Somebody please remind me why I turned my garage into a workshop. I have my
tablesaw, bandsaw, jointer, routertable and dustcollection system and a
plethora of assorted small power and hand tools. I decided to build myself a
patio set - table and four chairs.
So I looked at various plans and finally decided what I wanted to build and
set about pricing various types of wood - basically just considering PT
Pine, Cedar, Redwood and Teak. Considering that a table and four chairs
would consume around 100 or more BF I expected to pay a decent price.
Here in Southern California ( Los Angeles area) clear redwood 2x4 is
1.85/lineal foot - 2x6 is 3.15/lineal foot. The sad part is that for that
amount of money I can BUY many different types of great wooden sets,
including teak and all I have to do is assemble them.
Some days it really gets me down. I have the utmost respect for those of you
who do this as a business - frankly I don't know how you do it, unless you
live in a forest where you can get free wood :)
Sorry for the rant - it's been one of those days. Unfortunately I still
haven't decided if I'm going to spend the money on wood or just buy the damn
Have a great day,
There are 10 kinds of people - those who understand binary and those who
I personally gave up trying to justify my hobby by saying to myself "I'll
Wood is expensive but for me, it's the journey if you will, of building it
Sure I could run down to CrapMart and pick up a premade item but honestly,
I have much more pride in building it myself vs. putting together something
out of a
box. I suppose on some items, I do save $$ if I were to compare what I
something of comparable construction but overall, for me, it's the hobby.
ps. getting ready to embark on my own patio table and 4 chairs. Just
priced Teak...holy crap!
Man, I feel your pain. I wrestle with the same issues on almost every
project. I can usually find something pre-made that's cheaper than I
can buy the wood. That's especially true for items that are
lumber-intensive. Often, if a pre-made item suits the purpose, I'll
just buy it. But I still get deep satisfaction out of the things I
build myself. These are usually items to fit a particular space, or
where I know it has potential to become a treasured heirloom. The
cradle I built before my daughter was born is priceless. So is the
cherry bed I share with my wife. You get the idea. Don't feel you
have to build every wooden thing you own to justify the investment in
tools. Sometimes, it's just not worth the trouble. Other times, it's
worth every nickle, splinter and swear.
"We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that
it - and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot
stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again---and that
well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore." -
Vic Baron wrote:
Vic, We all suffer for that from time to time. My lovely bride just picked
up some chairs from IKEA! Good God! They are just plain trash.
Now I have to make my own, someday!
OTOH, Where are you getting the wood? In LA there are some great places
that the wood is great and priced right. EG Lane Stanton or Bohnhoff.
That's a poor choice of project. Don't build what you can buy.
Don't compete with Walmart. You can't.
If you wnated a table which was "just so" with a design element which is
just for you, then you are "competing" with a custom artisan.
My idea of a good project is an aquarium stand (I have made 3, each very
different) But each time I wanted something that looked like piece of
furniture (among other requirements). If you have ever looked at the retail
market for aquarium stands, it's 90% chipboard 10% pine. What I wanted
simply was not out there. I looked at furniture that happened to be about
the right size and it simply was not up to holding 300 lbs.
Make something special (unique). If you want to make something generic....
add something and make it special.
Yeah, what Steve said. I don't have the time to build as many things as
I like, so I build only the things that are differentiated from what I
can cheaply buy.
I did build one outdoor cabinet (for the barbecue) out of white oak. It
kills me to see it weathering away out there every year. I think it
will be a long time before I build anything of substance for the
outdoors :-P YMMV
right on, Nate... there comes a time when you gotta say "This isn't worth the
time and/or cost to build..
I was going to build 2 small book cases for my wife's "pyrography" (adds money
to wood burning like "junque" adds to used stuff) area of the shop... figuring
about $50 or so if I used MDF...
Walking through Wally World and found a 30" x 36" prefinished book case for
$17... I bought 3 of the suckers...
They went together in about 5 min each, no tools needed, even the cardboard
backs (yeah, I know) were already attached..
Bottom line: 3 bookcases that she likes for the cost of building them... and
at least 3 nights that I wouldn't be building bookcases and can be turning
kindling or making something that I enjoy working on..
Please remove splinters before emailing
(Flashback of the epiphany I had at work last month: a 21" Sony
monitor weighs almost exactly the same as a 13" Delta planer.)
Repeat after me: "Ikea is your friend." They've got some $40 computer
desks, complete with casters(1), that are just the right size for tool
(1) No, the casters *don't* lock...whaddaya want for $40?
I never justify a project that way. A chinese factory full of
underpaid virtual slaves is going to be able to produce a piece for
far less than even the raw wood costs at the homecenter or lumber
If savings on wood is what your after, find someone with a Woodmizer.
The guys that remove trees and so on. Maybe not easy in California
I've just completed a desk on cherry. Shaker style, raised panels.
Mortise and Tenons all over, dovetail joinery for the drawers. Solid
wood drawer bottoms (with allowance for expansion/contraction). And
Why build when I could go to almost any furniture store and buy one?
Because it's my hobby. Because I'll get the features I want. Because
I like the old techniques. Because I don't want hot melt glue in my
furniture. And so on. There's as many reasons as there are hobby
And I aspire to make something as excellent at Krenov or Maloof.
You're lucky. You could visit Sam Maloof's place. He's in Southern
BTW, the board foot price for redwood doesn't look wildly expensive.
Teak is a different story. Have you tried looking for IPE? Maybe one
of the online lumber dealers could help.
thanx for the reality check! I've bilt lots of furniture for myself and
spouse(s) thru the years and,yes, I could have purchaswed it cheaper BUT it
was custom made by me with love. Can't price that!
Have a good one!
Clear redwood is pretty expensive, even in Redwood country. To a great
degree, that's because the old growth was heavily exploited by my great
grandparents' generation, and what we cut today is second third and
fourth growth material.
Most high-end decking is now being done with ipe, at least here (SF Bay
Area). Stronger, every bit as weather resistant, and really pretty. If
you use that, or something similar, you can build a lighter-looking set,
more like you would with teak, but at much lower prices than teak.
Where with redwood, 2x6 was commonly used for deck boards, 1x6 more than
I can save money on projects that have to be done on site, sometimes,
because I am often willing to pay with labor what I am unwilling to pay
with cash. Where machines, jigs, and mass production techniques remove
a skill premium, I have to consider whether it makes sense for me to put
my labors elsewhere. And I have decided that I have poured my last
My woodworking tools are like my golf clubs. Used in an enjoyable, but
sometimes frustrating hobby. Unlike golf, there is evidence of my
We did one of those three summers ago, getting done just before a wedding.
The one we did ourselves doesn't look as good as the ones in the front of
the house that the landscaper's crew did.
Yours looks pretty good. Enjoy it for a long time!
I don't do it to save money. OTOH, in some cases I have. I built a Tudor
bench and it cost me $300 for the wood. The same bench at a store in
Glastonbury, CT (Smith & Hawkins) was $990 I also have quite a few hours
into it. Mine is cypress, theirs is allegedly teak.
When I bought a new TV, they had a stand that sold for $100. The one I made
cost me $140 or so, but instead of particleboard, it is oak and has features
the store bought did not have.
I'm thinking of a couple of other projects, like an Adirondack chair. I
spotted one outside a store and it was $139. Except is swayed when I put my
hand on it, can't imagine what would happen if I plopped my ass in it. .
Sure, some things can be bought cheaper, but the satisfaction of making
something exactly how you want it is worth something that money will not
buy. Nothing replaces the fun of giving a gift that you made and the
recipient appreciates it. It is not the destination, but the journey. Enjoy
Teak is pretty outrageous stuff these days. I happen to live by place
that liquidates Costco returns, if I was to buy a few busted pieces I
could put together a set for mor then it sold for at Costco. So one
must be careful!
I just finished these projects for my wife:
The cubes were paterned after:
I am WAY below those prices. :)
I bought me a set of Shaptons from tools for working wood as a reward,
and I am STILL under those prices.
I always laugh at my friends when they go fishing and tell them what I
pay for a whitefish at the store. They come and laugh at me in my shop
and quote me prices at Ikea.
Some of us now refer to our hardwood dealer as our crack dealer and
we're a bunch of addicts. After spending all that money on tools and
spending all that time getting good enough to build things I'm proud of,
I can't think about the cost it wood hurt too much.
I just bought a board of Mahogany for $350 and a board of Mubangi (?)
for $250 along with 75 bdf of Wenge and assorted other bits and pieces.
Then one of the projects has a large carving so i had to buy carving
tools and some assorted other things like riflers and specialty rasps.
It's probably been about a $2K addiction this month but The projects are
looking fabulous, I developed some more skills and next time I need some
wood there's a better chance I'll have a nice piece in the shop and not
have to go to the crack dealer.
Vic Baron wrote:
I saw some nice clear redwood 2x6's at Ganahl Lumber in Anaheim recently
for $2.49/linear foot. Ganahl's is a real lumber company with two big
warehouses; one for softwood and one for hard woods.
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