I hear what you are saying. I find myself in the same situation on occasion. I have tried two different approaches. On really simple things, a picture frame, or a box made from scrap pieces in the shop, The friend/family member usually doesn’t care what wood species is used and is very content to have something that works. For those projects I tend to just give it away. It’s good practice, doesn’t take long and uses up scrap from the shop.

However, when friends/family seek me out and make a formal request for a specific sized table or bookcase, made from specific wood. Knowing that the project going to take me a week to make I have to consider the time. I am only able to work in the shop in the evening and weekends. This is also when I spend time with my family. I explain to the customer that I will be happy to do for $350 plus the cost of the wood. If they are still interested I have them pay 50% of the total upfront and 50% upon delivery. The family knows that when I a finish the project we’ll all go out to dinner and ice cream. We have 5 boys, so going out to dinner is a huge treat . . . we don’t do it too often.

Making sawdust is what I do best!