Jump to content



Photo
- - - - -

pricing for an amateur


  • Please log in to reply
25 replies to this topic

#1 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 22 July 2011 - 05:50 PM

I have a specific question further down, but first I wanted to set the table a bit. I'm an amateur blacksmith, and a fairly unskilled, if enthusiastic, one at that. I'm not overly interested in the money, although it never hurts; my primary motivation in pricing is to avoid offending the fulltime blacksmiths in the area. I can't use standard fulltime blacksmiths formulas as I don't have shop time that costs me anything too significant and it takes me far longer than a fulltime blacksmith would need. Normally I try to figure out what something comparable made by them would be worth and then discount for the lower quality. In this case, however, I can't find any comparables to go off of.

So, long story short, if somebody would be willing to suggest some ballpark price ranges that won't be too low as to seem like I'm undercutting but at the same time won't be too high as to seem presumptuous, I'd really appreciate it. In all cases, the closer you get to them, the worse they look. :-)

DNA structure, 2 feet high, all mortise and tenon joints (except to the base), no welds:
Attached File  tree 009.jpg   736.88KB   196 downloadsAttached File  tree 010.jpg   1.21MB   245 downloads

Tree, 4 feet high, all sloppy stick welds:
Attached File  tree 011.jpg   883.63KB   249 downloads

Chair, 4 feet high, all mortise and tenon joints, no welds, no torches:
Attached File  tree 005.jpg   519.42KB   215 downloadsAttached File  tree 006.jpg   199.96KB   164 downloadsAttached File  tree 007.jpg   732.36KB   112 downloadsAttached File  tree 008.jpg   1.2MB   80 downloads

Three coats of industrial (expensive) primer, three coats of black paint.

#2 Marksnagel

Marksnagel

    Lost and found

  • Members
  • 1,960 posts
  • LocationDurants Neck, North Carolina

Posted 22 July 2011 - 08:11 PM

Those all look really great. I have no idea what you should charge except what you feel they are worth. What price would you be offended at if offered? What price would make you feel that you didn't have to explain all the hard work you put into the pieces. It also depends on where you sell them. Gallery? Fair? Craft fair? Flea market?
To me, I feel that they should fetch whatever you feel they are worth. I like them. You must take into account that if you have a sentemental attachment, that will cause you to raise the price. In which case you will get to cherish them for a long time.

Good luck.

Mark <><
His work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of a mans work. -- Paul the apostle.

#3 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 24 July 2011 - 09:22 PM

I'll be selling them at a 4-day long gallery as part of a conference. I'm not sure I'd be offended by anything somewhat reasonable, but perhaps that is a good way of thinking about it, I'll have to ponder that, thanks for the idea.

#4 David Einhorn

David Einhorn

    Author

  • Members
  • 2,401 posts
  • LocationPA

Posted 25 July 2011 - 09:02 AM

As Mark said, there are a lot of factors involved including the venue, your location, and how you wish to present yourself such as a craftsman or artist. You can also check the local fabrication shops and blacksmiths and find out what their hourly rates are. Make sure that you include all your costs in your estimate.


Nol Putnam wrote a very good article on pricing work :

"Blacksmithing as a Business" by Nol Putnam, http://www.anvilmag....th/blcasabs.htm

another article is:
"A Fair Price by Jerry Hoffmann", Published in the June 2000 Issue of Anvil Magazine, http://www.anvilmag....smith/006d2.htm

#5 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 25 July 2011 - 09:43 AM

As Mark said, there are a lot of factors involved including the venue, your location, and how you wish to present yourself such as a craftsman or artist. You can also check the local fabrication shops and blacksmiths and find out what their hourly rates are. Make sure that you include all your costs in your estimate.


Nol Putnam wrote a very good article on pricing work :

"Blacksmithing as a Business" by Nol Putnam, http://www.anvilmag....th/blcasabs.htm

another article is:
"A Fair Price by Jerry Hoffmann", Published in the June 2000 Issue of Anvil Magazine, http://www.anvilmag....smith/006d2.htm


While I appreciate the response, I think you are missing my main difficulty, which is that these rules, and others like them, only apply to people running businesses. I am not running a business, I'm just trying to avoid pissing off the people who are.

As a concrete example, my costs for Advertising, Business Commissions, Donations, Dues & Publications, Freight, Insurance, Leasehold Improvements, Mail, Mail UPS, Office Expenses, Propane, Rent Paid, Sales Tax, Show Fees, Supplies, Tax Preparation, Taxes (Federal), Taxes (FUTA), Taxes (Unemployment), Taxes (State), Taxes (Town), Taxes (Personal Property), Taxes (Real Estate), Telephone, Travel, Truck (mileage), Water, Welding Gas are all zero. I have no expectation of a salary. So based on those estimates, all I should be charging is my raw material cost, which means I'd end up charging extremely little for pieces that a fulltime blacksmith would charge significantly more for, which would look for all the world like I was trying to undercut them, or at least that I was devaluing the value of blacksmith-produced materials.

#6 David Einhorn

David Einhorn

    Author

  • Members
  • 2,401 posts
  • LocationPA

Posted 25 July 2011 - 09:51 AM


While I appreciate the response, I think you are missing my main difficulty, which is that these rules, and others like them, only apply to people running businesses. I am not running a business, I'm just trying to avoid pissing off the people who are.

As a concrete example, my costs...... are all zero. I have no expectation of a salary. .....


Actually, no this is a basic assumption when someone asks this question. You only think that you don't have costs. Electricity, consumables, equipment maintenance, building maintenance, etc are real costs even for a hobbyist. I humbly suggest reading the articles and giving them serious consideration.

You asked how to calculate a price, and these articles provide the answer.

#7 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 25 July 2011 - 10:21 AM

Electricity, consumables, equipment maintenance, building maintenance, etc are real costs even for a hobbyist.


I guess we'll agree to disagree. At no point did I state that all my costs were all zero, simply most of them. I completely agree that I have costs for electricity, coal, equipment and material. Using those formulas doesn't give me a price of zero, but it does give me an extremely low price which I don't view as something I can morally use.

#8 Woodchuck Wrought Iron

Woodchuck Wrought Iron

    Newbie

  • Members
  • Pip
  • 6 posts

Posted 25 July 2011 - 12:35 PM

Maybe I can weigh in here. I have never sold one item I have made as a smith. Im just not that good yet. However, I have spent ten years in retail. I do know that different things are worth different amounts to different people. As stated, there are lots of hidden costs, whether you see them or not, whether you agree they are there or not. If you are going to be exhibiting them in a fair for show, and maybe in hopes of selling them, the cost of your booth comes in to play as well. Even turning on the computer to post this topic is a cost of doing business. What I would do is set two prices in your head. One of them is a break even plus ten percent as your floor and triple your total costs as your ceiling price. Talk to your customers and feel them out. If they are interested, ask them to make an offer. If it is in your range, you can either chose to try and work them up a bit or just take it. EIther way, you will know ahead of time what the parameters are in order to not lose money. Sentimental value to you is worth nothing to the next guy. I dont mean to sound harsh, but thats reailty. I think the pieces are great wrok and you should ahv eno touble selling them on thier craftsmanship alone. Good luck and let us know how it went.

#9 cvmikeray

cvmikeray

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 161 posts
  • LocationCentral Alabama

Posted 25 July 2011 - 03:04 PM

Cost plus is a no win for sure. And that will for sure be a way to make folks upset that your coming in to low. I have done this to myself recently on some custom restoration hardware. I could/should have trippled my selling price. But if you figure what your time is worth and the time you feel it should take to create the item (All slop and mistakes removed as you should not make your customer pay for your training in most cases). Then really figure what your materials will cost to replace (Not what you paid for them) with a resonable materials markup to count for freight and handling to get it to your place. Then like others have mentioned, rough claculate what the resource (power, gas, coal etc) cost you for the project you will then have these three things. Labor (Time it took to build the piece) , Materials (Steel it took to build the piece) , Resources (Stuff if took to make the steel into the piece). Then you will have an idea what to charge for your item. Scrounge around more to see what others are charging for an hour of labor. Not just Blacksmiths either... Mechanics, Machinist .... professionals (Not general labor ... we don't do that ... if we sell we are professionals even if it is the first piece). So with these three things you will have a price for your item. If it seems way out of line to you then you are probably close to a real retail price for your own work :) . Remember you can always drop your prices, but it is almost impossible to raise them on a customer for the same type of work. Oh yeah and people will rarely come out and give you a formula because that is one of the trade things we do if we compete with other Smith's for business.
Member - Alabama Forge Council

#10 son_of_bluegrass

son_of_bluegrass

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 512 posts

Posted 25 July 2011 - 06:43 PM

Depending on where you are, you may be responsible for collecting sales tax. Even if you are only a hobbyist. Before you decide you don't need to collect and remit tax and show up with anything for sale at any type of show you need to check with your state to determine if you need to collect and how you go about it. If only to avoid possible legal problems

ron

#11 pkrankow

pkrankow

    Member

  • Members
  • 5,373 posts
  • LocationOhio

Posted 25 July 2011 - 07:01 PM

How much time is in each of these projects? Ballpark is OK, How many work sessions, and how long is your typical session.

A "fair" shop rate is $100/hour + materials. The shop rate covers overhead such as fuel, lights, and the incidentals you are discounting.

This is a starting point, you can adjust after you have a figure.

Phil
Your brain is the most powerful tool you own.

#12 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 25 July 2011 - 07:33 PM

How much time is in each of these projects? Ballpark is OK, How many work sessions, and how long is your typical session.

A "fair" shop rate is $100/hour + materials. The shop rate covers overhead such as fuel, lights, and the incidentals you are discounting.

This is a starting point, you can adjust after you have a figure.

Phil


The tree was a trained-monkey sort of a task, so I've probably only got 6-8 hours in that, by the time you figure in all the welding and painting. The DNA structure should have been faster, but my first couple attempts at how to get it to twist didn't work, and drifting those holes takes a while by hand, so I'm probably 6-8 hours into it as well. The chair...let's just say I've got a lot more of hours into the chair than I'd like to admit. I would imagine that somebody competent would be able to do these things in half the time, or twice as well, or some combination of those, so I suppose I could use the $100 figure and go with $300-400 for the tree and DNA. Does that seem reasonable? No idea what the chair should have taken, though. I don't imagine by hand it'd be possible to do the legs any faster than 8 hours, given the number of drifts and the size of the material, and the back is probably another 3, assembly (harder than it looks) and painting another 3, so figure 14 hours, give or take, so maybe $700 for the chair?

#13 pkrankow

pkrankow

    Member

  • Members
  • 5,373 posts
  • LocationOhio

Posted 25 July 2011 - 08:29 PM

I would price for the actual time, and be willing to come down. Don't forget that time spent with pencil and paper on these ideas counts too.

You also seem to have forgotten material costs in those figures. Buying new (yes, use the price for new unless it is obvious scrap, then the value you paid in cost or effort) I see about $100 of steel or more in the DNA alone, same with the chair.

Phil
Your brain is the most powerful tool you own.

#14 Timothy Miller

Timothy Miller

    Some guy who hammers and files iron for money

  • Members
  • 1,990 posts
  • LocationBayport NY

Posted 25 July 2011 - 09:52 PM

If you are doing this for fun why worry about what the proper price should be. Charge a fun price. One that you feel good about. One that you would be happy that it sold and the person would be happy to get it. Its not like you need to sell it. So why burn so many brain cells tiring to figure it out. Pricing for art is subjective anyway its more what you can get for it not what it cost to make.

"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."  Henry Ford


#15 HWHII

HWHII

    Member

  • Members
  • 1,216 posts
  • LocationTucson, AZ / Bliss, MI

Posted 26 July 2011 - 09:50 AM

I have ask this same question of many people over many years and have come to the same conclusion. Everone has a different opinion.

I have decided what I charge for something is what works for me and what makes me satisfide with a sale. You can always sell something to cheap, but on the other end at $100.00 hr. I would proubably starve. The economy and the type of clients I deal with will not bring that type of price. I wish. At $ 100.00 hr. you dealing with mostly architects and designers for clients with expendable income and you are factoring in there cut of what YOU have done.

Once you start to sell your wares you will get a good feel for what your local market will bring. Play with your price and you will find a sweet spot that will make you happy. You will find one price does not fit all. Experience will help and don't be affraid to ask, "Hey what did you charge for that?"
Harold Hilborn
Holy Hammer Ironworks

http://holyhammer.com

"Life can be simple. Don't make it complicated."

#16 pike3e

pike3e

    Junior Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 73 posts
  • LocationBangor Maine

Posted 27 July 2011 - 10:15 AM

With quotes like "sloppy stick welds", "trained monkey", "The chair...let's just say I've got a lot more of hours into the chair than I'd like to admit. I would imagine that somebody competent ..." I would recommend not publicly devaluing your work even if it is just on a forum. Charge whatever you want but always convey to potential buyers that they are buying good work from a craftsman or artist. Being a hobbyist or full timer should matter very little.

As a hobbyist, I would not worry one bit about pissing people off because of price. Your output will probably be small and sporadic. Having a few pieces for sale should not drastically reduce the number of customers for the full time smiths. If you are really cranking out pieces and they are selling, I would recommend increasing your price.

#17 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 27 July 2011 - 10:38 AM

With quotes like "sloppy stick welds", "trained monkey", "The chair...let's just say I've got a lot more of hours into the chair than I'd like to admit. I would imagine that somebody competent ..." I would recommend not publicly devaluing your work even if it is just on a forum.


I can certainly understand your point, but I believe in calling a spade a spade. My wife, as an example, grows and sells plants for a living, and is very forthright with her customers about how they look when they are ordering them. Her customers appreciate the honesty, and can't justifiably complain afterwards about the size of something if it said 'tiny' on the order form. To go back to my work, I think its important, however few pieces I do produce, to explain to people looking at my work that it is not yet representative of the quality of what professional blacksmiths are capable of producing. That's not to say that what I produce is not worth having, by any means, simply that it should be viewed for what it is.

#18 chyancarrek

chyancarrek

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 982 posts
  • LocationNext to Mt St Helens

Posted 27 July 2011 - 02:09 PM

Why are you worried about it?

Why would what you charge for a few off hand items have any bearing on anyone else's business? If others don't have a solid business model that weather's the fact that folk will undercut them then they need to re-examine how they're set up

I've only been doing this for a living for a short time (12 years) but I never tuck my tail between my legs or get PO'd because a hobby smith or other vendor undercuts my pricing at a show or online. I had a fella at a show next to me selling POS marshmallow shooters made outta scrap PVC for $5.00. He sells out and I don't turn a dime for some really nice handcrafted work . . . Hey, good on him! He came to the show with what folk wanted that day - that's the way it goes.

You've got good looking work, sell if for what you want to get for it . . . give it away . . . treat it like a priceless piece of art . . . it's up to you not us.
Just Grind To The Intent

#19 dbrandow

dbrandow

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 114 posts
  • LocationOntario

Posted 27 July 2011 - 03:35 PM

Why are you worried about it?


I don't want to be seen as pretending to be something I'm not, and I'd rather educate the public about blacksmithing to my own detriment than mislead them by omission. You are probably right, though, that I am being overly sensitive about this, but I guess that's just who I am.

#20 son_of_bluegrass

son_of_bluegrass

    Senior Member

  • Members
  • 512 posts

Posted 27 July 2011 - 03:49 PM


I can certainly understand your point, but I believe in calling a spade a spade. My wife, as an example, grows and sells plants for a living, and is very forthright with her customers about how they look when they are ordering them. Her customers appreciate the honesty, and can't justifiably complain afterwards about the size of something if it said 'tiny' on the order form. To go back to my work, I think its important, however few pieces I do produce, to explain to people looking at my work that it is not yet representative of the quality of what professional blacksmiths are capable of producing. That's not to say that what I produce is not worth having, by any means, simply that it should be viewed for what it is.


Instead of "sloppy stick weld" etc. call it "rustic" or "primitive". You can convey that it isn't what someone with more experience would produce without reducing it's value.

ron




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users