How I Set Prices for Handbuilt Furniture

$150

I’ve had a lot of questions and commentary on how I set prices for my furniture. I know there are those of you out there who hand make crafts or furniture, or makeover pieces you find on resale. So, how in the world do you figure out how much to price this stuff? Do you pull numbers out of the air? Look at comparables at big box stores? I’ll explain the method I chose and why it works for me right now.

$25

– First I factor in the cost of supplies. This includes: lumber, glue, screws/nails, sandpaper, paint/stain, and hardware. If some of the supplies are reclaimed, I factor in how much effort it took to locate and retrieve them, and how common or rare the item is. Fence wood isn’t hard to find. Old wooden doors are. So I take it all into account.

– Next I factor in my time. How many hours does it take to build and finish the piece? I use a flat rate of $10/hr for this. I feel like it reflects my current level of skill and tools used. I still make mistakes on a lot of my builds, and occasionally build a “perfect” piece like Christine’s Trundle Coffee Table. Once I feel more comfortable with my skills, I’ll up my hourly rate.

So, for example, the trundle table cost me $80 in supplies. I spent 4 hours building, 1 hour sanding, 1 hour staining, and 1 hour finishing. That’s 7 hours, or $70. So I priced the table at $150. I’ll probably do a couple more at this rate, then up my price on it since it’s something I’m confident building.

Next up with this formula are my shutter console tables. I used “shutters” made from 2 bifold doors I removed from my closet makeover. The aprons are made from fencing I found a few streets away, and the legs are from a slew of stair rails I bought for roughly 25 cents a piece. So about $5 in supplies, including the gas and time hauling the wood. I spent an hour building it, and an hour painting it. 2 hours = $20 +$5 for supplies = $25. I like selling reclaimed stuff because I can get the biggest bang for my buck here. Most of the time I find stuff when I’m already out running errands, so it doesn’t add much to my project expenses.

Now to throw a wrench in things. Remember this coffee table we used to have?

$75

When Ana posted plans to her trundle coffee table (the one we have now) I wanted to sell our old table for what I thought supplies would cost. So I listed it at $75, even though all the materials were free and it took about 2 hours to put together. It sold and was picked up within 12 hours. Wowzers! It was hot stuff. So, when we found two doors for $30 each at a Habitat ReStore, we snagged them and made more tables out of them. I painted and distressed them, and listed them for $100 each. Again, they sold within a day. Same with the tan table. Door tables seem to be hot stuff. So even though my costs and labor are pretty minimal, I keep pricing these tables at $100 because it seems to be a pricing sweet spot. It totally happened by accident. Though now I’ve listed my coral door table for $100, and it’s sat here with no inquiries at all for over 3 weeks. So I’m not sure whether to reduce the price and risk reducing prices for all door tables in my future (heck, the market may be just about tapped out, that’s 5 door tables in one little town!) or let it keep crowding my living room. Maybe I’ll gift it to a friend? I haven’t decided.

So, that’s how I’m currently pricing my projects. Though my friends and fans are encouraging me to charge more, my “buyers market” is telling me that the prices are on the high end. I live in a small town and don’t ship stuff, so my current clientele is made up of resale shoppers and garage sale hunters. Bargain people. So right now, I have “bargain pricing”. In the future I’d like to expand a little more and reach an audience with a greater appreciation of hand-built furniture. The kind who would value my time and skill and pay to reflect that. But for now, I feel like $10 is fair (and keeps me happy), the buyers pay my prices (and feel they’re getting a good bargain) so everybody wins! And since I still consider building a hobby, not an enterprise, I’m good with that. I do it while Charlie takes naps or after she’s in bed. I don’t sacrifice time with her to do it. If I feel like things are going well, then I may try to increase production. But for now, I’m happy. And it will likely stay that way at least for the next few months. 




3 thoughts on “How I Set Prices for Handbuilt Furniture

  1. I have no idea where you’re located, but you might investigate arts/crafts type fairs in bigger areas close to you. I know repainted/refurbished in bright colors wood furniture commands a steep price around here in the Midwest and there are several regular vintage/antique/refinished type events that people make bank selling at! So you’d have to rent a trailer.. but not ship anything.

    1. I’m definitely thinking of branching out in that area. We’re actively looking into moving to the San Marcos / Wimberley area of Texas, and there is a large monthly flea market that I’d love to get in to. Plus the furniture market is a lot better in Austin where they appreciate the unique, rather than our small isolated town by the coast. I’ve tried a local craft fair and it totally flopped. Looking forward to opportunities in the future though!

  2. If I didn’t live all the way in Maine I would be buying that coral table faster than you could say sold 😀 I love EVERYTHING you build and wish I had the space to humid things myself!

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