Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Where's My Government Bailout?

I build and sell Chevalets.  I am no different than General Motors.  Well, there is a slight difference of scale, but a Chevalet is still a Chevalet.  And, like General Motors, I am losing money on each unit sold, I am sliding into a financial hole where it would be nice for the Government, and you, the tax payer, to consider bailing me out.

You see, I sell Chevalet kits.  First of all, since most people who don't read this blog, haven't a clue what a Chevalet is, it is rather hard to sell them a kit.  However, every once in a while, I get a call or a student decides to purchase one at the end of a class.  That occasional sale is important to me, since I need to put out a lot of money up front and then wait for a rather long time to recover my investment, as the sales are slow.

This is not the best business model, I admit.  Lots of investment, long wait for turnover, high overhead, low profit, lack of demand, consumer indifference...

Gee, as I write this, I am getting depressed!

In any event, I notice that the Chevalet is being talked about on certain other blogs, like Lumberjocks.  Boy, am I happy to see that.  Any interest is great.  On the other hand, I need to clarify something I noted the other day while following the thread.

There was a discussion which was about building your own Chevalet.  It was pointed out that Pat Edwards sells the kits for $500.  The next response was something like, "Why would I pay that when the hardware is only about $75?"  That got me thinking, just how much am I spending on these kits?

Well, if you consider I spent a bit of time drawing the blueprints years ago, and that was "free" and I need to drive all over town to get the elements of the hardware from different stores, and I had to design the special parts for the machinist to create, and all that work is "free" time, then let's just add up the hard costs for each kit.

The special parts, which are essential, are made by a talented machinist, using state of the art equipment.  The sliding arm is perfectly straight and has expensive bushings.  The blade clamps are tempered, and the other parts are also custom:

Next, I put together all the metal parts for the tool.  This means each bolt, nut, washer, screw, chain, eyebolt, hook, and pivot shaft is counted out and put into a bag.  Then add the 2 dozen German blades, which I need to import in a large quantity since they are 16cm long and not available in the US.  Then I add the full scale blueprints, which are metric and include every detail of the construction.  For good measure, I copy the plans from Pierre Ramond's book, "Marquetry," and include those, so you can have a typical cut list for the wood.

So, I sat down and added up the actual unit cost for each of these elements for the kit.  It comes to $416.  As I said, that excludes my time and gas and brains.  $416 total.  I then make a wood shipping box and ship it anywhere in the US for $50, fixed price.  That clearly doesn't make much profit.

I sell this kit for $500, plus $50 for the shipping.   Not the smartest decision in the business world.  Not going to even pay for one of the utility bills I have each month.  Certainly not enough to buy a private island somewhere...

I do it for love.  And I do it because I want others to discover how cool this tool is.  And I really don't expect the government to call me anytime soon and send me money for my efforts.  It would be really something if the president would decide to set up a French marquetry atelier in the White House, but I'm not holding my breath.


Anonymous said...

Patrick, having read your post, I decided to research the price of tuition for your classes. First off, it took me much longer than I had anticipated, since you don't have an obviously link to the school on your blogsite. I would recommend that you include one. Secondly, from what I have seen from reading your blog for some time now, it is obvious that you are world class in your chosen profession, and are a highly gifted
teacher. For those reasons, I also recommend that you considering doubling your current price of tuition. Had I the time to attend one of your weeklong workshops at present, I don't think I would blink twice if you did. Good luck.

mokusakusensei--woods teacher said...

I think that 500 is a great deal. I have chased all over town for a part for something just to end up with a piece of garbage. I do not have the talent to warrant the chevalet, or your classes, but maybe someday.

Unknown said...

Patrick I have built a chevalet and having done this even buying the saw kit ($150.00) I have found it does not pay to go off on your own to build this from scratch. It still cost about the same so your not saving anthing and it takes a good deal of time. If I find the need to build another one I would not, so the bottom line is. "If your thinking of building one, Don't. Buy it from ASFM you will save money and time".