Woodturning (rec.crafts.woodturning) To discuss tools, techniques, styles, materials, shows and competitions, education and educational materials related to woodturning. All skill levels are welcome, from art turners to production turners, beginners to masters.

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Old February 28th 07, 06:22 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

I'd like to revisit an old dilemma that sometimes comes up when
woodturners gather, that is if you believe it is a dilemma at all. It
may be just another 'OTOH' subject we argue about. Anyway, what is your
take re under pricing, and implied under valuing or grossly overpricing
of turned pieces by competent but average hobbyists who are occasional
sellers. Please consider _only competent, but little known turners and
omit both well known and well below average turners. Choose any selling
site or event you wish, but stick with one venue.


Is it wrong to under-price those turners who try to make a decent profit
from their hobby or need to make a turning business succeed? OTOH, is
it wrong to deny a comfortably well off hobbyist the self satisfaction
of selling a turning by urging that s/he take into consideration _all
the expenses and costs of production and then charge a businesslike
price? Conversely, should a barely competent turner trying to start a
business lower his prices? OTOH is it wrong for a hobbyist who doesn't
care whether anybody buys his stuff or not to put an outlandish value on
it just to stroke his ego?


Does trying to sell crappy work at a low price demean the craft very
much? OTOH, who defines crap, especially when spouses, friends and
family universally think Dad's work is wonderful and he should sell some
of it?


Is woodturning accepted enough and the economics and scale of its market
robust enough to accommodate all good (not great or well known) turners
who offer their turnings for sale at whatever price they choose? Is our
image as craftsmen and artists strong enough now to let the market
decide _if we can sell whatever we want to make at whatever price we
want to put on it or is its status still fragile and needs to be
coddled?


Turn to Safety, Arch
Fortiter


http://community.webtv.net/almcc/MacsMusings


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Old February 28th 07, 08:15 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

Arch... this is an old conundrum that crosses all manner of trades,
crafts and even artistic endeavors. You questions are good ones, ones
that don't get much notice from anyone until they themselvs become
"craftsmen" or "artists".

The general public doesn't noice much about craft works until they are
involved (or like when I put up crown molding or replace a custom
cabinet for a fee) in it.

As a professional woodworkier for many years, I have had my feelings
hurt many times in the past when I see someone take a job from me
because they underbid it. It hurts worse when I see the job finished,
and I don't think it meets the expectations of the owner that paid for
it. But we live in a free, capitalist society, and just because
someone getst their feelings hurt or their pride takes a hit doesn't
mean someone else did something wrong.

All I have to do is change out "turned bowl" for "3 layered 6" crown
mold" to make my point. I have been paid for my work for almost 40
years. I have put more time, effort, and money into learning what I
do than I would rather admit. Yet, I miss a job now and again because
someone will take a less quaility.

Pricing? Always a problem. Always. When we don't have good weather
for a month or so, prices on outside work start to crumble. When
thing slow down locally for a few months it is a disaster. And since
any yahoo with a hammer and a working saw is "a full charge
carpenter", there is always a lot of competition.

Yet over a period of years, I have managed to build enough client
loyalty to stay pretty busy, no matter what the conditions.

Take that to the "craft" of woodturning. Any weekend yahoo with a
lathe is a "woodturner". Anyone that sells a piece dreams of "turning
pro" without having any idea what that means except they get to turn
all day. And there are thousands of turners out there, some not so
good, some absolutely gifted. So there is plenty of competition, and
more coming all the time.

What right does the "pro" have to demand that prices be higher than
market. Notice that these deamands usually pertain to the low value
of their work only - a lower priced beautiful object bought from a
fellow turner is known as a "good deal" or even a "gloat".

The market determines the price. That's it. Period. If there are
ten million hollow vessels, prices will indeed be low. And the irony
of all the argument of higher prices is that they have been so low for
so long most of the demo guys that make the circuit would tell you it
takes all their efforts to make money in the "craft". Turning,
teaching, writing books, giving seminars, shows, etc., are all needed
just to keep their face out there to maintian themselves as a viable
commodity.

Besides, do you think they get top dollar because they mastered their
"craft"? No way. They sold their original pieces for what they
could get to get their work out there. These guys went to county
fairs, gave free demos, probably gave away some of their work as
prizes for promotions and put a helluva lot into defining their little
corner fo the world of woodturning. Not to mention going to the
turning fairs and get togethers to promote themselves. Like all the
hours I put into building my company, they did the same things to
build their brand. And like me, they face competition of all sorts.

I personally think that if you can't deal with the market, or someone
else's pricing bothers you so much that you can't deal with it you
probably should continue to give all your turned stuff to the
relatives at Christmas time.

Robert

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Old February 28th 07, 10:58 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

I've been asked about this at work, it's a tricky topic. I've always
recommended that a turner get "market" price. I define market price
for what a local pro would get. Yes, a 30 year veteran gets say $150
for a peppermill, thats what I suggest, and it's up to the buyer to
decide if it's worth it or not. Some people I just don't belong in the
business, others should charge above market. For myself, I'd rather
find out how to be honest to both.


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Old February 28th 07, 11:40 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.


"Arch" wrote in message
...


Is woodturning accepted enough and the economics and scale of its market
robust enough to accommodate all good (not great or well known) turners
who offer their turnings for sale at whatever price they choose? Is our
image as craftsmen and artists strong enough now to let the market
decide _if we can sell whatever we want to make at whatever price we
want to put on it or is its status still fragile and needs to be
coddled?


"You can't make a living selling big trombones ... no sir!
Mandolin picks perhaps, and here and there a Jews' harp."

Once you sell the band, you don't have to sell trombones. Or you could
become a music teacher....

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Old February 28th 07, 04:29 PM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

I always have a terrible time putting a price on turnings. I wish
someone would come out with a definite "formula". Part of my problem
revolves around my own feelings of what is bad, good, or really good.
I often work with discarded wood. Does this reduce the value? I also
look at other people's work that I admire and often fall short in my
own valuation. A friend of mine turns wonderful bowls, the average
price being about $300. I don't think I can come close to the quality
he puts in so I value my work accordingly. Family and friends think my
stuff is equal or better but then again, they give me ties and socks
I'll never wear for Christmas! My best price thus far was $125 for a
12" salad bowl.

By the same token, some work I see sells for outrageous prices for
what I know took about 30 minutes to turn using commonly available
lumber. I know it's 30 minutes because I saw him do it. He is not a
well known turner and gets $800 for a 4" thin walled goblet! To me,
that's insane but I'm sure his banker is smiling!

I also found that the audience has a lot to do with it. I sell a lot
at farmer's markets and craft fairs. My main shoppers there are rural
people. They look a lot for usability. A salad bowl is meant for
lettuce and things and if the price doesn't reflect the price of
lettuce and fresh vegetables, it stays there. The odd time calls for a
gift of some sort where they will put a little more money down but by
far, they look for treenware and other related items. I also find that
this is the place where "gloss" (yuck!) commands a better price.

On the other hand, I have had sales in or around office type people
and I probably could have doubled my prices and still clear out the
table. Being an ex office worker, I remember the times when I'd go
shopping on my lunch hour or coffee break to buy a gift. Not much time
to really shop, buy in a certain price range, charge it all to
plastic.

I think target audience has everything to do with it. You usually
determine who your target audience should be before you set up a
business. I did mine backward, mind you it didn't start out as a
business. When I started turning, I refused to "prostitute" myself by
selling my work. I have since become somewhat of a hooker! To find my
target audience, I looked at who bought and what they paid over a 2
year period, then determined they were my target audience(s). I have 2
very distinct ones. The rural crowd and the city crowd. The rural go
for the fun stuff, treen, small boxes, toys, single pens. The others
for the bowls, fancy boxes, pen sets and desk accessories and pieces
that serve no useful purpose whatsoever or "emotional" pieces like a
bowl from that "tree planted when grandpa was a young'un".

Lately, I've been doing production work, if doing 500 pieces of the
same item qualify. Here you quibble over a single dollar or less per
item. I lost a bid for a .30 difference. Mind you, they wanted 2000
pieces so it all adds up. In this last instance however, I learned a
valuable lesson; " you can't compete with Taiwan"! For this type of
job, I price out all the materials, run a sample of 12 or so pieces to
get an average time, determine what my "day" is worth to me, and go
from there. It's not as lucrative but it's guaranteed income. There
are still things you can't predict, like my lathe giving up half way
through the job. Thankfully the job guaranteed enough income to buy a
much wanted/desired lathe with which I can do more production work!
(not really what I had in mind!). My biggest underestimation in
production work was placing a cost on boredom! I should have priced it
out at double time!

Still clueless, still trying to figure it all out.

Mike Courteau

http://www.toymakersite.com



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Old March 1st 07, 05:05 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

Mike R. Courteau wrote:

Still clueless, still trying to figure it all out.


Here, here!

I'm trying to turn a buck here ... whether that means I've 'turned pro'
or not depends largely on whether I succeed or not. The jury is still
out. What I did was check out the sorts of prices for pens & such as
seemed common on other web sites. Mine are within a buck or two of what
others who seem to have a similar set of skills are charging.

I'm not a master turner by any measure ... my work ranges from
junior-high to early-apprentice. Six hundred years from now they'll be
worth something. For now, they are priced from about $15 (for a TINY
bowl I probably have a good 10 hours into, playing with the finish) to
$200 for a nicely executed bowl with better than average grain and good
form.

And that's where the prices will stay. Given that this world is FULL of
people with widely varying tastes and financial ability, and also given
that I am in no particular hurry to sell, I will get the asking price
for everything I post.

Eventually.

My idea is to put out a variety of work with a variety of price tags.
"The Market" will tell me what to turn more of. In the meantime, I try
to spend at least 1/2 of each day actually spinning wood.

Word of mouth is keeping me semi-busy spinning pens with all but one of
my customers (so far) repeating at least once. That's nice ... but it's
also ALL 'custom' work. The idea behind the website is to get sales
without the tyranny of a constant deadline.

Bill

--
I am disillusioned enough to know that no man's opinion on any subject
is worth a **** unless backed up with enough genuine information to make
him really know what he's talking about.

H. P. Lovecraft


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Old March 1st 07, 07:50 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

Hi Arch,

Let me wade in to this at least to my ankles/neck...I turn wood for fun and
I sell it for fun and for whatever price the market will bear. Now and then,
if I've got all the end grain smooth, I'll ask a cheeky price! Won't always
get it but then, I don't do this to make a living.

I don't think you can equate most woodturners output, pros and amateurs
alike, to that of framers, carpenters, plumbers, doctors or lawyers. Not
many folk 'need' turnings. Anyway, because I live in a 'craft' oriented
community, not many locals buy round art. They are all busy 'turning' and a
few.. growing BCB?

We all look at the galleries posted by 'known' turners and some of their
work is simply outstanding; however, some of it is not. Even for the
latter, they ask much more that my 'cheeky' stuff. To become a 'known'
turner one must sell lots of turnings to lots of peopleand it helps if some
of the buyers are famous and rich!! Most buyers in smalltown America/Canada
are just ordinary people and will not buy $150 to $300 pieces of round wood
unless the Artist is 'renowned'.

So, I price my work for what I think it will fetch. I owe no one an
explanation for that and I don't feel obligated to adjust my prices to
'protect' someone's income. Free market rules and the American way, right?

Oh, and I take the bundles of $$ and either buy more wood or more tools or a
Chinese dinner for the wife and I. Wouldn't it be nice to say 'a new car' or
'a vacation'?

One more thought, as the Devil's advocate, if an amateurs offerings sells as
well as the pros, what does that say for the pro and the buyer? Has the
amateur slipped into the realm of PRO?

FLAME ON .... Tom


"Arch" wrote in message
...
I'd like to revisit an old dilemma that sometimes comes up when
woodturners gather, that is if you believe it is a dilemma at all. It
may be just another 'OTOH' subject we argue about. Anyway, what is your
take re under pricing, and implied under valuing or grossly overpricing
of turned pieces by competent but average hobbyists who are occasional
sellers. Please consider _only competent, but little known turners and
omit both well known and well below average turners. Choose any selling
site or event you wish, but stick with one venue.




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Old March 1st 07, 08:04 AM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

I think some folks don't understand what it means to "go pro". Sounds
great. Sounds high powered and important. To hear some talk it sounds
like something noble, almost like answering to a higher calling.

Unless you are independently wealthy, you will do what you need to do
to get your fledgling business off the ground. You will become quite
flexible in your pricing once you discover you need gas in your tank,
money for a show, or money to pay utilities. All thoughts of the
higher calling will disappear when you turn some of your best work,
and you are outsold by someone that turns 80-90% as well as you do,
but gets his premium wood all free and is woodturning across the USA
making shows and enjoying his retirement.
His prices are less since he is doing it on a lark, and you are
screwed.

I started as a carpenter many years ago, and got to the point that I
don't really care for it. I started out in that trade because I
enjoyed woodwork. Sometimes now it is like shoveling dirt. I enjoy a
challenging project, but not for the sake of the finished project but
for the challenge itself. I don't get much enjoyment out of making
doors, running crown mold, making cabinets, etc. Too many years later
and it is work, like someone going to the office.

But I enjoy my woodturning, and only sell enough to pay for new
tools. I like selling giftware and tend to sell it a little too cheap
to my friends and family for them to use as gifts. They like having a
source of unique gifts, and I like turning the wood and having the
dough for more gouges and an extra chuck.

I price my stuff based on what I think I should make an hour, factor
in incidentals (if applicable) such as finish, paper, wood, glue, and
go from there. I take a prototype to some of my craft type amigos and
amigas and ask them what they would pay and match it to my estimate.
Now I have a baseline.

Placing that number on the object, I see how well it sells, and how it
fits into the market. I adjust accordingly and start at that number.

Make sure your product is appropriate for the market you are after.
Many years ago I had a good friend that was a super sales man and he
always told me: " You can't sell Cadillacs in a Chevrolet market and
people that drive Cadillacs don't want Chevrolets".

Price accordingly.

Robert

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Old March 1st 07, 12:45 PM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

On Feb 28, 1:22 am, (Arch) wrote:
I'd like to revisit an old dilemma that sometimes comes up when
woodturners gather, that is if you believe it is a dilemma at all. It
may be just another 'OTOH' subject we argue about. Anyway, what is your
take re under pricing, and implied under valuing or grossly overpricing
of turned pieces by competent but average hobbyists who are occasional
sellers. Please consider _only competent, but little known turners and
omit both well known and well below average turners. Choose any selling
site or event you wish, but stick with one venue.

snip snip

Very timely discussion. (I'll get to that at the end of this post)

First, I do believe that the market dictates. Period. And sometimes
the market influence includes who the turner is. Someone trying to
make a living off it will set higher prices (to pay the mortgage) and
market it as-such, while a hobbyist selling some stuff will probably
have a lower price (to buy more wood and tool)

The pro has to price his/her work for the market, but also consider
that they won't be turning all day. There is time required to sell -
that's unproductive time. So, it may take 1 hour to make something,
but they spend 3 hours marketing, selling, doing administration, etc.
So, the 1 hour turning takes 4 hours total before he gets a return.
Hence the high prices on artisan products from pro's. You do have to
make the assumption that it's a higher quality, too, but not always!

Why is it timely? Well, this weekend in the Toronto Star, there was an
article about a chocolate company. The couple set their prices so
high, that they got lots of attention from the uber rich. They
positioned the product in very high-end packaging (probably worth more
than the chocolate) so it became 'the' gift for rich and famous folks
to give. Result: extravegant pricing for chocolate, small number of
sales, but at a very high profit. Needless to say, they are doing
well. They mentioned that the Gov of California did the same thing
when he came to America - had a hard time finding work (as a stone
mason, I think) so on a recommendation from a friend, raised his
prices and billed himself as a European Mason. Result, more work. Go
figure.

So, the high priced work, as long as it's quality, that is well
marketed and positioned, will sell to the market that doesn't mind
paying the price. Most of the rest will be bought based on what the
buyer thinks it's worth. And, if you think hobby turners are
undercutting prices, take a look at Walmart and the like - They
probably sell wooden salad bowls for dirt cheap.

I used to sell wood products at craft fairs. Did ok, but couldn't live
on it - it really just fuelled the hobby. Also sold at some retail
outfits, which is another consideration on price. If they paid me $50,
they sold it for $100. I did better at a small Artists consignment
store, where you set the price and they took a modest commission.

Michel.
www.woodstoneproductions.com
Wood Portal





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Old March 1st 07, 01:48 PM posted to rec.crafts.woodturning
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Default Musing about the effects if any, of how we price average work.

OTOH, who defines crap, especially when spouses, friends and
family universally think Dad's work is wonderful and he should sell some
of it?


Arch, I honestly believe that only the person doing the work can
really define if it's crap or not. Family & friends are not only
biased, they are not nearly well enough informed. As turners, we have
all looked at and evaluated far more material (books, videos, shows,
etc.) because of our interest than they have. I've done pieces that
family, friends and others raved about that I was disappointed in.
Once I pointed out exactly what bothered me about the piece and how it
should be improved I most often got one of two comments. Either "I
see what you mean" (usually followed by "but I still like it" or
"You're just too critical of yourself".

While I am critical of my work I don't think I'm overly so. I simply
try to be honest. I've done a number of pieces that I love (a couple
that I even think are perfect) and some that I think are coyote ugly.
The vast majority of what I do fall somewhere in between. In the
final analysis, the only thing that matters is if the piece measures
up to your own expectations or falls short, or perhaps how short it
falls. I honestly believe we do this primarily for satisfaction.
Crap doesn't satisfy.



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