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My second commission

February 13, 2010

A couple of months ago I wrote about turning a doorbell surround as my first paid commission for a colleague at work. Turns out there is some small market for doorbell surrounds, as I recently got a comment on that post asking if I’d be prepared to do another.
I guess the metal parts of these doorbells has survived, but the wooden surrounds have rotted away. And apparently there is nowhere still selling anything like it.

So I accepted the commission, and attempted to set a price based on my previous experience, to make it worth my time. Last time I charged £10, it took me longer than I expected, but then to deliver it I just needed to walk round to his desk. This time I set the price at £20 inc p&p, hoping that I could complete the job in about and hour, and just post it back next time I went to town.

It was about 50% larger than the previous one I made, and as you can see I had the buyer send me the metal part so that I could be sure to get the fit right.
It took me about 2 hours. Mostly I under estimated the time to get it round between centres, then cut a spigot. Between centres my 4 prong drive just started burrowing into the wood, and the grip wasn’t great. So getting it round was quite slow going. I think in future I would consider gluing a spigot on when I glue up the block, so I can go straight to chuck holding the piece.
A variable speed lathe would probably help get the best speed for rough turning, but that’s probably me just building a list of excuses to upgrade.

So I figure, less postage and material cost I made about £8 per hour. Which sounds ok on the face of it. But woodturning isn’t something you can do 9 hours a day. To make a living at it I’ve red that you need to make something like £20 an hour for the time you are wood turning in order to cover the overhead costs of managing a business etc etc. I think I’ll stick to my day job, and leave woodturning as an interesting hobby.

Oh, and this turned out to be a great test of my newly insulated workshop. It was very cold when I started, but the heaters where able to raise the ambient temp up to something reasonably comfortable. So I’ll call that a win for the insulation. Another 5 commissions like this and I’ll even have off set the cost :-)

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