We Could Use Some New Topics...

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I’ve been unsuccessful in encouraging members to initiate new topics. I’m not a chatty person, nor casual by any means; however, I do enjoy a provocative discussion of woodworking – call me crazy (many people have, and have lived to tell the tale).

Does some have something they’d like to share?

Being a fairly newbie at this thing called woodworking, I have always wondered how you would ever decide how much to ask for something you have made. I have never sold anything as everything I make is either made for friends, family, donated or for personal use.
I realize it is a free market as far as prices but I can’t understand how the price of say a farmhouse table could be $5000 by one seller and a similar one be $800 for example. Factors would be the type of wood and materials used. What formula do you use?


Today’s most common answer is one of those answers that are so deceptively simple that it seems obvious when you know it. But then remember that it took economists more than a hundred years to figure it out: Something is worth whatever you think it is worth. In 1st century BC, Publilius Syrus wrote: “Something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it”.

I have two pricing policies: Family & Friends… out-of-pocket cost: that is, I’m making it because you specifically asked for it; and for the sheer love of it, I’m going to build it. The second goes to your question… one of my rockers costs approximately $500 true out-of-pocket – no labor, no depreciation, no wear & tear on the hand tools and equipment. If I sell to someone I don’t know… a true 3rd-party… the 75-100 hours I put into the rocker comes at a steep cost. I charge a minimum $2,500. If a person wants to pay that much, we have a lot to discuss regarding wood type, size, and details. That said, only a true professional – someone who has time-worn skills and a good customer base – can make a living at it. I can’t, and don’t want to. The simple fact is that I’d rather make one unique piece than 20 variations of a specific thing. The problem is that making just one means there are design and process methodology flaws in the one that you make. Also, I’d much rather make an existing design for a family member or a friend (at cost), than to make one for 3rd-party sale – the public has what I call “Accelerating Expectations” on what the end-product should be.
There is a diminishing return on more-expensive versions… the $5,000 table versus the $800 one. However, the $5,000 one will: handle expansion and contraction over the years; whereas, the other may split or fail completely: is moisture movement factored in; the fit of the joints, the integrity of the design structure.
The finish will be an architectural-grade Deft or General Finishes versus a DIY Minwax; the sanding will be to 800+grit, the finish application will be HVLP or hand-rubbed versus a poly brush (the brush strokes, or the ‘pulling’ of the finish, will show in the bright light).
There is also a design element: the more expensive will have a matched or complimentary grain pattern; the proportions will be more pleasing – though, at first you won’t notice… but, then you do notice. The curves and edges will be more subtle, crisp or relieved.
This, and a lot more. This said, my wife would often prefer that I just make the damn thing, rather than fussing about.
As a body politic, progressively fewer of us want the more expensive version of things; and it does not bode well for subsequent generations of woodsmiths.