View Full Version : Black Marble Pricing (let's get down to it)

Shaddy Dedmore
09-24-2004, 4:59 PM
I've seen lots of equations and ideas... but what are some Actual prices that you sold for... here's what I was thinking at first

For Custom works
$40 for Laser Sketch's 5 x 7 round and rect
$70 for LS's 8.5 x 11
$95 for 12 x 12 (my local dist, I get better quality from this marble, I don't care what LS tells me)

I was thinking of making some up, like the patriotic eagle theme, and since I'll sell more than one of the same design (i.e. not custom), I'll sell it for a little cheaper.

I've seen where a person charged 5-10 extra for text (because text is usally done deeper and filled with silver or gold paint, I do that first, then put the photo on after filled and buffed)

But then I saw Laserbits suggested prices after engraving, and it's quite a bit lower than this.
I know it'll come down to what the market will sustain, but I wanted a good ball park price before I make up fliers and pepper the flower/bridal/photography shops.

Thanks for any actuals

Laura Zaruba
09-24-2004, 8:12 PM
I'm very interested in everyone's input as well. Pricing is always, and will always be a hot topic. I've been fighting myself back and forth with marble & granite pricing and would like some set prices before doing (any more) fliers and marketing.

So far I've sold a couple custom LS 5x7 Rectangles with photo, colorfilled line frame, and 2 lines of text for $45ish (after "family/new customer discounts"). I was selling my 3.8 x 3.8 Pink Ribbon plaques with photos for $30, no photo but personalized text for $25, and stock design for $20 and donating $5 for each sold.

It seemed reasonable to me at the time, then a couple people approached me and said my prices are way too low. After looking back and considering the time I spent doing it I think they are right. However, what is the right price?

Again, I suppose it's what the market will bear and what market(s) you're going after. Getting back to one of my last posts, here's a more detailed example:

1. You found a market with soccer parents who will pay $20 at most for a small photo tile including an easel. Keeping in mind you have to continually go out and find these parents and scan the majority of the photos (for a small fee of course.)

2. Then you found a photographer who will glad pay $40 for the same tile except you're etching wedding photos. He's going to frame and sell these to his customers and won't need the easel plus he will e-mail you the photos in the proper format. Potential long term relationship with continuous orders and possibly duplicate orders.

Same tile, same engraving time, different markets and perceived values.

So what do you do? Is it fair to try to sell to both markets at different prices? If is it fair to you and your business to charge the same price for everyone and ultimately reduce your customer base one way or another? Do you yank these product from your retail line and only sell wholesale at the higher prices?

Maybe the two markets would never find out about the other, but what if? Perhaps the photographer becomes a soccer parent and learns about these cool photo tiles for only $20. It could happen...

Okay everyone, please chime in - we can all benefit from your feedback!!

Chuck Burke
09-24-2004, 8:29 PM
Hi All,
I am just ending a whirlwind tour of shops and people that are willing to help me get started.
Among the things I learned was pricing. ( Or at least their version of it). Their simple formula is cost x 2.2 This includes minimum engraving. Of course there is a $35.00 set up charge, $.25 per character beyond a certain limit.
This group also has a .$0.50 charge per square inch for "odd" products such as wooden business cards etc.
I am just learing myself, but I thought I would pass this on if it helps.
My apologies for not revealing "they", but I do not know the people I have met with well enough yet to BLURT their name out, so it is more a matter of respect than secrecy.

Chuck Burke
Pacific LaZer Works
Woodinville WA.

Keith Outten
09-26-2004, 8:05 PM
My prices are in line with Shaddy's and I tend to price most of my work based on engraving and graphics design time. I cut my own marble with a tile saw so the size of the marble isn't an issue. Pieces left over from cutting larger tiles to size are great for desk name plates and pen/pencil holders so I use almost every piece of marble.

Shaddy Dedmore
09-26-2004, 10:33 PM
Keith, What do you use to polish the edges of the marble?
Also, do you use a bevel/chamfer thing?

I was thinking of buying an angle grinder and these (http://www.sculpt.com/catalog_98/Diamonds/blades/PVA.htm) Alpha PVA Makita Style
"Marble Edge Polishing System"

the high speed ones at the bottom of the page.


Keith Outten
09-27-2004, 7:42 AM

I have been using a combination of abrasive belts and a sharpening stone to prep the edges of black marble. Silicone carbide belts work well and seem to last a long time. I normally stop at about 800 grit and it leaves the edge very smooth but not polished which I think looks great as it tends to frame the polished surface. The sharpening stone is used to cut small edge champhers, it only takes a few minutes to prep a marble plaque using my current technique.

I am working on a motorized table design that would move marble on a table attached to a lead screw past a wheel like the ones you linked to in your post. This would allow me to use a very slow speed and prep marble without having to hold a grinder manually. My longterm goal is to be able to cut and prep any shape, this would provide the maximum capability using marble.

I would like to produce plaques in large quantities quickly, this would allow me to make various sizes of marble plaques once a month or so and keep a large supply on the shelf.

Ken Nelsen
09-28-2004, 1:29 AM
Hi to all,
I don't mean to change the direction of this thread but I'm trying to find a source for black marble plaques in larger sizes. I've recently received a job requiring a 10x14 black marble plaque. I've also just set up a laser shop in the engineering department of the Bellagio Hotel here in Las Vegas where we're doing a lot of Corian engraving as well as Formica and wood inlay. I used some of the smaller marble plaques (Laserbit's) as samples and have had a few requests for larger ones as well from the hotel so I'd like to stock a few there as well. Any info regarding a supplier for the larger black marble plaques would be greatly appreciated.

Keith Outten
09-28-2004, 5:49 AM

The largest black marble tiles I can find are 12" square from Color Stone International in Atlanta Georgia.


Laura Zaruba
09-28-2004, 10:34 AM

I'm a big fan of LaserSketch www.lasersketch.com (http://www.lasersketch.com) but I'm also looking for other sizes and shapes. They don't have 10x14, but I think they do have 18x24 or something you could probably cut down if you have the equipment.

Good luck.

Lynn Kull
09-29-2004, 11:22 AM
Hi, I am changing this thread once again. I just looked at Ken's Website and am impressed with your wood engravings!

I am wondering if you would share what your using for color highlighting?

I am not real happy with some of the highlighting I have tried in wood cause I often get unwanted bleeding. I have used shoe polish and acrylic paint mostly.


Ken Nelsen
09-29-2004, 11:38 PM
Hi Lynn,
Thanks for the compliment. On the pen engravings that I do, I use Laserbit's colorfill. www.laserbits.com
It's about $5 a tube seems to work better than all I've tried.
I don't use colorfill on too much other than the pens but if you've got any questions regarding any of the other stuff on the site I'd be more than happy to share.

Ken Nelsen
09-29-2004, 11:51 PM
I just checked out Laura's link to Laserscetch and am curious about the reference to Absolute black marble. I was under the impression that "Absolute" was a term reserved for granite. The site also refers to several granite offerings. I always thought that granite was too hard a material to successfully engrave with a laser. Anyone out there done any engraving on granite with anything less than 100 watts?

Laura Zaruba
09-30-2004, 12:15 AM
Hi Ken.

I think the "absolute black" when referring to the marble may be because it is just that...completely black with no veins and little to no grains (right word?).

Granite works very well with the laser and I'm anxious to try the new super black granite. I'm posting a piece I did with the absolute black granite on my 35 watt machine. It was my first attempt and could be a little better, but it's still pretty nice I think.

By the way, you have a very impressive website. I'm just starting to work with wood and would appreciate any tips you may have for us. I'm working on a piece for my cousin and I just can't quite get the image quality and clarity I want but I'm still practicing. Do you use Photograv?

Ken Nelsen
09-30-2004, 9:02 AM
Hi Laura,
I've worked with Photoshop for a few years and when I found that Photograv basically converts B+W bitmaps into Duotone/halftone scales I felt confident that I could convert my photos in Photoshop and save $400. Wrong again. I could convert the images okay but the finished product didn't come close to my first attempt at Photograv. It's definitely the way to go for high quality images.
I'd be more than happy to relay any info regarding any of the techniques I use for the stuff on my website.

Ken Nelsen
09-30-2004, 9:08 AM
I accidently hit "submit" before responding to the granite stuff. The attached image looks great. I've got a couple of pieces of Absolute Black granite at my day job. I'm going to run one of them today and see what happens. Thanks for the reply.

Laura Zaruba
09-30-2004, 10:06 AM

Did you download the marble and granite LaserSketch parameters for Photograv? I highly recommend them. I load them and do minor manual adjustments. Contrary to what my laser manual says, I use 50S and 45P on my 35 watt when running marble and granite. I haven't played much with those settings since they seem to be working well. My salesman likes using higher speed and more power, but LaserSketch recommended these settings with their materials and so far so good in my case.

I'd also be willing to share techniques I've used with marble & granite and I'm sure I'll be getting in touch with you about working with wood!

Ken Nelsen
09-30-2004, 5:13 PM
Lasersketch looks like a good source. I couldn't find the Photograv parameters
there however I got a 12x12 piece of Absolute black granite today and engrave an image on it. You're right, it engraves beautifully. I've done some marble before and it's every bit as impressive. I used settings a bit hotter at P-80, S-80 on a 75 watt Epilog and it seemed to be about right. The tile had some flecks throughout it so it wasn't a pure as it could have been with a cleaner tile. Where on the Lasersketch website are the parameters for marble and granite?

Shaddy Dedmore
09-30-2004, 6:12 PM

There's a thread here in the forum with links to the params stored on my site (got them from Laura who I believe had them sent via email from LaserSketch)

I actually haven't used them yet, but Laura has had good luck with them)

These 2 were done on LaserSketch 8.5x11
here (http://www.shaddysengraving.com/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/LaserEngraved%20011.jpg)and here (http://www.shaddysengraving.com/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/LaserEngraved%20015.jpg)

I used 45 spd and 20 power on a 45W Epilog 24TT.
I used PaintShopPro and converted the pic to 300dpi grey scale, I sharpened it up a few times, then increased the brightness a tad (maybe too much on the Elk), then I converted to 2 colors (and dithered using Stucki). Then I etched using 300dpi on my 24TT.


Ken Nelsen
10-01-2004, 12:03 AM
Excellent images Shaddy,
Are they on the marble or granite. I'll still trying to sort the 2 out. I received 3 pieces of black 12x12 marble from Laserbits today and am going to run an image on one of them tomorrow at work. I'll post it if it comes out okay. I'll also post it if it doesn't so I can get some more input. Thanks for your help.

Laura Zaruba
10-01-2004, 12:14 AM
VERY nice work Shaddy!

I just ordered some marble pieces from Laserbits so I can compare with what I've been doing with LaserSketch pieces. Unfortunately I got a call saying the majority of my LB items are on backorder. :(

I just love working with the marble it's be tough trying to expand my product line. I have a small open house planned Oct. 10 and I'm also trying to get ready for my first Arts & Craft Show at the end of November so hopefully that will motivate me to try new things. STRESSFUL!!! But I love it.

Shaddy Dedmore
10-01-2004, 12:50 AM
They're on the marble, I haven't tried the granite yet. I'll have to wait until I sell some things before I buy some more.

I know what you mean Laura. I was preparing for a swap meet (my first "booth" type show). I was VERY stressed. I made a ton of boxes and ornaments. I made 61 dollars, but I was hoping for more. But a swap meet wasn't a great place for that type of stuff, most booths had garage sale stuff for cheap, then my booth had retail looking stuff so lots opf people looked, but only a few sales. The boxes I made I liked quite a bit, but I just don't think they'll sell for what I need to make a comfortable profit, so I'm going to reluctantly remove them from what I sell. I'll still do custom if they want it, but I won't make a bunch of pre-made.

I came away from the show discouraged, but it made me take a step back and look at what I need to do. I'm a woodworker, and I was thinking like a woodworker. I was mainly planing on doing things like ornaments, boxes and clocks... but that's one heck of an expensive scroll saw I bought. But the marble helped swing me in another, more custom direction. I have NO idea how to break into the trophy market, but I'm willing to try., might even start a new thread on that (this one's getting huge (c: )

Anyway, my meandering point is that I'm over my discouragement, and open to new ideas. I had narrowed myself down too much without realizing it, and I wanted a quick buck. But I've realized that I already bought the thing, and it doesn't have to pay off immediately, so I'm a little more relaxed about it.

Have fun and don't get too stressed... give the laserbits prefinished wood sheets and the berrybasket holiday ornament CD (http://www.berrybasket.com/ProductDisplay.asp?txtSku=CDB9&txtref=SearchCat&txtAnchor=itemanchor15&txtintPage=1&strOption=Cat&txtProductSearch=&SelCat=CDs&txtSkuSearch=) a try (their website was having trouble, but I've connected tonight), I think this christmas they will be my best sellers for the craft type markets/bazaar's.


Keith Outten
10-01-2004, 7:00 AM
Do Not Despair!

I tried doing shows and trophy plaques and a host of things I thought would be popular and proffitable. After two years I found that signs are the most proffitable place to be. Breaking into the sign business is tough, large commercial buildings are more difficult work to land but worth the effort.

The problem is not having commercial work on your business resume' since most large projects are looking for previous experience. My first attempt at a very large construction project two years ago taught me that you cannot even bid without previous experience. The answer is to start small by visiting construction companies in your area and some local facilities that are already complete. Start by making new signs for commercial buildings that need revisions to their existing signage if you have to but keep after the construction companies as they control the large jobs.

I still do a lot of black marble photo work but nowdays it is just fill-in activity. Even small sign type work can net you five grand on a weekend if you find the right customers. When you do...don't be bashfull about charging at least $150.00 per hour for your labor plus expenses, especially when you are doing the design work as well :)

Stealth Gloat - I just purchased an Epson 1280 Dye-sublimation printer and have scheduled a trip next week to Durham North Carolina to check out a four by eight foot CNC Router for my shop :)

I hope that some of you will be attending our Woodworkers Swap Meet later this month...we should get together and talk about Lasers.

Ken Nelsen
10-02-2004, 1:03 AM
I did this image today on a 12x12 marble plaque from Laserbits. Thanks for the link to the parameters Shaddy. I loaded them but stayed with the stock ones for this image. We'll be ordering some granite and marble from Lasersketch on Monday so I'll be able to experiment a bit more when it arrives.
Thanks for the help.