No announcement yet.

How many hours do I charge for this?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • How many hours do I charge for this?

    This is a paying job, an aluminium ink tray I’ve just made for a local printer. Being an amateur new to machining etc etc, its taken me far too long to complete, but I’ve learned a lot along the way.

    I’ve no idea what is a fair number of hours to charge for a job like this, so I guess the question is, how long would a competent 1 or 2 person jobbing machine shop, manual machines only, no CNC, take to turn out a 1 off?

    The item is 290mm, nearly 1 foot long, and the trough is a 65mm (2.5”) radius down to a depth of 9.6mm (.375”)

    The fin is a separate piece 30mm x 3mm which started off as a piece of 50 x 3 (2” x .125”) flat, its held to the body with 5 blind M5 countersunks.

    The main part of the body is 79mm x 22mm, (3.125” x .875”) and started off as an 80mm x 25mm (1”). There are 2 M5 through threads, one in each end.

    My gut feeling/guesstimate is 4 hours, am I somewhere near the mark?

  • #2
    I would say you were pretty close on at 4 hours, that's what I was thinking as I looked at the photo's and before I read your last line.

    BTW, nice work, one off's are a bastard to do as regards working out true time v time spent then converting this to $$.

    I always ask myself would I pay $xx for that and the answer is usually no

    The other side of the coin is where do they go then? I have just has a short week off to go to the Midlands show, the 3 rewind companies were given 1/2 a days notice of me going.
    I have to do this as anymore and they send 3 days work down and swamp you, when I got back I had a pile waiting as I expected but one company fetched two jobs back from another company who hadn't even started them and even told me what they were going to be charged which was way over what I charge and they are struggling for work ?

    Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


    • #3
      Way back I purchased a small program to keep track of time spent on a
      project. Works great.

      You need to make sure you log in and out of the projects you are
      doing.You will be amazed at how 'long and short' some jobs are.
      Keep a small file for future reference with prices charged.
      This will work great for estimating and to see if the job is worth the effort.

      All that said, do not be afraid to CHARGE.Don't work for nothing.
      There are two other shops in my area doing some what the same work.
      I am perhaps the most $$, but I base my price on quality and quick turn around time Some of my customers have moved on, but many have come back saying that it was cheaper but " I had to wait longer and the work was not as good".

      Your work looks great.Quality work, not just price will bring in good paying customers.And they will come back!
      please visit my webpage:


      • #4
        How did you make the trough down the middle. Horizontal mill?
        I would have charged how long it would take you to make it the second time.


        • #5
          I always had the same problem in my computer repair business. Somebody brings in a machine with a new virus and I would spend hours researching how to get rid of it without nuking all their data. I never charged for my learning curve, only for the time it would have taken had I already known exactly what to do.

          I have applied the same rational to the few machining jobs for which I have charged money. The most recent being making a pair of mold for parts for car heater and ac controls. I charged 2 hours shop time for each even though it took me the best part of two days to work out the cutting toolpath and machining kinks.

          Free software for calculating bolt circles and similar: Click Here


          • #6
            I've done a fair bit of one-offs and prototypes over the last couple of years, but all for companies that use my moulding business. These have included test rigs, assembly fixtures, miniature instrument compressors, hand punches and so on.
            One thing that is common is that I have never been able to charge the full amount of time that they have really taken, as this would often put the cost out of the window. So in effect they were all loss-leaders for me, but helped to support my main business.

            The problem is when you're quoting smallish one-offs you can't spend hours or days working out the quote price, so often you work out the material & parts cost, then lick a finger and stick it up in the air to guess at shop time.
            If I had to do it commercially then I wouldn't be able to eat much..........



            • #7
              At work, as a designer I would expect to pay $300 to $500 for something like that... But it would probably be anodized or nickle plated which ads about $75 I'd guess.

              That's if we provided the prints, and if the design is wrong it's our problem.

              If you had to "make a cover for this" and had to design it, work out the bolt pattern etc... And if it doesn't quite fit you're expected to make it right I think an hour or more of design time would have to be tacked on.


              • #8
                when i do jobs i make it simple. cost of materils plus 25.00 per hour now oyu do have to mark up the cost on your materials for example you have to get a 12 foot aluim rod let say 6061 cost exapmple 50.00 mark it up 20 bucks to cover your time and gas to go get it,so now its 70.00 then you take shop time at what ever your want to charge per hour, if you do cnc there is a programmers fee that has a set min with most shops i know of plus the rate per hour now to compet you gota be cheaper but not alot cheaper, most shops i know around here will not do a one of job its not worth their time to do it, i have gotten alot jobs this way, even if you are not cnc set up still a min fee or just go by the hour..

                i have done alot of one of jobs and alot of times i have found my slef where the customers design sucked it was not complete and alot of bugs had to be worked out and most customers dont know or dont under stand this stuff , i use to get alot of jobs with here is what it needs to look like custoemr takes wild guess on deminsions and so on thats not going to work that way, time is money, knolwedge is power ,

                i had a guy once wanted to me to trun down a peice of SS not sure what grade it was but it was not that nice and i had to take it it really slow he wanted it turnned into and simple axle ok i says give me 20 bucks , customer was like thats expensive, i was like go else where then cause iam not going to tie up my machine for that longof time and its had to fit the bearings perfectly so had to pay really close attention to OD near the end i had to remove a fair bit of material, any how no shop in town would do the job , now i was in a good mood that day so 20 bucks is 20 bucks what should i have charged for the job about 100.00 would have been fair. i learned after that no more nice guy, 25.00 per hour and i set timmers now when i start when i fininsh any breaks i take i stop the timmer and restart when iam back at it,

                we buy thousands of dollars in machines , and tools and we have the know how so we need to get paid for what we are worth , if its a new to you job ok charge half the time it should take on any manule or cnc knowing what your doing the only thing is most one of jobs have never been done before so take it for what its worth ,

                me i wont work for free any more..

                a buddy of mine wanted to me to do some welding for him, on some thing h built the wornge way and decied he better get it welded again no one would do the job and he only wanted to pay 20 bucks well sorry friend or not business is business i told him 50.00 to do the job and he was not happy, by they way he is not a firend i hang out with some one i known for long time but it dont matter either way i was still 400.00 cheaper then the a pro level shop , so 50 bucks is cheap ,and no he never got me to do the job and i wont now even if he decided to come back, i weed out thoes that want stuff done for nothing,

                to many people want you to work for free , this is not smurf land ,

                if some one has the bucks to go and buy a 3000 dollar tv then they got money to spend on having stuff welded or turnned or built periored ,

                anyhow thats my rant and imput on this one,


                • #9
                  Bob, that's beautiful work. If you're really new to machining, you're off to a great start!
                  "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did."


                  • #10
                    Me I charge $1.00 a minute . And all minutes count. Haven`t had a customer complain yet. When they do I say well when you can`t find some one to do it cheaper I will be here.
                    Every Mans Work Is A Portrait of Him Self


                    • #11
                      a buck a min now thats a new concept i like that idea, thats cool still works out to 60 bucks and hour nice, i like it ..


                      • #12
                        I have to disagree with Evan's learning curve charge. You have to consider whether or not your competition has already mastered the learning curve.

                        I am starting a new job right now. The first month of my job is ALL training. I will contribute some during this time, but not much. Following my training, they start making money hand over fist with my training. They expect that they will have to make sacrifices to ensure that I learn what I need to learn to be able to do my job.

                        On the little moulds that Evan posted, 2 hours is slave labor IMHO, depending on your rate.


                        • #13
                          One thing to be careful of is not to punish yourself for being efficient! Everything has a value. Once you have mastered certain techniques to expediate certain tasks, and amassed lots of special tooling and setup fixtures to make jobs easier, you often need to consider more than just the actual time that a particular job actually took. Use your knowledge and skill to your financial advantage, and not always to the customers.

                          There will of course be jobs that just take too long, and adjustments to the customers advantage are necessary.


                          • #14
                            Ink Tray 1

                            Thanks for the advice and complements guys, although the item looks nowhere as good in the flesh as it does in the photos.

                            At the risk of derailing my own thread, there were a few things I had to ponder on this job, I thought I you might be interested in some of the steps.

                            This is an existing ink tray the customer gave me to copy. Its a 2 compartment tray and he also needs a 1 compartment tray, ie same thing but no centre divider.

                            First decision is that the main feature, the trough, will have to be horizontally milled, which means the fin along the back edge will need to added after the trough is cut.

                            Second item is to determine the radius of the curve, so I need a test piece to check against the curve, which by calculation I reckon is 70mm radius.

                            This is a piece of 75 x 150 flat with a spigot welded in so I can quickly take it in and out of the 3 jaw.

                            Nibble away at the piece of flat 1mm at a time and keep checking against the job.

                            And eventually I have a fit at 65mm radius. Just as well I double checked against the calculated 70mm.


                            • #15
                              Pity you didn't show that in the first post Bob, you're fighting the price of an extrusion that the original manufacturer has invested tooling charges for.

                              Go for three quarters the cost of the manufacturers price and talk to someone who can weld Aluminininium.

                              Regards Ian.
                              You might not like what I say,but that doesn't mean I'm wrong.