What’s a fair charge for cutting these parts?

I have found people are much more agreeable when they figure out how much it would cost to do it on their own or find a random machine shop. More often than not, they eventually come around. It sounds like it’s for a neighbor so, of course, I don’t know those dynamics but your pricing is very reasonable.

Exactly, we all need context. I’ve suggested to him some commercial cut sites.

I’m not bothered at all to not do the job, it was a favor to him and “oh by the way, I’ll pay you”.

It’s been a good experience though, in case I ever want to commercialize something.


I bill at $50/hour, plus $1.00 per minute of CNC time.

It takes time to load the file, load the stock, hit start, watch the machine etc.

I also do alot of Free stuff for friends and family.

My neighbor makes Flags but does it all by hand. He now wants me to cut an American Flag into a piece of 25"x48"x8/4th wood for a coffe table he’s making. I will do the first one for free but if he wants to make them to sell I will charge him.


I like that, nice and simple.

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Depending on the design, the flags can take some serious time on the CNC. Takes me hours to make the ones i make.

I have mine down pretty quickly.

One trick I have found saves a TON of time is to use a Big 90° for the stars and designs.
The Big 90-bit I use is 1" in diameter. It saves about 5 minutes on a 19.5 x 37 flag vs. a 60 Vbit just for the stars.

I inlay the stars, so a lot of time is spent carving those out and the inlays for them.

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I am a fine artist and I incorporate woodworking, scroll sawing, and now thinking of incorporating cnc router too. In my experience, it’s not good to charge too little. Always add twice as much time than you think that it takes. In any work nothing can be done in 15 minutes. You can do it for free for your neighbor if you value his/her friendship. Otherwise, charge a good amount. Even a cup of coffee costs 4-6 dollars now. People value you more when you charge the right amount. Nobody does anything for you for free! I don’t touch anything that brings me less than 1k. If you are doing just for a hobby that’s a different story but I am a professional making living from what I do. There are lots of people who will pay the good market value!


Well, the neighbor stopped by, agreed the pricing was fair including $35 set up fee. So, $120 bucks, easy money.


Should’ve charged $200.


Live and learn right Neil?

Smart ass!


Sometimes I use what i call the “I don’t want to do it price”.
Rather than declining a project I don’t want to do, I make the price so high no one in their right mind would pay that amount. Most times they decline but if they still want the project I make out like a bandit. :slight_smile:


That was actually a plot point in H. Beam Piper’s novella “Murder in the Gun Room” — there’s a great e-book version of it (w/ footnotes!) on mobileread.com and the audio recording on librivox.com is decent.


A friend of mine did this very thing with a job that someone wanted to get done. He was working on a deck on a house and another homeowner came over and talked with him about his work and wanting to see if my friend would be interested in doing his deck.

He didn’t want to do the job at all, so, he went over and looked at what he wanted done. He told the homeowner that he would do the job for $17,000. My buddy felt the homeowner would not want to do the job because of the cost, but my buddy was surprised when he said yes. So, my buddy immediately started this job and finished it in 2 weeks. That was a hell of a hit.

There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but I found out early in my contracting career (its been a long one) that being this disingenuous becomes habitual and will eventually bite you in the posterior regions.

Personally, when we built our house (some 30 years ago) I had a well recommended contractor quote $20K to plant grass for a yard and “clean up the periphery”. :face_with_spiral_eyes:

I’ve never called him again or recommended him to anyone. (He’s since gone out of that business, and I got the job done for $4K by the guy that’s still working today.)

If I can’t see myself doing something, I just say so and move on. No harm; no foul. MHO :smiley:


I agree with you on telling someone “no”. I pride myself in my work and when someone calls me for work, they usually are calling because someone referred me to them because of work I had done for the person who referred me. I try to be at prices when I can, not always the case, and sometimes I just flat out tell someone that it might be in their best interest to call someone else that would be a bit better prepared for the job, maybe it being tool wise or something like that.

I’m not afraid to turn down work, and many times it has been because of tools for the job. If I don’t have all of the right tools for the job, I don’t expect the person wanting the work done to have to pay for the tools that I may need to finish the job. So, I also evaluate if it is worth me buying the tools myself and doing the job as well. If I haven’t done one of these jobs in awhile and they don’t come to me often enough, then I won’t buy the tools for work that I barely see.

But yes, you are correct in overpricing work just so you don’t have to do it, to only see it bite someone later because they price everything too high all the time.

I’m a CNC Shapeoko newbie awaiting my 5 Pro but I just retired and the last business I owned and ran was a large Christmas lighting business in a city where Christmas lighting is a Thing so I have a lot of experience in service pricing.

When I first started on new installs, I charged by the foot and that included the wholesale price of the lights (which I doubled) and in the early 2000’s ,my labor charge was $45 a man/hr. I rarely got on roofs unless it was layout or trouble shooting. I hired spry young guys for that but the 45 was per man, so if a crew spend 4 hours on a roof, the install charge labor charge was $720,plus materials. Generally paid most workers a buck over minimum wage, Reinstalls because the customers already oaid for the lights were for the labor at whatever my hourly man’hr rate was. When I retired in 2022, the man/hour rare was 90-120 depending on the difficulty of the roof.

One guy who wasn’t happy about the price said ‘well shit, my lawyer doesn’t charge that much per hour.’’,i look ed up at the rather steep roof abd told him, “Well, here’s your lights and here’s the map we drew to layout and install them. Tell your lawyer he’ll need a long ladder and sticky soled shows and he can call me if he has question.”

Thr point is you’re offering a skilled technical and artistic service using an expensive machine producing valuable products from often expensive materials you’re probably not pricing high enough. Over the 25 years I was in that business, it grew to be a competitive local business. Most of the new guys that jumped in, didn’t last because they were too expensive, it was because they were too cheap.


This thread has become quite the primer for pricing jobs!

I’m actually considering soliciting work instead of falling into it, haha.


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