for it. It would be hard to convey the quality of this bookshelf in words but I am not impressed by it. He then pointed to his tv stand and told me he paid $650 for it. Again I looked at it and thought I could have that built in two weekends, with my quality being much better. He then pointed to his table which I helped him carry in when he bought it and he told me it cost him 1200, I think he said with chairs. So long story short I realized that I don't have a well grounded expectations of furniture cost. I am a simple man and either have hand me down furniture or have made it my self. So I need to go to a hand crafted furniture store soon and scope it out for prices.

Again I will respond to everyone's questions tonight. I had a quick minute to check out my post to see if had any more responses on lunch.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
2,199 Posts
Compared to furniture store prices, your estimate for materials looks very reasonable. I think you are being optimistic though on hard wood, hardware, finish and gas. I think you should add $200 as a contingency so you don't end up out of pocket.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
153 Posts
Mass production can lead to price reduction.
If you were going to make 1000 of them, and sell them for 1000 each, you have a budget of one million. You might be able to make them for that.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
4,924 Posts
You may feel like the Santa Claus of woodworking during hour 3, but at hour 78, you might feel more like a slave-laborer. Right on!

I don't do anything for money (had a JOB once and didn't like it), but occasionally I do something for a family member. Right now, I have an entertainment center up on the finishing table and I can't wait to get that damned thing out of the shop. It is all I have worked on for the past 3 or 4 weeks, and I am sick of it. There is other stuff I want to do in the shop, but can't because of the elephant in the room.

I have a good friend who makes a decent living doing custom cabinets … his customers are pretty much all 1-percenters and he would probably get upwards of $4K for a project like the one you are looking at.
 
1 - 20 of 25 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top