How much should I charge?

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Forum topic by GCM posted 06-04-2016 06:26 AM 2172 views 1 time favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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94 posts in 3612 days

06-04-2016 06:26 AM

I realise this is a “how long is a piece of string” question but someone wants to buy my clock:

or make him one like it.

I haven’t a clue as to what would be a reasonable price for it – there would be about $50-$60 worth of materials and hardware in it.

It was one of my first “real” projects and so I couldn’t price it on time taken – the paint job alone would have been a working week.

Any guesses would be better than nothing at all.

Thanks in anticipation.

-- Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.

22 replies so far

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 3053 days

#1 posted 06-04-2016 02:02 PM

Customer: How much you want for it?
Seller: As much as I can get.


View JBrow's profile


1368 posts in 2206 days

#2 posted 06-04-2016 02:28 PM


It is a nice looking clock. By my way of thinking;

If you have heirs, one of them may want it when you can no longer use it; and may treasure it. Therefore, ask the heirs. If they want it, then no deal – consider making one and pricing it accordingly.

Even without any heirs, parting with any early project at any price would be difficult for me; and my first projects were nowhere near as nice as your clock. It is more emotional than anything else. Again, no deal.

But if neither of these apply, one approach is to check the pricing of clocks of a similar style and size locally and on the web and then double or triple the highest price. If you just want to get rid of the clock, sell it for the lowest price you can find.

If woodworking is a hobby and you want to turn it into a business, now may be your opportunity. Develop your pricing model and meet with the client for their requirements, negotiate the price, and build a clock. If the clock turns out well, word of mouth will generate business over time.

View JIMMIEM's profile


240 posts in 2127 days

#3 posted 06-04-2016 02:37 PM

Have you seen anything similar for sale? If so, are they custom made or mass produced? How much do they charge? You could price accordingly. Do you plan on making this a business?

View ArtMann's profile


1483 posts in 2102 days

#4 posted 06-04-2016 05:31 PM

I am going to be perfectly honest. Your link to the original project indicates that the project was made from MDF. That fact alone reduces the value of the piece by a large margin. It is a beautiful design and you appear to have done a good job of building and finishing. I think it deserves a better wood – like black cherry, for example.

View GCM's profile


94 posts in 3612 days

#5 posted 06-05-2016 08:50 AM

Thanks guys, just to be clear, the clock shown in the photo was a prototype and an experiment to see if something good could be made of MDF, whilst I have a strong sentimental attachment to it I would sell it for the right price – alas I don’t know what that is other than $60 is too low and $3000 is too high.

I would prefer to build another clock for the client as it would be easier to ascertain a reasonable price, but I am certain if I costed my labour at standard price it would be too expensive – that’s ok this is not the start of a big business, just an exercise in selling something I have made in my workshop. I don’t want to make a huge profit from it but I don’t want to give it away either – especially as the client charged me $3500 to cut down 3 branches from a tree. (it is a big tree).

The client has no particular preference to buying the original or a copy – they just want it in a hurry.

Even major businesses, when they start up, don’t know exactly what they should charge for their products, they have to do research and test the market – obviously that is not easy to do with this particular product.

@ArtMann LOL the client would have to mortgage his house to afford Black Cherry here (even if it was available). Certainly if I build a copy it would probably made of Tassie Oak (a species of Eucalyptus), expensive enough but in the realm of affordability.

The guy who wants to buy it has no idea of wood types quality etc – he just likes the way it looks.

BTW, the clock mechanism I used in this clock is now almost double the price…

Anyway I was just after a licked finger in the air figure, if any one wants to hazard a guess I won’t hold you to it LOL.

Cheers and thanks again for the advice, it is most appreciated. Cheers!

-- Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 3787 days

#6 posted 06-05-2016 11:51 AM

Given that it is MDF, the earlier suggestion to check what others are selling clocks of a similar style for is probably most appropriate. You would need a particular point of difference (fancier wood perhaps) to charge more.

It is a nice looking clock so you probably could sell a few of them. That makes it feasible to produce batches of them, which reduces your time investment.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View Tootles's profile


808 posts in 3787 days

#7 posted 06-05-2016 12:00 PM

the client charged me $3500 to cut down 3 branches from a tree.


Well, in that case, ask for $350 – 10%.

I also had a quick look on eBay (Oz) – perhaps not the best comparison, but it is quick. Pendulum clocks can sell from $100 to $450.

-- I may have lost my marbles, but I still have my love of woodworking

View JIMMIEM's profile


240 posts in 2127 days

#8 posted 06-05-2016 12:14 PM

the client charged me $3500 to cut down 3 branches from a tree.


Did you get other quotes for the tree work? If so, how did the $3500 quote compare? Is tree work the client’s main business? Is he a ‘friend’? I have a neighbor who is a contractor/builder. He did some work for another neighbor. The neighbor who had the work done confided to me that he felt that the contractor should have given him a discount as he is a neighbor and he had a short commute (across the street) to the job. I understand my client/neighbor’s feeling but also realize that this is how the contractor makes his living and what would happen if the word spread and other neighbors wanted work done at a discount. Could this be the case here? Situations like this is the reason I don’t like doing business with friends.
If you feel he charged you ‘full freight’ for the tree work then you shouldn’t have any qualms charging him ‘full freight’ for the clock….basically he set the rules so you should be ok playing by his rules. If he questions your clock price you can tell him that you didn’t question his tree work price (did you?).

View Tennessee's profile


2936 posts in 3800 days

#9 posted 06-05-2016 12:21 PM

This is one of those projects that really depends on where you live.
In a large city setting, handmade of any actual wood, I can see this going for a few hundred dollars. ($US)

Where I live, in a small suburb in the Southern United States, my gallery would be hard pressed to see $200 US. It would probably be somewhere between $125 and $175.
If I drove 2.5 hours South and got into a gallery in an upper class part of Atlanta, that price might double.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View sawdust703's profile


270 posts in 2706 days

#10 posted 06-05-2016 10:37 PM

I’m with Tootles on this one. Being a scroll sawyer myself, & making detailed clocks of all kinds, from cuckoo clocks to Grandfather clocks. The prices of these clocks would drive you insane! Literally! It’d amaze you at what folks will pay for clocks made from cherry, oak, maple, walnut, ash, even beetle kill pine. But mdf? What happens if their roof leaks, or the house floods, or? Its ruined! Hardwood can be salvaged. Yes, the clock works cost you money, too, but, nothing that isn’t replaceable. I would talk to members of your kin before you sell it. Especially since its your first project. Then, if the feller that done your tree work still wants a clock, tell him what Mr. Tootles said. For $350 you’ll build him a clock that will be worth every penny! Just my .02 worth.

-- Sawdust703

View Puzzleman's profile


417 posts in 4230 days

#11 posted 06-06-2016 03:31 PM

my 2 cents is to ask the question to you of How many hours do you have in it?

When he cut your tree branches down, he knew how many hours it would take and charged accordingly.

Calculate your number of hours to make it by your hourly shop wage (hourly wage + hourly shop expenses), add your supplies costs and that is your price.

Here’s the way that I would look at the price.
If the customer thinks that he got a great steal on the price, Great. You got the price for your hourly work.
If the customer thinks the price is too high and doesn’t buy it, you weren’t planning on selling it before anyways.

Either way you win.

-- Jim Beachler, Chief Puzzler,

View crawdaddy's profile


9 posts in 2754 days

#12 posted 08-09-2016 01:38 AM

Why not just start somewhere. Cost of material + say 20%. Worst that can happen is he not buy it, or you find out later you didn’t charge enough. But first and foremost the cost of materials should come back to you so that you may build more.

View becikeja's profile


1181 posts in 4099 days

#13 posted 08-09-2016 01:48 AM


-- Don't outsmart your common sense

View JAAune's profile


2057 posts in 3602 days

#14 posted 08-09-2016 01:59 AM

If you sell it and someone asks for another, are you going to be happy at the prospect of making a new one for the same price or groaning at the thought of it?

If you’re going to do it professionally, it’s time and materials plus overhead plus profit.

-- See my work at

View kajunkraft's profile


197 posts in 3496 days

#15 posted 08-09-2016 02:29 AM

Pricing is often a difficult issue. A lot of people simply charge 3 times the cost of materials. I would think that for something that is in the $60 range for materials, and is very unique, four times may be in order. The bottom line, in my opinion, is what have you earned per hour of labor? If the amount is $2.00 per hour, are you satisfied with that?

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