Things are turnin’ round and out

I am very happy that I finished the spindle reproduction job. That was the first time I have attempted a spindle that complicated, and it “turned” out okay. There are some minor differences, but you will really have to make an effort to look at them both to see them.  I once read that you really don’t want spindles to be exactly the same on antiques because they were originally made by hand so there will always be little  differences. Guess I’ll use that as my “line” if the topic comes with the customer.

Here’s a photo of the reproduced spindle. It is the one of the left and does not have a completed finish on it. (the camera flash really makes the raw wood look pale. I need a photographer in my pocket in a bad way). The customer did not want me to stain it (to save money) so the color won’t match. Wasn’t really positive what type of wood the original spindle was made of, so I decided to use walnut so it would at least be in the same color realm, and walnut turns nicely.

Time vs. Money

Along with the challenge of turning, this job presented the usual problem of time vs. money.  For all repair work, I have a blanket policy of $x.xx per hour put the cost of materials and applicable taxes, which I think is a fair. As always, the customer wants me to keep the time way down. So how do you balance out doing a really good job in a short amount of time? I knew that I could send the piece over to Mark Supik and he would knock it out in no time, but his hourly rate is much higher than mine, then I would have to figure in the travel time and gas.  I feel like I did a decent job, but I would have liked to have more time.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a jack of all trades and a master of none. Well,,,, I take that back. There is one thing that I have truly mastered. I can exchange oxygen for carbon dioxide, in fact, I can do that in my sleep. Back on topic… None of my work is “perfect” but I always do the best that I can, so I especially dislike doing work that is not completely up to what I know is the best I could do. There in lies my dilemma, my overly large guilt gland starts pumping out a heaping bowl of guilt, but at the same time, I can’t spend so much time on it that I overcharge the customer or end up working for less than minimum wage. Perhaps years more of experience will help me with this dilemma.

How do you deal with the time vs money issue?

About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in In Yaakov's Workshop and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Things are turnin’ round and out

  1. cobweb says:

    Hello Yaakov, I back tracked here from my blog. Thanks for your comments there BTW. Glad I came. It looks like did a good of of the spindle. I reckon only another turner would notice any minor differences, so don’t worry about it.

    Time Vs Money is a perennial problem for all us handcraft workers. Most of my customers tend to be middle income and above (they being the only ones with enough disposable income to either buy a decorative piece, or commission a restoration Etc.), and so if they balk at my quote I ask them two questions after telling them my hourly rate…”what do you do for a living?” and once told, “and how much do you expect to earn an hour?”.

    At this point they normally blush and accept the quote. I don’t ever offer a lower rate, and I figure a job I undercut myself is not worth doing anyway.

    But I take your point. It’s not easy.



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