What would you charge for this?

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Forum topic by mnausa posted 09-18-2013 09:10 PM 2032 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 2787 days

09-18-2013 09:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: furniture pricing cost furniture cost victorian

I’m kind of new to the furniture pricing world. A lady asked me to build this and I have no idea what to charge. I would like to get some opinions on what you guys would charge just on labor. Any help would be appreciated. Also, would this be considered Victorian?

—Mike, Mississippi,

-- Mike, Mississippi,

15 replies so far

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 3080 days

#1 posted 09-18-2013 09:13 PM


-- Who is John Galt?

View David Dean's profile

David Dean

608 posts in 3907 days

#2 posted 09-18-2013 09:24 PM

oh $700 to $1000 poeple are hard up for money but there is always that one preson. and that is nice.

View Loren's profile


11014 posts in 4656 days

#3 posted 09-18-2013 09:49 PM

It really depends on how nice she wants it, material and finish.

I would not call it Victorian. The legs are a French provincial style
I think. The detailing looks kind of Moorish. I’d call it a mash-up.

View mnausa's profile


33 posts in 2787 days

#4 posted 09-19-2013 01:07 AM

Let’s forget about the materials and finish. What would you charge just for building it. Roughly! Labor only, woodworking only, not finishing.

-- Mike, Mississippi,

View tefinn's profile


1222 posts in 3445 days

#5 posted 09-19-2013 01:24 AM

Depending on how you build it, you’re going to have 70 to 100 hours of labor, How much an hour do you want for your labor?

-- Tom Finnigan - Measures? We don't need no stinking measures! - Hmm, maybe thats why my project pieces don't fit.

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scott ernst

41 posts in 2836 days

#6 posted 09-19-2013 01:34 AM

In my shop, with my tools and my skill set, I would expect to spend about 3 days building that piece. I shoot for $6 – 700/ day for me and my shop. Whatever you charge for it make sure you keep track of all of your hours so you can see how you did in the end. I keep track of all the time I spend on all the processes on my projects. Even though almost everything I build is one of a kind, I find that it really helps my bidding to go back and look at similar projects when I’m bidding something new. Don’t sell yourself short. If you can build that project, be sure that you are making some money.

-- Scott, NM

View mnausa's profile


33 posts in 2787 days

#7 posted 09-19-2013 01:37 AM

For this lady, I’d settle for $20/hr. But I have years of experience being a general contractor, so I tend to look at it from that point of view. What is the average hourly rate for furniture makers? I guess I could Google it.

-- Mike, Mississippi,

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33 posts in 2787 days

#8 posted 09-19-2013 01:39 AM

Thanks a bunch Scott.

-- Mike, Mississippi,

View mantwi's profile


312 posts in 2904 days

#9 posted 09-19-2013 01:54 AM

HEADS UP. I wanted to get a look at the work done by a guy who commands $700.00 a day so I clicked on scott ernst custom furniture link. My fortunately very good antivirus protection stopped the connection detecting a trogan horse. Beware, bugs are hard to get rid of.

View Loren's profile


11014 posts in 4656 days

#10 posted 09-19-2013 03:21 AM

With unsanded plywood (paint grade) panels and the details
done in something like baltic birch, legs bought from an online
supplier ($200 budget for the legs would more than cover it),
I’d say $1000 labor for banging it out. No real sanding
to speak of. Sanding adds a lot of time in hard woods.

Hard to say if your time would be better invested in making
a router template and cutting the trim that way, or just
cutting it out. I’d probably do the template, but the math
has to be dead-on where cutting it out would be more
forgiving because the patten could be stretched or
compressed a little in parts if needed to make it fit right.

View NoLongerHere's profile


893 posts in 3684 days

#11 posted 09-19-2013 01:40 PM

call me clueless, ..... but that is Rube Goldberg ugly and a little creepy, like a big square bug with teeth.

edit: I just started making up Halloween props so, ..... ignore me.

my answer: 5000.00 just to make her change her mind and ask for something a little more respectable.

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 4293 days

#12 posted 09-19-2013 02:38 PM


Pricing is one of the toughest things for the typical woodworker to get a grasp of and feel comfortable with.

Here are a couple tips that may help;

You have to ask yourself a few questions first. Such as; am I trying to make money doing this type work? Is this a hobby for me and do I want to do it more for the learning experience than actually making money? Is this how I make my living?

You mentioned in post #7 that you would do this project for this lady for $20/hr. Is this because she’s a friend, relative, long time customer

Three things you should never do when trying to decide how to price a project.

Never let friendships or relatives cloud your judgment when it comes to pricing. If you are going to do it for a friend or a relative, then you would be better off just charging for materials with a small mark-up and ask for a gift certificate for you and your wife for dinner at your favorite steak house. Charging $20/hr or $40/hour will always seem like a lot to a friend.

Never just guess on a price. You need to price your work based on facts. If you don’t know how to figure your time to do a project, then you will need to learn how. There will always be unknowns when doing custom work, but for the most part, you should be able to look at each phase of a project and get a pretty good feel how long it will take. The more you break a project down and individually figure the time, the closer your actual time will be to build it.

Example; Just focus on the legs; can you build them or will you have to order them? Have you ever built legs like this before? Sizing stock, laying out pattern and making a pattern, cutting and shaping leg, and sanding legs. This same procedure should apply to every phase of your build.

Once you figured your time as closely as you can to actually build a project, then you may want to add a little time for unknowns. Once you have your hours figured, then you can decide what you want to make per hour and come up with a labor charge. You have to remember that doesn’t cover any of your overhead cost to actually operate a business or any profit.

The third thing you should never do is let someone else price your work. Only you know what it cost to operate your business, what your capabilities are as a custom woodworker, what tools you have to accomplish that work and what you would like to make.

As you can see from the first two posts; there will be a huge difference in how each woodworker will price their work. Neither is wrong (unless they’re uncomfortable with their own pricing or not making any money, which I doubt is the case).

The first thing you have to learn as a custom woodworker is you may just have to take a “N0” for an answer. I learned years ago it was much more profitable for my business to just accept a “no” then to under price a job and lose my tail on it (and in the meantime, lose the opportunity to build a profitable project).

I wrote a blog series on pricing your woodworking that may give you some ideas.

Good luck on your project.

-- John @

View mnausa's profile


33 posts in 2787 days

#13 posted 09-19-2013 03:50 PM

Thanks huff, very good info. I’ll check that blog out tonight. I’m transferring from general contracting to this and its a little difficult. If you wanted a price on a kitchen, bath remodel or a new deck, I could spit it out. But I’ll get the hang of it. “Trial by Fire”

-- Mike, Mississippi,

View David Dean's profile

David Dean

608 posts in 3907 days

#14 posted 09-22-2013 04:21 AM

Well what did you get for it and with the work done on it I hope more than what I said?

View mnausa's profile


33 posts in 2787 days

#15 posted 10-18-2013 03:44 PM

I haven’t built it yet but I got the job. $1200, she is finishing it.

-- Mike, Mississippi,

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