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How to lose money making card scrapers.


How much is your time worth?




Yesterday I shot some video on grinding and preparing a card scraper like the ones sold by Crucible Tool. In the course of writing a summary I discovered that they charge $20 for their scrapers. At first glance, that seemed high. After all, I bought a pair of blank rectangular Arno scrapers on Amazon for $12. I could grind my own scraper using Christopher Schwarz's method and save a few dollars, right?


Nope.


First, I spent a few minutes finding and printing out the pattern. It was too big for my blank so I had to scale it down and print it again. Then I had to cut it out and trace it. So let's say that took 10 minutes.


I have footage of the actual grinding and cleanup process. No guessing here. It took me eight minutes to grind the blank to shape.


I spent nine minutes filing off the grinder marks and removing the file marks.


27 minutes to get the scraper something close to that I would have received from Crucible. Of course my scraper isn't blued to resist rust and I didn't even get a cool magnet or sleeve.


I bill time in my shop at $60 an hour. Some of you might argue that this is either too high or too low. And half of you are right. It's based on all the expenses I encounter running a legit business. I could go through a long list of these costs. But as a one person shop it's pretty much insurance. My God, the insurance!


So that's 27 minutes at a dollar per minute plus $6 for the steel. $33.


If you practice woodworking for fun you might not worry too much about the cost of a minute. At least not in dollars. But think about what else you could be doing with that time. I try not to spend time and energy on making tools unless I want to learn a particular new skill.


This week we made the difficult decision to keep our child home for the school year. It's not a decision without costs, but they are costs we are willing to pay.


Time in the shop will be something that is more valuable to me and my business than ever before. Not because of higher costs, but because it will be hard to come by.


I'm not going to spend any more of it making card scrapers.

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