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What price your work?

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Simon Reeves30/03/2011 12:55:28
622 forum posts
227 photos
Dennis raised an interesting point about pricing your work, particularly pens etc, which worked out about 3x the materials cost + 15%. Without knowing this I reckon I have priced my pens in that ball park, with the cheapest wooden twist pen about £12, and the most expensive fountain pen using the most expensive acrylic around £48. Most of the stuff I sell seems to be just over the £22 mark but I'm sure there's a limit that most customers wouldn't go beyond.
Excluding the pros, who have to make a living, do other turners/woodworkers find the same?
PS I turned a couple of long(ish) staircase spindles for a colleague over the weekend, which took around 3 hours (I'm not too good at spindles, as you can tell!). Bearing in mind the materials probably only cost £1-2, what would you charge???

Edited By Simon Reeves on 30/03/2011 12:57:25

fatboy30/03/2011 14:59:45
169 forum posts
116 photos
not being a turner myself i would hesitate to give you a price for your spindles. i am a carver myself and when i do a sign for someone thats just lettering i charge £4 a letter up to 3 inch in height, i always have to bear in mind that someone buying a sign could go to someone else with a router and have it knocked out for 20 quid, the hard part comes when i have to charge for carved decoration, the method ive come up with is i charge £15 for a 3 x 3 inch square, i then work out how many squares roughly the design takes and tell them before starting what its gonna cost, with my materials i usually buy in my wood so i charge cost plus 25% this is to cover prep on the wood sanding time etc and finishing oiling or varnishing etc
BillW30/03/2011 21:23:22
711 forum posts
21 photos
Of interest on this topic Simon a friend of ours, the one I gave the pen and letter opener to, was at Crufts and saw a stall selling pens, her comment was that they were very expensive, unfortunately she didn't say how expensive but my wife is seeing her tomorrow and will ask if she remembers the price and seller.
Note, they would have to be expensive to cover the stall charges at Crufts.
Ralph Harvey31/03/2011 10:43:34
3274 forum posts
315 photos
2 articles
Pricing is one of the most dificult parts of turning, as it is with any hand produced item.
We would all like to get a fair price for our work so using a formula to work out materials labour wear and tear on our equipment plus 10% is a great way to do it, but this will be easier to achieve in an affluent area than it is in other areas ?
Some will no doubt say that unless they get a fair wage it just isnt worth doing ? well fair enough but is anyone prepared to give up a hobby to fulfill a principle ?
I personally dont sell much work and what i do i get enough to cover the cost of making it this is no longer a business to me through health reasons so i do what i can when i can and with whatever i have got.
If you can get a good price all well and good if not dont give up, enjoy what you do and have fun ! thats what its all about really.
Simon Reeves31/03/2011 12:56:41
622 forum posts
227 photos
I agree - as an amateur, pricing is very hard. You want to at least cover the cost of the materials, wear & tear etc, and hopefully make a little bit of profit so you can buy the next lot, but not charge so much that people won't buy at all.
I'm certain that people who buy things at craft fairs and the like appreciate the time and skill involved, but not necessarily the cost of tooling up to do it all in the first place. This doesn't have to be huge, but I suspect you would take quite some time to recover those costs, if that's what you wanted to do.
As a pro of course, you have to make a living, but again without going over the top so no-one buys your stuff. A very tricky balance!
For stuff like the spindles I mentioned, I often think a bit of barter is the way. The wood cost next to nothing, but the cost in time would have made them far too expensive, even at a relatively low rate (would you work for only a few pounds an hour?). As a wine drinker, I think a reasonable bottle of something would be the better currency, and also involves the customer personally!

dennis wake31/03/2011 17:36:38
2044 forum posts
1451 photos
1 articles
hi ALL
i know that in a round about way i set this post of and have got quit an array of answers to it. it is very hard to put a price on things. for instance the vase that i entered in to the turning competition at ally pally. it took me about 32 hours to make and about £40 of wood to make it. at a price equivalent to that of government stipulated minimum wage of £4.50ish then adding the cost of wood to that +15% then this vase would sell at about £210. in the area that i live i would only dream of getting that. if i had a web site would that then give me a better chance of fulfilling that price a web sit worth investing in.
BillW31/03/2011 17:56:12
711 forum posts
21 photos
I have been sent some photo's of the pen stand at Crufts, they were taken on a mobile phone so photo quality is not very good, I can't make out the name and I don't think it would be right to publish it if I could.
They had a range of pens to suit every taste and price from £13.99 for slimlines in a variety of woods to - - -
Are you sitting down Simon, I would advise you to have two glasses of my home made Damson wine.
A staggering £69.99.
I've seen a similar Berea kit at £17.99, then apply Dennis formula.
Dennis, the hosting company I use cost from £15 per year plus about £3 per year for a domain name, I could give more info if you are interested.
Big Al31/03/2011 18:45:03
1604 forum posts
73 photos
Very difficult question to answer, when I was self employed I had to estimate hong long it would take me to make it, materials, finishes and fixings had to be worked into the costing's as well.
Whenever I attended craft fairs as a seller I alway's had a mixed reaction, some people would tell me that my price's were low, some about right but the majority thought that I was expensive. But what you have to remember is that most people will compare your prices to that of major retailers that buy in bulk from far eastern countries.
However going back to the original posting, it would probably depend on the location of where your pitch would be. For example, if you had a stall in convent garden then £12 - £25 for a pen would be reasonable, but if your stall was situated in the local church hall in some village in the middle of nowhere then a typical price for a pen would be around £8 - £12.
The last time I came across wooden pens for sale at a woodturner's craft stall they were priced at around £7 each, and that was last summer in skegness.
With regards to the stair spindles, I would charge about a fiver each.
Sam31/03/2011 21:21:36
386 forum posts
110 photos
I  will throw my 2pence worth in .
About 50% of my wood work creations are made using timber waste as by products of other jobs . I still price the items as f I had to buy the timber to order . How I balance it out is that , yes it is a hobby but I don't do it for nothing . I stil value my hours at a sensible rate . If people want to buy cheap rubbi then sod off to IKEA .. What "we" make are bespoke
My neighbor owns a a very successful company that makes bespoke furniture and I can only dream of making things to his standard but he charges a premium , because it is bespoke , Take a look and see some of his stuff as it is amazing .
On the other hand , If I am plaing on the lathe , I may buy a blank for £10 and spend three hours killing it , I then take a look at it and think to myself "a professional would do that in an hour " . so have a real problem pricing the value , normaly no more than a tenner as I feel guilty for charging any more .
I would agree about the whole situation of it depends on where you sell it , but once again , dont forget most items you make are probably BESPOKE . No different than if you go and buy a vauxhaul astra its gonna set you back £15 grand , but a hand built ariel attom will set you back £50 grand .
Kind regards Sam

Edited By Sam on 31/03/2011 21:32:13

Edited By Sam on 31/03/2011 21:34:02

Simon Reeves01/04/2011 13:07:11
622 forum posts
227 photos
Interesting comments from everyone. I agree with Sam about the "feeling guilty" bit, and also about Ikea. If you want cheap & nasty you can get it anywhere (too many places IMHO), but if you want quality or bespoke you have to pay for it.
You only have to look at some of the antiques that appear on programs like Flog It and the Antiques Roadshow to see true craftsmanship. Most of the modern furniture that's made from MDF & chipboard will soon be chucked, whereas the real stuff will last a lifetime (probably several!). Long live the craftsman I say!
Still doesn't help with the pricing though!
Oddjob01/04/2011 13:17:21
1635 forum posts
79 photos
Posted by Simon Reeves on 01/04/2011 13:07:11:
"You only have to look at some of the antiques that appear on programs like Flog It and the Antiques Roadshow to see true craftsmanship."
I agree, but the value of antique furniture rarely amounts to anywhere near what it would cost to have made today.
Paintings and porcelain on the other hand are frequently valued at way above what modern items would cost.
I wonder why?

Edited By Oddjob on 01/04/2011 13:17:54

gerald meager01/04/2011 19:01:33
85 forum posts
2 photos
Most amatures in my experience are almost happy to give their stuff away. Which of course is silly. There is only one real answer Sell your stuff for what someone is prepared to pay for it. That saying comes from a marketing exec of one of the biggest retail companies in the UK. I live in spain and whilst a brit living here would happily pay 10-15 quid for a hand turned pen/pencil a spaniard would only pay a fiver at most.I'm fortunate in that close to me is one of the world best in Chris Stott. who struggles to sell his stuff, for anywhere near a realistic price.
When I lived in the UK before I became disabled I charged 20 pounds an hour especially for something unique, for routine stuff I charged 10 an hour which as it was my hobby and I loved doing it. I thought was fair. Always Always cover your material costs and then some for tools elect etc.
steve h02/04/2011 08:19:03
403 forum posts
128 photos
From a commercial point of view -
I agree that pricing is difficult - as for costs of tooling and machinery you would work out a finite amount of time - say chisels 3 years, grinder 5 years, etc etc - at so much per month - or week if you want to. If you tool up for a specific job and its is likely not to be used again in the very near future you need to cover that cost.
I think labour is difficult, if I charged at the cost per hour for my real job, I would never sell a thing (not that i have sold anything as my stuff is not good enough), but if you are doing it for a hobby, I agree with the many that you need to at least cover the costs of all your materials and factor in some other costs as mentioned.
If you are a hobbyist, like me, I would be happy just to make a small margin to cover my costs - for me its not a business - its my escape from my real life job!

Edited By steve h on 02/04/2011 08:29:26

steve h02/04/2011 08:55:08
403 forum posts
128 photos
Funnily - I always buy from craft fairs - maybe I do see the uniqueness of the items that people have slaved over - a recent one I puchased a large fluted glass candle holder, that had been done with lead and coloured glass overlay and a turned base as well for it to sit on - the guy wanted just £20.00, which I happily put my hand in my pocket for!
I even told him that I thought his goods are under priced and that they should be at least another £10 per item - but being in East Lancashire he said that people just would not pay - but they are happy to purchase mass produced crap from the cheap stores.
I appreciate that it is difficult some times - but there is always the more discerning buyer that would be happy to purchase the fantastic items that you guys make.
Made in England by a craftsman - surely it has added value?
Simon Reeves02/04/2011 09:36:10
622 forum posts
227 photos
Dead right I think Steve. I'm only a hobbyist, so I try just to cover costs with a bit left over. As you say, charging a realistic labour rate would almost certainly price everything out of the market.
I saw a bowl at a local craft fair on sale at £40, but when you consider it was about 20" diameter and 4" deep, with lots of intricate detail, his rate must have been only £2-3 per hour, if that. The problem is that it was still there at the end of the day, and he had only sold a few items as far as I could see. Such a shame!


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