Pricing Wood Bowls For Profit – Three Approaches

Pricing Wood Bowls For Profit

How should I go about pricing wood bowls? This is a question I asked after realizing I am turning too many stacks of finished wood bowls.

The answer to pricing wood bowls isn’t easy at first glance. Many factors merge together when pricing wood bowls.

Some of the contributing factors for pricing wood bowls include time, materials, skill-level, quality, craftsmanship, salesmanship, attitude, and, less discussed, disposition towards money.

Methods for Pricing Wood Bowls

Just like turning a bowl, there are many ways to solve the issue of pricing a bowl. The approach you decide to take is up to you.

In this article, we will address three ways of pricing wood bowls.

  • Piece-by-piece calculation formula
  • Day-rate strategy
  • Long-term income price structuring

But first, we need to understand more about why we are selling, who’s selling, and what our goals are for selling wood bowls.

What Is The Motivation For Selling

Like me, many woodturners resort to selling wood turned bowls for a variety of reasons.

Yes, I want to make money from all my efforts, and I also need to clear out inventory as bowls are piling up left and right. This can be a good and bad problem.

Just wanting to get rid of excess wood bowls can potentially be the worst condition for pricing wood bowls correctly.

In cases like the need for more storage room or a frustrated spouse, the marketplace isn’t necessarily the main factor that is driving the sale.

This situation can quickly occur when the idea of selling your wood turned bowls just “pops” up one day when you realize you’re tripping over your turnings or the cost of equipment has reached a boiling point.

When periodic selling opportunities, such as craft fairs or art shows are pre-planned in advance, the inventory situation takes care of itself more efficiently.

If storage space or a nagging spouse isn’t the issue and the simple desire to make your beautiful wood turned bowls available to a buyer is your goal, then read on.

Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic

Forces motivating us from outside to sell our wood bowls is usually going to cause pricing wood bowls to be potentially erratic.

In an ideal world, we really want to be less reactionary and more internally driven.

Once our wood bowl turning skills reach that level where beautiful bowls can be dependably produced, it’s then when we can more proactively plan in advance for ways to sell our art.

An internal desire, like wanting to share the creations we’re capable of making with others is a much better starting point compared to an external force pushing us to sell our wood bowls.

Who’s Doing The Selling

Another variable in pricing wood bowls is the person doing the selling. Is this person a brand new novice wood bowl turner, a more experienced turner, or a seasoned production turner?

A weekend or part-time turner, like myself, will have different abilities and goals compared to a full-time production turner.

While a part-time turner might not be turning enough to quit the day job, they can also make decent money selling wood bowls.

Quality Is Key

Whether you’ve turned for a few months or many years, quality is a key determining factor in pricing.

A new beginner is usually thrilled with their first bowls. I was and still am. Those bowls of mine will never be sold for a couple of reasons. They mean too much to me and…they suck, quality-wise. LOL

We have to be realistic when we decide to sell our wares. Go to local farm markets, craft fairs, and art shows and look around.

What do you see there? Are your skills, techniques, and overall quality ready to sell in places like those?

If the answer is yes, then great! Start selling. If not, keeping turning and improving those skills.

Realistic Goals Pricing Wood Bowls

Pricing wood bowls with dreams of quick cash or easy money probably isn’t the best approach.

We need to have realistic goals when we decide to sell. Making a few bowls meticulously and expecting them to sell for thousands of dollars each is most likely not real.

Likewise, making dozens or hundreds of quick, cheap small bowls in record time doesn’t guarantee they will all sell.

Consider making the wood turned bowls you enjoy making, using, and seeing every day. Not only will you enjoy creating those type of bowls, but you will also be able to price and sell them effortlessly.

The underlying goal of selling wood bowls can be as simple as wanting to create a little extra income, or more complex like wanting to earn enough for a whole new woodturning shop and all the equipment imaginable.

Wood bowl turners who turn full-time need to think about pricing wood bowls appropriately to bring enough money home to pay the bills and support a family.

Our Internal Pricing Baggage

It’s almost more taboo than talking about sex. The way we think, deal with, and communicate about money is a deeply personal issue.

We all know people who buy whatever they see and those that never seem to buy anything. We’ve all seen people who complain about “wasting” an extra nickel and others that brag about spending thousands.

The psychology behind our connection with money is fascinating.

When pricing wood bowls, we need to be aware that our own personal feelings about money will play a significant factor in what we feel is a “correct” price for our product.

I know people that think they should not be charging more than their cost of the materials for a product, while other people believe bank vaults should be cleared for their creations.

These internal money issues we drag along with us need to be quieted when pricing wood bowls because something more powerful is at play – the marketplace.

The Market Will Bear

In a free market, supply and demand are kings. What people often overlook is that supply and demand are fluid, ever-changing equations.

Every market and every selling opportunity is different. What sells at one location might not sell elsewhere.

The “market” or customer may or may not want exactly what you have. This is all part of the game.

If a bowl doesn’t sell for some time, it may have nothing to do with the price. There might not be desired for that style, size, or shape of the wood bowl. Keep trying.

When a particular market is saturated with other vendors and tons of similar product, sales may diminish.

The temptation is to just reduce prices and undercut the competition.

Unfortunately, everyone loses with this practice. Instead, look for different locations to sell or start making different types or styles of products.

In a dream world, a paying customer appears at your lathe when a bowl is almost finished, and they hold out cash for that bowl in the ideal amount to make you both happy. I said dream world. 😉

Shop Your Market

Take time and look around to see what other turners are selling and how they are doing.

We have a local farmer’s market, and a nice gentleman is there each week selling turned goods. Unfortunately, his tables appear to have the same exact products on them every week.

It seems he isn’t making many sales and somehow justifies his time setting up, sitting around all day, and tearing down for what? I’m not sure.

Look for crowds that are interested in buying wood bowls. Ask people why they purchased a wood bowl. You might be surprised what answers you find.

If you find people selling products well, see what works and what doesn’t work for them. How can you improve your wood turned bowls to make a better or different product?

Make it your job to know what type of bowls are selling and for how much.

Asking $500 for a bowl that’s worth $220 might bring dreams of quickly meeting goals. But if the market isn’t buying, no income will flow, and the real transaction is $0.

Too High and Too Low

Pricing Wood Bowls Too High Too Low

Like all products in a free market, there is a sweet spot. This spot is not too low and not too high. The customer leaves content with the purchase, and the seller feels satisfied with the sale.

When pricing wood bowls too high, potential customers might close down, and any conversation may become difficult.

Think about when you see a product priced more than you are willing to pay. All those internal conversations about high prices and spending too much get churned up.

The funny thing is when a wood bowl is priced too low, similar internal dialogs get started.

Why is it so cheap? Is it damaged or is something wrong with it? Oh, it probably isn’t food safe. Maybe, he didn’t make it, it was most likely made in China.”

We are programmed to be skeptical not only when prices are too high but also too low.

Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are called hidden for a reason. Most people never consider them at all, as if they are really hidden. Hidden costs are real.

Most people understand that materials used to make a wood bowl and their time need to be part of the equation in pricing wood bowls, but hidden costs often get overlooked.

Equipment used to make wood bowls is costly and adds up over time. The electricity and utilities to run that equipment and heat or cool your working space are hidden costs.

Reusable supplies like sandpaper and wood finishes are also hidden costs.

Packaging, processing and shipping costs, if not paid by a customer needs to be included as hidden costs.

If you use a service like Paypal, or another credit card processing service, they all charge a fee for their services. These are hidden costs that can add up quickly.

A huge hidden cost that many people overlook is the road to where they stand right now.

That beautiful wood turned bowl you just finished, and you’re considering selling, was it made in one day?

The answer is a resounding NO!

The bowl you may have made today was made over the entire span of time when you first started thinking about turning wood, and in many cases even before that.

I have a college degree in art and design, and I can tell you that I use many of the ideas, skills, and concepts I learned in school in each of my turned bowls.

Can I expect to sell wood bowls to cover a college degree? Probably not, but that is one of my hidden expenses and attributes.

Likewise, you most likely didn’t acquire the skills needed to make that beautiful bowl yesterday.

There is a period of time when your skills are honed, and countless bowls are turned before you get to the point of making creations worthy of selling.

That learning time and all the associated expenses (tools, equipment, materials, etc.) are hidden expenses that need to be compensated.

Oh yeah, and what about all that wood you took the time to cut, load, haul, unload, stack, and…um it cracked up until it was unusable?

Everything is part of the process.

Pricing Wood Bowls To Sell

We make wood bowls. People who like wood bowls have money. The goal is to have people with money willingly give that money to us in exchange for our wood bowls.

The trick is to figure out how much of that money they are willing to part with for our wood bowl. It’s really that simple and that complex all at the same time.

Formula Approach For Pricing Wood Bowls

A cost per piece approach is probably the most effective way for a part-time turner when pricing wood bowls. This pricing technique works for one bowl or a hundred bowls.

I have done a great deal of research, and in the United States, there is a formula that is an ideal starting point for pricing quality wood bowls.

Obviously, this equation will need to be adjusted for other countries and other currencies.

We need to be able to account for the varying sizes of bowls when pricing wood bowls, and this formula does just that.

The formula pricing equation is the bowl diameter times the height times two and one half.

Pricing Wood Bowls Size Equation Formula

I have found this equation to be used by a large number of wood bowl turners for pricing wood bowls.

If you find that these prices come out to be a bit too high or low for your area or market, merely change the multiple to adjust. Try multiplying by two instead of two and a half, if the first equation seems too high for your market.

On the other hand, if the wood bowl you’re pricing is natural edge and made of burl, it may be far too low of a price point. Simply multiply by a higher number.

This formula is a way to apply a uniform pricing structure to pricing wood bowls. It is not etched in stone and can be used as a guideline or starting point for your pricing.

The only downside to this formula pricing method is that it does not take into account expenses.

For example, if you made a small burl bowl that measures five inches by two inches, the basic formula price is $25. If you purchased the burl bowl blank for $20, you would only profit $5, and that is not covering any other expenses like overhead, etc.

In a case like the small burl bowl example, I would add the cost of the immediate expenses, the $20 burl bowl blank to the formula price of $25 for a total amount of $45.

Day Rate Pricing Wood Bowls

The second approach is ideally suited for a full-time turner or a serious part-time turner as well.

This day rate pricing equation can be extrapolated to be used for a whole year or for shorter periods of time.

Instead of looking at each bowl to establish an individual price, let’s look at a day rate.

How much do you want to earn from a day’s worth of work? This is a self-created rate or goal, and it can change at any time.

If the answer is $500, then the next question is what can you make that will profit $500?

Knowing your particular selling market and current similar product prices are essential. You will need to spend your day wisely making products that will sell within a certain price range.

Let’s say your material, experiences, overhead, and any hidden costs are $150 per day. This means you will have to sell $650 worth of product to earn $500 per day.

Perhaps, you decide to turn two large bowls and seven small bowls. If the large bowls sell for $150 each and the small bowls sell for $50 each, bingo!

Pricing Wood Bowls Day Rate Equation

The neat thing about this formula is you can realistically value a day of work and look at it in a different perspective.

And this day-rate equation example works for one day, a week, or a full-time career of turning wood bowls.

Pricing Wood Bowls As Full Time Income

Full-time production turners usually will take a different approach to price. Instead of having the luxury of making “a little extra money” like a part-time turner, production turners need to make full-time wages.

Starting with the end in mind is best with this approach. How much money must be brought home to earn a living?

In our example, let’s say $48,000 is needed to earn an annual living. Let’s break it down from here.

Working 48 weeks a year allows for four weeks off. $48,000 divided by 48 weeks equals $1,000 profit per week.

On average, $200 profit would need to be made each workday of a five workday week, to reach the annual goal of a $48,000 income.

Of course, that figure of $200 profit per day does not include expenses, overhead, materials and other hidden costs. So those costs need to be added into the equation.

A full-time wood bowl turner then needs to know his or her market and be able to predict what will sell and at what prices to reach that $200 per day profit range.

Does it make sense to work all day to make one beautiful bowl that needs to sell for around $300-$350 to profit $200 after expenses?

Or does it make more sense to turn ten bowls for $30-$35 each to generate the same profit?

I don’t know the product offerings that will make a profit in your particular market, but the answer will most likely need to be a mix of products at different price points.

Experience and trial and error will sift out the most profitable products to offer and sell over time. The challenge is getting to that ideal mix quick enough with as little wasted time and money as possible.

Pricing Wood Bowls Full Time Equation

Never Hourly

Pricing Wood Bowls Not Hourly

You might be wondering, what hourly rate do I charge.

Skilled craftsman do not benefit from being paid by the hour. As a matter of fact, they are penalized.

Think of when you first started turning wood bowls. A single bowl could take hours. Great if you’re being paid by the hour.

But what happens when your skills improve? Now you might be able to make two bowls per hour, but the hourly rate is the same.

“Huh? That’s not right.” Correct!

A wood bowl turner is a skilled artisan that is dedicating their time and energy to learning and improving a specific skill. In my book, and especially in today’s world, this is priceless!

Hourly rates enslave craftsman to either become lazy or suffer. Instead, pricing per piece, by a day-rate, or on a long-term goal basis the artist is rewarded for speed and efficiency.

If you decide to set a day-rate goal of $500 per day and you figure out how to make $1,000 per day, you have options. You can bank the extra money, or take a day off.

Hourly rate pay for skilled craftsman is a no go.
Don’t do it and don’t get pulled into the “how long did this bowl take you to make” conversation.

By the way, the answer to that question is either your current age or the time from your first woodturning to the present moment, whichever is longer.

Think about it.

If you’re curious to merely know your hourly rate, as a barometer, add up a year’s worth of sales and divide the profit by the hours you’ve worked. Over time this should increase.

Cover Your Costs

This may seem obvious, but to make a profit we need to sell our work for more than it costs to produce.

The full-time production turners usually understand this and expenses, overhead, and hidden costs are taken into consideration at every turn.

If you’re only selling a few bowls occasionally and selling bowls is not your may income source, covering costs might get overlooked.

Indeed adding up all the time it takes to make a bowl from cutting timber to applying last finish coats takes many hours.

While it’s easy to look past that time and the equipment in your shop as not part of the pricing equation, they really do need to be included.

Give Them Away

If you’ve read this whole article to this point and you’ve gone through the three pricing wood bowls equations, you should have an idea of what your bowls are worth.

If you’re still thinking “that’s way too much to ask for these bowls,” then give them away. Yes, you heard me correct.

Give Them Away!

I’ve seen this too many times. A decent turned salad bowl about 10 inches wide by about four inches tall being sold for $20. Why?

At silly low prices, it’s not even about the money. At $20 that’s probably only $4 or $5 an hour (if you want to use hours as a measurement) for the labor alone, not to mention all the other expenses!

Apparently, some turners don’t value their work for one reason or another.

Here’s why you should give away the bowls in this circumstance.

By trying to sell wood bowls at prices far too low you can potentially do more harm than good.

Severely underpricing wood turned bowls has many damaging effects:

  • Conveys lack of confidence with your work
  • Customers question quality, integrity, and legitimacy
  • Diminishes the whole value of woodturning
  • Lowers wood turned items to the level of disposable products
  • Discourages those looking for quality products
  • Encourages thrift-shoppers only looking for cheap items
  • Undercuts woodturners that are trying to earn a living
  • Lowers market value of wood turned bowls

In this situation, a better solution is to give away your bowls to friends, family, or charities (who many times will auction them and use the proceeds for their cause).

This way the marketplace for other wood bowl turners is not disrupted by artificially low priced bowls.

Pricing Wood Bowls for profit

Wood Turned Bowls History Luxury

I have to throw this in here. I love history, and this is too important to overlook.

Wood bowls were once commonplace. Every town had wood tuners, and they all made everyday goods. A wood bowl was once pretty much just a wood bowl.

After WWII, plastics replaced wood for everyday used products and eventually product woodturners literally disappeared.

What we are doing by turning wood today is reenacting the past. We are living historians–among other things.

We are resurrecting history in a beautiful, luxurious way. Most of us aren’t making the basic utilitarian semi-circle production bowls of long ago.

No, we are taking chunks of living nature, our time and with our hands creating beautifully finished pieces to be cherished and passed down potentially as long-lasting heirlooms.

Our wood turned bowls are amazing, beautiful, and even historical when seen in context. This is one of the many reasons why I turn wood bowls!

Our wood bowls need to be priced appropriately. They are worth every penny!

Pricing Wood Bowls Conclusion

Pricing wood bowls brings up so many related thoughts and ideas.

I hope this article helps you in the pricing of your bowls and sheds light on aspects you may not have previously considered.

If you’re already selling your bowls, I’d love to hear your thoughts. How do you come up with your prices? What has worked best for you?

Also, if you are outside the United States, I’d love to hear your thoughts and know-how wood turned bowls are valued where you live.

Ready to sell your bowls? Be sure to read these articles next:

Happy Turning (and Selling),

34 Responses

  1. Very excellent. I hadn’t put a ton of thought in to it, I just priced mine at my “gut” with a little bit of “how hard will this one be to let go”.

    I ran some through the formula you suggested (HxWx2.5) and it was pretty well in line with that. I think I’ll likely stick to that process going forward, as it takes a lot of the internal debate and struggle out of it. Thank you!

    Just recently stumbled across your site, and I must say, I will probably be here for a while, going through a lot of your articles. Thank you for taking the time to put all this info out there.

    1. Thank you for writing and sharing! And welcome! Enjoy the content and check out my Youtube channel too. All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  2. Kent,

    As always many thanks for these inspiring and educational words.

    I just opened an Etsy shop ( before I suffer from an avalanche from my work ). I have a question about Live / Natural Edge bowl pricing. By the nature of these bowls they are more saddle shape than a “normal” bowl. when you prices these with the above formula, do you go by the highest and widest point, or lowest and narrowest point, or an average of the height and wide?

    1. Mark,
      Good question. I usually simply “bump” the price a bit for special features like nature or live edges, etc. You could add a .25 or .5 or something to you multiple if you want to be more methodical about the process. Also, you will need to take a little more care with packaging and shipping the irregular edged bowls compared to the “regular” round bowls. Hope that helps. All the best to you and Happy Turning (and selling)!

  3. I’m told by my wife that I’m an obsessive, perfectionist. I’ve been turning for 2 years now. Most of my work I give away and when I do people exclaim,” You could easily get $150.00 for this bowl”. I look at the bowl and see the imperfections like a few small scratches or some other flaw that makes me feel like I would be cheating this person. Do I just put the blinders on and use your formula of diameter x height x 2.5? What if the customer says” can you lower the price because of this flaw?” I guess I’m lacking confidence…or the friend I gave it to is giving praise because it was free. On the flip side, I see bowls selling at fairs with flaws FAR WORSE than the ones I’m worried about. Think I should have someone do the selling for me??

    1. George,

      Thank you for writing and sharing! As a fellow over-thinking perfectionist, I’ve discovered life is too short to struggle for perfection. Do your best at all times, but don’t over-think it too much. There will always be turnings better than yours and mine but that doesn’t matter. If you’ve done your best you can stand behind your work. Also, most people do not have standards like yours and they are simply thrilled to see a bowl made from wood. THEY ARE NOT SEEING THE IMPERFECTIONS, most of the time. I suggest selling your work at a local farmer’s market or similar venue. You will see how people admire your work and the experience will build your confidence. Warning, be prepared for people that just don’t care about wood, or bowls, etc. Just ignore those folks. Don’t take them personally. Set fair prices and of course, be willing to negotiate. Negotiate to make the sale, not because you “see” imperfections. Enjoy the process and realize by selling your pieces, your work will be spread all over the place (possible around the world) and live on well beyond yourself. That thought alone is pretty cool if you let it sink in. All the best to you and Happy Turning!

    2. Fantastic article. Thank you for shedding some light. I’ve been turning for almost 30 yrs and have given 90% of what I’ve turned as gifts. Since retiring I’ve toyed with the idea of setting up a booth at our local Farm and Art market. I’ve never seen anyone selling their turnings and thought it was odd simply because we have a many turners and several clubs here locally. Once again, thank you, Rob T. Wichita Ks

      1. Rob,
        Yes, it’s a personal decision obviously. For many turning is a fun hobby and they don’t want to make it “work.” But for others it can be a great source of income and a way to connect with an audience. I hope whatever you decide is enjoyable for you.

        All the best to you and Happy Turning!

    3. When someone points out a ‘flaw’ to me, I thank them and THEN, raise the price saying that is what makes the piece unique and I had overlooked it.

  4. Great article I really enjoyed reading it. I have never sold a bowl although I have been tuning for about five years. I just gave them to family and friends for Christmas. I must be getting better at it because I am over run with them now and have to start selling some. The information about pricing was excellent. I was trying to figure out how to price my work by time spent. The size times height times 2 or 2.5 and maybe 3 seem perfect . Thanks

    1. Joe, Thank you for writing and sharing! I know that “overrun” feeling. LOL. Have fun selling your bowls. All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  5. I am considering selling some bowls thru a consignment shop that deals in handmade items, jewelry t-shirts, etc. Is the 60/40 % split common? Do you have any thoughts on how to identify each unique item like in an inventory. For example if I have several 5″ x 3″ walnut live edge bowls on the shelf in the store how can I track which one sold?

    1. David,

      Great Question!

      Yes, because many times there will be a few bowls that look identical.

      Here’s what I do. I make a coded serial number for each bowl and I log that number and the bowl details in a notebook. Because some people only want “new” things, I don’t put the year on the bowl, at least not in number form. I use a capital letter to indicate the year and I use my years of turning. So if I were in my tenth year of turning, and I know what year I started, I add a “J” on the end of the number. I put the date and the bowl of that day in the code. So a number for one of my bowls might look like 100827J. That means it was made on October, 8th, it was bowl two out of 7 and I turned this in my tenth year of turning.

      Hope that helps!

      Happy Turning!

      1. Thanks, Kent
        I never thought about the “new” things angle. I can add this kind of code in the metadata in Lightroom then I’ll have a visual record as well. The consignment shop adds a SKU# which I can also add to LR metadata. So far I have been adding ’21 to my signature since this is my first year turning.

  6. Great article. I’m very new to turning and people who see my stuff are amazed at the beauty. After reading this article it sounds like I’m more in the area of selling art vs making a functional bowl.
    I like the natural outcome of the turn, meaning if there is a hole or interesting blemish in the wood I keep it in . I don’t believe I’m at the point of selling my work yet for the simple reason my wife loves every piece.
    Question for you sir. If I was to sell my pieces I think I would display it with a picture of the log before the turn and after??? I think that would help potential customers appreciate the piece more and be willing to purchase at a higher price. What’s your opinion on that ? And again thanks for all the information you have given me. BTW. I live in 🇨🇦 And where I live we don’t have a real good selection of different species of trees. I have been getting free logs from a tree removal company. and also purchasing some exotic woods from a dealer .

    1. Hello Lar,

      Thank you for writing and for your kind, thoughtful words.

      I bet you have more species of trees in your area than you might imagine. Don’t overlook smaller, “ornamental” landscaping trees.

      I have a Ligustrum bush right next to my shop. A limb needed trimming and I thought, “hm? I should turn that and take a look.” OMG! as it turns out (pun ha!), the Ligustrum is related to the olive tree and it has beautiful, warm, organic grain patterns.

      Lesson – keep your eyes (and your mind) open to all the possibilities.

      To answer your question. Yes! Before and after pictures always help make a sale. Why? They tell a story. We are all intrigued by stories. Stories draw us in and help us connect.

      As a matter of fact, this is one of the selling tips I have listed on the Etsy Hacks and Tips article, check it out.

      Happy Turning,

  7. I would like to say thank you for all the info you have provided in this and all the articles i have read (still reading all of it). I discovered you and your help information via Pintrest. I have a small wood and laser business, but LOVE wood turning. And I am not thinking about adding my bowls and such into my market, because of the love I have for the items. I have discovered on more than one front, when you take something that you love, and turn it into a job, you can lose the love. And yes there are others who have the opposite idea. Never the less, I will continue to read everything that you have put out there, and other items you will share in the future. I do have one question – who does your website?

    1. Hello Jeff,

      Thanks for writing and I’m glad you found my site.

      I do understand what you mean about making what you love a business. It can be different for everyone. For instance, I have made turning wood bowls and sharing how to do it my business. Fortunately, I love all of this and I’ll keep adding to the content here.

      To answer your question, I do this site, completely, 100%. From the photography and the graphics to all the writing, follow-ups, and back site programming and coding. See, I am also a graphic designer and photographer, and doing that for others for years got old for me, but it’s a lot of fun applying those skills to something I do enjoy. When I say I know what you mean about making your love a job, I really do. Ha!

      Thanks again and Happy Turning,

  8. Hi Kent,
    My husband and I really enjoyed reading your article! We recently started a small wood turning business and are advertising on multiple Outlets including Facebook, Etsy, Instagram and our website. Do you have any tips for us to boost sales? As far as pricing goes, I was trying to keep the prices competitive with others, but I feel like the type of wood plays a huge part as well as certain pieces that take longer to turn because of detail and/or drying process. Any & all advice you could give us would be so greatly appreciated! Thanks so much and have a wonderful evening!

    1. Hello Melanie,

      Thanks for writing.

      It sounds like you are very productive and active in selling your work.

      Yes, there are so many give and takes when it comes to pricing. The biggest nut to crack is to figure out what people want and what they will pay. Higher quality woods are nice but if the end buyer doesn’t know or care about that difference, then the nicer wood eats away profit. But, on the other hand, if a customer is looking for products made with higher quality wood and is willing to pay a higher price, it all makes sense then.

      A tip I’ve discovered is to nurture and cherish customers who want what you sell. Sounds pretty obvious, but its a bit deeper if you think about it. The whole goal is to find the “right” customer so for each customer you get, realize there were hundreds or many even thousands of others that weren’t a good fit. So treat each buying customer like a king or queen and make them want to come back for more. You’ve already found them, or they found you, work with them and ask them what they like or don’t like. Learn from them and keep improving.

      I hope that helps a bit.

      Happy Turning,

  9. Thank you very much for this article. I am just starting to turn, but really love the feel of finishing a bowl. I have multiple friends who have asked me when I’m going to sell them and the challenge of how much to charge has been a thorn in my side. I like the simple pricing formula and plan on using that and using a multiplier based on the type of wood I use to turn the bowl.

    1. Eric,

      Thank you for writing. I’m so glad this article has offered a solution to your dilemma.

      Happy Turning,

  10. Thanks for the article, I found it useful and reassuring in that your equation (Dia x Ht x 2.5) approximates my pricing (purely by chance BTW!).
    However, I am still not selling enough bowls! I don’t know whether it is a lack of quality, design or simply not finding the right marketplace.
    Basically I am going through a crisis of confidence – or lack of same.
    I post almost everything I make on my FB page and would be interested in your opinion.

    1. Hello Chris,

      Thanks for the comment and sharing your bowls.

      I had a look at your pieces and they are very good. Perhaps the “crisis of confidence,” as you put it is affecting your sells.

      I’m going to be honest with you, it’s hard to sell if you make self-sabotaging or negative remarks about your pieces. The first post I viewed has a beautiful globe-shaped bowl with amazing grain figure, however, you are apologizing for it being Blackwood.

      We all have woods that we, as turners know are better than others, but 99% of the rest of the population doesn’t have a woodturners opinion. I’ve never seen Blackwood before, and I think it looks amazing, but because of your text, I’m questioning the entire piece. We can truly make or break a sale based on our attitude.

      My advice would be to go through all your text and remove anything negative and view your site fresh through a stranger’s eyes. Imagine the person that doesn’t even know how woodturning works, share with them why woodturning is special and pieces that are made from woodturning are extraordinarily unique.

      Also, remember, selling anything is a numbers game. There will be a certain percentage of people that will walk by and not even look, another percentage that will browse, another percentage that will consider, etc. and by the way, there is a small percentage, perhaps less than half of one percent, that will just go crazy for anything turned from wood. So the lesson from all this is – get in front of more and more people and your sales will increase, whether in person or online.

      You’re doing a great job of tell stories, in a good way. People buy based on stories. They want to know where something came from or its history etc. Your experience in making your pieces is also part of the story. Keep this up and people will connect with you and want your pieces.

      Stay positive, be patient, and get in front of more and more people and you’ll see results.

      All the best,

  11. Thank you very much for writing this article. I’ve been selling my woodworking in street festivals art shows. Pricing is always my Achilles’ heel. I turn mostly laminated and segmented bowls I would love your input on pricing for them as well.

    1. Hello Gordon,

      Thanks for your question. Wow, segmented bowls are much more work, and pricing them can be tricky. If you’re looking for consistency with your prices you may find a different multiplier like x4 or x5 (or higher) instead of x2 works better for you. This is definitely a challenge because if you add up all the time it takes to make a segmented bowl you still need to be making a decent hourly rate too. Perhaps you have a system in place to speed up the process, but wow that looks time-consuming. And honestly, customers need to know and understand that when purchasing a segmented piece.

      Great question!

      Happy Turning,

      1. I’d be interested in any ideas on how to take the number of segments into consideration when pricing a bowl. It’s pretty easy to double the number of pieces when you add segments per ring and go to thinner rings.

        1. Mike,

          When it comes to segmented bowls, that’s a whole different ballgame. You have to look at your overall time and effort. If the basic guidelines of this article indict that your bowl, based on its size should sell for say $125, but you’ve spent 40 (or even 10) hours making it, well that doesn’t make much sense. It’s not going to be easy to recoup your time investment, except for two circumstances. If you can make them really fast, or you have people willing to truly pay for your time. I think segmented bowls need to be priced on time-spent making.

          Hope that helps. Happy Turning!

  12. i have a burl wood bowl that i am trying to determine a value for. it very “lumpy’ on the outside; but smoothe on the inside. it is about 10 inches wide, about 4 inches high, and has oriental looking writing on it. can you help me determine a value or point me to someone who can? Thanks, Paula

    1. Hello Paula,

      Your bowl sounds very interesting. Unfortunately, I do not know an art or antique appraiser.

  13. Great starting point for pricing bowls. I have been turning for 2 1/2 years and have been very successful selling Pepper-Mills with a grinder on top of a 5 1/2″ wood base. I try to use exotic woods and vary the handle shapes. The bowls that I make have various tooling on the outside and recently I have started to use inlay pieces to change and enhance the look. I figure that should increase the value of the bowl and I have to up the price for the additional work. I really liked all your ideas and explanations.

    1. Hello Neil,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you liked this article.

      Yes, you should consider increasing prices if you add any kind of embellishments. It’s a delicate give and take. You don’t want to spend too much extra time on the bowl because that might cause the price to jump a bit much. There’s a gray line between bowls to sell at a market vs. bowls that become art and need to be sold as art. Once, you’ve worked on a piece for many hours, recouping your time could be many hundreds of dollars or more. Then you need to be targeting the art buying community.

      Selling our bowls can be challenging at times, but it’s also I a great deal of fun and very satisfying as well!

      Take care and Happy Turning!

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Hi, I’m Kent

Hi! I’m Kent, a husband, dad, papa, graphic designer, photographer, artist, traveler, birder, dark chocolate lover and I’m addicted to turning wood bowls! Learn more about me, see the online courses I made for you, and join our group on Facebook. Ready for your wood bowl adventure? Click here to Get Started

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