What would you charge?

I’ve got my first commercial project and it involves metal, powder coating, and wood. Its 34x48 with a 32x46 metal sign with hammered look powder coating and a matte clear. Its raised 1/4" off the surface with 1/4" nuts and will be held down with 63 wrinkle finished powder coated carriage bolts. The 3/8" wood background will be glued to a 1/2" plywood backer. I know what will cover the costs but don’t want to leave anything on the table.

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The best advice I can give. Is determine a rate for time your machine runs and consumable cost. Then double cost of material and time for powder coating oven. I usually charge charge .03 a second for my machine to run and usually .20 a pierce to cover consumables and labour. I do make deals with contracts.

I just cut two 23x23 auto signs at $100 a pop which included powder coat. Dirt cheap and should’ve charged more as I had to design, cut and powder them. Plus material costs and consumable costs. So be smart about it.

I also did another job of 36 4” letters in 3/16 alu and powder coated them as well for $1000 which I banged out in two days. So start high and you may be surprised what they say 🤷

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I run a pretty basic formula that has served me well so far. I got it from a large company that operates in a number of states.

Take your total cost (your actual cost not adjusted at this point but don’t forget to include any sales tax you pay) added to your total labor (your hourly rate that you want to take home, again don’t adjust it at this point). Then I multiply that total by 1.2 (this 20% covers overhead that can’t easily be measured in cost such as electricity or equipment wear etc). Then take that total multiplied by 1.1 (this 10% is intended to be profit used to allow the business to grow over time)

So if my total out of pocket is $100 and it takes me two hours (I pay myself $34 an hour) to do the job it looks like this.

((100+68)*1.2)*1.1= $221.76

That is for fabrication or combination wood and metal work. Straight welding (repair work or customer supplied steel/aluminum) is $40 an hour using the same general formula. If it’s nothing but running the table (customer supplied steel/aluminum) then it’s $100 an hour which works out to be pretty close to what “phillipw” charges. If I purchase anything for the job I fall back on the formula listed above.

Depending on where you are has a lot to do with it too. (Where I’m from I’ve been told many times I don’t charge enough - in the end projects are worth what people are willing to pay regardless of what it costs you in product and time) The main thing is figure out what it’s going to cost you, and make sure you get a decent hourly wage. Don’t drop your numbers just to get a sale because everyone that guy knows will want to go to you for the same low price. Makes it really hard to charge full price after that.


I wound up making three of these had about $600 in materials and got $1300 each.