View Full Version : Grab that stick - the hourly wage horse ain't dead

01-15-2007, 09:13 PM
It is a sore subject, and I’ve deliberately not commented since the “meltdown,” but I’ve seen two or three references to ‘people around here who want to pay a shipwright $15-$20 an hour’ and I’d like to clarify.

At no time did I, nor have I, ever expected to pay a shipwright $15-$20 an hour. My one and only entry into the fray was that rate (plus room and board for someone that relocated to work on the project), which has now been taken WAY out of context.

My offer was for someone – with a modicum of knowledge as to basic tools, wood, and boats combined with the desire to learn and work on a project that will let them apply their knowledge as well as expand their skills (at my expense) and to work alongside me in my shop, under my supervision, using my tools and my insurance. I hoped for a student either with a few courses under his/her belt or someone with their own boat and an interest in the trade that wanted to bank a few bucks toward going to school, going cruising, or whatever.

When I take a piece to my local marine carpenter/cabinet shop, I pay his rate. No questions asked, no nit picking, no questioning of time and materials. Nada, zip, zilch. He’s working in his shop, supervising his people, using his very very high-end tools, paying his rent, and paying his insurance. If I didn’t trust him, I wouldn’t have taken the piece in. If the work were to be inferior, I would: a) bring it to his attention if it was done by an employee; or b) take my business elsewhere if he was something shoddy he did himself.

When we had boats in the yard, we paid yard rates. When I get to that point with Sarah, I will look carefully to ensure value for price paid because: a) we are talking about considerable $$$s; and b) the local yard I plan to patronize has approximately 50 employees – some are good, some aren’t. But I will not piss and moan about paying $55-$75 per hour. That’s the rate sheet posted on the door, and I know it. If I don’t like it, I can keep slogging away myself.

In a perfect world (and in hindsight) I would have had someone with experience to run the project. I would expect to pay $45 to $65 per hour. If you want to bash me you can, but for that price and knowing that I have to work three hours to earn enough to pay them for one, I would expect them to be full on hands on working planking, framing, replacing deck beams, repairing the stem, i.e. doing something that uses their knowledge and experience. I would expect them to give me materials lists in advance of need so that the project ran smoothly. I would also expect them to be supervising a support person who would be making in the $25 an hour range, and possibly even a third person – grunt level (screw pulling, bung cutting, broom pushing) in the $10 an hour range.

Now for those of you bashing us cheap boat owners that want something for nothing, in the scenario above I’m paying $100 an hour / $800 a day for people to work in my shop, using my tools, and that’d be alright, but by gosh, my boat better be done in a few months. :mad:

In a real-life example, David Gage and I spent today at the warehouse. We worked 10 am to 5 pm with a short lunch, occasional break, and beer-thirty in the afternoon.

In 12 productive working hours, David set up dust collectors for the band saw and spindle sander on the upper work platform, stirred up a gallon of Kirby’s #9 beige, painted some interior pieces previously sanded, sanded some corresponding interior pieces not previously sanded and then painted those pieces, pulled out assorted screws from said pieces, helped me bend a metal shelf back into place, pulled tape, did two or three other things that are escaping me, and was just generally a good sport.

I actually started earlier by going to Home Depot to get the supplies we’d need for the day. Whether it’s someone just helping or someone I’m paying, I am dedicated to having what you need to work with there. If it’s someone helping, the least I can do is have proper tools and supplies, plus lunch and adult beverages at the end of the day. If it’s someone I’m paying, it’s poor business on my part not to provide proper tools and supplies. And I provide adult beverages at the end of the day regardless. (Ok, so it was mid-afternoon….)

In my 6ish working hours I hooked up parts to the main dust collection system (that I’d bought two years ago and that none of my paid people had seen fit to use….) to the table saw and big band saw. I also set up the attachment that goes to the floor and has kind of a flat chute so you can sweep dust and shavings toward it and voosh! Again, the big dust collector was used some, but all the extra hose runs and attachments had sat in a box. I’m either the world’s nicest (or dumbest) boss because I didn’t want to nag the guy doing the work and just figured I’d clean up after him. Hindsight = DUH!!!!! :(

I didn’t mean for this to be a rant. Basically I hooked that up, made a list of items needed, kept David in the tools and materials he needed, sorted interior pieces, and cleaned.

Every day isn’t like today and I fully acknowledge that there are items that require skill, knowledge, and experience. But today we put in 12 hours that required just what I stated above – a modicum of knowledge as to basic tools, wood, and boats.

That was how I was basing my $15-20 an hour rate.

Now for someone with experience to come in and do specialized work and me do the grunt/support crap, I’m seriously open to an hourly rate commensurate with the experience and work product.

What the solution is, I don’t know. On a project of this scale there are things that need experienced work, but there is also the 50-60-70% support work – sanding, painting, taping, pulling screws, and I believe the hourly rate I stated is rich for grunt work and fair for support work. As I told someone in an e-mail during the first fray, I cannot and will not pay $60 an hour for someone to cut bungs.

I feel like pcford and others here, who I respect, took umbrage at my comments, but I just cannot emphasize enough that I was not addressing professional experienced tradesmen.


01-15-2007, 09:21 PM
I'm a cheap date...... ;)

Paul Pless
01-15-2007, 09:26 PM
Tell the truth lefty, this is why your going.
...to work alongside me in my shop, under my supervision...

01-15-2007, 09:29 PM
and a little later we will see if I can travel that far to twist wires together or something....

01-15-2007, 09:32 PM
Kinda sorta Paul....But it's not quite that way..... I actually figured it would be fun to drive by yer house without stopping, or calling just to make you feel all that much more important..... ;)

01-15-2007, 09:33 PM
I'm a cheap date...... ;)

I could not even begin to pay YOU what YOUR worth. ;)

Paul Pless
01-15-2007, 09:39 PM
I actually figured it would be fun to drive by yer house without stopping, or calling just to make you feel all that much more important..... ;)


01-15-2007, 10:00 PM
I never saw the initial post as unreasonable. As well as most of you know eachother here,I thought it an admirable gesture to give first crack at some quality work to the people here that might appreciate it or maybe had been experiencing some down time between projects or whatever. I just thought y'all were just tight like that. It's been the same names in the same topics since I have been around. My friends always ask me first when they have a project,whether it's welding,carpentry or even changing the engine out in their car. I can understand that. Sometimes I do it just so they don't get screwed by someone they don't know.
I was surprised to see the reaction to the thread as it unfolded and as a 3rd party onlooker,I didn't see any advertising going on there. I thought y'all traded information like that here and didn't see it as any different than someone suggesting any kind of source of materials or tools or whatever.I also never got the feeling you were trying to get by on the cheap. The offer seemed quite reasonable being you're taking care of the overhead and headaches. Not to mention what a project like that would add to one's portfolio. I am pretty shocked that several haven't jumped at the chance. That's not bad scratch in this right to work state. I hope you find a quality person to take it on for it is a quality project. It would be a blast to say the least. Good luck.

Peter Malcolm Jardine
01-15-2007, 10:04 PM
I'd work on boats anytime for 20 bucks an hour.... I'm not sure if I'm worth more, but I don't really care

01-15-2007, 10:57 PM
I'd work on boats anytime for 20 bucks an hour.... I'm not sure if I'm worth more, but I don't really care
Me too. Deliveries are different because I'm on call 24 hrs. So pro rated it's less, but $480 a day would be nice <resists urge to put in smiley>

Edited to ad, I did not see that those other posts were a sleight against you Margo, there again my skin is opaque to subtleties (sometimes that's a good thing)

01-15-2007, 11:42 PM
Gee Margo, you really do crack whip..:eek: ..
Too bad I am not near your area... I ain't that hungry... My business is doing just fine for the me..
But, surely that your boat will be finish sooner enough.:) ..

Ian Marchuk
01-16-2007, 12:06 AM
Margo from what I have read here I believe most of the poop flew in Michigangeoge's direction, you were hit by oversplatter. I did not find your post objectionable , in part because your previous contributions to WBF were fair minded and kindly and good clean fun.
True to form some forumites mounted their high horses and galloped off in high moral dudgeon, a fine display of WBF meanspiritedness.
I saw it and read it , please accept my apologies for not sending a word of encouragement via pm.
All said and done it was Margo who emerged with her classy character intact. You really do shine .... a rose on the compost heap.
I wish you well , Margo and trust that you will find the right folks to work with , because good help is always attracted to fair minded employers who have high standards and challenging projects.
ALL the very best..... Ian

01-16-2007, 12:10 AM
Me too. Deliveries are different because I'm on call 24 hrs. So pro rated it's less, but $480 a day would be nice <resists urge to put in smiley>

Reminds me of my daughter, who works at a bank, telling me about enjoying a half-day of work occasionally. I told I only work half-days too, but it's still 12 hours. :)

Given the rates being passed around, I think I'll stick to driving boats, rather than working on them. ;)

Phillip Allen
01-16-2007, 03:12 AM
Wish I wasn't so far away...I've learned things in construction that will translate I believe...and I'm bored with masonry