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Pricing Smaller Turnings

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by Macon Monroe, Dec 7, 2019.

  1. Macon Monroe

    Macon Monroe

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    I'm turning ornaments, candlesticks etc. How do I price smaller Turnings?
     
  2. hockenbery

    hockenbery AAW Advisor Staff Member

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    Depends on the market and the quality of the ornaments.

    When we stopped doing arts shows in 2004

    1. we were selling the hollow ball ornaments for $65
    These would be over $100 today
    One year we did craft show and sold 1. Next week we did an art show and sold out.

    2. Small cedar birdhouse ornaments - unsanded - at $15 each. The box section was 1” diameter by 1.25 tall
    Roof typically 1.5 d x 1.5 tall. All different styles so sizes varied. Some like acorns.
    These would be $25-$30 today.
    My wife and I working together would make 40 each year working about 2 hours. $300 an hour less the cost to get and dry the wood, a tiny bit of titebond, and about 1c for the hanger eye.
    We usually sold them all but 2 or 3.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2019
    charlie knighton likes this.
  3. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Small items that are well done can sell for decent money compared to the time and materials that go into a good sized bowl. There are plenty of small items that you can turn and sell as an impulse item when they don't want to pay for a larger item like a bowl or vase. You can quickly increase your productivity in the shop turning small items compared to turning the larger pieces. You also increase your market to sell to when offering different smaller impulse items.
     
  4. Macon Monroe

    Macon Monroe

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    This is true. But how do you come up with that price? I have people telling me that my smaller turnings are way to low.
     
  5. Glenn C Roberts

    Glenn C Roberts

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    [I have people telling me that my smaller turnings are way to low.[/QUOTE]

    Sounds like your pricing can at least go in the right direction. Showed my Misses a nice 3" spalted apple platter. "2 bucks" she said. Sounds like I also need to go in the up position - not with pricing, but with the quality of the work!


     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2019
  6. Ricc Havens

    Ricc Havens

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    I'm in the rural midwest - Northern Indiana. In my market at recent craft shows birdhouse ornaments don't sell well if priced over $35, wine stoppers $20-$20 depending on wood species domestic or exotic. At a summer art show these items bring around $5 more or so. I haven't developed a good skill yet on nice finials so I haven't tried to sell the fancier globe ornaments. But in my market I have seen others selling them for $40-$60. our market area doesn't see the prices that Al Hockenberry can get even at the larger art shows in our area. Art shows I have been to visit in bigger cities in the region like Indianapolis or Chicago can seem to get those prices.
     
  7. Mike Johnson

    Mike Johnson

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    Some small pieces that really stand out that are finished properly and have lots of figured grain or other artistic designs will sell as an "Artistic" piece. I have sold well done shaving brushes and bottle stoppers in the $100.00 range depending on wood type, design and finish used. These buyers are usually adding to a collection and are looking for an artistic piece to add to their display collection. Some buyers are repeat customers that come back each year to add to their collections, like Christmas ornaments.
     
  8. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    I am in central PA. The folks here are tight wads when it comes to handicrafts. Folks in my turning club indicate one must be super fast to have things at a price folks will pay. An item doesn't sell very well unless it has some regional appeal. 50 miles south along the Chesapeake, the crap trap buoy ornaments I make sell well (In New England I would call them lobster pot buoys) I can turn one and sand it in about two minutes, painting adds another minute and I get $4.00 a piece. I get 4 out of a piece of 1 x 1 x 6 bass wood. Costs maybe 14 cents a piece in materials. People don't buy just one, but buy multiples. And I do all the turning with a skew chisel. I printed out photos of various Chesapeake lighthouses and there are many different designs over the usual conical tower. I have been copying the general shapes of the different lighthouses and the few I painted sold well for $6. For instance the 7 ft knoll light house looks like a flat red cylinder with a small round glass light sitting in the middle of the flat(ish) top. Then there are the "spark plug" lights, which really do resemble a spark plug. I am still getting the hang of the different configurations and paint schemes. Wish I could copy the Thomas point light. Half the folks in Maryland would want an ornament copy of the famous screw pile lighthouse.
     
    charlie knighton likes this.
  9. Macon Monroe

    Macon Monroe

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    So, I need to test out pricing and see what works best for my area.
     
  10. RichColvin

    RichColvin

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    Macon,

    Pricing your work should include these considerations:
    • The price should cover all your costs
      • Materials used
        • Wood
        • Metals like pewter
        • Kits used (e.g., pen kit)
      • Direct Supplies
        • Finishing materials
        • Glues
        • Sand paper
        • Shop cloths
      • Indirect supplies
        • Some portion of the drill bits, saw blades, and lathe tools used — these are consumed with their use
        • Lubrications for your machinery
      • Depreciation of your machinery (as they will eventually have to be replaced due to their use)
      • Fees you will have to pay to sell your work (booth rental, etc.)
      • Other direct costs (gas to get to the selling point, parking, hotel, etc.)
      • Other indirect costs (advertising, web site, signage, business insurance, health insurance, etc.)
      • Sales tax
      • Other taxes you will have to pay (when I was self-employed, this added up to about 50% of my net income)
        • Federal, state, & local Income taxes
        • Federal Self-employment tax
        • And pay attention to the tax schedule as these sales could push you into a higher tax bracket, so the incremental income may be less than you expected
    • The price should include a profit for your work (or why do it?)

    • And, you really should be sure you are not undercutting other artists who do this for their full-time income.
    Kind regards,
    Rich
     
  11. Macon Monroe

    Macon Monroe

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    Thanks Rich.

    As far as undercutting other artist, Im not aware of any other turners close to me. It's mostly pottery where I live.
     
  12. Jim Woods

    Jim Woods

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    I have very limited experience, having done just 3 events. Mostly I have sold Native American style flutes. (40 to 80 bucks) I have smaller turnings of spinners - $5 for 1in and $10 for 2in dia. -sell well and draw interest spinning in a flat bottom bowl. Also have some 3" Christmas trees , lighthouses and mushrooms, selling some. Yesterday I had 30 bowls,6 to 14 inch, mostly live edge, getting generous praise with no bowl sales - except the center plank I cut from large crotch, selling for $40. 20191206_004051.jpg
     
  13. john lucas

    john lucas AAW Forum Expert

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    Wow I need to move. Around here $35 is really stretching it for a hollow globe ornament. Wine stoppers $25 for a ruth niles stopper with exotic wood but I sell 10 regular cork ornaments for $12 for every $25 Dollar one. My hand mirrors sell.for $35. The fa cier ones for more money just dont move.
     
  14. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    We had a demonstrator at our chapter meeting a few years ago. He stated he charged $1 per minute of time to do the turning. Materials were added to the price. Even if the wood was free, it was figured at the going rate.
     
  15. Macon Monroe

    Macon Monroe

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    This is what I needed to hear. I needed some guidance on how to price. I didn't feel right just slapping a number on it. Thank you!
     
  16. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    I would really caution against charging based off of time investment at the lathe. You may be better or worse than you think and under/over value your time. $1 per minute plus actuals might put you really high up there if you're a novice level turner. It might also put prices too low if you're an accomplished, efficient turner. Calculating labor rates, though, is a great idea.

    Think of when you were a complete novice-- how long would it have taken you to make it? Unskilled labor is essentially minimum wage, which is actually close to $15 cost to the company when you factor in the payroll expenses and overhead. If it's something that would take a novice two hours to make, minimum labor cost should be $30, not $120 ($1 per minute)

    However, look @stevethewoodturner on instagram. Watch him turn a matching table leg in 60 seconds. Calculated above, that would make his billable labor $1. Way underpriced for someone who's probably the best skew user I've ever seen.

    My biggest advice: You have to treat woodturning as two separate businesses: manufacturing and resale. Factor in all of your overhead and your desired billable rate. Use one rate for the actual turning, and another for less skilled tasks such as rough processing, drilling, packaging, etc. This is your chance to set your desired labor rate. If you're new, maybe it's $25 an hour. If you think you're worth $50 an hour, factor $50 an hour. If you think you're worth much more than that, you need a reality check. The world's best aerospace engineers, with decades of experience and certification lists longer than this post make $80 to $100 an hour. It's not realistic to put a part-time hobby turner in the same league as those folks. Keep in mind, though, this is not where you make 'profit'.

    All of the above helps you calculate your manufacturing cost. You'll need this if you ever want to wholesale anything. If you sell direct to customer, calculate all of your retail overhead: displays, travel, POS equipment, gas, lodging, food, etc, etc. Also calculate your sales labor. Minimum wage plus commissions is a great place to start. Say you sell 20 of product A for $50 (wholesale cost from above at $20) and 20 of product B for $100 (wholesale cost $30) then you your gross profit is $2000 (retail sales of $3,000 minus wholesale cost of $1,000). Then subtract your retail overhead, for example we'll say $1,500 for gas, lodging, booth fees, and merchant processing fees, and 10 hours of labor at $15 an hour. That leaves you with a net profit of $350. Doesn't sound like much, right? Right. The thing is, if you treat all aspects of the business, and account for all labor, you're never working for free. Too many other artists I've met don't actually account for time spent retailing at festivals. Even this past weekend, I had a flat woodworker tell me that time selling 'was worth nothing'. If he can't afford to pay himself for his time spent at the festivals, than he's not making as much money per hour in his workshop as he claims he is.

    Now, finally, advice on small turnings:
    Small turnings represent my highest and lowest profit margins-- mostly the highest. I do have a near loss-leader type of bottlestopper I sell with only a 30% profit margin, but I've sold about 200 of them this year. (and I'm still paying myself for lathe time!). I also sell a lot of artistic small bowls for salt dishes, candy dishes, jewelry dishes, etc. These get a 200-300% profit margin. Some popular turning bloggers have popularized formulas based off of volumetric calculations for 'utilitarian' bowls. Small bowls like that would price out at $15-$25 using that formula, but give them some unique features that set them into a more artistic category, and then you can double or even triple that and people might still buy.

    It all comes down to supply and demand. Do you want to sell 10 for $50? Do you want to sell 50 for $25? It's hard to predict what the curves look like, but you'll sell more at a lower price, and sometimes that lower price will be more profitable due to a boost in volume outpacing the decrease in individual profit. If you calculate every component of the process as a business, you'll never undersell yourself.

    Finally, a word of caution: don't get wild with pricing over a short period off time. Know your audience, don't alienate your customer price by continuing to jack prices way up, or by dropping them way down quickly. I've seen a local artist with a management perspective of 'raising prices until nobody buys anymore'. They still sell occasionally, but they've priced themselves out of the average American, and I still regularly get snide remarks about them.
     
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  17. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    If u were really trying to make a buck and had taken a pencil to it before u started....probably would not have started....if stuff is piling up and relatives don't have enough birthdays....price to move.....amazon never worried about cutting prices
     
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  18. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    That's a big disservice to professionals and artists trying to make a living.

    Taking a pencil to it before starting helps you figure out how to make mo ey for your time. It shouldn't discourage anyone. It's not easy to make money from turning, but I'd say it's easier than a lot of businesses to start turning a profit.
     
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  19. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    I've never met a single person who makes a living woodturning. Every single one I've met that doesn't have another full time job, sells signature tools, makes tools to sell, sells class time, and now sells time from their own shop so the ones that undercut them in local craft shows can sit at a meeting and watch a screen. Are these artists undercutting tool manufacturers and retail businesses? Nope, it's called free enterprise.
     
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  20. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    I do. I don't sell tools. I don't teach. I don't rent out shop time. I don't have a full time job. I've been making more the last two years than I ever have before working in a 'good career job' that required a bachelors degree, active work on a master's, as well as a bunch of field experience. Factored for inflation, it was still barely what minimum wage was upon inception. That doesn't even include the cost of the continuing education and such that go with a career position.

    I don't want to debate the finer intricacies of free market economics, undercutting hurts everyone. A purely free market would collapse. American wages have already suffered enough.

    Also, I don't understand how you think signature tools undercut tool manufacturers. All the signature tools out there are priced higher than what's available commercially, as they should be.

    EDIT: Actually, sorry, my business is not 100% woodturning. It's only about 70% woodturning.
     
  21. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    Don't buy his, buy mine
     
  22. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    Not sure why it's not letting me quote...

    Charlie:

    Or, you could charge more for your products and help everyone make more money than just covering tools and materials?

    I'm not really trying to argue, just point out that undercutting helps no one. 'Round here, the regular markets won't even let you rent a booth space if you're undercutting and/or not appropriately valuing the labor in your products.
     
  23. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    I can't find much about your turning work Davis. I see some pens and bottle stoppers on Facebook, along with some Farmer's Market appearance dates. Just curious how long you were at that other day job, since your business was formed a year ago according to Facebook. I left my day job after 15 years to operate a custom woodworking business, so just a bit of curiosity.
     
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  24. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

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    It isn't just the making time and materials or the vendor space, add the travel time and settin time at the show and you are usually losing money. what low skill I do have goes mostly to donation to charity for the charity to sell. A few items, I make and sell when I get a call for them. Got a call this morning for 4 items by 12-16 But these are for a store to resell. Which is sort of flattering itself for me.
     
  25. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    I left work in education/interpretive development and physical media development for the National Parks Service and then a Wildlife Rehab Center is Alaska because I hated moving all the time. Statistics was always my strong point. Before and after the NPS I did sales data analytics, marketing analytics, and business development.

    Our online presence is very minimal. I hate doing it and don't keep up on it. If I were to hire anyone for any task, it would be that. I would much rather spend a full day working sales stats than spending 1 hour on social media or web development. Since the beginning our products have sold much better in person than online. Thanks for the reminder that it needs updating. Not sure why Facebook says we've been in business only a year-- it's been a little over two now, not including the time with only jewelry and cosmetics. I don't know if I touched the business details page on FB since the Page's inception.

    You actually should've seen plenty of bowls, spindles, and some flat work if you did your research. Also that I'm at two Farmer's markets every week, wholesale to 3 retail outlets, along nockwith the usual local festivals. Don't knock pens and stoppers either-- just because they're beginner projects doesn't mean you should give them up if there's still demand for them. I have yet to find others that market their pens and/or stoppers the way I do, anyway, so not giving that up. I just reconciled inventory and sales: 292 stoppers and 217 pens 2019 YTD. (255 bowls, and about 150 items in my "other spindles" if you're curious. Not going to lie-- I've had to work the hardest I've worked in my life this year, and while I'm making decent money, there are always unexpected problems that cut into profits-- this year a sheared leaf spring on the truck, and had to replace a chainsaw, bandsaw, and dust collector.
     
  26. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    That's why local sales are the best! I don't understand how artists travel constantly and still make money. We struggle to break even when we have left town...

    Thankfully, we've had a great local customer base and great word of mouth marketing from them.
     
  27. Richard Coers

    Richard Coers

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    No need to get defensive Davis, I don't care what you make, or how many. Just curious how long you've been on your own. It's a question I like to ask since I lasted 8 years before closing up my business and doing woodworking as an employee. But, I closed up to be a project builder for Woodworker's Journal Magazine. Definitely not like making production work. They closed and I went back to a corporate job as a modelmaker. That, along with my first 15 years at the same company gave me a very comfortable pension. I kinda fell into some of these things, but sure is comfortable now!
     
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  28. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

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    Sorry if I seem defensive-- this holiday season has been full of patronizing folks who think they know better than me due to their age advantage over me (I look much younger than I am.) and I'm a little burnt out on it. I jumped to the conclusion that you were invalidating my above advise on business theory due to lack of background. Helping with that kind of planning is literally my job... For far more complex businesses than simple manufacturing and popup retail operations. (I'm still very part time with that-- one client)
     
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  29. Gerald Lawrence

    Gerald Lawrence

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    @Macon Monroe to get back on topic. Al and a couple of others gave you the accounting answers and they are correct if you want to make a living at turning and all the stuff that goes with it such as classes and branded products you do have to do the math. HOWEVER if you are like most of us and just would like to feel your turnings are worth more than a "that looks nice" or "that is beautiful" then throw all that business stuff out the window.

    Here in town a member of my club has pieces selling in the 1000 to 2000 range some and has started teaching and demoing. He has a retirement income and could not make a living at turning only. The idea of charging based on time is out of the question for his pieces he carves and spends many hours. Now to look at production turners of whom Mark Sillay says he and Nick Cook are the only ones left. They turn so ridiculously fast it is unfathomable for most of us to watch.

    I turn because I enjoy it and if I have to produce that takes out the fun. Most of what I sell are finger snap tops for 5 and take 5 to 10 minutes because I am not in a hurry. Selling is fun and gives the opportunity to promote our club and since we added 22 new members this year to the 41 we had I think that end was sucessful.

    We tried selling in a shop and the owner said it is better to price and then mark down if needed . Jost do not make a habit of it. I had a DM in retail pharmacy who told me the reason our company would not do markdowns before Christmas. "If you do markdowns early the customer will wait for those markdown every year"

    Sell for what you can get and enjoy or life will not be worth living.
     
  30. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    The fellow who said he charged $1 per minute lathe time plus materials was far from a novice. Don't recall his name but his statement has always stuck with me. I might be able to question the chapter members on this.
     
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  31. Macon Monroe

    Macon Monroe

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    I enjoy wood turning as well. I'm past the point of giving my turnings away.
    As far as turning full time, not interested. I'm just trying to profit from the time I do spend turning. I feel like I produce quality products that people want. I'm just trying to figure a fair price on what I do.
     
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  32. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    To become a millionaire from woodturning, start as a multi-millionaire.
     
  33. Daniel Miller

    Daniel Miller

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    I think that this is really the best answer.

    We have a pricing calculator that we use for most of our products - most being the key word. I regularly do price comparisons on Etsy and retail stores to see if our pricing fits into the pricing range of others. Here are some insights, and I'm quite certain that our "labor per hour" rate is going to draw some gasps and guffaws from people here....

    In a nutshell, our rate purely for labor is $10 an hour. That, mixed with our calculated per hour expenses (electricity, tool usage, etc) brings us roughly to about $22 per hour. I'd love to put our hourly labor rate above $10... I'd LOVE for it to be $25, but there's just no way I'd be able to sell anything with that kind of rate. A pepper mill that sells similar on Etsy for $40 would cost twice that for us to make based on our wholesale and retail price rates, and our rates are NOT 2x or some derivative above 2x. When I first looked at pricing calculators for others and saw that their wholesale and retail markups were above x2 or sometimes even x3, it turned something that was $50 on Etsy into a $150 or $200 product! How in the world does anybody sell something at that kind of price point??!!

    Basically, I worked backwards... I determined a range of pricing for certain goods that we were producing, and from there I could determine what the wholesale, retail, and labor rates needed to be to compete with that pricing. I've got it dialed in fairly well so that we're generally comparable to Etsy and other retail outlets for wood goods. However.... something that became apparent was that I was not going to be able to price bowls at the same rates because using the same pricing formula put my bowls at two or three times the price that others were selling at, and there was no way that in my market or an online market that I was going to be able to sell at that price point. The idea is to sell a lot more of products at a lower price point that I can stomach and still make a profit on than to sell one or two every once in a blue moon with an outrageous price that is 3 times higher than the other guy. What that developed into was me figuring out that I needed to price bowls based on a rate that I determined to charge per square inch of bowl. That way, once again, I could calculate a price that was in comparison to other online vendors.

    I'm not making 10 times my costs like some guys are, but I'm also not a professional with the reputation to merit the pricing. I'm starting out and trying to build a client base, and I'm pricing to compete with comparable markets. That, to me, is what the take-away is - figure out both what your market prices support and what your skill level is worth. If a person is just starting out, why is that person charging $30 an hour for labor? Good luck trying to sell a basic slimline pen in basic-grained wood for $70 because that's where your labor, supply costs, and markup land the price at.

    That's just my $0.27.
     
  34. Pete Staehling

    Pete Staehling

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    I have not really sold my wood turning work, but have a good bit of experience selling other of my hand made items.

    Per hour pricing is pretty iffy for skilled work for a number of reasons. First, obviously people's skill levels as represented in the finished products vary widely. Maybe less obviously people's productivity varies widely. If you consider the fact that one guy may spend the same time making one item that another might make 10, 20, or more of equal or better quality per hour, pricing becomes pretty meaningless unless you assign very different pay grades based on skill and productivity levels.
     
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  35. John Torchick

    John Torchick

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    Keep in mind your market. A pen turner in our AAW chapter says he can get $29.95 in one market and $39.95 in another market- same pen.
     
  36. Curtis Fuller

    Curtis Fuller

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    North Ogden, Utah
    Depending on where you live, a good therapist can charge anywhere from 80-150 bucks an hour. Every hour I spend at my lathe I'm saving that much so I figure the rest just pays for sandpaper and danish oil.
    Seriously though, I worked full time for 45 years and the last thing I want is another job. I don't keep track of the time something takes, I seldom have to buy wood, I rescue it from my local green waste facility. For the last few years I've been putting some of my turnings in a gallery of sorts, more like a gift shop. I get a check from them every couple months, cash it, and put the money in my pocket. But then I realized that they give me a 1099 and tell the IRS how much they've paid me. So I started throwing the receipts from the woodturning supplies I buy in an envelope. I don't even come close to covering my costs with what I sell. And that's just fine with me. I like doing it and that's what matters.
     
  37. Davis Stevenson

    Davis Stevenson

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2018
    Messages:
    89
    Location (City & State):
    Port Angeles, WA
    Just make sure you don't have much crossover in clientele!

    Each weekend we have two booths in two towns with two totally different sets of audiences. You risk angering existing customers if you charge 33% more for the same products just because you're in a different spot.
     
  38. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2005
    Messages:
    11,250
    Location (City & State):
    Dalworthington Gardens, TX
    Home Page:
    Curtis, you are a true philosopher, sage, soothsayer, and seer.
     
    odie likes this.
  39. odie

    odie

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Messages:
    5,349
    Location (City & State):
    Panning for Montana gold, with Betsy, the mule!
    Curtis comes closest to my own philosophical thoughts, too.......probably a few other turners are telling themselves the same, as they read his post.

    For me......it's not about the money, and never has been. It's solely a venture into my great effort to be the best I can be. I don't calculate my time into my pricing. I do have an idea of my expenses, and that does influence my pricing......but, the bottom line is I'd be surprised if I were making $5/hr profit for the time and effort I spend doing this......in reality, it's probably less! :eek:

    At this point in time, I'm living on social security. Although I do live very meagerly, I'm actually very satisfied with my existence. I have spent the past 50 years as a paid employee, so that I could pay the bills.......and for about 40 of those years, my home shop has been my retreat from the rest of the world. It's a world of my own creation, and I'm getting a great satisfaction in my own life when I spend time in my shop. :D

    This past year, from an entrepreneur's perspective......I've had 101 sales, with an average price of about $150/sale. I really don't want to sell more than that, because it's close to the rate I can produce, and still have great satisfaction in life. I don't want this to be a business......:mad:..... I want it to ultimately be something more valuable and important to me in those things that money just can't buy!!!!! :D

    -----odie-----
     
  40. Perry Hilbert

    Perry Hilbert

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2017
    Messages:
    292
    Location (City & State):
    Windsor, Pennsylvania
    I normally hate Dentists. I associate them with nothing but pain and expense. About 25 years ago, I came under the care of a positively wonderful female dentist. She took good care of me and after the last check up as I was getting out of the chair, I said "I'll see you in six months." She sadly told me she was going to close her office and was still going to be a dentist part time at the VA, but she purchased a Baskin Robbins Store. Obviously that caused me to do a "Huh?" She said people come to my office in great apprehension, they often leave in pain. She wanted a business where people came in happy and left happy. That sort of sums up part of my turning efforts. I donate Christmas ornaments to a charity to sell. They get the donation and something I made helps a little bit to brighten people's lives. The warm feeling may not buy much, but it sure helps the peace of mind.
     

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