Back in 2016, I did a post on costing out the model horse bases and fencing, but with my move to hosting my own shop, it’s time for an update! ?
This post is all sorts of TL;DR because I’ll be covering both the materials, time investment, and shipping. It’s a fun dive into the full life cycle of faux-pastures!
I’ve included a full list of things needed for each section. Some of the items are tools or aren’t easily broken down by project, so they are listed as ‘consumables’. Some of these costs are included in the Overhead totals mentioned later.
In some cases, Amazon is cheaper per item but in larger quantities. I’d rather pay a little more and not have to store the excess.
Note: Links to Amazon items are affiliate links, it won’t cost you anything but it gifts me a little bit of change if you buy something.
Time calculations are based on a basic three rail stablemate scale fence since that’s what I have the jig built for. Alternate rail arrangements and swapping scales (1:32/1:64) don’t actually change the numbers much.
This doesn’t clean-up, or dry/cure times, but does include gathering the materials and setting up the workspace. I roughly timed myself, so the numbers aren’t exact.
- (1 x 10min) Cut wood and paperclip to length and sand
- (1 x 2min) Drill post holes (optional)
- (1 x 5min) Stain wood (optional)
- (1 x 2min) Glue fence, with jig
(1 x 10min) without jig
- (1 x 5min) Insert pins and verify fit (optional)
- (2 x 5min) Prime, paint (optional)
- (1 x 5min) Seal
- (2min) Assemble storage envelope from cardstock.
Total: From 24 to 44 minutes.
If I’m shipping multiple things there’s a lot of time savings since some of the time investment is just getting to the point where I can work. But for the most part, I’ve only got one order going out a day and I need to properly account for it.
- (5min) Assemble box and pack items
- (2min) Setup postal scale and weight box
- (3min) Print shipping labels and packing slip
- (2min) Finish assembling the box
- (20min) Roundtrip drive to post office to drop off the box
So, overall, that’s roughly an hour’s worth of time to get from raw materials to the fence in the mail.
That’s not including the ‘overhead’ time that it takes to photograph, edit the photographs, write the sales copy, create the listing, and creating the social media advertising posts, etc.
Materials (and Tools)
The cost for the different sizes of basswood is the same, but the 1:32 scale uses 3/16 x 3/16inch posts and 1/4 inch planks while the 1:64 scale uses 3/32 x 3/32 posts and 1/8 inch planks (since my local store doesn’t carry 3/32).
- Xacto Mitre Box and Saw (tool $19.26)
- 220 grit sandpaper (consumable $7.52)
- Hand Drill (tool $12.99)
- Post basswood ($0.49) = $0.02 per inch
- Posts are 2 inches high and most fences will have two posts. $0.04
- Plank basswood ($0.49) = $0.02 per inch
- Boards (or planks) are as long as the base (5 or 7 inches) and will normally be three. $0.30
- Paperclip (under $0.01)
- Elmer’s Wood Glue (consumable $4.68)
- Loctite Super Glue Gel (consumable $3.97)
Total: $0.35 (+ 48.42 initial tool/consumable)
Painting or Staining
- Wood Finish Stain Marker ($5.98), estimated use $0.30
- Paint Brushes (tool $4.99)
- Liquitex Gesso (White) ($14.99 8oz), estimated use $0.30
- Acrylic craft paint ($0.99 2oz), estimated use $0.10
- Liquitex Matte Varnish ($16.99 8oz), estimated use $0.10
Total: $0.40-0.50 (+ 4.99 initial tool/consumable)
- Card Stock 65lb 8-1/2″ x 11″ (1 sheet $0.10)
- Elmer’s Rubber Cement ($3.89 4oz), estimated use $0.04
- 5x5x5 cardboard box ($0.36)
- Trimaco Craft Masking Paper (two feet, $0.04)
- Scotch Shipping Tape (three feet, $0.36)
- Boise Multi-Use Copy Paper (two pages, $0.04)
- Brother Toner TN-630 (two pages, $0.08)
So, in theory, a three-rail fence costs me about two dollars in raw materials (once I’ve spent the $100+ to buy all of the starting materials ?).
Payment Fees & Other Costs
The last of the ‘things I can match to a specific fence’ is the actual sale.
I’ve moved away from using Etsy (for various reasons) and now sell through my website. This means the only costs I have are the PayPal processing fees which are currently: 2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction.
But what about the other general costs?
The fun part about running a business is that there are all sorts of overhead costs that need to be paid, but are very hard to factor into the price of items.
Website hosting, domain name registration, business licenses, PO box rental, various software subscriptions, etc. all play a part that can’t be easily associated with a single product.
To keep things simple, I just add on $1.00 to every item’s material cost to cover these. Since I have no control over how many things sell in a year, this is 99% guesswork on my part.
Taxes come next, which are currently Federal Taxes 22% and State Taxes 5.75%.
So, I know how much time and materials it costs me to create a fence. Now to price it out!
The fence is roughly $3 and takes approx 1 hour of my time. The minimum wage for Virginia is $7.25 an hour. So, it should list for $10.25, right?
Only no one is going to pay ten dollars before shipping for something that only costs $0.89 cents if they make it themselves.
(Well okay, they might, but I would feel incredibly guilty about it.)
So I list them for $5 because that ‘feels right’ to me and they sell. That means after I take out the costs listed above that I am making around $1.70 for an hour’s worth of work.
It’s 150000% not the way you are supposed to do things and I highly encourage you to stop and take a sanity check if you are doing this for-profit and your numbers look the same. ?