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Thread: custom job frustrations

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    custom job frustrations

    I got a call a couple weeks ago from a guy who had seen my pens on the internet. He wanted to order two custom Jr. Gents. One in Big Leaf Maple Burl like the one on the 'net gallery. The other I directed him to Ambonya burl. We agreed on a price. I gave him a break. Misteak. My fault.
    When I started to make them, the piece of BLMB I had was cut way undersized. As I drilled one section with the 12.5mm drill it blew up. Oh, well, I have more.
    Those drilled I found a piece of the AB. When I cut that I found the interior punky and breaking with a touch, even though it had been stabilized. Checked my remaining blanks of AB and determined they either had no figure or were junkers like the first.
    Called customer and suggested I subsitute AB with Paduk Burl. He agreed reluctantly. I cut, drilled the PB and glued in the tubes. Put on lathe and about 75% finished turning it blew up.
    Found another piece of burl wood blank that is not labeled. Unusual for me, I label everything-----almost. But, it looks nice. So I cut, drilled and glued in tubes.
    Will get to turning and, hopefully, assembling both today.
    Why am I not optimistic?
    Minimum pay as a Wal-Mart greeter is starting to look pretty good.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
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    30,020
    I can feel your pain, Frank. I've run into similar glitches when making pens to order in the past. My last pen run was a batch of 5 or 6 for a good friend who was willing to pay a fair price. Even so, by the time I blew up about one extra (expensive) blank per pen, I barely broke even.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    Lafayette, Indiana
    Posts
    2,380
    Frank, I know the feeling. I too have people asking me to make pens for them however I tell them that I'm willing to sell what I have already made but will not take orders for them. I enjoy making them but don't like the preasure of HAVING to get one made to order. I'm sure you will come through on this and your customer will be happy.
    It's not what you achieve in life...It's what you overcome!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Goodland, Kansas
    Posts
    4,834
    Feel your pain Frank. A couple of weeks ago had a order for special pens. Well like you blanks blew out and ended up having to order more. Just broke even. If they want special wood from now on the price will be much higher for sure.
    Bernie W.

    Retirement: Thats when you return from work one day
    and say, Hi, Honey, Im home forever.

    To succeed in life, you need three things: a wishbone, a backbone and a funnybone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
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    Mountain Home, Arkansas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Baugues View Post
    Frank, I know the feeling. I too have people asking me to make pens for them however I tell them that I'm willing to sell what I have already made but will not take orders for them. I enjoy making them but don't like the preasure of HAVING to get one made to order. I'm sure you will come through on this and your customer will be happy.
    Even though one more blank blew up on the lathe I did get the job completed yesterday. The wood was Big Leaf Maple Burl, one of the all-time prettiest woods there is. I'm going to buy a block of BLMB, mill myself and stabilize myself for more of this wood. The Ambonya was just bad stuff, lots of fragile fissures inside, I'm tossing all the rest I have. Got it in a trade with somebody in Oz.
    I did the order with one BLMB and one Paduk burl. These are Jr. Gents. I'm giving him a Slimline in plain Paduk because of the delay.
    I don't mind custom jobs but this one had a time pressure situation attached and that didn't help with the pucker factor.
    Actually, I offer a special custom feature I call "Heritage Pens". If a family has some special wood (granddadys old shotgun, the famil homestead, etc.) I'll make pens from that as keepsakes. Hint: 100 to 200 years old wood can be very fragile and go to dust if handled roughly. Stabilizing is a saviour.
    Thanks for sharing my pain. Now, I'll cry over the no-profit part of this job.
    "Folks is funny critters."

    Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too. ~Voltaire

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Southeast Pa
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    2,019
    And that's why i do nothing for hire. I retired from one job I ad a love/hate relationship with and sure don't need another. Of course the medical bills may change that. What little i do i give away... Sometimes the smile is great payment and sometimes they don't seem to have any idea what they just received...

    Garry
    Last edited by Garry Foster; 11-25-2012 at 12:28 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    The Gorge Area, Oregon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Foster View Post
    And that's why i do nothing for hire. I retired from one job I ad a love/hate relationship with and sure don't need another. Of course the medical bills may change that. What little i do i give away... Sometimes the smile is great payment and sometimes they don't seem to have any idea what they just received...

    Garry
    Interesting to hear all the perspectives here. I can sympathize anyway if I don't suffer quite the same way for the most part. My current pressure is LOMLs threat that if I don't get it done sooner, she's gonna just buy it . Current job isn't as bad some I've had timeline stress wise, but I've certainly had them and yep not really my gig. I figure that if I end up doing some wwing for $$ after I'm done here (can't really see another IT job in my future, to old and tired) I'm with a fair number of you and its what I make when I make it (luxury of not having to I suppose). The main reason however is I don't reckon I'm good enough to do things as the customer wants (the bar for figuring out both what the customer really wants and how to deliver it seems higher than making something as I can see it in my head).

    Either way I do enjoy hearing the different sales and marketing strategies and the up/down sides of them.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Tellico Plains, Tennessee
    Posts
    4,353
    I know your frustrations too... I turn down most custom jobs... just don't want the aggravation. Even though I'm trying to sell as much of my work as I can, really really really don't want this to turn into a job.... I want to make what I want, not what somebody else wants... I figure if I like it, somebody, somewhere will like it too.

    LOML keeps telling me I need to make more of this, or more of that for the markets... she's trying to make it a job too....
    Chuck
    Tellico Plains, TN
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/TellicoTurnings
    My parents taught me to respect my elders, but it's getting harder and harder to find any.
    If you go looking for trouble, it will usually find you.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Newnan, GA
    Posts
    31
    I totally agree with most of you. I turn for my pleasure (it's addictive) and will ocassionally sell a few but just give most pens away. Gary, you're right, most folks don't realize what they've received.

    I was flattered recently. My son put two of my pens, Wall Street II, dyed tiger maple, in a church auction for missions. One went for $295 and the other for $150. They were for a good cause.

    joe
    "When the horse is dead....Get Off!"

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