The bulk of the pieces I've built have been shadow boxes for my comrades retiring from the military. I always charged for just the materials and added about 10% (usually totaled about $125'ish). For me it was about building my woodworking experience, but the real payoff was always the recipients' reactions when the box was presented to them with their medals, patches, rank, etc... arranged in it. Seeing some of the "grown men cry" was like a thousand dollar payday~!!
I just recently completed what I'm considering my first actual commission piece: another shadow box, of sorts, to hold the client's "magic cards" (modern day Dungeons & Dragons type game, I'm guessing). He gave me a rough drawing that I modeled in SketchUp to get his approval on the overall design. I wasn't able to give him a price ahead of time, but he said to proceed on, so I did. When he came to pick it up, he loved what he saw. I wasn't able to gauge his reaction when I hit him with the bill...shocked at being too much or too little, but he send me the funds and I've received good feedback from after he got it home and populated it with his cards. Personally, I think I really undercharged for it, but I'm learning this part of the hobby/business. I'm attaching a few pics to include the one he sent me.
The box is 31" h x 24"w x 5"d and is made of Walnut with a masonite back panel, and Plexiglas panels on front with hemp pulls. The finish was only natural Danish Oil. I charged him $250.
All feedback is appreciated....be gentle~! 🙂