How much is your woodworking worth ?

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Forum topic by a1Jim posted 06-19-2010 06:17 PM 11481 views 10 times favorited 169 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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118153 posts in 4549 days

06-19-2010 06:17 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

After viewing numerous projects on LJs I can’t help but wonder how much people get for there work . In particular boxes, boards and pens. Since they seem to be the most popular projects. When I see boxes like
David,Andy,Autumn’,Martyn’s to name a few plus boards like Larrys and so many others, I can’t help but wonder how much these and other folks sell there products for. It just seems so time consuming to make many these projects how can one make a living building these wonderful works of art. It might be rude of me to ask but just how much do you get for these items.


169 replies so far

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5190 days

#1 posted 06-19-2010 07:08 PM

I occasionally sell a box to a friend for the cost of materials. But to actually pay myself a fair wage for the time invested, I’d probably have to get $300-$400 for the average box. I don’t see that kind of market demand, so I really don’t try to sell them.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View b2rtch's profile


4921 posts in 4020 days

#2 posted 06-19-2010 07:41 PM

How many people do this kind of thing to make money and how many make them just for the pleasure , not even thinking about making a living out of them?

-- Bert

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4087 days

#3 posted 06-19-2010 08:27 PM

if you try to sell those small things for a living
wasn´t it time to take peoples fals imagenation from them
about wooodwork doesn´t cost
do as those who work with Clay and the glassblower they claim
there work to be art (one of) and it seems to me that there is a lot
of people who is willing to pay more than 400 $ for those things ( I have even seen prices on 5000 $ )
and they have done it for decates
and now when they seems to cut down on woodworking classes in schools
and nobody learn it , and if they want to learn it they have to wait untill
they can learn it as grown up the sameway as the glassblower

View j_olsen's profile


155 posts in 4143 days

#4 posted 06-19-2010 08:48 PM

Jim you’ve posed a good question here—My last posted project was a twin bed for a friend which i did for material costs (300)—I was curious what I could have charged and someone had posted a spread sheet to figure costs for a project which was pretty comprehensive – tool depreciation, overhead, vehicle deperecation and so on—I downloaded and looked through it and stripped all the costs i wasn’t worried about and lowered my per hour labor from 20 to 15 and the number it came up with to me was outrageous—over 1200 for a painted poplar bed!!!
I for one have a tough time thinking that my work is anywhere near worth charging that kind of money for a very simple item and would I pay for that item even knowing that it was handcrafted
I am going to watch this to see the other comments

-- Jeff - Bell Buckle, TN

View DAWG's profile


2850 posts in 4109 days

#5 posted 06-19-2010 09:25 PM

I hear what your saying Jeff, and if your building something for a friend covering cost is usually all you might ask for. My problem is the amount of people who know you do woodworking and will tell you they want you to build this or that, but then act so surprised (even offended or insulted) when you give them a price. I would not ask somebody to build me anything custom knowing that it’s better than store bought in materials and assembly and then act shocked over the price. I know most of you like me could have a full-time job+ if you made things for free, but starve to death trying to sell custom furniture. My wife has a long list of free stuff I can build and that list is full. With that said I’m always open to helping someone build something in my shop if they’re willing to help build it and buy the materials. Jeff your labor is worth $20.00 per hour if not more and if they don’t think so make your wife something.

a1Jim I charged $1800.00 for the Cherry Bookcase (they gave me $2000.00), $1400.00 for the DVD Case and $400.00 for the Louisville Slugger sign. These prices would not support full-time.

Thanks for the post a1Jim very interesting.

-- Luke 23: 42-43

View j_olsen's profile


155 posts in 4143 days

#6 posted 06-19-2010 09:35 PM

Dawg I’m right there with ya on the shocked look people give you when you give them a price—it’s like they think you owe them something—my question to them would be – when was the last time you spent a ton of time on something and gave it to me for free??
BTW—No wife here!!!

-- Jeff - Bell Buckle, TN

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3955 days

#7 posted 06-19-2010 09:58 PM

To be honest with ya a1Jim I couldn’t tell you. Although I have been asked to make some pieces and told them that my work is priceless and that you couldn’t afford it. How can you put a price on love? I just make what I want to make. I don’t like to make much of any one thing its seems like mass production and thats not for me.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View SchotterWoodworking's profile


113 posts in 4002 days

#8 posted 06-19-2010 10:00 PM

This is an interesting topic for me as I am trying to decide on pricing for my small clocks as a side income. I’ve got a full time gig in a custom cabinet shop but I would really like to make some side money to support my woodworking habits. I mean, how much am I worth; rather, how much are people willing to pay for custom furniture?

View jimswoodshop's profile


19 posts in 3888 days

#9 posted 06-19-2010 11:05 PM

I have taught woodworking and worked in retail at a couple wood working retail outlets. Here are some observations that I have noticed.
I found that most people who say they are making a living at woodworking are misinformed about what it takes to make a living. Most have a second income retirement disability or a supportive spouse.
A lot of people are believe that they can make a living piddling around in a shop making what they want and while having a pleasant day in the shop environment. A lot of people make one of a kind items have not counted the design hours delivery sales time or commission, cost of materials and time on consignment.
Walmart is not our competition nor is any other mass marketer.
Small shop and small overhead does not mean less expensive product than the big producers.
The consumer needs to be educated about what they are seeking out when comparing and looking at our woodenware. Two pcs that have the same function are not always the same.
To be profitable one need to be not only good to great in skills be marketable and knowledgeable but has to be something I have not spoke of yet and that is fast. Chopping out hand cut dovetails as quickly as most do with a machine (including setup) and incorporating time saving techniques wherever possible , Patterns, jigs, reducing machine setups whenever possible, and the biggest time saver is reducing shop interruptions like visitors and the telephone and other time thieves.
Several that I have met have little exposure to what a difference there is in detail in a $500.00 chest and a $2000.00 chest of similar made by a skilled cabinetmaker.
None of the woodworkers that I know that are not successful have a clue about marketing of their woodworking or themselves. Yes marketing yourself is as important as your product.
There are a lot of good under valued products in craft shows and festivals buy many people seeing a better way of working and making a living that they will sell cheap just so they can make expenses and do it again.
Generating sales does not mean making a profit or making a living.
I am not trying to cheese anyone off in this post but simply giving my observations. This was written quickly and probably has many errors of grammar and spelling, Be kind.
If you’re wondering what my gig is I work for a company and manage a shop making furniture and accessories out of pine and engineered wood. It pays the bills and has insurance. I also make 3 to 4 commissioned pcs a year in my spare time. This work pays well (I charge $25.00 an hour for my labor and shop and 1.5 times the cost of materials) It has built my shop and tools it feeds my creative side and builds my future retirement income business. Maybe someday I will quit my day job and do custom works but I doubt it. I think I will retire at 62 and supplement my income making my 3 to 4 pcs a year.

-- Will work for Wood

View a1Jim's profile


118153 posts in 4549 days

#10 posted 06-19-2010 11:33 PM

Lots of good points Jim . There are a number of things you won’t change with a big percentage of woodworkers. #! They under value there products or give them away. #2 most are not good business people even long term pros. #3 They short cut finishing with old products like Blo. tung oil etc.
Remember folks I said ”Big percentage”
I wish I could retire at 62 that’s what I am. What does that say about a 20+ year woodworker financial planning or being a good business person?
Back to the question how much do folks sell their boxes and boards for?


View woodsmithshop's profile


1418 posts in 4517 days

#11 posted 06-20-2010 01:18 AM

in the area I live, it would be called a “utility class area”, I was told years ago, there are 3 classes to consider,( in a monetary sense) utility class, craftsman class, and fine art class, most people in this area do not think your time is worth much , and the small amount of wood that you use could not cost you that much, so they don’t want to pay what something is worth or what you feel you should get for it, they always think they could build it cheaper themselves.
much of the time I feel lucky to make 2- 3 dollars an hour if that. so most of my work is for the family now, I quit doing custom work.

-- Smitty!!!

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4319 posts in 4081 days

#12 posted 06-20-2010 01:38 AM

The spectacles cases I make, my wife says I should charge $60 a pop. Mind you, I can make 10 a day if I jig up for it (I know, because I have done it). It wouldn’t matter if these were made from pine or bubinga, that cost difference is only a dollar or two for the amount of wood used.

As an example of where true craftsmanship makes a difference, one of my wife’s friends asked for a complicated quilt, king sized. The pattern is called “double wedding ring”. Anyone who cares to go look up how many pieces to cut out and sew together to make the pattern will find it is hundreds of pieces. At $5/hour, this would cost $800, not counting the material! Needless to say, the gal went and bought a quilt from wallyworld. It turned out lumpy and started to pull apart on the first washing. That’s the difference. My wife makes a quilt, it lasts for decades, not months.

This is what originally drove me to make my own spectacles case: the $5 and $10 made in chinee cases can last as little as three weeks before they self destruct. I had to drop my wood one 4 times before the thing cracked, and it is over a year old- and I repaired it with screws. Next time I’ll use dovetails, as soon as I figure out how to mass produce dovetails in my jig.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


20025 posts in 4647 days

#13 posted 06-20-2010 01:58 AM

Don’t be too said about not making it at 62 Jim. There are milions who scrimped to save and invest. The liars on Wall Street destroyed their plans. At least you got to do what yoiu wanted to do :-) Most of them worked at a job they hated for an a$$*%& boss.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View tdv's profile


1203 posts in 4042 days

#14 posted 06-20-2010 02:10 AM

I wish I could make a living out of producing what I love Jim maybe you will get the odd client willing to pay but where I live in this economic climate people look at the price of IKEA (Swedish mass produced crap..can I say that here?) then look at the cost of craftsman built & they invariably go the cheap route. I think the modern culture is change your style evry few years so now a piece of furniture seems to have no long term value except to people like us & our friends & families who receive the heritage pieces we build. It would be interesting to hear comments from some of the professionals who use Lumberjocks
God bless

-- God created wood that we may create. Trevor East Yorkshire UK

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4180 days

#15 posted 06-20-2010 02:34 AM

Good question, Jim. When I worked my trade, it was straight-forward and easy to set my prices. People need plumbing work. But crafts… or art… that’s tough!

An acquaintance from Atlanta saw my Tight Weave board today and wants one just like it. I really have no idea what I am going to tell her. Honestly, I’m still at that stage where I am a little surprised when a project comes out looking good. LOL None of that means she shouldn’t pay a “fair” price… whatever that is! Another factor is wondering if she has a clue of the worth, or will she have a fit if it is more than Walmart prices. Also, just because I am a hobbyist, I don’t want to undercut someone else’s bread and butter.

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