Jeff Segal Cabinetmaker - Handmade furniture in the Arts and Crafts tradition

The first meeting

Commissions usually begin with a friendly, informal chat about what you want. It’s often best to hold this in your home or office where the proposed piece of furniture is going to stand. We’ll talk about:

  • what it’s for
  • any special functionality or features you may require (shelves, drawers etc)
  • whether it's going to be fitted or free-standing
  • what style you have in mind
  • whether the commission should reflect your existing furniture, your interior décor or any period details
  • what kind of wood you’d like
  • the approximate dimensions you're looking for
  • when you need the finished item
  • how big your budget is.

I should be able to give you a likely range of costs at this stage, from least to most expensive, depending on the complexity of the piece.

And if the timescale for the commission is several months away I may ask you for a small initial deposit to reserve your slot. This will be deducted from the eventual cost of the piece if you should decide to go ahead.

What happens next

Over the following few weeks I would expect us to meet for one or two more face-to-face meetings and stay in contact in the meantime via email and phone. I’ll come up with some design ideas during this period, a few sketches, one or two measured technical drawings and some likely costs that we can discuss in more detail.

Any other work agreed with the client before a formal proposal is signed – for example, producing a working prototype – will be charged at an hourly rate of £25.00 plus materials.

Signing off the commission

Once we’ve agreed on the precise brief I'll draw up a formal proposal for you to sign off before I timetable the commission. This proposal will set out

  • a description of the project (subject to any amendments we agree in the course of construction)
  • an approximate targeted completion date
  • a schedule of payments
  • the overall cost.

How the cost is worked out

I charge a fixed fee for the labour element of the total project price, based on my forecast of the time the job will take. That sum won't change, regardless of the actual hours I work.

I invoice the client separately for timber and any other materials and services (metalwork, glazing or spraying, for example). I charge these at cost price only, including any delivery charges from the supplier.

I always select my timber personally at the sawmill, so I also charge for any travel expenses I incur at a rate of £15.00 an hour plus the cost of petrol or the train fare.

The schedule of payments will always include an advance - a proportion of the labour charge to cover preliminary work.

Materials will be invoiced to the client as they're purchased and the balance of my fee will either be payable upon delivery or, in the case of a more complex project, in stages as the work progresses.

I don't charge VAT.