Ballpark retail value for workbench I made

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Forum topic by Mythic posted 12-15-2017 03:54 PM 2509 views 0 times favorited 30 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Mythic's profile


13 posts in 1244 days

12-15-2017 03:54 PM

Hello, I’m a hobby grade woodworker, have been for 35 years. Never sold anything.

Finally, after 35 years I decided to try my hand at building a proper workbench. It’s basically a copy of The Essential Workbench from Fine Woodworking. Almost finished, still need to drill holes for bench dogs for the front vice. And build the cabinet’s for the center cavity.

A neighbor has been following my progress and has asked if I would build one for him. I have no idea what to ask for it. I know my cost of materials and can guess at the hours but no idea what the value might be.

Can one of you experts out there help me out?


30 replies so far

View Dustin's profile


707 posts in 1511 days

#1 posted 12-15-2017 04:05 PM

First off, let me say welcome. I know you’ve been around a while, but as this was your first post, I thought it appropriate.

Secondly, that is quite a handsome bench!

Third: pricing is always tricky. I’m a hobbyist, too, and have no idea how to approach it. Mainly, I want a reason to be in my shop. I’ve had two commissions, one I did at cost, and another I did for about double the cost of the materials. Even on the latter, I would’ve made less than minimum wage, but I enjoyed it.

How friendly are you with the neighbor? Is this a project he might want to work on with you? Seems like this might be an opportune time to develop a WW’ing buddy, and maybe a little cash or a solid IOU. That would be my take, but I certainly can’t tell you the value of your time.

-- "Ladies, if your husband says he'll get to it, he'll get to it. No need to remind him about it every 6 months."

View Manitario's profile


2816 posts in 3653 days

#2 posted 12-15-2017 04:17 PM

Your standard Lie-Neilson workbench starts at $2500…

Breaking down the cost of your workbench; you have at least several hundred dollars in the vises, depending what wood you used, at least several hundred more, plus glue, finish, wear and tear on your machines etc. So, that’s a good starting point. Then it depends how much you like your neighbour; a really good friend, I’d build something for cost (and make them help with the labour). An acquaintance is more difficult for me to price; typically I think about the difficulty/time for the build and come up with a dollar number that makes me feel that it is worthwhile. For something like a workbench like yours, I’d be charging costs plus prob ~$600.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1362 days

#3 posted 12-15-2017 04:18 PM

Yours approximately equivalent to this one, which is $2000.
Please note, that that cost include all retail expenses, such as shipping to the store, advertising, buildings costs, cashiers wages etc etc.
If your neighbor is fed up with the noise from your shop, he can buy it from you just to prove that you make stuff for sale. You are not allowed to do this and can get into trouble for breaking zoning rules.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1418 days

#4 posted 12-15-2017 04:21 PM

I agree with Dustin … have your neighbor buy the material and you walk him through the build.

View bbasiaga's profile


1243 posts in 2766 days

#5 posted 12-15-2017 04:22 PM

Double materials is a common “buddy” rate. A lot of folks think home.made is cheaper, so you might fight that. You’ve probably got close to $300 or 400 in materials there with the two vices, so when you tell him $600 to 800 for a bench he might walk away. Maybe show him a sjobergs catalog first so he gets harbor freight prices out of his head and thinks he’s getting a steal!


-- Part of engineering is to know when to put your calculator down and pick up your tools.

View jonah's profile


2119 posts in 4069 days

#6 posted 12-15-2017 04:24 PM

Very nice looking bench.

I’d start somewhere in the neighborhood of $1500. I’m assuming the materials were ~$500

View buckbuster31's profile


256 posts in 1286 days

#7 posted 12-15-2017 04:53 PM

looks fantastic! one of these days I will make time for myself and make one. right now, clients take up all my time.

View rbrjr1's profile


208 posts in 976 days

#8 posted 12-15-2017 05:04 PM

Hard to tell by the pictures, what species are you using?
Are you talking about price as it sits now or after you finish it with the cabinets/etc ?

As is now, I’d say a fair price would be $800-$1000
Add another $350 to that for the lower cabinet (assuming it’s got drawers on half/shelf and doors on the other half)

Looks awesome, by the way..

-- only an idiot dismisses an intelligent statement because they dont know anything about the person delivering it.

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4418 days

#9 posted 12-15-2017 05:38 PM

I don’t think I’d do it for less than $1500 but
that’s a price that will probably make your
neighbor balk.

Consumers these days are used to paying the
low prices delivered by economy of scale
production and cut-throat retail price slashing.

You can justify the price, but think it through
before having the discussion. The fact that
you have to sand everything with an orbital
sander whereas your commercial competition
has automatic wide belt sanders is of no interest
to a buyer.

Rather than cut the price, offer price-lowering
options like construction-grade fir legs.

View Mythic's profile


13 posts in 1244 days

#10 posted 12-15-2017 05:43 PM

Thanks all for your quick replies, appreciated.

The bench is poplar, had hoped to use maple but no budget for it this time of year

View Woodknack's profile


13384 posts in 3151 days

#11 posted 12-15-2017 05:59 PM

Let him buy the lumber and help him build it in his shop. You’ll make a new woodworking buddy.

-- Rick M,

View Gilley23's profile


489 posts in 1153 days

#12 posted 12-15-2017 06:03 PM

Mythic, what is your material cost for your bench?

View MrRon's profile


5910 posts in 4014 days

#13 posted 12-15-2017 06:07 PM

I would tell the neighbor how much you spent for the materials and how much time you put into it. Let him decide how much he is willing to spend. If he wants to go ahead with it, ask for the cost of materials up front.

View ColonelTravis's profile


1976 posts in 2664 days

#14 posted 12-15-2017 06:07 PM

Let him buy the lumber and help him build it in his shop. You ll make a new woodworking buddy.

- Rick_M

This is what I’m doing with a friend and a desk he wants.

View Mythic's profile


13 posts in 1244 days

#15 posted 12-15-2017 06:13 PM

Hmmm, I’ve composed and posted a reply. But only two sentences post. I edited the post, tedious to do something over, posted. Nothing.

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