A silk purse from a sow's ear... #1: Well for a start off, I'll say Hi and a little bit about this job...

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Fellow woodworkers, I recognise some of you from the other place, just signed up here, so would like to say hello! I like the format here, especially since my laptop bit the dust and this works and looks really well on my phone.

So after a short hiatus from woodworking forums, I find myself in a situation where I’ve looked at a job, designed it, prepared a quote, and for the first time ever, the client has said "We really like it but weren’t prepared for the price…`’
Tempting though it might have been to reply…

a) “So you’ve just wasted 6 hours of my time”
b) “Good luck trying to find someone else to do it cheaper”
c) “People like you make me want to give this up”

….I had to weigh up a couple of things: primarily, the fact that business is dead here at the moment, has been since Christmas, I need to turn around a nice job for the sake of my finances, sense of worth and well being. I also want to get a nice photo of this to put on my website.

So I “Sharpened the pencil”.
Went back to the quote and thought of alternative ways to make this job.

Originally had it spec’d as bb ply and poplar face frame construction, painted, soft close undermount drawer runners etc, but after talking to the client again, this job is going to be the ‘economy’ version, I emailed her a revised quote along with a list of cost cutting measures, painted drawer sides and bottoms instead of veneered, bb drawer slides, a simpler mdf construction etc.

The cost was reduced by about $700 and they are happy to go ahead with it.

I went yesterday to collect a deposit and check the measurements and levels in the room. One small change, adding more drawers to the right to be more like a tall boy,

So that’s it for now, a couple of little things to take care of this week, a new floor before a Holy Communion and possibly re hinging or replacing a door, then I will get on to this job before the end of the week.

If anyone is interested, I will blog the construction of this job, not fine woodworking by any means, and even though the budget is tight, I think this will be a nice job once done.

-- Doing the best I can with what I've got

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Excellent turn around.
I like the part were you tell the customer what contributed to the price change. That way they don’t feel being like you were trying to take advantage of them the first time around.
Your design looks great. Are there any shelves above the drawers?

Will be following your build. Good luck!

-- Abbas, Castro Valley, CA

Always enjoy hearing about your builds . Those clients are lucky to have you , because
I am familiar with your work , and they will get the best value for what they want done .
Good analogy about the silk purse and sow’s ear . But with sound construction and a nice
finish …….you can do that . So nice to have you posting here , and good luck with your
build renners !

Hey, Mark, it is good to see you again. I like your design and look forward to learning from your build process since I know you do quality work.

-- -- Art

PS, I will never snub my nose up at a painted finish. I know painted projects done right take as much work as a stained finish. I know you do it right.
I don’t get why so many people snub painted projects.

Thanks Huff and MJCD for the welcome.
MJCD, In terms of pricing this job, well most jobs I do actually, I tend to sit down with the drawing and try to work out what is realistically achievable in a day. The drawers for instance will be done in a day, the doors will take a day, half a day milling and routing the poplar etc, just break it down and relate that to the experience of other jobs to arrive at a time estimate, I’m just a one man shop and I’d make a decent living if I was working 40 hours a week every week but things are rough here at the moment. I can’t blame the client for questioning the price, things are tough for everyone and they have a young family, really, with this one, I’m just glad of the work.

-- Doing the best I can with what I've got

Thanks for the welcome Bently, I’m glad to see you here too. Looking forward to your posts and being part of the community here. I think it’ll probably be three or four days before I get round to buying the materials for this project, time enough to work out how to make it so it can be assembled in an upstairs bedroom. I’m going to have to be frugal with this one to maximise what I make out of it, but really looking forward to having a nice involved project to work on.

-- Doing the best I can with what I've got

Glad to see you. I really like the plans you’ve come up with and thought you handled the situation perfectly. Too many times, a woodworker just sharpens their pencil and lowers the price to satisfy the customer.

By actually changing the materials and showing the cost savings, you showed the customer your original price was fair for what they would be getting, but if they where willing to compromise a little with materials you could save them some money. Smart move and obviously paid off for getting the job.

Hope all goes well with the project and look forward to following your progress.
John (huff)

-- John @The Hufford Furniture Group


Thanks for the post – that is, getting the Forum involved. There are many of us out here that are asked, or offer, to take on a build; and are then both a bit dumbfounded and terrified when the client says yes…

First, I’m glad to see you’ve gone metric – I made the switch two years ago, and have never looked back. On purchased plans everything is still imperial; however, when I design a project, I do it in metric.
Accentuating the positives: MDF provides a more dimensionally stable and consistent workpiece machining (many natural wood will vary from board to board, due to grain and proximity to the Tree center; and will finish well with paint (choose your paint wisely; you may need a good primer…)). One downside is that MDF will not hold screws as well.
Let us know how you handle the joinery: I moved to Festool Dominos several years ago, and it’s my go-to solution.
You’ve factored in your work-time and materials costs – without getting specific about things, how did you estimate this (I can never bring myself to charge a decent charge-out rate; and true be told, I probably work at about $2/hr, due to my own inefficiencies). In my own builds, my materials waste is about 20% waste – is this a metric you track?
Also, is this within you normal wheelhouse? I’ve completed many casework projects: blanket chests, book cases, entertainment centers; and have recently branched into Rocking Chairs and ‘contemporary’ music racks – meaning that I’m learning skills at expensive hardwood prices, along with the need for perfect Templates.
So…, let us know.

Welcome aboard Mark,
Glad to see you here.
Look forward to seeing your progress on this job. When it’s slow, sometimes you do what you have to do to make a living. I like how instead of just lowering your price you made adjustments to the materials and whatnot. I always do the same, tell the customer that we can eliminate this or that, change sizes, materials, whatever else works to lower it. Usually this gives you a good idea where the customer stands. Lots of times after I suggest the changes they will pony up the truth and say they don’t want to make the changes and lets just go with what you had.
At any rate, good luck with the build.

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