In operating a millwork shop, I customarily charge a set-up fee for specialty millwork, to cover extra labor hours and materials (such as pattern making, moulder knife steel, wood used for testing, etc). I find contractors unhappy with even a modest set-up fee for custom work. What do other small millwork shops charge for this?
A fee that I see a lot is $40 - $50 setup and $80 - $100 to do a min run. The min run is 1' to whatever your break is for a lft price. As far as the knives go, usually there isn't a charge if it's a stock pattern (one you run normally). Knife steel ain't cheap. Don't forget to charge for the wood and delivery.