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bobscarle

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At last I have made a little box with hand cut dovetails that I am not ashamed to show. Ok, so it's not that special. It's a cherry and maple trinket box with a simple drop on lid made to sit on a dressing table. Here are some pictures of it.





As I said, a fairly simple box but one which I took some time and effort to make.

To the point of the thread. My wife took it to work yesterday to show a couple of people who are interested in the things I make. While she was there she asked, for no real reason, what somebody would be willing to pay for such a box. Mmmmm....£15 - £20.

Other people came in and looked at it and susuggestedhat they would pay no more than a fiver, £3 - £5 was one valuation. Looking on eBay, you can see why. Small wooden boxes (you know where they come from) selling for less money than the cost of the wood to make this. The quality of them, probably good enough for most people.

I do not know how far this goes. Is craftsmanship dead? No, it can't be. It mustn't be! There are still people on here and out in the big wide world that make a living out of making things far far better my efforts. I just hope that can continue. For the mass market, why bother?

Oh well, back to the day job. I just feel a little let down.

Bob, who is slightly downhearted but will carry on anyway.
 

Pete Maddex

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Hi,

I know what you mean, people are tight and have no idea of the time and skill needed to make anything, they are so used to going to Ikea etc and paying next to nothing for something that goes out of fashion before it can break.

I was asked to make a box to hold spices the other day the bloke said to me about £15-20?, how do you tell some one to take a running jump politely.


Very nice box.


Pete
 

Lee J

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It's up to people like yourself and myself who make things like this to put on a craft stall to keep it alive. When I was pricing up for my first craft stall I checked prices against other craft makers. Let's take a set of bookends. Hand made from wood by me, designed by me, painted by me... to buy from a craft shop £15 per set. I looked on ebay and there is ebay sellers knocking them out (albiet imported from China) for £5 - £8 a set. But I still put them on my craft stall for £12 a set. I had one person say "you can get these from ebay for about a fiver..." to which I respond... "not these you can't. I made these myself, £12 please".

If you sell your stuff cheap it makes people think it's cheap.
 

bugbear

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Agreed. I think the main motivation for paying one-off prices is either lack of choice (e.g. you need a piece of joinery or furniture of a non-standard size), or a desire for unique design (exclusivity).

For amateurs, friends tend to be very appreciative of the FACT that you spent time. It doesn't matter wether it's woodwork or fresh made cream buns.

Home made items are appreciated for reasons way beyond craft skills.

Sometimes it's not about money.

BugBear
 

CHJ

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I don't think there is any chance of breaking the cheap import or mass produced strangle hold on such pieces with the general public Bob.
All one can hope for is that if you regularly make such items, sooner or later they will come to the notice of a few people who do appreciate the craft skills involved in making them.

The items I produce (see bits and pieces in sig.) could never cover the cost of materials let alone sensible time rates if trying to sell at local craft outlets or village events even if they were to be marketed as a business with associated tax and expenses breaks etc.
Fortunately for the better halfs sanity on the dusting front one or two decerning locals and their contacts place more worth in a reasonable percentage of them as gifts and presentation pieces.
 

studders

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You have to bear in mind that when selling to a 'hostile market' (as the jargon used to be in my day - think it's referred to as 'cold selling' these days) you will get low valuations of worth. Those who seek to buy as a gift or investment will have a different view.
 

Dibs-h

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I suspect the dovetails are wasted on a large portion of Joe Public, as is the Cherry\Maple. Glued Pine\Softwood would probably be more up their street!

As Studders says - "Those who seek to buy as a gift or investment will have a different view" and for this group cost isn't the primary issue.

Dibs.

p.s. Carry on mate - don't be put off.
 

Dee J

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Most people seem to be satisfied in getting most, if not all of their objects/possessions/homeware/fashion/whatever from the mass production market at the lowest possible price. The Craft worker cannot compete on that basis.
Some peolple would like some few items hand-crafted/unique/custom made - but most of those people cannot afford it. Unless you're a charity there's not much of a market there.
Some peolple would like some few items hand-crafted/unique/custom made - and make it themselves - you'll meet most of them on this board ;¬) so no market there.
As the arts and crafts movement of the early 20th century discovered- the only lucrative outlet for the craft worker are the small proportion of the monied few who have disposable income and a desire either for exclusivity or for quality or an altruistic motivation. They will pay not only for the item itself - but also for it's story and it's history. Communicating your story and the materials, processes and motivations of your work are important if you want to address that market. It's more like the art world.

Your box looks good, plain simple lines, a subtle timber and with carefully executed construction - but 99% of the poulation outside the woodworking field could not tell the difference between that and a chinese mass production item priced at a few pounds. It's only when it is accompanied by a (rather M&S food ad style) desciption of "Hand selected timber sourced from an ecologically sustainable UK forest - air dryed to perfection - lovingly crafted by hand to a unique design using century old skills and traditional hand tools and finished in local beeswax." Etc Etc price £75-120....

Without that - it becomes a commodity - a wooden box - value? Whatever the world wooden box trading index says - which is currently two parts of not a lot. Sad but true.
Dee
 

Dee J

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And why bother? The same reason any other artist bothers - because it matters to them - because they are driven from deep within to create and express - to make real that which springs from the imagination. Can you imagine not making things?
Doesn't mean you can make a living from it. Tha starving artist in the garret maybe a cliche - but its based on truth.

Dee
 

RogerS

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It never ceases to amaze me how little Joe Public expects to pay. I had an enquiry come in for a round oak table top...about 30mm thick. 600mm diameter. I reckoned around £150-170 but talking to others who have more appreciation of these things, they thought I was diddling myself and should charge more.

The customer? He thought it was going to come in at about £40-50.
 

tomatwark

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There has always been cheap stuff around.

There will always be a niche market where people will pay to have stuff made.

Making stuff for a living is difficult, I make furniture but I also make kitchens and other fitted stuff.

It is the kitchens and the fitted stuff where I make most of my money as people will either pay to have something different or can't buy it off the shelf.

Over the years I have seen lots of very talented woodworkers set them self up in business and then fail because they don't realise that just because your friends and family love your work, Joe public while they may also love your work will not put their hands in their pockets and pay for it.

And when you have to start paying rent, rates, heat and light etc it starts to get very expensive.

BUT they will pay a garage £300 pounds to drain the oil out of their cars and change an air filter and spark plugs.

All that said, I have seen over the last few years the age of my customer base come down as some of the younger generation do want something that will last and is different, so it is not all doom and gloom.

Tom
 

stoatyboy

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Nice box - right up my street

The way I look at it is that you've got a box that exactly and completely matches your requirements.

right size, right colour, right type of wood, right lid etc etc - you can't get that anywhere else that's why it's worth it and why I bother.

some people do not care about things like that - i don't worry about them.

Having said that I don't have to make a living at it and full respect from me to those that do

Cheers
 

marcros

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Bob,

You have made a very nice box. I like the timbers used and I like the dovetailing. However, if somebody just wants a wooden box to put a few bits on, they are unlikely to appreciate these features- indeed they place a value of zero on the effort required to produce a nice tight dovetail. The general public does not know the price of quality timber. I would hazard a guess that they have no idea at all of the relative value of different timbers, after all, a maple veneered bath panel probably costs the same as any other colour available in B and Q. This is a shame, but in a way, we often discus the various Chinese woodworking machines on here- many members cannot justify the extra cost above a base model. Put it like this, the Festool Sales Manager isnt going to waste any time popping round to my garage on an evening to see if I can be persuaded to upgrade my Silverline circular saw for one of his finest.

As many have said, you will never be able to please the whole public. The mass market is just a race to the bottom. It has its place, and we are all guilty of taking advantage somewhere along the line. Dont be disheartened by doing projects that you enjoy, but cannot make a profit on. Dodge made a comment on one of his posts about "feeding the soul", which I have kept in my mind recently- doing things every now and then just because you enjoy them. You could make fantastic gifts from the items that you make. Granted that you put your time in at nil, but the look on somebody's face when you give them a hand made gift, designed with them in mind is far greater than something that cost 100x what you paid for the timber.

Mark
 

thecoder

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"Why Bother"

Because your piece is unique and hand crafted by you and there will not be another one like it.

The problem is that like most things in life some people have an understanding of the cost of an item but very few recognise the real value,by that I mean the time effort and skill gone into making a product and the materials used.

I am a long way from making something as nice as that box but I do appreciate the effort gone into it its a beauty...Stick at it there are people out there who will pay for that little touch of something different and that has soul.

:D
 

Blister

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Why Bother ?


Pride , Knowing you have the talent / ability to produce items like this

Simple's :wink:
 

bobscarle

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Thanks for the responses, certainly make interesting reading. Most (all?) of the points raised I wholeheartedly agree with. I, and many others here, will never be able to compete on price with a Chinese factory. I guess that I was a little downhearted at the value a few people put on something I had spent time and effort over.

But when I think about it, of course we are all guilty of buying to a price. I have just bought a Quangsheng No.6 plane when I really wanted a Clifton. I appreciate the difference but I could not afford the extra, £130 as against £280. I bought Chinese and it doesn't sit very comfortably with me.

So, Why bother? As Blister said, Pride. The coder said, Unique. Dee J said, a need to create. There are lots of reasons to continue making things and it is only a hobby, and one I enjoy immensely.

Bob
 

condeesteso

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That's a very nice box indeed. Dovetails excellent, and I find even non-woodies seem quick to clock a dovetail! Personally I wasn't totally sure about the lid handle... maybe proportions, but I haven't seen it in the flesh.
About craftsmanship and it's value - I have a notion that things go in cycles, sometimes big long ones. Over the past 20 years say we have all (in the West) 'enjoyed' cheap goods from the East (mainly). To a point that a sandwich toaster is £5, and that's about 4 loaves of bread. That is now changing but as consumers we have been over-exposed to low-cost 'luxuries', to the point they begin to lose some appeal.
We also tend to like what we can't have. Hence I feel (and hope) that fine craft work will be perceived as special and of special value, but that could take years yet and I accept that still a small proportion of consumers will pay the premium.
That's a tedious way of saying I think there may be a trend back to good hand-made (buns or boxes). If not we just make stuff for ourselves and enjoy it.
 

custard

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I guess I'm going to get shot down in flames here, but when I walk around the average craft fair I honestly don't see evidence of a renaissance in craftsmanship. What I generally see are stalls full of drab tat that's no more inspiring or uplifting than an Argos.

Personally I can see why the great British public are beating a path to their local Apple store!
 

condeesteso

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Not by me ! Problem is a lot of craft fair work is down-right poor - both workmanship and design, and we can't do much about that. But for the genuinely great work (which must include its design, its utility and the workmanship) there may be hope? And I'm an apple fan, but it is the highest priced IT gear around I believe!!

p.s. worth a quick look at Philip Streeting's 'bowl' a few months back. Couldn't guess what it's value is but high I suspect.

post594523.html#p594523
 

drillbit

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On a plastic office table, with people who don't appreciate wood, not surprised they quoted low.

But beautifully presented, with a 'hand-made by local craftsmen using renewable wood' tag, in a designer paper bag, to people looking for a unique object to own....price would soon change.

If you showed most people a Savile row suit and asked what they would pay for it, they would think, its a suit, its worth what I would pay for a suit..£150. But people pay thousands for Savile row suits. To the £150 people, though, they just see cloth and stitching.

Same with jewellery. If you took a ring out of Cartier's window and put it in Ratner's, what people said it was worth would change dramatically.

I wouldn't worry. It wouldn't be hard to find people who will know the difference.
 
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