How do I decide on a price for my work?

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Forum topic by peabody posted 06-02-2009 08:59 PM 6920 views 4 times favorited 50 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 3923 days

06-02-2009 08:59 PM

Topic tags/keywords: table price sell question walnut oak

I recently finished a very nice (if I do say so myself) entryway table, on the way out of my school where I built it a teacher asked if I would be selling it and asked what it’s price would be. I had no idea what to say and I kind of stammered around for a few minutes and ended up saying I would get back to her. How do you guys usually price your works? I can’t find any similar tables around the internet so I can’t even look for something to compare it too. I am sorry if this is already a thread but I would appreciate any help. Thanks!

-- "We want the finest wines available to humanity. And we want them here, and we want them now!"- Withnail

50 replies so far

View ralmand's profile


162 posts in 3575 days

#1 posted 06-03-2009 12:39 AM

I have built a couple of outdoor projects and have the same dilemma. I am afraid I did not charge enough. But the way I looked at it, I had FUN doing something I have come to love….Woodworking.

-- Randy, Allen Texas

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629 posts in 4219 days

#2 posted 06-03-2009 12:54 AM

(Supplies)+(Hours invested * what your time is worth to you)

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Ronnie Jackson

44 posts in 3552 days

#3 posted 06-03-2009 12:59 AM

i base it on time/materials or anything invested. i charge based on time invested and material cost. i pay myself an hourly wage. for example i estimate the hours for a job. if it takes me ten hrs, then thats my charge. and if it only takes me 8 hrs then the 2 hours are profit. so i cover my materials, labor, and gain profit.
bottom line this is what ive got in it and gotta have out of it.

-- [email protected]

View Attie Jonker's profile

Attie Jonker

10 posts in 3569 days

#4 posted 06-03-2009 01:33 AM

I use to have the same problem when I started. For a while I under charged but you quickly find the need to place a value on your creativity, Test the waters and see how much your clients are willing to pay. You can always come down on your price if needed.
For custom work, I always start with a free estimate and hand deliver it to my clients over a lunch I pay for.
This way I can read their expression when they open the white envelope. If it looks like they would rather pass on the project, I would compromise. I use a Cost plus 30% formula as a general guide to do my estimates. Projects will more than likely take longer than you anticipate so make sure to calculate that into your time.
I also have had some pieces that, if I had to place an hourly rate on it, it would never sell.
If you love what you do money is never the driving force of your creativity, so be fare to your self and to your client.
Hope my endless blabbering helps.

-- always something new -

View NY_Rocking_Chairs's profile


528 posts in 3869 days

#5 posted 06-03-2009 01:50 AM

It is a balance, I sell through some local galleries and there some amazing pieces, but $800 for a bar stool? The bar stool has been sitting there for 3 years gathering dust.

I try to price an item based on what I think the market will bear. Certainly cost of wood, shop consumables and some money for my time plays a factor. I also have some repeat customers so I tend to treat them better knowing there is more business coming from them in the future. Though if you establish yourself as being “cheap” early on you also might have dug a hole for yourself.

Working the craft shows also lets you read peoples’ faces and people like to haggle at shows. So it is always fun and I price the items up a little accordingly, knowing I will knock 10% off to let the customer think they are getting a deal, but still covering my costs and show fees.

If the teacher is interested in purchasing it you might suggest a price you are comfortable with and if they decline, ask them what they were thinking as a fair price. You could also take the piece to some retail outlets to see what they think.

Good luck.

-- Rich, anybody want a peanut?

View Kjuly's profile


311 posts in 3558 days

#6 posted 06-03-2009 02:01 AM

Congratulations Peabody,
That was a great compliment that the teacher gave you.
The short answer is …time and materials because you used the schools equipment etc. so those expenses don’t factor in.
The long answer:
A few things to think about when pricing
Consider what a fair price would be for a hand crafted table.
What does your table have that can’t be found in a store bought table of similar size and style?
Is there something special about the wood,finish or a unique feature?
Is this your design?
Once you sort out all that goes into the table and settle on what you feel is a fair price, take that price to the teacher. He/she will let you know if they think that it is a good price.
Sorry, I could not give you an answer like….A plus B plus C = the price, because there are several factors that effect the price, like geographic area ( material prices in New York verses Michigan) the economy etc.
Pricing is always a challenge….


-- Keith, Charlotte, MI

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285 posts in 3704 days

#7 posted 06-03-2009 02:35 AM

Well, I work at a museum where price is all about creativity and value and perceived value. I have a friend who has become a successful painter in Florence but once traded a painting to the butcher to cover his 18-month meat bill. Trust me, the butcher made out very well. Simple bottom line: recover material costs plus whatever. Think that someone else may see the piece and want to buy a copy. Charge more. But I love one of the above comments about having a piece priced where it sits for three years. When does carpentry become art? When people are willing to pay more for it.

-- Caulk and paint are a poor carpenter's best friends

View a1Jim's profile (online now)


117480 posts in 3849 days

#8 posted 06-03-2009 03:08 AM

Besides what others have said about time and material. Lets think about what your buyer could be thinking . your a student and he or she is a teacher(not know for being rich) and they may be thinking $5.00 when you have $50.00 material or more in your project. when you plan on making a product it’s best to find out who your buyer will be. In this case you have the product and prospective buyer. More questions do you really need to sell? Are you willing to sell for less than what material cost? Will this teacher bring in more customers if they buy your table? you can ask yourself a dozen more questions whether your selling because your broke.or will this be a sale to gain more business,or maybe you don’t really want to sell that bad. Ok taking all these questions in account and other suggestions come up with a price. If none of that helps post some photos with type of material and measurements and let us vote on a price.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 4278 days

#9 posted 06-03-2009 03:23 AM

Sort of the same way you figure out what to pay a man for his help. Too much for him to quit and not enough to fire him.

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

View dustbunny's profile


1149 posts in 3567 days

#10 posted 06-03-2009 03:30 AM

I like Jim’s idea. Let’s see some pictures!


-- Imagination rules the world. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte ~

View larrysch's profile


9 posts in 3555 days

#11 posted 06-03-2009 03:42 AM

I guess because I am retired – I have a different out look on pricing items. My time is not worth a dime, if I was not in the shop I would be working in the yard or fishing. Plus woodworking is a hobby – something that will consume my time – and a joy for me to be doing – I am not trying to make a living with this hobby. I price all my items that I sell as this : Material cost – double that price – and sell the item (s) for that price. Example is quilt racks that I build and sell – most of the material runs $30 dollars – so the quilt racks are sold at $60 dollars. Seems fair to me and the customers have never complained. I always show them the material cost (and this includes everything) and then they know in advance what the price is going to be. Very easy to get cost of material so the customer is not shell shocked.

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2104 posts in 4000 days

#12 posted 06-10-2009 09:00 PM

so what did you decide to do?

View Steve1376's profile


28 posts in 3921 days

#13 posted 06-16-2009 08:16 AM

I use the same formula as Larrysch does, only because I have recently started to sell my services, right know it is only a part time money maker but eventually I hope to make it full time. Cost of materials x 2 is what I charge.

-- Steve Phelps

View Prince's profile


4 posts in 3539 days

#14 posted 06-16-2009 10:44 AM

If I retired I do a Jim idea. But I want to see some pictures!
wooden garden bench

View daveintexas's profile


365 posts in 4148 days

#15 posted 06-17-2009 11:02 PM

Agree with others, but would like to see pictures. Of course ya know when you post the picture, you will probally get 15 different answers on price.

Right now I am finishing 2 Adirondack chairs and plan to selll them. In doing research I found prices anywhere between $49.95 and $300.00.
So since these are not built cheaply, and I used hickory, the backs and seats are curved for comfort, I will probally ask somewhere around $175.00 each. If I get a fair offer for one or both I may take it.

So to answer the original OP, ask for what you consider a fair price, add a little to that and thats what you tell the teacher. If she balks, then come down some. Its much more satisfying to ask a fair price and sell the object, then to sell it too cheap.

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