Cabinets and built-ins highlight Pricing Survey
July 7, 2014 | 7:00 pm CDT

Bidding is on for the 2014 CabinetMakerFDM Pricing Survey, and a good list of mainstream cabinet and built-in projects are expected to garner wide interest. Projects include kitchens, residential built-ins, a closet project, and a commercial bank build-out.

This marks the 17th year for the Pricing Survey, which remains the only tool in the industry to gauge pricing for custom woodworking projects. The survey collects bidding specifications for real projects that have been done by real shops and then makes that information available to shops all across the country. In the October issue of CabinetMakerFDM we publish the itemized results, showing not only the final bids for each project, but also breakdowns for labor, materials, installation, and finishing.

Success of the survey depends on the voluntary participation of shops who take the time to bid the projects just as they would a real job in their shop. Shops that participate routinely report that doing the survey gave them new insights into their own pricing and helped them better get a handle on the challenges of costing, estimating, and pricing.

While the Pricing Survey is not a scientific sampling of pricing, the more shops that participate the better picture of pricing they create. Particularly in the question of regional differences in pricing, without wide participation from all parts of the country, it is hard to address that issue.

Here are this year’s projects:

Residential built-ins (sponsored by KCD Software)

This project surrounded a big window with shelves, cabinets and an inviting window seat. An adjoining unit features a desk and more cabinets, shelves and drawers. Fluted pilasters and raised panels are important design elements in the project that was finished in white.

His-and-her master closet project (sponsored by Vero Software)

This is a his-and-her master custom closet project, which includes many custom features. There are cabinets and shelf units wall to wall across three walls of the closet, requiring precision scribing and minimal fillers. There are cabinet doors with glass panels and an assortment of closet specific requirements.

Alder kitchen (sponsored by Northwest Hardwoods and KCD Software)

This contemporary Euro-style kitchen design combines modern clean lines with the natural beauty of clear alder wood. It features a working island with stove, oven and sink, as well as three walls of cabinets.

Face-frame kitchen (sponsored by Cabinotch and Columbia Forest Products)

This project makes use of the Cabinotch system of cabinet boxes manufactured from PureBond hardwood plywood. It features wall cabinets at graduated heights and sizable working kitchen island with sink and dishwasher. Wall cabinets are all topped off with crown mouldings.

Bank build-out (sponsored by TradeSoft) 

This is a tenant build-out of a new building for credit union. It features a teller line, greeter desk, check desk and other cabinetry. It appeared in last year’s survey, but we held it over for this year to improve bidder response. This is a juicy commercial project for any shop that does this kind of work.

Start with a bid package

The first step to get started with the Pricing Survey is to obtain a bid package. The fastest and easiest way is to download the bid package from or you can contact us and we’ll mail you a hard copy. The bid package has bidding specifications for each of the projects, including general project descriptions, specific requirements for materials, basic drawings for bidding purposes, and in most cases even finished photos to give you a better idea of what is expected.

You’ll be asked in the bidding form to not only provide a final price for each of the projects you bid, but also we request you answer questions about materials costs, time estimates, hourly shop rates, and such things as how long you have been in business. These added questions give answers that better inform readers why one bid might be higher or lower than another. They also point up commonalities and variances in the bids that highlight key data to help further inform bidding in the future.

For more information or to download a bid package, click on the Pricing Survey tab at You can also phone 203.270.0025 or email [email protected] to obtain a survey. But don’t delay -- the deadline to return bids is August 18.

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About the author
William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.