Pricing your work...again

Discussion in 'Newbie' started by John Torchick, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I know this has been discussed many times but I'm coming, maybe, from a different angle for pricing. We have a shop in town that sells and repairs lamps. I chatted with the owner a while back about selling him custom wood turnings and let him build the lamp. He was interested. I plan on going back and talking in detail as to how we can team up for his business. I have a decent selection of wood types in my shop and other places so they are air dried plus I have a Woodcraft store about 35 minutes away. I plan to work with him on styles, sizes, shapes as he would know what sells. Now: what should I charge for a basic turned lamp body? If I buy wood, how do I price that- wood plus time? BTW, the wood that I have on hand is freebie wood (the best kind). Any particular finish I should use or let that be open to the type of wood color, grain, etc.? Thanks for your help!
    Oh, yes! Forgot! Hollow bodies or solid or whatever he orders? I'll need to know if I need to drill for the cord and tube or if he can do that.
     
  2. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    I can't help you with the pricing. But I would consider that the wood you use has value whether you bought it, cut it yourself, or it was given to you. For example, two pieces of cherry of the same size, quality, figure, etc. would have the same value to me regardless of how they were acquired. Kind of like having an ounce of gold - it is worth the same whether you found it, earned it, or got it as a present from Uncle Rich.

    Another way to look at it is if you use your only chunk of "free" wood, what will it cost to replace it? I have some large pieces of amazingly wonderful cocobolo I acquired long ago for very little cost. But to me the current value is the replacement market value. (very high for beautiful cocobolo!)

    I don't usually try to sell things, but when I do the cost of even expensive wood is usually small compared to the time and skill and creativity that went into the final piece.

    JKJ
     
  3. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    Pricing anything is how much for time, how much for material, how much for overhead. Electricity, insurance, gas heat, tools, sandpaper, everything. Time is what you are worth. If you think you are worth $7/hour or $50/hr. Material is never free. It takes time to handle it, it takes time to cut it, and it takes up space. Add all those together and you have a price. I used to feel odd charging $50/hr, until I called for plumbing quotes. I figure I am worth nearly as much as a guy in a van with some pipe wrenches.
     
  4. Jamie Straw

    Jamie Straw

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    I've been in the retail furniture business (vintage and antiques) and also did a little custom woodworking in the past. The info provided thus far is spot-on. I would add a few comments. Highly unlikely you could afford to buy wood at Woodcraft prices and glean any decent profit. Yes, you would need to drill for the cord unless he happens to have the equipment and skill to do so. His advice may guide what "color" the finish is (dark/light) but whatever you use needs to be durable. Customers will expect it to last forever. Also, perhaps most important, he will want to pay you a wholesale price, or take your lamps on consignment. Either way , you'll probably have to keep your asking price at no more than 60% than the expected retail.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2016
  5. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I will never sell on consignment. That is tying up my time and $$$$$ with no guarantee of return. Then if it doesn't sell, I have to take it back and try to find a buyer for something that didn't sell in the first place.
    Thanks, Jamie for the info on wood, etc.
     
  6. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Again, thanks to all for their great information. Jamie, while pondering your reply, I remembered a sawmill/lumber yard in a neighboring county that is about 25 minutes from my home. I might get ambitious and pay them a visit to see exactly what they have to offer; also, check on prices. I'm aware of what you are saying about WC. I have dealt with them in the past and they are really great people. The sawmill might have a good variety of wood available in different sizes.
     
  7. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I called the two lumber yards/sawmills in our area. One does pressure treated lumber only and the other is pine and oak, mainly for construction. Back to Square One! I noticed that there are some ads in the Woodcraft magazine for wood suppliers. Any suggestions from the forum members? I live in SE Tennessee.
     
  8. Dean Center

    Dean Center

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    Gramps,
    You might find some fairly close suppliers on Craigslist or Ebay. I like the brothers at Got Wood?--http://www.turningblanks.net/ They're nice guys, easy to deal with, understand woodturning, have a good variety of good blanks, offer some wood kiln dried, and the prices seem decent. They're in South Carolina if I recall correctly. (If only that wasn't 2500 miles away from me.) I also bought from some folks in southern Indiana quite a while ago, Green Valley Wood Products if I recall correctly. I think there are several other suppliers from that area.

    There are some Urban Foresters and micro sawmill operations around who might be found with a search on google. Here are a couple of directories that popped up for me:
    http://johnmcgaw.com/etnsawmills.html
    http://www.hotfrog.com/find/logging-sawmills/tn

    Then there's always Woodfinder.com.

    How's the baseball player doing?

    Dean
     
  9. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Hi, Dean! Good to hear from you. Thanks for the tips. I'll do some searching along with the companies you have given. I might also check with some of the tree services in town to see what they will be cutting. However, my wife keeps asking what I'm going to do with the stack of wood in the shop. You can't win!

    Ryan tore a quad last May and missed most of the Albuquerque season. He recovered fast and played winter ball in the Dominican Republic. He got an invitation to start spring training with the Rockies and then will move to the minor league camp. He was told that if he hadn't had the injury, he would have been called up to Denver. Thanks for asking. Waiting to see where he will be assigned this season. Won't know until toward the end of spring training.
     
  10. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    I suggest you make a few for poops and giggles and time yourself. And then ponder a price. You will need to drill the hole. And know the price you are asking will be doubled. I suggest you are on a fools errand. But you wont know till you try. And just maybe I am the fool and you will make big bucks with a big smile on your face.
     
  11. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Kelly, I thought I would give it a try. I can either make $$$ by turning a few lamp bodies or make thousands stuffing envelopes at home. :eek:
    Edit: John K and Jamie are right on about wood, whether free or purchased. Along those lines, are there any places close to SE TN that are good to deal with? Looking at freight costs here. There are a couple listed in Woodcraft magazine.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2016
  12. KellyDunn

    KellyDunn

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    John, I mostly deal with galleries in Hawaii. I suggest you contact the local clubs in that area and ask members of those clubs who sell their work that question. Pricing in most cases is a local thing. What can you get for it in a given location? When I started I did the cost of the wood plus a wage I came up with. As I got better and faster the work got cheaper so I had to back off and come up with a math chart for say salad bowls. so if I was slow or very fast on a piece I still had by basic price structure in place. To get that structure I went to the turners who were selling. Asked for a certain size and what they sold it for. When I did the math the pros were all within a certain ball park. So I hit median figure. It took many years to work out a chart that takes into consideration a large platter or a very small bowl. If my base figure was on a 12 in by 4 in high salad bowl the figures fail on small or things like platters. Then you add in really pricy or rare woods or high figure above and beyond the base math. I have been a full time turner for 27 years. I have gotten to the point that for what I do others look to see how I am pricing my work. But I still ask around on some things. And a gallery will point blank tell me if they think they can not command a given price or I could add some more. there is always room for quality. But if something sits and barks I probably wont do another. And not being so stiff you cant bend with the breezes of the economy and make stuff that will sell will get you through.
     
  13. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Kelly, I belong to the Dalton Area Woodturners Guild in Georgia. I think they came up with DAWG just to tease us Tennessee fans. I'll ask around at the next meeting.
     
  14. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    John T,

    What kind of wood are you looking for, green, dry? Domestic, exotic? Big, medium, small? For face or spindle turning? Just for lamps? (I would spindle turn lamps with dry wood.)

    And where do you live in TN? There are numerous sawmills around, large and small. I have one behind my barn.

    Sorry if you answered all this earlier in the thread and I missed it.


    There is more wood available in this part of the country than an army of turners could possibly use. Most of it rots or heats. With the rain and wind this week there are numerous trees down. I counted 8 down around my farm and I didn't even walk down into my woods.


    JKJ
     
  15. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    John, any kind of wood. That would depend on what the lamp guy wants or feels will sell. There are two sawmills near here but they aren't for the public. Posted on them earlier. I live in Cleveland.
     
  16. John K Jordan

    John K Jordan

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    Have you tried Woodmizer's sawmill location service? http://woodmizer.com/us/Services/Find-a-Local-Sawyer

    Do you know about Jefferies Wood Works south of Knoxville? They have every kind of wood you can imagine, domestic and exotic.

    If I made lamps I would use dry wood. Wood from any sawmill will be wet (green) unless it has been kiln dried or air dried for years. A large enough piece to make a lamp is almost certain to warp and split, depending on the size and species.

    A guy I know who made lamps always glued up dry wood to get a piece big enough. I saw one he glued up from nine pieces of 2x2. Segmented turning is another way to use dry wood to make large things. Another way is to make the lamp in several pieces, for example turn piece from a thick board for the base/plinth, turn the vertical piece from say a 3x3 or 4x4, cut mortises and tenons so they fit together, glue and/or hold them tight with the threaded lamp rod/pipe. Could use contrasting woods for different parts or metal accents/rings to hide seams.

    JKJ
     
  17. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    John, thanks for the information. Knoxville is about 90 minutes from home. Will see where the vendor is actually located. Your wood advice on is most appreciated. I have a bookmark for turning plywood as I think this might be eye-catching.
     
  18. Kelly Craig

    Kelly Craig

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    Just some ramblings:

    Back about forty-five years ago, consignment is what got me into stores I would not have gotten into otherwise. It allowed me to grow my business (e.g., buy better tools and equipment).

    Pricing things was always a problem. While overhead, the details of which are mentioned above, is the first factor, for what is, essentially, art, requires you think of pricing in the same terms. That is, just as when I contracted to do remodels and such, I had to rely on instinct and feel for the final polish of a bid.

    A lot of people gave me good, sound advice. The advice that was was repeated by several people tended to be most sound. One of those pieces of advice was: "If you're getting all your bids, you're too low and if none, you MAY be too high."

    On consignments, I came across a couple of problems:

    1) Different stores required different percentages of the sale. Subsequently, I had to figure each item using different percentages. I'd left math behind, other than what I used on my "real" job. As such, figuring for different percentages was the equivalent of using a foreign language, even though it was a simple language. For example, it took a while to get back in the saddle and learn twenty-five percent was the same thing as .25 times the wholesale/retail price, etc.


    2) And the last part of the previous paragraph contains the other rub - some stores just tacking their percentage onto your stated price, then taking their percentage at the sale, of the retail, thus increasing their percentage.

    I solved the problem, after and in spite of asking accountants, mathematicians and others and receiving all manner of complex formulas that have to be adjusted for each percentage change, by simply multiplying the percentage I would receive against my wholesale price. The result was the retail price, which, when the store subtracted it's percentage from the retail, gave me my original asking price.
     
  19. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    I worked for a whole company years ago. The sales manager gave me the formula for mark up:
    MU = retail minus cost divided by retail.

    Hope that is correct. Or you can buy an inexpensive calculator that has the MU key.
    Thanks for your reply. Consignment is something totally alien to me. My business background going back to 1964 is: you make the product or provide the service and the customer pays for it. I'm just not comfortable in providing freebies and hoping they sell. Turnings and WW might be a different ballgame as you are not tying up thousands or millions of $$$$.
     
  20. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    Actually there are 2 ways to calculate markup.

    Based on cost if item costs $1 and sells for $1.50 that is 50% markup based on cost.

    Based on selling price if the item costs $1 and sells for $1.50 that is 33% markup based on SP. Most retail stores use this as the statement of markup.
     

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