How much do you sell a sign for?

I’m in the process of making a carved military seal out of solid walnut. The seal will be finished at 21" in diameter by 1" thickness. The carving will end up around 1/2" in depth.


I had no idea this kind of project took so long to do. Anyone have a suggestion on how much a seal like this would sell for?

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I usually don’t advise on this sort of thread, but here are my thoughts:

  • materials have to have a value — at least double the material cost to allow for stocking and overhead
  • your time, esp. time spent designing has to have a value, see the publications by the Graphic Arts Guild on how to calculate time spent designing

Moreover, the work itself has to have an intrinsic value which is considered in the greater context of craftspeople working at this to make a living — the total value has to be such as to allow that, or we are devaluing that sort of work and declaring that it is to be impossible for such craftsmanship to exist commercially.

Folks go on and on about how cheap things are from overseas, esp. China, and sometimes demand that we be allowed to access their cost of living, but folks forget that back when the U.S. had a domestic garment industry a middle-class family spent ~20% of their household income on clothing — most of which monies went to salaries for garment workers (we’ll leave out the bit about the protection racket which the mob was running and attribute the implosion of the garment industry directly after the FBI’s racketeering bust as a coincidence).

Either a craftsman is worthy of their hire, or the craftwork itself is devalued — you can’t have it both ways.

This was one wonderful aspect of the Sloyd woodworking instruction which was prevalent in northern European countries.

Sometimes I think all world problems could be solved if everyone took shop class and this backs me up:

The goal of … this training was not just to help find a job, but to help round out the person. Students may never pick up a tool again, but they will forever have the knowledge of how to make and evaluate things with … hand and … eye and appreciate the labor of others.


I’ve found these useful in the past. Don’t undersell yourself and your skills

Also this book


A few months ago, I was facing a request for an estimate and I looked at making a spreadsheet that would take into account everything for a project from design to shop supplies. It became something fairly large and since I did not require such a comprehensive system for my purpose as I don’t run a business, I did not complete the project but it certainly made me think of all kinds of costs that are hidden and how to apportion those to a project. There are different ways of apportioning soft and sunk cost for the purpose of estimation and some people may be more comfortable with different approaches like including the shop costs (electricity, heat/cool, rent, taxes, etc.) in an hourly rate for a given tool/machine or to keep it as separate line items or even as lump sum to apply as an overhead.

As @WillAdams said, there is a tendency of undervaluing projects but in marketing, what the market will bear is an important factor in pricing. It may be better to refuse a job than to effectively sell at a loss but in some circumstances, when you are in business, it may be better to sell something than go idle, however, this is not a good long term strategy.


The first thing to ask yourself is, “Do I have permission from the United States Army to resell their logo?” Sorry, but that is a major hurdle that needs to be crossed before you spend any more time on this project.


Excellent point.

Folks should see:

if doing anything beyond fair/personal use.

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Licensing not withstanding… A simple formula I saw on a youtube channel (sorry can’t remember the name) where they use an XXL was this…

XXL time = $20 per hour.
Human time = $40 per hour.
Materials = Double the purchase price.

Seems reasonable as a start point anyway…


I don’t believe this is a trademarked logo.

I’ll just leave this here…

I have a lot I would like to add to this, but currently swamped. be back later…

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Gary, you just don’t have their permission to SELL it. You could hang it on your own wall.

I’ve got to admit that your carving looks exactly like the real one.


on the “trademarked logo” idea…
Something I learned in printing.
It’s not legal to reproduce Govt. seals or insignia or logo without permission/consent.
Does not matter if you change a few things around so it is not a copy.
with that out there for your personal info,
Nice Job!!!
You being able to do that, you should not have any problem getting permissions and commissioned to do a few.


I’ll beg to differ. Only the marines would give me permission to engrave their logo on burial urns. And this was going to be free. I really don’t think they enforce, but they can. It is trademarked and there are no exemptions to do for service men


I stand corrected and I thank you.

I got inspired by a mechanics bill, and added a generic “shop fee - 10%” line item to account for all the dumb little stuff that wasnt big enough to be “materials” but add up after a while, like glue, solder, gloves, etc.

If folks are interested, I described my whole process in some detail on my blog here:


I have tried to program this seal before and got frustrated. Did you get a dxf file of the seal or are you converting from a jpg? I see that you don’t have the wings, I got hung up on the wings also. Looks like your using a small flat end mill. I didn’t know if I should use that or try a V bit. So many questions, so little time. Any help, advice, suggestions of how you got this far would be greatly appreciated.

If you’re having trouble with a file, please post it here or send it to us at and we’ll do our best to work through this with you.

I started by purchasing a vector art drawing of the eagle.

I then used Adobe Illustrator to draw the circles and text around the eagle. Once I had the complete shield in vector I changed everything to grayscale and started editing the colors. I then exported the drawing as a jpg and I’m using MeshCam to cut the part.

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Call it expendables. Sounds much better to a client, but same idea. With tv projects I’ve billed for, my expenses are offset by expendables fee like batteries, media, tape, etc., and no one asked for a breakdown or questioned it. Isn’t a shop fee why mechanics get a bad wrap?

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Before I probably start a firestorm of negative comments I want to say thanks to everyone for their input.

Everyone is talking about what the cost is and I agree you must know the cost but, when it comes to how much you charge it should be based on only one thing, how much will the market bear. If a part cost you a dollar to make and you decide to sell it for two dollars but, the market would pay three dollars, then your loosing profit you could be making. So when it comes to this plaque let’s talk real dollars. If someone said I’ll give you 500 I would probably say no thanks. I think the market will bear between 1000 and 1200 dollars. If you think I’m crazy it’s ok to say so.

BTW, I would never itemize a bill. It only gives the buyer a starting point to haggle. I just say, this is the product and this is the price.