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Got the old "R U crazy $600 for a bookcase I can buy one for that"

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Topic by Todd Thomas posted 05-10-2011 03:30 PM 3665 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Todd Thomas

735 posts in 3835 days

05-10-2011 03:30 PM

Bummer…I am currently doing and estimate for a repeat client to redo a 12 1/2×19 room/den new sheet rock ect ect….they wanted a stained oak book case that was 7×3….I wasn’t going to do anything real fancy, plywood sides and back 1×2 face frame with 1×2 faces on the shelve with a little arc and legs at the bottom. the materials ran like $296 and I figured it would take me about 12 hours to get everything and put it together stain it and put 4 coats of finish on it…...Am I wrong in trying to make $24/hr…....if so I need to let someone else build it..and truth be told I will probable have more then 12 hrs in it. I’m not real fast at the wood working end of things.

So am I way to high on this project???

If so, I honestly want to know….........
Thanks for your help

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN



View SawdustJunky's profile

SawdustJunky

20 posts in 3368 days

05-10-2011 05:41 PM

The price seems fair to me. I try to avaeage out at $25. Like you I am often in a position where I will build or rebuild something knowing full well my price is too cheap but then I’m not doing it to make a living. I have done project that have little profit just to create a little cash flow for something else I can make money on. With that type business sence it is understandable why I call it a hobby rather than a business. My father was a journeyman carpenter and builder his whole life and once told me “If someone can build it cheaper, let them. Tools are expensive, time is short, if I’m going to lose money I would rather be fishing”.

Blessings to all,
SDJ

-- ... In the end it is more about the memories we make than the pieces we build.

View garypr's profile

garypr

20 posts in 2963 days

05-10-2011 05:50 PM

First off you should not hurry threw projects when your making furniture. Secondly if you find a hardwood suppler not home depot or Lowes, you will probably find something cheaper than the ply wood. If you search Wood workers source you will find the type of place I am talking about. However if you can not find anything cheeper than $4.99 a board foot I would sujest the 3/4 plywood from Lowe’s or home depot. The problem with that is it really is not cabinet grade ply. It has voids in the layers and your buying Oak or birch veneer and Poplar or anything cheep to make up the difference. When you put it together use a kreg jig, crown molding to cover the top ply wood seam and use a base trim. I would buy some oak 4/4 from a place i mentioned before because you will save money. for example if you buy a 5 and a half inch board from HD you will pay around $3.30 a lineal foot. Board foot is 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch. So the 5.5×12 =66 divide by 144 it is 0.458 boad feet. So get the 4/4 if you can and rip 1/4 inch rips to make trim to cover the ply wood edges. For stain you can quickly stain oak with General Finishes Early american and cover with a general finishes arm-r-seal for fast finishing. If you can find Norton sand paper it will cut time as well. Finaly if built right $600 will be an ok price. I would normaly charge the person for the materials 2 1/2 times. But when your a good at this you can charge more. Many custom one man furnature makers charge $3,700 for very nice hall table that took them 4 days to build.

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Todd Thomas

735 posts in 3835 days

05-11-2011 12:07 AM

thanks for all the advise…I will take it to heart and try to use it….SDJ I get myself in the same boat low on one job try to make it up on the other….but I am starting to agree with your dad…..this year I am trying to really figure out if I’m really making a living at this or just moving money around…..

garyp…..I would like to talk with you more about this as this is the direction I want to move my business in…..

thanks again for the help

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

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garypr

20 posts in 2963 days

05-11-2011 03:37 AM

If you have any questions just send me a message here or lumber jocks. I have been framing homes for 15 years and with the help of my girlfriend have been making furniture for the last 4 years. If I can help by all means ask.

View BillyJ's profile

BillyJ

253 posts in 3592 days

05-11-2011 04:11 AM

Todd – I’d have to agree with garyp. I have several sawyers within 30 miles that I deal with. Both are inexpensive, and oak is almost given away. I paid about $0.50 bd/ft for some 4/4 white oak flat sawn on my last job. I do spend a lot, though, for good cabinet grade ply (about $60 / sheet). Again, the ply comes from a plywood dealer.

I never purchased S4S from a big-box store; it costs too much. Your labor cost sounds OK, but could be a bit lower. RSMeans puts Knoxville at .75 on the dollar. For carpenters, they list national averages at $30.15 – which would put labor at about $22 around your area. However, that’s for a carpenter, not a cabinet maker. Doing any cabinetry work will command higher prices.

I think the price is good, but your material cost is too high. That’s your income. You do great work. Thus, you need to charge accordingly. If you think you’re going to make more cabinets in the future, pick up a jointer and planer. I’m sure you can pick up decent machines off Craigslist relatively cheap.

Good luck.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

View Todd Thomas's profile

Todd Thomas

735 posts in 3835 days

05-11-2011 04:52 AM

hey BillyJ – good to hear you add to this:-) your right I need to find a sawyer here to get my lumber from….I just might do that on this project…....if nothing else it will be a good learning experience As always thanks for the advise.

its good to be back in the game….....

-- Todd- Oak Ridge, TN

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

331 posts in 4094 days

05-12-2011 09:46 PM

In evaluating the RSMeans costs, I think it’s also important to note that a cabinet maker is probably amortizing more capital costs than a carpenter (if those costs are even included in the RSMeans numbers).

A way to explain the difference between what you do and Ikea to the customer may be to give them a price for an edge-banded Home Depot plywood version (understanding that your labor will be higher because you have to deal with that crap) and a solid wood edged with good high quality plywood version.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/

View BillyJ's profile

BillyJ

253 posts in 3592 days

05-15-2011 11:41 PM

Mentioning Ikea reminded me of the guy I bought my Blum Minipress from. After Katrina hit, he went to New Orleans for a couple of years to build and install cabinets. He purchased the Blum along with a couple-hundred hinges. All high-price stuff. He found only one house to do – everyone thought it was too much money (custom cabinetry, Blum hinges, etc.). They wanted Ikea (or cheaper). He put the Blum in storage and made a great living providing particle-board cabinetry.

I bought the Blum and hinges for almost nothing (he had used for maybe 10 doors total).

I’m having the almost the same problem with a customer now. I’m fixing, painting, and over-all, making the interior of the house ready to sell. She wanted me to do the outside also. The problem – she wanted me to just “patch” major problems (a bad cement porch, leaking roof, etc.). I had to decline – I told her I didn’t have time. The truth is – I’m not going to patch over real problems. If she won’t let me do it right (replace items rather then put a patch on it, just for looks), then I’m not going to do the job.

I’ve seen your work posted – you do great work. You probably get a lot of referrals from your work. I know we all need money, but if a person wants Ikea – let them pick it up and install it themselves.

Nothing against handymen, but there is a difference between a professional contractor and a handyman. Just as there is a difference between a carpenter and cabinet maker – or a cabinet maker and a craftsman/artist.

-- No matter how many times I measure, I always forget the dimensions before I cut.

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