Pick and choose. The rockers on the front porch come from Sam's and I can't
buy the teak they're made of for the price I paid. OTOH, every piece of
furniture in my house is made _specifically_ for the spot it occupies ...
you can't buy that.
THIS is my motivation. The ability to make a piece the exact right
proportions for a given space. We definitely have many places in our
home (of just 4 years) that would be great for a table, or a bench, or
a <fill-in>, but the proportions of the piece to the wallspace needs to
be just so.
Clear redwood is incredibly high priced, in my opinion. I built two
adirondack chairs and a side table from plans, paid about $250 for the
lumber. But I've seen similar chairs in high-end lawn furniture stores,
only not quite as nice, for over $400 for a similar set. I also get a
great deal of satisfaction every time I sit down in one. BTW, LOML
loves them too.
OTOH, I'm typing this on a computer sitting on a custom "desk", really
a counter, that is built-in and wraps completely around 3 walls of my
office, which I built myself from salvaged melamine, covered in formica
and trimmed in maple. There are two (maple?) rolling file drawer
cabinets underneath I purchased and assembled from IKEA. I couldn't
justify the time and expense to build them.
Yeah, the cost of wood just floors you. But if
labor/time is of little value, you still can make
money. My house is full of wood pieces I made
including 3 desks and of course the built in
bookcases. Recently, I laid some laminate flooring
and would have had to pay at least $100 to install
it if I had not had a decent saw. I saved on the
transitions also. I could have purchased the
regular transitions (rug to wood, rug to vinyl,
etc) which would have cost a minimum of $130.
Instead I bought an 8 foot piece of cherry and
milled my own transitions out of solid wood for a
cost of $43. The second coat of polyurethane is
We all look at costs in the past and say, "Why
didn't we do/buy it back then?" Well, we are in
the past, at least tomorrow this will be in the past.
You will almost never save money by building something... At least
I almost can never...
BUT I have discovered places like Good Will etc...that has
Furniture...some crap.. some good... very cheap....
Solid Cherry dinning table for 15 bucks... .. etc... well
the wood alone is worth that much...
BUT I hear you loud and clear...
Maybe a compromise? Buy the chairs ready made, and build the table as you
want it? In either case, I feel your pain. Sometimes my projects revolve
more around what wood is available at affordable prices more so than what I
want to build at the time. I got lucky during a large remodel last winter
and salvaged about 15 4"x6"x8" Redwood beams that were used for a coffered
ceiling in a huge sun room. They were installed in the 1950's, and covered
up in the 1980's with drywall. With the exception of some holes drilled in
them by an electrician for lighting, they're in good shape. I just hope
there is enough to build a couple of chairs and a table, cuz i just couldn't
afford to buy more! Perhaps there is a salvage yard in your area that might
have used lumber? Or maybe a local deck builder may point you in a
direction where there is a deck being demolished to make way for a new one
and you could salvage some lumber. Good luck. --dave
That's sort of what I'm doing. Took me a while but I finally found a premade
red cedar table that I like and bought it for less than I could buy the wood
for. Still checking various sources for the best price on wood for the
chairs but so far the four chairs will cost me about the same as the table
plus my labor. However, I will enjoy building them and that's the plus
I don't understand this or why everyone is agreeing with you. You may
be able to get something for what you have in materials, but is it
anywhere near the quality of what you make for yourself? If it was,
then there would be absolutely no reason to bother making it, but I
almost never see solid wood anything as good as I can make for any
amount of money. Is it rational to compare something made of thin
particle board covered with vinyl veneer to a solid wood piece or even
one made from good plywood? Even if you find solid wood pieces, most
likely you will find it is cheap wood (alder for example), thin and/or
glued together from many little pieces. Most things from discount
stores are not solid wood even if they claim to be. I'm sitting at a
table I bought from Oak Express for $150 a year ago and was told that
all their furniture is solid wood. I knew that wasn't true before the
salesman told me, but I bought it because I wanted a better computer
table for cheap, not because I thought it was fine furniture. It is 60%
particle board, but it looks like it might be solid wood from a few feet
away. I did the math on making it from real oak, and even if you bought
s4s shrink wrapped retail lumber for $5/bf, it would still be less than
$150. Rough cut white oak can be had for $2.50/bf, so I could make a
far superior table for half the $150 I paid. And don't forget where
almost every furniture maker cuts corners--the finish. The finish on
everything I see in stores is so thin and fragile, it's almost
worthless. This table is a good example of that. It looks OK, as long
as you never use it. I'd be ashamed to make anything as bad as I see in
most stores. Of course, if you can find furniture that is genuinely as
good as what you can make, it will be very, very expensive. I'm not an
expert on redwood and teak outdoor furniture, and if you can really buy
something as good as you can make for the same price, then it would be
foolish to waste time making it just for the 'joy' of creating. But I
would be surprised if it was really the same. Is the 'some assembly
required' nuts and bolts joinery really as good as glued and clamped
wood joints? I don't see how it could be. This table I'm typing at
barely went together.
Wow! I can't make *anything* better than anybody yet, and certainly not
better than what I can buy (e.g., David Margonelli's furniture - Edgecomb,
ME). For the cost (time + materials) maybe I never will.
But then, to me, that's not the point.
Got to agree with Hax. I started building my own furniture when I realized
that the stuff I could afford to buy in the stores was junk and/or plain
ugly, and the stuff I loved I couldn't afford to buy. I've built almost
all of the furniture in our house. Most of this is cherry, walnut and
maple (other woods include vertical grain DF, ash and elm). Every piece is
unique, designed to fit our relatively small (1100 sf) house. Although the
pieces are not part of a "set" they compliment each other beautifully.
ps. as for cost. I also do commission pieces. Recently I was asked if my
prices were "reasonable." I told the individual that my hourly rate was
less than what a mechanic charges and, unlike their car, they would be
able to pass on a piece of my furniture to their grandkids. On the other
hand, if they wanted a dining table and 6 chairs for $500.00, they chould
go to Oak Express, etc.
It's true. The discount store stuff is either junk or ugly. That's why
the price is so low. I'm not sure I ever saw anything in a discount
store that wasn't junk, ugly or not. I've seen furniture for not much
more than what I pay in materials. But then materials for a bookshelf I
make are 3/4" cherry plywood, walnut, and a finish of my choice with
strengths and weakness I understand. God only knows what you get from a
discount store. Wally-World stuff is almost all thin, low grade
particle board covered with simulated wood vinyl veneer. Somewhat
better stuff like at Oak Express and Value City Furniture typically have
about 50% real wood in strategic places and thicker particle board with
better veneers. Anything less than this isn't worth taking home in my
experience and I do believe that this level of furniture makes sense for
a lot of people. But it isn't cheaper than materials for making
something much, much better out of all real wood and a real finish.
Once you get to good quality furniture from good furniture stores, then
the prices go to an entirely different level and it is only there that
you will find all solid wood furniture that compares to what you can
make, and even then it probably doesn't compare that well in categories
like wood selection. Even good quality furniture is usually heavy on
upholstery and light on finished wood, and that makes sense a lot of the
time. You want a soft couch to veg out on, and you can't make a
Barcalounger out of solid wood, but upholstery is also good for covering
rough, low quality wood and expedient joinery. One of my plans on the
drawing board is a futon sofa with a solid wood frame and cushions. It
will be lightweight, comfortable, indestructible and far less expensive
to make than anything I could buy.
Interesting thread and I will resist the temptation to ask "What would
When I first became a homeowner, thirty plus years ago, what was
formerly "something I could do in a pinch that I enjoyed" became, due to
economic reasons of a newly married, homeowner, something "that I had to
do and enjoyed." Still a win-win situation regardless as I was enjoying
it and benefiting by my labors.
Now I'm at a point where amongst friends my own age, the word "Need" is
considered in bad form, being mature adults with integrity we prefer to
say it like it is. We WANT something and so, being financially able to
support that ideology, we do what we want and give little thought to need.
And so it goes, I now have a reasonable collection of power hand and
stationary tools, I don't NEED to built squat, but I WANT to. So who
really cares if I spend two or three times the amount to build the
additional bookcases and built-in computer desk in the family room than
I would down at Ikea or wherever? I am doing it because I WANT to and I
ENJOY it and when you get right down to it, that's what it's all about.
Not to mention that I would have a hell of a time matching said bookcase
and desk to the current 16' of custome made oak bookcase and base
cabinet that I lovingly built and finished eighteen years ago.<g>
Because every time you sit at your table in your chairs, you can
experience the satisfaction of knowing you made them yourself. One
day (or maybe that day has already come for you, and you're just
having a bad week) you're going to want something that cannot be had
at any store, and you'll have the experience and equipment to make it
happen on your own- with no plans or prices to compare that thing you
want to. When that happens, any price is a bargin.
But they're not yours, they're something you bought. I know you know
the difference, or you wouldn't have made it past buying a circular
saw and a brad nailer.
Buying in bulk drives the price of anything down quickly. Buying wet
wood from the sawmill and drying it yourself does as well. When
there's a will, there's always a way- keep your chin up.
Spend the money on the wood. What kind of question is that?
You too- we all get down at times.
Aut inveniam viam aut faciam
What about the possibility of using reclaimed lumber?
Granted, if you have your heart set on clear redwood, it's gonna be
tough, but it may be a possibility. I'm not sure how you'd go about
finding it - maybe place a WANTED ad??
I make mention of this because I've tore off all the railings on our
redwood deck due to dryrot at all the joints (previous owner used steel
through-bolts to attach posts to end joists and railings; just add
water, rust, and dryrot...). Lots of 2x6s and 4x4s, some 4x6s, which
I've taken all the screws out of, and once I chopsaw off the rotted
ends I'll resurface w/ my planer and have LOTS of "fresh" redwood for
other outdoor projects (potting bench for SWMBO, table-bases for our
umbrella stands, etc.)
Anyway, just a suggestion :^)
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