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  1. #16
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    Bob Vaughan
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    I'll throw in a stab just looking at the previous project.
    Making it from scratch

    $500.00 150 BF of good wood wood
    $60.00 sheet of plywood
    $400.00 hardware and other supplies

    $1000.00 roughly for supplies.

    Since its a finished project that requires a good bit of engineering and experimenting plus time consuming fitting of the articulating parts, a good rule of thumb would be materials x 5 so that would put the piece in the $5K range. If the project's engineering dimensions and components are known already, then maybe materials x three.

    ...then there's delivery and installation. Going up attic stairs into an attic room converted into an extra bedroom? That can be a very quick deal killer.

    Just some thoughts based on past experiences. Material costs times any given number is a good way to double check an actual estimate just to see if things are kept between the fences.

    Doing jobs for friends and relatives often doesn't end as well as you like and you run the risk of losing a friend.

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  3. #17
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Davis View Post
    There is one cost that nobody ever takes into account and that is the cost of these materials taking up space in your shop for sometimes months, the cost of these plans weighing on your mind all that time, and the cost of worrying about something going wrong. Those costs can be greater than the total price of the job and even greater than the friendship of the person you were doing a 'favor' for.
    I"m finally in final stages of finishing up my sisters table and can say AMEN to this statement. I have worried, cursed, stressed worried ad darn near cried when I had the top coat issue causing me to re-sand and start staining over. I will be so glad to get it done and outta the shop!

    I've only done one commission piece, but think that when quoting a price in the future I might offer to let them purchase the materials. I don't think people understand the cost of materials and different types of wood. Then just charge for the labor. Only problem with them buying the materials is you get what they provide and it could be 'crap'.

  4. #18
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    Jack (77)
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    NO WAY is the answer to them providing materials quickest way into a nightmare. YOU provide, this way you control how you work, get the best, straightest,of everything needed, that way your angst,aggravation, worries etc are at a MINIMUM

  5. #19
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Because you will be charging labor, don't forget to register with the NC dept of revenue. They will want sales tax on your labor. You will get a "tax ID number,", and a stack of cards to send in monthly to report the sales tax you collected, which you will have to forward to the revenue dept. Sales tax amounts to an income surcharge tax, in the 7+ % range. But don't worry, you will be able to sleep at night knowing that the sales tax on your labor keeps millionaires from paying sales tax on yachts and aircraft. When you add in the sales tax, you effective income tax rate becomes around 13%.

  6. #20
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Doing jobs for friends and relatives often doesn't end as well as you like and you run the risk of losing a friend.
    True friends should understand that you shouldn't be expected to do the work for a pittance as well as understanding and agreeing to 3x-5x up front.

  7. #21
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    They may also need to be reminded the project will not be turned around in 2 days, or even 2 weeks...

  8. #22
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    Dan (66)
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Quote Originally Posted by DSWalker View Post
    I"m finally in final stages of finishing up my sisters table and can say AMEN to this statement. I have worried, cursed, stressed worried ad darn near cried when I had the top coat issue causing me to re-sand and start staining over. I will be so glad to get it done and outta the shop!

    I've only done one commission piece, but think that when quoting a price in the future I might offer to let them purchase the materials. I don't think people understand the cost of materials and different types of wood. Then just charge for the labor. Only problem with them buying the materials is you get what they provide and it could be 'crap'.
    David
    From your post you learned a whole bunch in one project. There are just so many different ways to go with "woodworking" its hard to figure out what to do??

    Years ago I made some decisions about what I wanted to do to satisfy my own interests and then later to make some money to sustain my interests and expenses.

    For example: you don't make enough money to justify making longrifles by hand for profit. You have too many hours in it to complete the job and make any money. I have built rifles for less than 10/hour labor. You can get a job at Walmart and make more money -- but its no fun. I can't stop makin' them and they don't take up much space so I go on with my obsession.



    With a little thinking, I realized more people are wanting to sit down than shoot flintlocks. So I started making chairs back in the late 70s. Still not getting rich but having fun and making a little money for tools. I might mention that after 100 you get faster. My chairs are well made but function is the key. There are others making art forms but I offer sets to folks at a lower price. More on that another time.



    I encourage beginners to start with a project they enjoy making that does not take up a lot of space the shop. See if they sell.









    Doing repair work on some valuable pieces will eventually lead to a commission. For a big piece the materials alone are big bucks. A 2000.00 deposit before you start is a mouthful for some and nothing to another.



    This is just one path. A path that I took with a set of circumstances. Its important to point out-- I have never relied on woodworking to pay all the bills. I knew it would lead to less enjoyment so I've kept it "part-time" and its been good.

    David I looked at your profile and if my memory serves me well taking care of animals is a major time investment. Just looking at keeping horses tells me there is little time for long hours in the shop to schedule commissioned work. I'm not getting on you for having some neat interests but at some point you have to address "balance" with your time. My wife is really on my about that as I crossed the 66 yard line.

    good luck







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  10. #23
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Quote Originally Posted by danmart77 View Post
    David I looked at your profile and if my memory serves me well taking care of animals is a major time investment. Just looking at keeping horses tells me there is little time for long hours in the shop to schedule commissioned work. I'm not getting on you for having some neat interests but at some point you have to address "balance" with your time. My wife is really on my about that as I crossed the 66 yard line.

    good luck

    No worries! Not planning to do a lot of commission work. Just playing mostly and TRYING to enjoy tinkering in the shop. Blunders are frustrating. If someone comes along and asks for something, I'll certainly consider it with the caveat that "I'm not a professional!" lol

  11. #24
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Quote Originally Posted by DSWalker View Post
    No worries! Not planning to do a lot of commission work. Just playing mostly and TRYING to enjoy tinkering in the shop. Blunders are frustrating. If someone comes along and asks for something, I'll certainly consider it with the caveat that "I'm not a professional!" lol
    OK that makes more sense to me. I suspected as much but the question just sat there for me.

    I have done work at different times for different reasons. Sometimes it was nice to get paid for work that was not interesting and took a good bit of time. Other times the money just didn't make much difference as my income for bills was another source and woodworking was pure gravy.

    I find a similarity between woodworking that I do for others and getting rid of a litter of puppies. Old wisdom says never just give away pups - especially to strangers. People will treat the pups differently if the pay and they have an investment. Well wood projects can be kinda like that.

    The subject of being paid for woodworking has come up at some point in every forum I have visited at one time or another. Its a complicated topic and I have concluded it has no simple answer. That's not saying I don't have some points that work for me or that I am not a strident supporter of being paid fairly for work. Being paid for work in most trades is an ongoing learning process.

    As the public as a whole continues to move further and further away from a sense of pride in being self reliant, I think folks who have skills and work for others will have a tougher time as we move along the time line.

    time will tell I guess

  12. #25
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Amen

  13. #26
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    I've only done a few ww commissions and always felt afterward that I didn't charge enough especially when the client was aggravating. There is a line of thinking that you should charge a day rate + materials and overhead, instead of an hourly rate and if I do any more commissions that's what I'll do. But more likely I'll just build something and sell it because commissions are annoying.

  14. #27
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Catching up on all the replies in the last day or 2. Thanks all for the great advice! I'm not quite at the point where I want to make this an official business - maybe in the future if this goes well and others are interested in anything. I don't count on it paying the bills, but it would be nice to make a few extra bucks on the side (hopefully more than a few).

    I do plan on getting a deposit before buying any materials and checking out where they would want to put it, design, etc.

  15. #28
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    Re: Commissioned work advice

    Well you've built one, so you have the advantage of fixing some kind of time estimate.

    You need to upcharge materials +20% (this covers pickup, handling, shipping charges for hardware, etc).

    You also need to figure your time for visiting the site to measure.

    Plus, the design process + meeting with client to approve/alter has to be factored in.

    Your time is worth what you think its worth that's an individual decision we can't make for you.
    Last edited by Rwe2156; 06-12-2018 at 11:10 AM.

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