How much can I charge for engrave 5,000 popsicle sticks?

the client is going to provide the sticks.
is safe to do on my glowforge plus?

Do some math…

Assuming you can jig up 150 at a time, that’s over 30 iterations of a full-bed engrave - which takes over an hour. That’s assuming only one side, and not including setup and such.

How much is a week of your time worth?


Popsicle sticks are dirt cheap. Buy 50 and try to figure out how long it will take. Don’t worry about what you will engrave, but how. Then you will have an idea how much.


You can charge whatever you want. The question is really what your client is willing to pay.

My question for you, though, is whether you WANT to engrave 5000 popsicle sticks. It seems like a giant pain. But I do agree that you might try engraving a handful of them and deciding if this is how you want to spend your time. As a freelancer, I add a “PITA tax” to quotes for things I’m less excited about. That way, if the client is still on board, I get a bonus to do something I’m not thrilled with. That tax gets higher and higher for clients I don’t enjoy, etc. This is actually how I bought my Glowforge - I charged some absurd amount of money to do some work for someone I knew would be a nightmare. I lasted two months (part-time, contract) before I couldn’t deal with her, but it was enough to justify buying a GF.


Well Played.

as a side note when I was turning pens. Hmmm need to do that so now I can engrave them. at any rate. I always put a base amount per pen aside from materials cost and time. that way I was never giving my work away for free.

PITA tax. what a great name. :slight_smile:


I don’t do any custom Glowforge work for less than $100/hour of machine time. I don’t add labor on top of that, the math just seems to work out well for a good profit margin when I start with that rule. So this would be a $4500 job minimum. Might as well round it up to $1 per popsicle stick – $5000.

I expect the client to balk at that price. If they don’t, hey, you get $5000 for a week or two of swapping popsicle sticks in and out of a laser every hour or two. If they do, that’s not your fault, you’re not a charity. Someone with a laser that engraves much faster over a larger bed can do the job cheaper. You don’t own that equipment so you won’t be price competitive with them.

Also, this assumes they want the same design on all 5000 sticks. If it’s like the names of 5000 employees or something, that’s a hard pass.


I’d encourage you to do some rough “market research”.

I searched for “custom engraved popsicle sticks”

$0.29 each
$0.30 each X100 Laser Engraved Popsicle Stick Ice Cream Sticks Customized | Etsy
$0.20 each Personalized Popsicle Sticks Laser Engraved Personalized | Etsy

Of course I’d actually say you should charge more than this – you should charge more based on what your time is worth, per the other suggestions on this thread.

Personally, at a scale of 5000… I’d expect your client might be better off with a larger-scale provider. It’s just too time consuming a task on a Glowforge, and lots of larger companies will do large orders like that cheap.

I think us small-scale laser folks have more of a niche with smaller scale, custom work that the companies who want to do 5000 popsicle stick jobs don’t want to mess with :wink: e.g., those folks on etsy who will do batches of 100 popsicle sticks.

But even those folks are only charging 20-30 cents a stick.

Pricing is hard :wink: don’t price your self too low. Make sure the jobs worth it for you.
Good luck!


I wouldn’t do 5000 of anything as a commission, it would just take so darn long.

You could cut down the machine time a lot if the client could settle for a design that could be SCORED, not engraved. I just did a bunch of nametags and chose an appropriate font so I could just score the outlines… looked nice and was done quickly.


The glowforge is slow for production work. I’ve done 10,000 tokens engraved both sides. 3,000 take about 160 hours of machine time. Plus there is the setup time, feeding the machine, flipping the pieces (if both sides) packaging and delivery. Weeding would have added about a week, so I opted for cleaning the smoke stain with ammonia which takes about 3 seconds per token instead of masking.

Very tedious work for $1.00 per token. It pays, but you will earn every penny.


Making the jig for a sheet of popsicle sticks and creating a file for the engraving (assuming the entire sheet is the same) will take some time too.


thanks to everyone, I think I’m gonna pass on this one. they not going to pay what I have to charge and is going to take e lot of my time and machine time. here in Puerto rico I am doing good with the dog leash hangers and signs for house decoration.
Thanks again to everyone


Offer to make them a stamp instead so they can brand the sticks themselves? Less headache for you and you can still keep a customer happy (if that interests you)


That’s a great idea.


I was thinking jig right off the bat. It could really speed up the process into a job that doesn’t feel too draining.

The stamp idea is brilliant!

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