My second commission

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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