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Pricing Question

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  • Pricing Question

    Recently, I sold a router kit to a couple who are planning on starting a woodworking business on a part-time basis. It seems they are planning to build small crafts and small bookcases and shelves. They will use plywood or MDF carcasses and some small dimensioned hardwood for crafts and trim. I told them I had a few rough boards of cherry (about 1/2" after milling) and walnut that I would sell them cheap. I milled a sample board and they like it, but they don't have a jointer or planer. They asked if I would be willing to mill their hardwood for them, at least until they could afford a jointer and planer. For the most part, they can get by with either 1c or 2c lumber.
    What I want to know is what would be a fair price to charge and how to charge. I will be jointing one edge and surfacing both faces since they will be ripping the stuff down anyway. It seems the fairest way to charge is by the linear foot as opposed to the board foot. I like this couple and don't want to rip them off. They were planning on buying lumber at HD and Lowes, who have the highest priced popular and red oak in the world. I could easily sell them cherry or walnut for less than they would pay for popular and red oak and still make a killing. I don't want to do this. (I have a full-time job and earn a decent living elsewhere.) I would like to cover the wear on my machinery and a little for my time. I don't expect to spend more than 10 hours a month on this and really don't want to do it if it involves much more than that. I expect most of this time will be spent preparing the lumber since I don't like to run rough stuff over my jointer and through my planer. I prepare rough material with a jack plane and jointer plane before using a machine since I'd rather sharpen a plane blade that buy and install jointer and planer knives. Do you have an idea of what would be a fair price?

  • #2
    You seem to want to help this couple out without going by the actual lumber market. I personally would approach this problem from the other side then. I would spend ten hours honestly working with the lumber and see how much is done including cleanup afterwards. I would decide what the rough stock was worth, (any mill could tell you that), add the cost of equipment wear and tear, and then decide what hourly rate I want to earn. Add it together and present the lumber and price to the couple. If they decide it's too much, (are they insane?!LOL!) at least you have ten hours of wood for your own projects ready to go! HTH
    \"Is it Friday yet?\"


    • #3
      I think you'll find that by the time you ad in your time and wear and tear on your machines, that you'd need to charge almost what the big boxes do for their S4S. Best thing to do would be to have the mill plane for you so all you would have to do is joint. The fees are normally pretty good for planing at most places.


      • #4
        Thanks for the suggestions. I've checked the mill prices for the rough stuff I have in storage and have a pretty good idea of what it's worth. I also have a good idea as to my time, assuming everything goes well, which it rarely does. I'm not sure about wear and tear on equipment, but I think I'll have a pretty good idea after a couple of months.
        I also checked prices of lumber planned and edged on one side. Assuming they will pick this stuff up at the mill, I won't charge them much at all for simply edge-jointing--about 20-40 cents a linear foot, depending on whether they want me to cross-cut to rough length.
        Bottom line is that I don't want to go into the lumbering milling business, but I would like to help them get their part-time business going. I want to cover my equipment wear and tear and get a little for my time, but at the same price high enough to encourage them to save for a jointer and planner. Fortunately, there is such a big gap between hardwood choices and prices at HD and Lowes that both should be possible.
        Thanks again for your suggestions.


        • #5
          Not that I'm terribly picky about spelling on message boards, but planned and planner in my above post should be planed and planer. A person should always plan before they plane just as he checks the dictionary before he pecks the keyboard.


          • #6
            GLH, The place where I by my rough lumber will plane 2-sides for an additional .25 cents a BF.

            Thought it might help you in determining a price.
            Let me see... 1, 2, 3, 4.... Uh Oh.


            • #7
              Thanks, I think somewhere round 25-50 cents would be about right for planing both faces fairly smooth, significantly smoother than the lumber yard's face planed material, and edging one side. I suspect I'll also be rough cutting the material to length, but my price will probably still fall in below 50 cents per foot. It's going to take a few whacks at this to get things right, but I'll probably err on the side of charging a tad more than I really believe it can be done for. It's easier to drop price than to raise it.