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I Forge Iron

How much?

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How much do yall charge for labor and stuff? I have some meat forks I made, and was wondering about how much a good price would be. Probably about 30 min. in each one, and i got the metal for free. Also, about how much does a flat adz go for? Got one Im working on, made from a ballpein, and didnt know how much to charge for it either. I need to come up with some formula or something to calculate prices. Thanks for anyhelp, and Ill let yall know how the selling goes at trace.

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If you're going to use a shop rate as a base you have to calculate what it is and that's a serious kettle of wyrms. I haven't calculated what mine will need to be but it was $75/hr a decade ago when new steel was under $0.45/lb and propane was $0.75/gl.

Typical construction formula is labor = 3x material cost plus materials but that's seriously out of line for smithing. An auto shop's rate would be a more realistic departure point or a cabinet shop. Smithing is mostly labor, skilled labor at that.

Then you run into the fairness conundrum. I know if I'm making something for the first time it goes slower than it will once I have a few under my belt and MUCH slower than when I've done 50 or so. In fairness I can't calculate my time based on the first one I make but it wouldn't be fair to me to try estimating what my max speed will be either. You have to pick a point on the curve and hope it's accurate. Wobbling prices not only looks bad, it invites dickering AFTER a project is finished. Bad bad BAD!

There are exceptions of course, say a different size widget or one made up from familiar, well practiced components. So, you have to have a good handle on how much improvement you expect in your own performance and balance that against how many you expect to make.

It goes on and on. Insurance? Consumables? Utilities? Mortgage? Keep the wife and kids fed? To name a very few variables.

There are a number of formula available out there, Don Plumber I believe has a pretty comprehensive one but there are others.

Good luck determining your rate.


Edited by Frosty
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Don't sell it too cheaply because you are performing a craft that not everyone can do. If your customers doubt that, then they should shop around some more.

I am a part time smith and charge $60/hr plus materials - for the past three years, I have had more work than I can handle and have no-quoted some projects simply because I need a little downtime (70 hours a week gets old after a while, even if you enjoy it like I do). A buddy of mine suggested that I start charging $75 but I don't think it would change the overall volume.

My basic philosophy is that the work is hard and it takes a skilled hand and creative mind. Cheap or bad-paying customers are just not worth it - life is too short, especially when you consider there are also a lot of very good clients in the marketplace. Of course, if it's just a hobby, charge whatever you want.

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I am actually an accountant, believe it or not, so can work out such questions.

If you have a query by all means PM me.

On a general point don't give material away just because you got it free. The next load might cost you! So if you get free steel then that is just a small amount of extra profit for you.

You need to cost in your time, fuel, and all those little consumables that cost so little individually but all add up- broken taps, screws, grease, paint etc. etc. otherwise you will be working at a loss. Of course if you are purely a hobby smith then maybe you are happy to run at a loss. Just like me doing unpaid costing jobs for blacksmiths!

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Most "free steel" has a time cost involved in it that would make it pricier than new steel if you counted it---how many hours have I spent at the fleamarket buying old ballpeins?

Of course my fleamarket/scrounging time I charge to "entertainment" and just charge replacement cost for items.

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I just made 6 plant hangers and 6 S hooks for 60 dollars. Took me 2 hours to do it all and I have enough money to buy more steel and coal. I'm happy with that.:P

I was at a forge in last week and the guy judging and doing the demo does decorative iron work, all hand forged, welded etc. His rate: a flat $150 an hour.:o He has no lack of customers. I think the rate depends on how fast you work as well. That guy moves 10 times faster then I do so my rate should be lower. My lack of experience should not cause the customer to pay more.

If you want to sell forks. Start making a lot of them. See how many you can make in an hour. Can you recoup your costs and some. No...either stop making forks or get better at it. Apply this to any item you forge.

As Glenn said lots of other threads on this topic.

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This has been a subject under my consideration too, especially since i got a contract to do some gift shop ironwork for a state site (woo!). In that casee I had to look at the competition (places like Jas. Townsend) and price it accordingly. The profit on that is not great, but I'm not working at a loss. I do beleive that I would be better served selling the items myself.

I posted a similar question a while back, and that project was a snafu. I don't beleive that I handled it accordingly, as i charged a flat fee, not an hourly rate. I got burned on that deal, but it was a learning experience, no doubt.

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