Tag Archives: estimate

Thomas Walnut Dresser: First Estimate Lessons Learned

Today I finally got some prices on the materials I’ll use for the Thomas Walnut Dresser, and submitted my first estimate for customer approval!


Things learned

  1. Quickbooks is widely used, but not that easy to use. UI needs polish!
  2. Washington State has a Reseller Permit that I can use to get great prices on materials without being charged sales tax. When I buy wood, turn it into furniture, and sell the finished product I charge sales tax – charging sales tax on the materials and the finished goods would be double-dipping.
  3. I registered today with the Department of Revenue – meaning the Washington Tax Collectors. I’ll need to pay a minimal B&O tax, transfer any sales tax that I collect to them, and get my small business tax credits!
  4. My prices might be high, but I’ll get better at estimating over time.
  5. Printing to a PDF file is useful, and you can do it for free with a product called from Bullzip.

Project Information – The Inspiration

I thought I’d include some information here about the project and the bid, while keeping the customer information confidential.

The first project is a dresser for a former co-worker who is about to be married. He would like it complete and delivered by March 15th. I call it the Thomas Walnut Dresser. It is inspired by a design from West Elm. The West Elm piece is imported and made of wood except for the metal base, has wood drawer slides, and requires assembly. I couldn’t find information on the type of wood they use, where it is harvested, and where this piece is made.


Project Information – The Sketchup Based on Customer Design

The couple-to-be has specific requests for overall dimension and drawer dimension. His fiancé sent some sketches and dimensions, and here’s what I came up with. I’ll build the base out of solid walnut, and I need to see if they want the face of the dustframes showing, my sketch below doesn’t show that. I’ll need to ensure that this doesn’t sag, so there may be a prop in the center of the base.


I then broke this down into cut lists and parts lists so that I could figure out how much material I needed. Then I called around to my favorite suppliers. That’s when I got the tip from Crosscut Hardwoods about the Washington Reseller Permit.

Project Information – The Task List

Here’s how I break down the build tasks and time estimates for each.

Task Estimate
Break sheets down 1 hour
Prepare solid stock for dustframes and base 1 hour
Build carcass
rabbit for top, and bottom, dadoes for dust frames, groove for back
1 hour
Build & install two dust frames 1 hour
Build & install 8 drawers 2 hours
Build & install base 1 hour
Trim out carcass and drawers 2 hours
Sand & finish, multiple coats over a few days 4 hours
Total 13 hours

Project Information – The Estimate

My materials and parts lists, along with their prices and my estimate of hours was entered into Quickbooks, and I created an estimate. I used to show the estimate right here but after a lot of insightful comments, I removed it.

But wait! You can see that I reduced my estimate here by subtracting out 5 full hours of labor. Am I crazy or just bad at math? Well, here’s the reasoning.

  • This is my first estimate. I’ll use this experience to refine future estimates.
  • I just couldn’t see adding another $250 to this project. I need to remain competitive.
  • I like this guy, he’s taking a chance on me being my first customer and this is for his fiancé.
  • The price at West Elm for the similar piece is cheaper already (damn you cheap rainforest wood and foreign labor).
  • He helped me move once, and all he got out of it was pizza.


Let me know what you think, please comment on this post.