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Replica Carving Center Piece " 120 year old Music Box"

Listing #1400   Listed on: 08/04/2008

Company Name: Zongkers Custom Woods Inc

Contact Name:   Dennis Zongker
Matching up this center piece was very exciting for me: It really took me back in time. Back when everything was made by hand. The company that made these wind up music boxes, made half of them with the center piece and half without. The customer was able to get me a existing center piece, so that he could have me make one for his wind up music box.
This carving has a nice blend of scrolls and acanthus leafs, with a center shell top. It took me approximately 34 hours to carve this center piece. And 10 hours to sand, stain & finish. There is a radius on the back and front which has to line up exactly in order to fit.

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Drawing Layout, Ready to start carving

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Starting the Shell

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Close Up

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Finished Carving with A Wind up music box

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Just Finished Carving

Viewer Comments:

Posted By: Jim Baldwin     [08/04/2008]
Great classical carving project. Are you a professional hand carver? Either way this looks perfect.

I am curious? Was your customer willing to pay you for a full weeks work on this job or did you do some of this for the experience? (I've done that before)

Stupid question I know but getting people to pay today's shop rates for replication of ornate period work can sometimes be a hard sell.

What do you suppose was the going hourly wage rate 120 years ago...10 cents?

Anyway, nice work!

Posted By: Dennis Zongker     [08/04/2008]
Hi Jim, I charged 1,200.00 So I did ok for my time. I think If you get into the right circle of clients a company or craftsman can still make a good living.

Posted By: B Dunne     [08/05/2008]
44 hours at $1200 works out to just over $27 per hour, $19.00 after Soc Sec, if you are self employed. If you can live on that, fine, but most people with a skill like that will charge a lot more per hour and turn it much quicker. $75.00 per hour is a good target rate for around here.

Posted By: Dennis Zongker     [08/05/2008]
Hi B,Dunne,Yea, I am kinda slow, but I do injoy carving and marquetry. I do all the engineering for are company during the day on AutoCAD, and run production. Some days I can get in about one or two hours of woodworking per day. Also I like to work on the weekends for about ten hours. I under stand the business side, and so do you. But do you know what it's like to be creative and to really love what you do.
So actualy I made 1,200.00 dollors for having fun. And I feel pretty dang good. Were as you might be a little unhappy with all your what ever you do's.

Posted By: Arianna     [08/05/2008]
Dennis I have to say that if you enjoy what you do in your spare time than go for it... It isn't about the money it is about continuing to learn and enjoy doing it. For some it is always all about the Money and it always will be.

Posted By: B Dunne     [08/06/2008]
Considering the name(s), I assumed this was a professional exercise, for profit, by definition of the site guidelines. You certainly can charge whatever you like and call it work, fun, or anything else. I mentioned what I did since I hate to see talented people wasting their time and talent for a few pennies, when they should be very well paid and honored for their skills. I'm on your side, bub.

Posted By: Arianna     [08/06/2008]
Excuse me Mr. Dunne? but I am just wondering why you would consider this as wasted time? I am also trying to understand what is your point with this? I do not think that his talent is being wasted... I have visited Mr. Zongkers web-site, I would suggest you might do the same.... Have you taken the time to see the different variety of furniture that is being made within his company? Just thought I would ask... You seem to be really hung up on the money issue..
To Dennis Zongker... I say when you are creative with wood such as you clearly are and with the outcome of your creativity, it is never wasted time...

Posted By: Roger     [08/09/2008]
Beats worjing in Walmart for 8 bucks an hour or being a craftsman in China for $27.00 a week.

Posted By: kol     [08/11/2008]
to protect B Dunn, he is just saying that Dennis should have charged a much higher wage for this piece, because the work is outstanding and he deserves more. We all do work for pennies on the dollar at times, weather it is for friends or family or whatever. But if you do it professionally to make a living you need to charge more to cover overhead and personal expenses. Money becomes an issue when it becomes a business. Since it is more of a hobby to him at this point, money is no issue and shouldn't be discussed. I commend Dunne for telling Dennis his work is worth way more then he charge. After all, for those of us who do supperb work we are never truly paid what we are worth.

Posted By: Dennis Zongker     [08/12/2008]
I think I made a mistake buy putting down how long it took me. I just got a order to do one more for the same price. I think I can do it faster this time. I should be able to trim 16 hours off my last time. I have all the templates made from the first one which, when I was tracking my time took me 12 1/2 hours. I feel like I made a lot of people mad at me for posting this carving. I was kind of excited, when I finished the center piece. Now I feel kind of ashamed. Sorry.

Posted By: B Dunne     [08/12/2008]
Precisely. Once you give work away, you will find it harder to charge the correct hourly wage/value the next time. There are people that seek out these "quiet craftsmen" and exploit them for profit. Lowering the bar serves no one, since it gives a false value to the work. When one person charges so little (for fun, hobby, or favor), a buyer looks at those trying to make a living carving and thinks they are thieves. Carving is much misunderstood today, and Mr Z does himself no favors by giving away his hard-earned skills - in my opinion.

It is not our job (as a professional woodworker) to do things at the rate people will pay. It is our responsibility to ourselves and our dependents, and the craft at large to charge appropriately.

Like I said, I'm on his side.

Posted By: B Dunne     [08/12/2008]
Dennis - You responded while I was responding.

You should not feel ashamed, you owe no apology. We all learn and relearn all the time. My point was to see you compensated fairly for your time, effort and acquired skills.

Giving out times is fraught with problems - precisely why so many publications refuse to give/publish times for projects. Exactly why so many ask for times on this corner of Woodweb.

The second one should go faster, and in aggregate help you earn more. There could be a third or fourth out there also. Good luck.

Posted By: Arianna     [08/12/2008]
Dennis do not feel ashamed for posting such beautiful work... and there is no need to applogize for anything. Please keep posting your work it is stunning. From the looks of your web-site I do not think you need to worry about your overhead your company does excellent work and like I said before...when you are creative with wood such as you clearly are and with the outcome of your creativity, it is never wasted time...

Posted By: Dennis Zongker     [08/12/2008]
I wanted to apologize to mr. B Dunne, For me being rude in my last email. I think my pride got in the way. Thank you for all your advise.

Posted By: BobS     [08/12/2008]
I must have missed something as $1200 for one of those seems like a good price, maybe a high price even. I don't see the issue as the price charged but rather how long it took to complete. As you mentioned the second one will be faster and the third faster still and at the same price your hourly wage goes up, where is the problem?
B Dunne, how do you get work if you are not willing to work for what people are willing to pay, where are the customer if none of them are willing to pay what you are charging?

Posted By: Arianna     [08/13/2008]
Bob I could not have said it any better... You are absolutely correct. The 1st time is almost always the longest, and now that Dennis has done one I would agree with him that the ones after will not take as long.
Dennis mentioned that he has his templates ready for the next carving so I would think that with each one done he will start making money even if some think he will not. Everyone has to start somewhere in order to learn and to continue to get better so that you can master the art of carving.

One other thing I would like to ask Dennis in regards to this comment:

Giving out times is fraught with problems - precisely why so many publications refuse to give/publish times for projects:
Do you have any problems getting your work published?

Posted By: B Dunne     [08/13/2008]
Bob - Understanding the difference between developing a market for what you do vs making whatever someone wants that happens to walk in the door is fundamental to business success. I tell people all the time that they can't afford us, but in different words. It is a waste of time to do otherwise.

If you let the customer determine what wages you work for, you will end up starving, though it won't take long. The overwhelming consensus of professional woodworkers is to determine what market you wish to penetrate and devise a plan to do so, where the price of your product is accepted within the market.

Example - Mr Z would not do well at weekend craft fairs unless he had $25.00 trinkets that he could make for $5.00 or less. Assuming his website is typical of the work he can make money at, he needs to market to buyers of custom specialty furniture, and sell his unique skills.

As for learning on the first one - well, this is true, one must learn. But in our shop, much of what we all do every day is the first one, so how do you anticipate/price for that? With broad experience, problem solving, and ingenuity. Once a reputation for such is earned, the ability to charge whatever one wants/needs follows easily.

A large subject - better suited to the Business forum.

Posted By: Arianna     [08/13/2008]
I agree with you B Dunne in the regards to not letting the customer determine the wages.
But this is one piece that he has carved and with the looks of his web-site it doesn't look like he will starve anytime soon. Also, I don't understand why you are being so hard on Mr Zongker on this one piece.
I am curious as to what you do, and if you have a web-site yourself? I would love the opportunity to see what you do exactly.

Posted By: Paul de Boer, Jr.     [08/14/2008]
Dennis, you did a superb job and I do appreciate your posting how long it took you and how much you charged. As someone who is quite literally just starting out, I like to have goals. Dunne was actually giving you a compliment, I think, that in his opinion you are worth more than you charged. He also addressed a very real issue. Creativity comes from the right side of the brain and numbers are done by the left side (or vise versa). So, often someone who is very skilled in an art is not as skilled with money. This is not always the case, but generally true. Dunne just wanted to show you what you actually made, and what he thinks you are actually worth. I am here to learn, and I appreciate the posts by both men. I think this would not have escalated in person - raw words without body language can sometimes come across in a way the author did not intend.

Anyway, thank you both for your contributions.

Posted By: shawnfndr     [08/23/2008]
This truly is a beautiful replication. It's obvious that it was a labor of love.
It seems like my best work is more for who it's for, or sometimes just to do it. Not always what I made on it. I also appreciate the feedback from the business perspective, because due to my mentality and my local economy,I'm not exactly thriving. But in no way can I find error in prices, workmanship or anything. You truly excell at what you do and I'm greatful for the post.
Your work will sell itself, and at this level of quality, you'll be able to name your price. And if what you do makes you happy, then that;s what it's all about anyway.

Posted By: Dennis Zongker     [08/23/2008]
Thank you Shawn! you just made my day! Today I'm working on a dinning room table. That has some realy nice decoative parquetry. Your kind words have given me inspiration.

Posted By: Dan Hansen     [08/24/2008]
I say that you did a very professional job and further that this world needs more craftsman like you. I have been at this for 35 years making everything under the sun to make a living doing woodworking. Some jobs break even, some make a killing, some loose, and some are a real pleasure. Old world craftsmanship is getting rare with quality above all. That defines a true craftsman. Sure we all need to make a living some jobs pay me 400 an hour, some 75 and some the minimum wage but one difference I feel like I did my best on all of them so bravo for you keep up that fine work.

Posted By: Arianna     [08/24/2008]
shawnfndr and Dan Hansen I completely agree with you both and I could have said it any better... Dennis you are a great craftsman and it shows that it is much more than the money for you... it is the passion of doing it that matters the most.

Posted By: Dan Zongker     [08/25/2008]
As Dennis's brother and partner in crime, I can tell you there is nobody more dedicated to the world of furniture making. HIm and I have worled together since 1981 in the industry. I can assure you, this is an occupation of passion and not one we ventured into expecting to make tons of money.....although that would be nice...haha....With hand-in-hand working with Dennis for nearly 30 years, and being his brother, I can assure you I'm very proud of his ability. I wish to thank all his readers and hope you enjoy his future endeavors and postings on this site. Keep an eye on our website, as we continually add new and fun projects we have completed. Wishing all a very great day!

Posted By: Joe Greece     [09/09/2008]
$1200 !!! for that little POS. I could have turned that out in 6 hours. Not bad for a days work huh? Cash only please.

Posted By: Dennis Zongker     [09/09/2008]
Man, Joe you are funny. I read what you said, I couldn't stop laughing. You are a super carver. Thanks for posting.

Posted By: Frank Williamson     [09/19/2008]
Dennis AWESOME work! I wish Ihad your tallents. i have the tools but not the tallent to carve. Great work!

Posted By: J     [10/07/2008]
Excellent work and would love to have your talent... Tried many pieces myself but never anything close to your work.. Look forward to visiting your sire to view other peices

Posted By: Robert Alexander     [09/15/2010]
WE all know your work is priceless. The object is not money but passion. Thanks for sharing the pride you take in your work. Enjoy!

Posted By: Boo352000     [10/23/2010]
I have read all the postings on this web site, and all the responses. I personality know the Zongker Brothers. I would not question anything that the Brothers say. After all they have owned and operated Zongker's Custom Woods for almost 3 decades. So that says that they are pricing and doing jobs at the finest level of quality. I have personality seen the best quality of craftmanship that I think is unbeatable. Everyone that has posted a comment or responded to a comment should visit their web site on a regular basis. You will be amazed at there Great Quality of work, as I am. Keep up the Great Work guys.

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