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  • Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

    I made a cabinet this summer as a wedding gift for a couple-friend of ours. They were impressed enough by it to ask me if I wanted to make a toybox for the bride's sister. They will pay for materials and labor.

    I think I might try to make a box similar to here . Of course, it would be cheaper to spend the $139 on the box by just ordering it, but it would be more special for them to have a hand-made box.

    How much would y'all charge in labor to make a box like this, if you were a weekend woodworker making something for, say, a close friend or family member? How about if you were a professional woodworker, just as a contrast?

  • #2
    Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

    For a friend or close family member, I would only ask for the material costs... I don't charge for my time, as I consider it a "labor of love!"

    Professionally, for a stranger, I'd have to look at my skill level and of course the end product. Obviously there's no way you can be competitive with the price of the commercial product. Whatever you decide, you must be right up front with your expected fee. Anything else will most likely put them into shock, as most people simply don't have any idea of the labor involved.

    Over the years, I've learned that there is a very thin line between someone's request for something and thier 'understanding the cost' of what they're asking. Always amazed by the fact that most people won't "bat an eyelash" at paying an auto mechanic or a plumber $75 an hour, but for an artist of any sort, even $20 an hour is highway robbery!

    CWS

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    • #3
      Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

      A rule of thumb is twice the cost of materials for labour. So price would be material cost X 3 (all materials - glue, finish, sandpaper etc). The problem with wood working is that the box you linked to will look very similar to what you build for a year or so and it is hard to explain to people why yours costs over twice as much. After the year the quality hardware, superior jointery, finish etc will still be as new while the store bought will begin to tarnish and fade and perhaps even fall apart. Yours will be used by the kids, kids the store bought will be long gone. Close friends get charged for material and beer

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      • #4
        Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

        Originally posted by CWSmith View Post

        For a friend or close family member, I would only ask for the material costs... I don't charge for my time, as I consider it a "labor of love!"

        CWS
        I agree in that anything you charge them for it would be under valuing your labor and they would still feel you over charged them. You're better off not charging labor and doing it because it is what you like to do.

        My father-in-law is in his 80's but still quite handy in his wood shop. My mother-in-law is concerned because he has not had a project in a while and has gotten to where he sits in his chair and watches MASH all day. She asked my wife to find a project for him and now he is building folding cutting tables (sewing) for my wife and one of my daughters-in-law. It's like he is a little boy again playing in his shop. We are always happier when we are doing what we love.

        Mark
        Last edited by ToUtahNow; 09-29-2007, 12:15 PM.
        "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

        I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

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        • #5
          Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

          SteveKane I agree with what the others guys have said and I would just add that you should explain to these folks that you would normally charge about $25.00 - $30.00 per hr.(or whatever you think you're worth), but you'll do it for the material fee this one time as a favor. Tell them there is no way you can compete with mass produced items... even after they factor in putting it together (some assembly required on the factory item). The factory could certainly not afford to sell one of's for that price either, however when they do a design and build 10's or 100's at a time with jigs and dedicated machine setups etc. then they can (they also save by not assembling).

          They may shoot you some money (even though it won't be what you're worth) if they're really happy with your work.

          Do the job for practice and word of mouth advertising (you can't buy that kind of advertising). Give it 110% and it will come back to you in the form of a nice referral some day. Then when you're dealing with clients who aren't "friends" you can begin to quote them your hourly rate etc. In the meantime do some research and find your cheapest source for materials and inquire about contractors and builders rates and discounts etc. You should be able to make anywhere from 10% - 30% or more on your materials...
          Cheers! - Jim
          -------------
          All truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Schopenhauer

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          • #6
            Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

            I agree with Jbergrestrom's idea of using this as practice and advertisement - word of mouth advertisement works. If I was to make something similar to the link I would add breadboard ends of contrasting wood to the top.

            Down the link page there is a set of kid's table and chairs. One of my pals makes something similar. He sells his set with only two chairs at craft fairs for $125.00 and can't make enough to satisfy the demand.

            Tom

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            • #7
              Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

              Just thought I'd share this, although its not a woodworking example, its similar in concept. I do photography as my summer and weekend job (when not being a biology professor). A few years ago, a close colleague at work asked if I could take graduation pictures of her son. A short time before she asked, I decided that I would no longer do photography for free, or at least I would seldom do it for free (except for family). I had gone through the "I still need practice, and its still a hobby" stage. I told her what I charged. She did not get back with me. Not a problem, I just figured she thought I'd do it for free so would explore other options. Then she called me in a panic close to graduation and said she really needed them taken quickly and could I just "take a few snaps". She pressured me a little, and I caved. I take pride in my work and so of course could not take just a few snaps. I didn't set up a studio, but went to a nice location and got some great shots. I probably spent 2-3 hrs all told. I told her I could give her the files and she could get them printed. Most professional digital SLR cameras produce awesome images, but they MUST be post-processed to make those great prints. I told her this. Then of course she asked me if I could post-process the images. Again I take pride in my work, probably far too much in this case, and spent a few hrs posting a web album so she could preview the images, pick her prints, then I post-processed them, and had the enlargements, and wallets all printed. Maybe all told I spent 5-6 hrs. I'll be the first to admit I'm slow, but I am meticulous. She bearly even said thanks. From that day to this, I don't interact with her in the same way, and I bet if I asked her to spend 5-6 hrs cleaning my garage, or doing some yardwork, or watching my kids she'd think I was mad!! She was not close enough to do it as a labour of love, and I just felt she completely under valued my expertise and time. It was a lesson well learned however.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                I dont charge close friends for labor, we pretty much work on the "buddy system" where they help me when I need it as well.

                I usually tell them that I dont know what they intended to spend on the project, but "There is no way you can afford to pay me for what my time is worth to me, So when you come to pick it up , bring a case of beer or two and we will fire up a grill or smoker and have a few while cooking something.

                Regards,

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                  Originally posted by CWSmith View Post
                  For a friend or close family member, I would only ask for the material costs... I don't charge for my time, as I consider it a "labor of love!"

                  Professionally, for a stranger, I'd have to look at my skill level and of course the end product. Obviously there's no way you can be competitive with the price of the commercial product. Whatever you decide, you must be right up front with your expected fee. Anything else will most likely put them into shock, as most people simply don't have any idea of the labor involved.

                  Over the years, I've learned that there is a very thin line between someone's request for something and thier 'understanding the cost' of what they're asking. Always amazed by the fact that most people won't "bat an eyelash" at paying an auto mechanic or a plumber $75 an hour, but for an artist of any sort, even $20 an hour is highway robbery!

                  CWS
                  I have been saying lately that its not right for other trades that are not as dangerous an are not a god given skill that can charge 75 an hour.Yes you might have to be smart but there are tons of smart woodworkers.
                  Anyways figuring a toy box, break it down into time to do each task and bill that way.If it seems like highway robbery charge what you feel like.Just make sure you have all your cost in there and a little shop maintenance.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                    From a psychological standpoint if you do not charge someone for something they will probably not ask again. I know there are goofs in the world who 'just don't get it'. But this holds pretty true.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                      Thanks for everyone's input...sorry for my delay in following up.

                      Turns out that, instead of building a toybox for my friend's sister, she wants a small bookshelf instead. I think I'll just charge 1x the material cost and call it good.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                        Originally posted by steveKane View Post
                        Thanks for everyone's input...sorry for my delay in following up.

                        Turns out that, instead of building a toybox for my friend's sister, she wants a small bookshelf instead. I think I'll just charge 1x the material cost and call it good.
                        That'll work
                        Cheers! - Jim
                        -------------
                        All truth passes through three stages: First it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. - Schopenhauer

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                          Note: This may not help or add anything new to what's already been said, but heck...why not another opinion?

                          At age 29, we freely gave of our material and labor trying to keep friends happy. At age 56, we no longer try to keep friends happy.

                          Always a "handy man," one who could do just about anything, I found myself with friends who took advantage of that. It was kinda-like having the only pickup truck in town and when everyone needed to move, you got called. In short, being a nice guy and giving away free stuff never paid off. I rarely saw any return for my effort from those friends of earlier times.

                          Now, we charge both family and friends for material and labor. The quality is free.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Toybox--how much to charge a friend for making one?

                            i asked some one on a different forum to make me a spoon rack [ he is papadan ] and he did make it and asked just for the cost to make and send it to me .the cost was not a bad price for what i got made by some one i never meet and lives far away .he did not want $ for his time so i got a gift card for his favorite place "Rockler Woodworking and Hardware"

                            this is what he made
                            Charlie

                            My seek the peek fundraiser page
                            http://observatory.mountwashington.o...nal&fr_id=1040


                            http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/conditions.php

                            new work pictures 12/09
                            http://public.fotki.com/hvachawk/

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