# What’s a fair charge for cutting these parts?

24 parts, 3/4” 26” x 12” stock. Setup was minimal, 18 minutes cut time.

Title says it all, it’s for a neighbor. I’m happy to do gratis but he’s thinking production in future so…

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What material?

How much wear on the endmill?

Tear on the machine?

Who is providing the stock?

Who eats it if the cut goes wrong and the full number of parts aren’t realized?

Wrote up a bit on this at:

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So, 20 bucks is fair?

For 18 minutes?

My inclination would be to say,

Usually this would be \$40, but only because I’m breaking it down to less than an hour — as a “friends and family discount”, we’ll do this for \$20 this once and see how things work out from there.

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Precisely. My thoughts as well.

That referenced post was from 8 years ago. Take that into consideration. I do a lot of free work but \$20 won’t buy a meal for two at McDonalds anymore.

I struggle with thinking about how much to charge for projects, but then end up paying \$125 to get my grass cut when my mower is on the fritz and several hundred to clean the house when my wife is on the fritz.

Surely nice a nice wood project is worth more than a couple of Happy Meals.

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I struggled for a long time on what to charge for projects. I was all over the place and wanted to be consistent on pricing. I came up with a pricing model that was consistent. I am currently charging by the square inch of the project. I use \$ 0.25 or \$ 0.30 per square inch. This works out very well for me. For your project you could calculate for each individual piece. Or since your project is pretty much filling up the whole blank you could just calculate based on the full stock piece. If you feel the calculated price at \$ 0.30 is too high drop down to \$0.25 per square inch.

You could always have different multipliers based on the type of material and design time. But the two multipliers I use puts me in a very reasonable price range. An 11 x 20 1.25 inch walnut cutting board would end up being \$66.00. A 6 x 14 PVC house sign would be \$25.00. Just don’t under price your self. You’ve made a significant investment in your business.

I probably give away as much as i sell. But even when i give something away I put a price on it (Unless its a gift) just so folks understand that even through im not charging them the item has value.

That would be:

26 X 12 = 312
312 x 0.30 = \$93.6
or
312 X 0.25 = \$78.0

One additional note: I have quite a few customer who want a custom project with lots of specifics. Font type, Size, Design Size, Design Changes, Colors, etc. Then they end up not buying anything. In certain cases I charge a \$10.00 up front design fee which will be deducted from the final price if they buy the project. I don’t do this for standard designs that i could resell if they decide not to buy anything. I don’t normally have customers pay up front for the project. Especially if its a standard design i can resell. I’ve only ever gotten burned once on this.

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Did you do the CAD work?
Don’t discount your CAM abilities @Griff. There are plenty of people that can design a simple part in Fusion, but most of them have no idea how to set up for machining. Your experience is worth something.
That said, I always under charge.

Tabs? Are you post processing? If they’re willing to post process, you could do it for less.

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There are SO MANY folks that want what they see, but won’t pay more than a Chinese penny for it.

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I was sort of in the same boat with pricing parts out. You want to help the person out with your cool cnc machine but at the same time, you still spend an hour or more out of your day to help them out. Not to mention the material you need for the project and the tools you’re wearing out and the wear and tear on the machine. After I started considering these factors, I’ve been more aggressive with my pricing approach for customers. For family and friends, it can be a bit trickier. I generally have them buy the material and I’ll cut it for free or they can bring a 6 pack and we can cut it together.

For customers, I charge \$20 minimum per job. If it’s one material thickness, 1 tool, smaller part/s and takes less than an hour to setup toolpaths and cut the parts, I’ll do the job for \$20. When you start getting into multiple parts like you’re showing, I start to change up how I quote a job.

Here’s an example of a recent job I just did. These are carbon parts for a drone.

Feels weird and uncomfortable charging like this but it has to be done if I spend time out of my day to help them out. I run a business and I’d rather not be a free service. If the customer doesn’t want to pay for it, then I get to spend more time with the wife and kids. Sometimes you have to filter through the cheap skates and find the clients that value your skills.

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True. If they don’t want to pay what you think it is worth then ask them what they do for a living and if they would do that for you for the same price.

I am all about the barter system though. Whether that’s a 6 pack or help trimming trees or fixing a piece of equipment, etc…

It doesn’t have to be money but it should be value worth your time. That value could even be an opportunity to learn a new technique on the CNC with someone else paying for the material.

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Thanks all for the insights and recommendations. Very much appreciated.

A bit more background. The project is a folding/adjustable ramp for RC vehicles that the neighbor hopes to sell, eventually. It also includes 7 each 1/2” thick ply pieces cut on a table saw. He is providing the CAD design as well as the plywood.

I did the machining layout and toolpaths in Fusion using his file.

There is some post processing that I don’t want to do so I’ll add in an extra (high) charge that he can take or leave. Hopefully leave.

I think this is what I’m going with for the prototypes:

\$25 - 1 each CNC machined 26” x 12” x 3/4” customer supplied stock, 24 total parts
\$10 - 7 each 1/2” ply parts, saw cut
\$25 - optional post processing - sanding, deburring

Guesstimating, he’s going to be in the \$60-75 range in parts, machining and materials for a completed ramp. No idea if his perceived market will support that.

At least I’ll make some beer money!

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Don’t forget to charge for you time setting up the CAM in Fusion.

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I don’t want to over-hash it so I’ll just leave a couple thoughts:

1. I set a price on my time. If it’s for a friend, I’ll guestimate (and round down) to about \$20-40 an hour. Otherwise they’re getting billed \$80 an hour. (TBH, I don’t mind if that’s out of someones budget because I probably didn’t have the time to spare anyway… And if they want to pay that much, it’s a nice bonus/motivator.)
But, bottom line, do not discount the time you need to do CAM, machine setup, cleanup, etc. Also, I charge “machine time” as half my hourly rate. Even if it’s “unattended”, there’s still some attention you need to pay to the machine, and wear and tear to account for. And you probably undercharged the customer for the first part anyway…

2. Don’t be afraid to point them to an online laser cutting service (example: SendCutSend or Fabworks) for simple parts that could be laser cut. They could likely get something knocked out in 1/2" HDPE for similar money as what it’ll cost you, you get your evening/weekend back, and they get a working prototype in a few days + a rough idea of what it would cost to scale it up down the road if they went with a vendor like that.

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Man some good threads today i’m stumbling on.

I have struggled with this as well. I use my CNC for my woodworking business, so i’m cutting our parts that i ultimately assemble, finish and sell. For one part, i have the market cornered and no one else makes what i make. I got the CNC to reduce my overall time making the parts and increase the accuracy so i didn’t have to test fit/verify each part to make sure customers didn’t have issues. I typically charge \$20/hr minimum for CNC time, which hopefully accounts for my electricity usage, wear/tear on machine/bits whatever. I’ve got profit built into the actual sale price. But i try to factor in my material costs, labor costs, cnc time, consumables etc.

For something that i sell over and over, i tend to kind of eat it on the initial design time and cnc testing, but then i still account for CNC costs in every product i sell.

If i’m making something new or something that i haven’t done before, i definitely charge more upfront on the design/cnc time factor, or if i think maybe i’ll never make this again kind of thing.

Like others have said, i definitely don’t charge enough for my CAD/CAM time, i tend to take that for granted and need to do a better job of adding those costs in.

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Nice! Keep the comments coming, maybe others will be helped as well.

I’m going to bookmark this for the future - when/if I ever decide to do production work.

At this point, keeping in mind I’m retired and have some free time, I don’t suffer the constraints others might. This is kind of a fun exercise plus I learned a bit more about CAM and making multiple parts.

And, like I said, beer money!

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Charging for work is one of the hardest things one does in any business aspect. Whether one is building something designing something, machining something, one has to take into consideration the time of design, programming, setup, cut time, post-cut processing, and completion. Customers don’t care about any of this stuff and will want to pay as low a price as possible.

I do construction and remodeling and when I price out a job in that field, some customers bark at the price I give them. Then I break it all down to them on material cost, time spent working on the project, etc. Then with the price they would rather pay, I ask them if they would work their job for such small change for a day’s worth of work, or however long it will take, etc.?

Put your worth into your skills and if someone isn’t willing to pay for your skill and work, then don’t do any work for them.

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Don’t forget about electric and heat in shop . Insurance is a must .

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I’m glad that my shop has a seperate gas/electric meter, makes it super easy for my to track and deduct those. And it’s heated and air conditioned, which is REALLY nice

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LOL, texted him the numbers several days ago - not a word back.