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  • Pricing

    How can a person determine a price to put on their carving?
    I know it varies with the type of carving it is.( Like figuring the cost of a bust would be different than figuring the cost on relief or full statue.)
    Any information on this would be great.
    I know I would not be able to ask as much for my carvings as you do, because I am not as good of a carver. But I would sure like to know how to figure a price.
    Thanks for all the help.

  • #2
    Re: Pricing

    This is how I figure my price on a carving that I wanted to do anyway $20 per hour just carving time. I look at it this way I would have carved this anyway. Now if someone asks me or commissions me to carve their idea and desire I want more I will give them a price based on $30 per hour of total time. Total time includes finding logs setting up scaffolding half of my drive time if its at their place. This can be very costly. I can honestly say I am faster at carving the things I like to carve than anyone I know. To make satisfactory money you will need to be very fast or very good. I want you to get as much as you can.


    • #3
      Re: Pricing

      I am pretty much at the same point as Don, We try to stay at about the $20 - $25 an hour mark. But most of the time its a lot less when you get down to the reality of pricing. So many things play in. Did you figure wear and tear on tools,bandaids, gathering the raw materials, preparing the raw materials, gas money, and if you go the legal route, permits licences,and overhead. On top of it all Uncle Sam gets his cut. Don said "To make satisfactory money you will need to be very fast or very good. " I would like to add carve smart! I built my own roughout machine, without it I could never make any money selling my carvings. It takes 2 to 12 hours off the carving time for each of my carvings. Sometimes the original takes me three or four days to design and carve, A half hour setup and run off four roughouts. Then 3-4 hours carving time and an hour in the paint shop and I have a saleable Santa at a fair price. We get any where from $45 to $250 for our Santas and I stay reasonably busy. There are services that will duplicate for you but beware I have had my patterns stolen. You have to like what your doing, you are not going to get rich, but its better than walking into a factory everyday. Try to develop a following, A customer that really likes your carving will get you another customer.
      Good Luck


      • #4
        Re: Pricing

        The hardest thing in the world is to understand pricing.
        In manufacting it is simple
        materials + labor +overhead / ammount per hour =cost per part
        cost + profit = selling price
        Selling price + tax = customer cost

        The basic are almost the same in carving but most are ingored because of market.
        Lets do a simple carving breakdown.

        I want a carving of a Santa Claus 7 inches tall . I want it 4 inches thick out of basswood.
        Step one is designing the Santa not getting the wood. Lets say I spend 4 hours designing the Santa . 4 hours labor

        Step two The layout is done the wood piece required is 7 x 4 but I can't get one to size so I buy a larger piece . cost 12.00 plus shipping cost 8.00 plus 1.45 for the phone call cost is now 21.45 plus 4 hours labor. Open the wood block , and find out it is not a solid block , but a glue up. I return it and pay shipping and 10 percent and reorder the block as a single solid . So the cost is now , 1.20 for return, 24.00 in shipping and 14.00 for the sloid block as well as 4hours 30 mins labor for the time and 4.00 for phone calls to get the correct block .

        Step three the correct block is now in my hands, I set up the pattern for roughing , 20 mins. I take it to the band saw , 35 mins later I have the rough cut pattern. Now so you know cost here is 55 mins time plus 2.00 for the electricty , and 1.50 for the wear and tear of the saw.

        I pick up the block read to start carving . rough it out 5 hours.
        I start detailing using only hand tools the detailing takes 7 hours
        Check the carving for flaws splinter and clean up takes 1 hour
        Now it is ready to paint.
        Setting up the paints to a wash 45 mins.
        15 mins under coat , 1 hour for base paints of the large areas , 1 hour for fine detailing of the face and hands. 1 hour for fie detaling of the hair and fur. 30 mins for the finial coat.
        So time for paint 4 hours 30 mins. and cost of paints 4.35 .

        Box cost , bag or box 3.00 5 mins

        Shipping 8.00

        So total cost
        22.25 hours labor
        14.00 material
        48.05 overhead

        So keeping it simple 10.00 labor 222.50 labor
        Total cost of the Santa 284.55
        Now if your willing to work for 10.00 an hour that is up to you. But there is no profit so if you think 10 pecent profit is fair add 28.00 dollars now the little 7 x 4 santa is 313.00 for 3 days work.

        Not sure this will help , but it is important that you remember all cost involved . It is the hidden cost that will make you bankrupt. If your willing to sell that Santa for 50.00 , you just paid to have the person buy it.


        • #5
          Re: Pricing

          all of the advice given is sound--my experience is that if the piece doesnt look good and isnt finished well-- it wont sell at hardly any price in most venues-- on xmas ornaments-- the first ones often leave a lot to be desired-- the later ones are much better. and on finishing---i think that is the key to selling-- a good finish can make a mediocre carving POP! and a poor finish job and completely kill an other wise excellent carving. the problem here in is that most of us like to carve and dont really spend as much time learning to finish them.

          there carvers who do a fantastic job of finishing- lynn doughty comes to mind as do many people on the board


          • #6
            Re: Pricing

            I let the market set my prices no matter what I carve. If you've been a follower of my blog you will remember that every so often I conduct an auction where I put up a piece with no limit on where the bidding starts. From $1.00 on up it's completely up to those interested in how much they think the piece is worth. The beauty of doing it this way is that as only fellow carvers are participating they know exactly how much work is involved in turning out the piece and the quality of the work and subject matter the piece represents. What better group could you rely on to truly determine what your work is worth? How much time you might have involved in something really has no reflection on what it's worth might be to someone. If they want it they will pay for it and it's up to you figure out what the sweet spot is. My auctions are one way I do this.

            While I do make a little money when I sell my work, the true value to me comes from knowing that a large part of the sale is not only because they might like old west wranglers or Native Americans but because it's my work. That my friend is the goal we should all be working toward.


            • #7
              Re: Pricing

              I agree with Lynn...but I found out today....we are both "Leo's" wonder I agree with him!!!
              My birthday is on August 4th, 1947. My carvings used to sell for ten seventy bucks! Go I that better? Well, after carving 1868 "little people" I must have gotten a little better. Still, I would just as soon give a carving away to a good home as make a sale to someone I don't know. Anyway, practice is the best teacher and taking a class from someone whose style you like is the best advice coming from me!

              Keep the chips coming and enjoy what you are carving.
              Sharon Elliott


              • #8
                Re: Pricing

                One of many angles for determining the value (and price) of a particular carving is like Lynn suggested about auctions. I had a great opportunity to produce carvings (for five years and five auctions) at the annual fundraiser for our camp working with at-risk kids. During my spare time (HA) at work, through out the year I'd carve everything from elaborate chainsaw carvings to walking sticks. The silent bid auction always sold everything and raised us between $1,000. to $1,500 every year.

                This experience really 'opened' my eyes to what people were willing to pay for my carvings and it was somewhat more than I'd been charging privately for the most part. If you can find an auction then I'd highly recommend going this route (at least once) if for no other reason than as a very powerful learning experience. It really did open my own eyes for generating a fair and reasonable baseline for pricing my carvings.
                Dave Brock


                • #9
                  Re: Pricing

                  I just wanted to post as reply here so everybody could read this thread on pricing too, a lot of great info from a lot of carvers in the know....


                  • #10
                    Re: Pricing

                    ...not that its pertinent to this conversation, but i'm sitting here thinking about these guys who commented above. Could you imagine a show with Dave's and Lynn's and Chuck's and Ashby's and Goody's and Don's work in it???

                    It wouldn't matter what price was on any of the work...these guys would all have a great show!

                    If you're ever in any doubt about your price, or wondering if you think its too high, its not, raise it. Limit the bleeding to your fingers, not your wallet and the value of your work....


                    • #11
                      Re: Pricing

                      I think I put too low a price on my pieces. They tend to get scooped up almost immediately...

                      Carvito ergo sum.


                      • #12
                        Re: Pricing

                        Pricing is based on many factors that may include your level of skill, what your subject matter is, where you are selling, what your competition is doing, if you have a following, who your target market is, how effective your marketing is, if you are a professional or hobbyist, if it is your sole source of income or only a supplement, or if you don't need the money.

                        By answering these questions it will help you narrow down a rough range. Obviously a skilled carver, with a following, will command a higher price per hour as well as a higher price for their work. If you are needing the income, you need to decide if by selling cheaper, you will get more sales or if by doing that, the time spent could be spent elsewhere earning a higher amount.

                        As a professional carver, I need to make a certain amount per hour to support my family. If I could not do that from carving I would have to get a different job, at least part time. I have been lucky to have never had to do that but it is because I have ceaselessly promoted myself. Marketing takes up at least half of my time so I guess you could say I have a part time job as a marketer.

                        I need to charge $100 per hour for shop time because with marketing time that is reduced to $50 per hour. Overhead lowers that by half to $25. Subtract taxes and you can see that even at $100 per hour for carving time, I'm not getting rich.

                        Anyone in business for themselves has to look at the numbers and determine if it is feasible for them to continue. If you are part time and don't need the money, then anything goes.


                        • #13
                          Re: Pricing

                          Great discussion here. This is something that I have wrestled with myself. The fact is I love to play with wood and I would carve anyway. To place a value on something you would do anyway is tough. I love to "show off" my work and watch some reactions, from this I will get those who will ask, "what do you get for that"? I usually respond with, "what's it worth to you"? If they say $20, I tell them, "sorry, It took me a lot longer than that to carve this." I really don't know what to value my carvings at. I have a full time job and carve in my "spare time", and if I sell a piece of two, well, I can always use the extra money. I am going to follow this discussion as I want to develop a small side business from my carvings. At the same time, I am big into the "art" of it and don't want to be locked into HAVING to carve for someone else with all the pressure that comes with that.


                          • #14
                            Re: Pricing

                            Somewhere up in General Carving I just put up a thread on Carving Simple Kitchen Spoons. I asked my "tester" people about price. Unanimous agreement that $10 for a hand-carved, finished, local, birch kitchen tool was about right. I'd like to see more but if they fly out the door as gifts for $10, so be it. I have such nice wood to play with.
                            Worst case, the spoon blank costs me $0.25.
                            Otherwise, any other "carving" carvings and it's $10/inch. You like that? OK, we measure it. $10/inch longest dimension ($240.00 for the caterpillar is a steal.)

                            In decor photography, I was not intruding on the niche others had. Yet, they told me to charge $80 for an unframed B&W 16" x 20" print.

                            In watercolor painting, I got $50/square foot. I hung the pictures in my summer house like wall paper. You like it? OK, we measure it. Much to the horror of buyers, I revealed that I used the ugly ones to start fires in my wood stove on cold days!
                            Brian T


                            • #15
                              Re: Pricing

                              I talked with Lynn about this subject when I was going to attend my first carving show a few years back. His advice to me was to charge what I would pay for one of my carvings (at my current ability) as a buyer. And that was sound advice. As you get better and your skills improve, you'll know where to set the pricing bar for a particular carving. I use this method to price my carvings and have been successful at selling several pieces. What I don't do is reduce a price that someone offers that's below what I was asking for a carving. Other carvers at shows have said my prices are too low for the quality of my work and at times I'll raised them, but for the most part I'm satisfied for getting what I want (or as stated previoiusly, what I would pay for a piece if I was going to buy it) and am pleased when it sells and the purchaser feels good about what he bought.