For the first time I actually have the chance to sell some of the things I make.This question is for those who are already doing so.I know to figure in time but when figuring in my wood,is it common to tack on an additional bit of profit into the wood? or should I calculate the exact amount the materials cost and make my profit strictly from what I feel my time is worth?
I just figure time and what the board cost before I cut it. Also, don't forget to figure in the finish. Hand stencils cost more than just stain. And if you really want to get tech. you can figure wear and tear, but I feel this is part of the fun in building.
You've got to recover all of yours costs. There is more in a project than wood and labor. You have to account for wear & tear on your tools, consumables like glue & sandpaper, etc. Often you'll have feet or hinges or pulls or other small items that go into a project.
These costs can rapidly add up. For example a 1Qt can of poly is around $10, the brushes are 89¢ each, mineral spirts, mixing cups, steel wool, etc. Little rubber feet are 25¢ each.
The wood cost is also dependent on how you buy. If you're buying F4S and just building then the cost of milling to size is built in. If you're buying rough cut and doing the finish milling yourself then you have to recover that cost. You also have to figure the wood on the size of the pieces you started with. If you take, say, 6' from a 8' board that 2' is scrap as you'll have to buy another 8' to make the next one. So you have to recover the full cost of the 8' even tho you only used 6' from it. Ditto for thickness. Suppose you need only ½" for the final project but you start with 4/4. Well all that sawdust has to be paid for so you certainly shouldn't cut the BF used in half because that was the final dimension. You had to grind a piece of 4/4 stock up to get that finished ½" so you need to charge for the 4/4 and not the ½".
Pricing is hard. Usually I use 3x the materials as a starting point and adjust from there. If there is a lot of complexity in a piece I'll bump the multiplier up to 4x. If the piece is simple, but from an exotic wood at $40/bf I'll run the multiplier down.
Charge as much as the market will bear. Customers will accept a down move in the price easier than an up. Get the "pucker factor" out of the way up front. Throw the first offer *high* and let 'em choke. If they don't go with it, inch it down and counter offer. Sometimes you get lucky and they agree with the first highball figure and you make up well.
There right about selling.... its all in the approach. Start high, its much easier to go down but you'll never go up. And remember first impressions. Once you get a rep as a low baller you have plenty of work but will be hard pressed to make any money.
i have never sold my projecs but have asked several people their theory as how to price items.......i think the best way i heard to price an item is start with an hourly wage, say $20 an hour for labor ( and that is a guess). ....next figure the price per board foot of lumber before cutting and add 25%, this should cover costs of tool wear etc.......of course there will be times of adjustment but for the most part this seems to be the most sensible way to price your work.... let me know what you guys think....
$20/hr is too high unless you work really fast. Items priced at that level don't sell too well.
My best estimate is that $15/hr is about the limit. Gives you an annual income of only about $30k. Not starving, but nothing to write home about. Is why 99% of us remain hobbyists. If I can sell enough to recoup my tool costs I figure I'm ahead of the game.
Was at local aquarium shop today talking w/owner about fish tank stands. Looked like a simple enough cabinet job. Only problem is his fancy "solid wood cherry finish" unit (that looks like the type of stuff I prefer to make) hasn't sold in the 6 months it's been on the floor. Right next to it is one in black laminate over particle board for about half the $$$. He sells one of them every week or two.
Problem is I can't make the laminate one for what he's selling it at unless I'm set up to run 'em by the hundred. So what is answer? Make something nice that doesn't sell? Make something crap that sells but you're ashamed to put your name on? I don't know the answer. If I did, I'd be rich.
I'm content to operate at a low level. Make a few hundred every month to cover shop expenses and help around the holidays. I make quality stuff that I like. If it doesn't sell, I don't mind it around the house. Problem is that the house is getting full. ;)
Small arts and crafts stuff sells. It's lower unit cost makes it accessable to more folx than high end furniture. I've sold a couple of pieces on ebay, but a couple of others didn't move. I'm also uncomfortable with not being assured that I can recover my materials cost.
There are not a lot of woodworkers that have successfully made the transition from hobby to business. You can't compete with volume shops on per unit costs. The only area to stake out is the quality specialty market and that's a tough nut to crack.
Of all the things I've made what has sold the best (and produced the largest amount of total revenue) is the silly PO Banks. At $60 each I've moved a couple of dozen this season.
32nd Ferengi "Rule of Acquisition": Never pass up an opportunity to market.
Carry your "brag book" with you at all times along with a supply of business cards. Ask *everyone* you meet if they'd like to buy your product - you'll be surprised at how often people say "Yes." Was out week before Christmas getting some embroidered hats made for my buddies and asked guy that ran shop if he wanted to buy a bank. He not only wanted to buy *a* bank, he wanted to buy *5* banks! A quick $300 just before christmas. Cost to me to manufacture is $68 in wood and another $20 in doors so $88 turns into $300.
I've sold banks to waitresses, casual aquaintances, co-workers, strangers. Trick is that product is unique, interesting and timing (just before Christmas) was right. Got materials to make another couple of dozen and will try and make a couple every week to build stockpile for next year. I knew I had a winner when I brought prototype to work to show to friend and another co-worker saw and immediately asked "How much?"
i am interested in seeing these PO banks you are talking about but the link you provided doesnt seem to work, or is it my computer. can you e mail me the link or a pic?...