Where the costs of setting up fully automatic machinery is prohibitive e.g. 50 or under, I can be very competitive. I have a small copy lathe that works with a very simple metal template that takes about an hour to make and bring to operation. This represents a start up cost of about £15 thereafter the goods come off at between 4 and 8 minutes each depending on how complexity slows down finishing. As an example a two inch doorknob sanded sealed and waxed is about 6 minutes but oil finished, two more handlings will be required on an absorbent wood bringing it up to 9 minutes. My rate for everything I do is £15 an hour plus materials thus the oil finished example will be about £2 each but sanding sealer and wax only around £1.50. Unless exotic woods are required that I need to buy in wood costs on small items are lost in the labour.
The capacity of the copy machine is limited to about 6 inches in diameter and length but the length to diameter aspect ratio is critical so any job must be considered on its own merits. The machine is not currently equipped for spindle work.
Spindle copy work is done traditionally with a number of preset calipers and a pin- stick. Once I get into the job say three or four off my speed picks up a lot, levelling off at around a dozen. Every job is priced on its own merits so if I’m working to a quote the rate will be set pessimistically in my favour. I prefer to give an honest estimate then charge what it actually costs, I find I then rarely go over estimate so the customer gets mostly good news.
I have a number of machines of varying configurations and capacity so that overall I can go up to around 6ft in length or 18inches in diameter or down to bobbins and finials measuring in millimetres. Beware, very small items can cost as much as large, the number of steps is the same and after all these years the bulk removal of waste is extremely fast, so being big only slows me down if I have to use lifting tackle.
When comparing my prices remember that my goods are usually fully finished. Most factory automatics produce stuff that has yet to be sanded and finished.
Replacements for broken parts of quality furniture are very competitive, for this however I need the broken bits or very detailed dimensions. Clients in this line have often wanted me to work with old wood supplied by themselves salvaged from broken up items of correct age. These clients then typically want to stain and polish the parts in-situ. so I stop at fine sanding. My parts usually fit into an old item very well as I am using traditional methods my shapes are right, the only problem I have is that my work stands out as having no wear. The only way to convincingly distress a part is in-situ.