Production Costs and Profits

Hey Guys

Having a lot of trouble making any decent profit with my table.I have a crossfire w/ Z axis & THC added.Been at this for about 6 months.Selling products through local markets and on online locally.

I’m doing mostly 16 ga. signs and art.I’m paying $18.95 tax in Canadian for a 24” x24” sheet.I’m charging what I consider a very conservative $25/hr labour rate.Expenses for power and consumables are be added at 25% on top of that.Plus the cost of paint,usually 1/2 of $15.00 aerosol

Having aloft of trouble with sales and orders,I ve been shooting for a 35% profit margin.Starting to get the feeling I need to find a way to produce products cheaper.

Any opinions if I’m doing something wrong or if people are just cheap in my local area.Located in Nova Scotia,Canada.

Looking forward to any input,


I charge 100 USD a hr. for the time my machine runs. It is worth it you have a lot of money invested. Then I double the cost of all materials. Then determine what my time is worth for prep and finish.

If people won’t pay a similar price they are free to buy their own machine.

This is becoming a market that is flooded. Many people doing this. I found I make more money doing brackets for my company.


The market for signs and tchotchkes is drying up proportionately to people’s disposable income here in Canada.

100% with the affordability of these machines they became accessible to everybody. Even in my small town there is several people operating machines

@TFB I would say this would also be your target also for making a profit is less signs and More parts and relationships. Is there any fisheries or boat yards or industry around you that you can walk in and cold call, talk to somebody, bring some samples of what you can do. Building these smaller relationships up over time can be profitable, the trickle of the jobs will eventually become a stream the more people you interact with.

To conserve my time I do try to do batches of things like lawn ornaments and signs.


Your biggest issue is you’re also in the market of what we call “the race to the bottom”.

It’s an over saturated market and going dry. So how people compete is cut profit like crazy to under cut the other guy and soak up what little market there is. Problem is it gets so low there is no profit left when it gets down here. Cutting out the little guys and only making it worth anything for the companies who can run 1000 units off a 10x20ft table all day every day and sit on 5000 signs in their warehouse selling one every few days.

Happens. You gatta be ahead of the trends and find a new way of profit.


Hey Bard…fe;;ow Canadian here…I live in Ottawa…
So, is there competition in your area?..are people saying they can get better and cheaper elsewhere?..

As people have said the market is saturated…in most areas…just outside Toronto I have a friend who has given up trying to make money as there are 5 people withing 2 miles of him…and they all try to undercut eachother for sales…and all it does it hurt eachother…

I have been at this for 3 years and have seen a change in the market…but I am lucky that I offer mulitple services to help…Metal rolling…MIG/TIG welding…and metal fabrication…

last yera I could not keep up with Garden gnomes…this year…I have been making window well covers…

It is hard to catch a trend and run with iut to make money…but it can be done…6 months is not long to make a name for yourself…



There is not any real competition in my area,expect for a couple of large industrial fab shops.

I haven’t had anyone saying they couple get it cheaper or better quality elsewhere.People just look at the products and say they are nice,but not many willing to part with their money.

I do have the tools and facilities to provide other services.Welding,Metal Fab &Shaping.Obviously I need to work on diversifying the line of projects I offer.

Yes I still am working on getting a name for myself through networking throughout the community.

Thanks for your input,guess I need to work a bit harder and get ahead of a future trend

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if people are not willing to part with their money have you asked them what they might pay for your work…?..getting feedback on what people want to pay can help give you ideas of what you could do differently.
I use Facebook and word of mouth…

keep it up…

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I have been to 4 craft fairs recently, but otherwise had never tried to sell any of my signs. I hear exactly the same thing as far as “really nice”, but then often no sale. When I ask if they feel something is overpriced, usually they say no, but they’re just not wanting to spend that much. So, low cost ($5-15) items seem to be the target market at craft fairs in my area.

Two categories of stuff seem to sell quickest: mancave signs; household decorations such as porch signs/holiday deco, art work. So far sports related to local colleges and high schools, military, and beer have sold well with the guys, and porch/yard items with the women. About $30-35 tops in my area (S Indiana). Anything higher people rarely even comment on it.

I have had a few successes using the American Pickers “bundling” style sales making people a package deal where husband/wife get something giving each a few dollars off.


To me a plasma table is an addition to an already viable business. Something to speed up jobs where i could almost hire someone to cut parts used in fabrication of a larger item, the table will save me the additional cost of an employee or farming the work out.

I see a lot of equipment being sold locally by people who pigeon holed their business into such a niche area.

On the $18 per 2x2 piece of mild steel sheet, the price can be brought down in a few ways… buy 4x8 or 5 ×10 sheets and cut them yourself on site at a local shop. Or go through a supplier, tale a monthly trip even if you need to rent a u haul trailer.

I currently pay just over $3 CDN /sqft, as a former manager of a large fab shop i would mark up material 25% and the more cutting my guys had to do the more you would pay… cutting a 4x8 to 2x2 pieces id theow another 30 per sheet on…

However there are exceptions, if i knew someone was starting a small business and developed a rapport with them i would drop yhe markup down a bit and waive the majority of the labor charge…

So bring your local couterman at a shop close to you a tims or rent a uhaul XD hope this helps someone!



You can make money if you create a niche. Signs and trinkets aint it. Just my opinion. Also don’t be afraid to charge what you need, nothing is getting less expensive. Instead of trying to reduce you price even further, find something else to make and charge accordingly.

Edit because I had another thought:

Agree with the above post and I’m the same. I have a business that makes money to pay my bills, the fabrication work is not glamorous but it is in demand. The CNC is essentially a toy that I use on occasion to create “custom” parts that I can put my own signature on. For example Ive been making some gate hinges, they are like building a better mousetrap, I found flaws in what was commercially available and I made my own. People like them, they are stronger, they are aesthetically pleasing, and they function well so people can do simple shit like easily open their gate to park their motor home, or bring their trashcans in. I’m not selling a set of hinges its more like an entire package, a gate that that operates well. So can bury the cost of the hinges in the entire job, and that cost is realistically a few hundred dollars in labor, material, etc. and I’m not getting anywhere close to rich. Would someone pay $300 for a set of hinges as a stand alone item laid out on a craft table, likely not, its easier to sell a custom package that is better than my competition.