Why Are You So Expensive?

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Blog entry by Todd A. Clippinger posted 09-25-2009 09:19 PM 2695 reads 0 times favorited 41 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is the question that I run into all the time when I bid jobs.

Today I picked up materials for a small job and I mulled over this question as I stood staring at the cargo in my truck.

Three boards of cherry and one sheet of 1/4” mdf core cherry… $217.

Well, at least I got the job.

Why are you so expensive?

Peace, Love, & Woodworking

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

41 comments so far

View PurpLev's profile


8653 posts in 4987 days

#1 posted 09-25-2009 09:26 PM

that pretty much sums it up… and this is before it even gets into your shop…

cheap, fast, quality – pick 2.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View Kindlingmaker's profile


2659 posts in 4865 days

#2 posted 09-25-2009 09:41 PM

Todd, I my self have wondered about the prices some charge when they seem to be way out of my budget then I have to step back and think what everything costs me to do something around the house or a little woodworking project and then think of the cost of tools and expendables and then there is the time it takes to plan, buy the materials, travel, make and finish something. I know that craftsmen are worth every penny they make and then some but the average person doesn’t have a clue. One of the many side jobs I’ve had for years was as a photographer. People thought I was expensive until they went elsewhere and came back. Just in the camera bag that I carried was near 20k of camera gear let alone all the studio stuff I would lug to weddings and such. Those that would hire me had no idea how much time it took to get ready for a shoot, clean up after one and then there is all the hours of photo adjusting. They just didn’t have a clue…

-- Never board, always knotty, lots of growth rings

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5438 days

#3 posted 09-25-2009 09:47 PM

Posting progress photos for clients was originally intended to simply share the craftsman process which people are interested in.

It has turned out to be a great way to educate people on how much work goes into the making of any given project. One comment I continually hear is, “I had no idea how much work went into doing that.”

They feel the cost is a bit more justified. There is a separation of client and craftsman when you disappear to the shop. They don’t know how involved the work is unless you show them.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5666 days

#4 posted 09-25-2009 09:57 PM

I had a retired school teacher ask me for a tv cabinet for her flatscreen, one a bit bigger than what was offered at the local (stapled together, unsanded) you finish it place. Theirs was under $500, I couldn’t even buy the lumber for less than $770. Granted there would have been a huge difference in quality, but…

Kindlingmaker – our one wedding splurge was for our photographer (apart from the locale). We may have spent more for the photos than the honeymoon, but in our eyes, that was the only thing we’d have to keep… We’ve seen our photographer at other weddings, as well as others, and realize how smart/lucky we were. A decision we still don’t regret.

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Walnut_Weasel's profile


360 posts in 4561 days

#5 posted 09-25-2009 10:01 PM

I know there are a few of you out there doing it – but I don’t understand how anyone can make a profit at woodworking…

I used to think that I could use woodworking as a secondary income one day after I retire. Then I realized how much good quality hardwood costs and the time involved and realized this was just a dream.

-- James -

View Dan'um Style's profile

Dan'um Style

14193 posts in 5322 days

#6 posted 09-25-2009 10:10 PM

nice looking material … looking forward to your next progress photo

I’m wondering what this will be. the plywood looks like some nice stuff

-- keeping myself entertained ... Humor and fun lubricate the brain

View a1Jim's profile


118309 posts in 4916 days

#7 posted 09-25-2009 10:16 PM

Hey Todd you get that too. If you buy quality your get quality otherwise we have to make our projects out of pallets and unlike some of the talent here my pallet projects look like there made from pallets. . I know a guy that charges $15 an hour and increases the hours so he really makes his shop rate $ 65 an hour. I feel ether if the customer can afford the product or not. If your only willing to pay for a volkswagen don’t go shopping at a Rolls Royce dealership.


View BigBard's profile


114 posts in 4753 days

#8 posted 09-25-2009 10:29 PM

I would say something like custom furniture is very labor intensive, and couldn’t possibly beat (furniture store) Haverty’s, Ashley’s and Rooms to go prices.

-- Carolina Panther fan!

View patron's profile


13722 posts in 4680 days

#9 posted 09-25-2009 10:35 PM

thank God we love woodworking !
we would all be in loony bins otherwise .

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5344 days

#10 posted 09-25-2009 10:46 PM

Whats screwed up is theres an excellent chance the broker selling the wood earns a better living than the gifted artist who turns it into a thing of beauty.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5653 days

#11 posted 09-25-2009 10:47 PM

Heck Todd. You should have just used birch imported ply, a bit of alder or poplar and stained it cherry. I run into those cherry kitchens all the time. Seems to me my folks had a walnut set of tables made the same way.

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5438 days

#12 posted 09-25-2009 11:01 PM

Dennis – I think you mean “cherry” kitchens;)

I am lucky that I have a good reputation. I got this job because someone else screwed it up, granted I did not get it in the first place but – oh well.

They should just call me the FireMan because I seem to put out a lot of fires for other people.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4642 days

#13 posted 09-25-2009 11:26 PM

well I’m just glad to see your making it todd…when we live in a particle board society and alder stained to the species….its a real pleasure to see the real craftsman still being utilized….i think there will always be a place for the real stuff…but is fewer then in days past…..good luck…

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5012 days

#14 posted 09-25-2009 11:46 PM

Yes lumber can be expensive!

View gbear's profile


544 posts in 5438 days

#15 posted 09-25-2009 11:47 PM

We all know your pain. I tell people that they can buy store funiture much cheaper than I can build it for but if you truly want or need that custom piece…that’s when you need a craftsman. Now days I keep my eye out for used pieces of furniture made with real hardwood that I can disassemble and reuse.

-- gbear, Carmichael, CA

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