furniture design and flat panel sides and comission negotiations. - long


I recently agreed to make a midsized entertainment center for a buddy. Normally I am wary of commission work as this is a hobby of mine, but it met my criteria:
Asking me has nothing to do with money, they asked because they have looked at quality pieces for a year and can't find anything they like on the market. They appreciate quality and have a realistic view of what it costs. That, and he is a very good friend.
I figured the project to be about 100 hours and 100bf of cherry (allowing for 30% waste). I conservatively estimated my out-of pocket expenses to be $1K after I rented a delivery van for a weekend (he lives out of town) and I include hardware and maybe a few shop consumables like a new set of planer blades. Although he was ready to pay $5K I could not feel right about it. It's a hobby and he is a good friend. I figured that $2K would be more than fair and keep my conscience clear.
Sadly, my wife did not see it that way. On ethical grounds, my wife forbade me from charging more than cost of materials/rental. On the other hand, Glenn said that the deal was off if he could not pay me *something* of significance.
The other commission that I did for a buddy netted me a gift of a Starrett Combination square with the protractor head and center-finding head. The wife argued that that wasOK as it was a gift. I saw a loophole in the impasse.
Since Glenn is a guitar player with whom I have shared my musical indulgence for the last 22 years said.... so you want a toy? How about that Fretless bass we keep saying you should buy?
I think everybody wins.
Glenn lives in Pennsylvania and is tastes lean heavily toward natural cherry, shaker influence, and traditional design. This sounds all very doable as I am wrapping up a series of smaller pieces for my living room which are essentially that.
Yesterday, I was thumbing through the latest Ethan Allen catalogue just to look at the design elements a new project always inspires me to see if there is a new or different way that I ought to approach something. Looking at commercial furniture can provide ideas.
It seems to me that traditionally, design elements are either functional (e.g., M&T joint ) or aesthetic (a carving). Some could be argued that they are a bit of both. Frame and panel construction is clearly functional, but the raising a of a panel might be aesthetic to crate a shadow line or to lend some addition heft to a panel that might otherwise be a tad light in stature.
Over time many people have come to regard functional components as a part of the aesthetic, simply because we are used to seeing them, for instance dove tails.
What I find kind of offensive is the presentation of simulated functional elements, for example a peg commonly used to secure a mortise and tennon joint used to "dress up" a cope and stick joint (suggesting that there is actually a tennon berried in there).
While looking over the latest Ethan Allen offerings, I noticed that almost all of the sides of cases are flat. That is, not fame and panel, but probably plywood made to resemble a glue-up. Is there *any* historical precedent for this in solid wood furniture design, or is this simply the evolution of design enabled by the invention of plywood?
Steve
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"Stephen M" wrote in message

Both ... the product of the modern furniture factory is no different from what factories have always done ... figure out a way to deliver style at an affordable price. Not everyone can afford handcrafted pieces
I find that catalogs and magazines are great places to come up with design ideas, but you definitely need to follow your own muse as to when, where, and how "elements of style" are incorporated into your own designs.
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Stephen M wrote:

...
Well, it would be hard to not be one or the other methinks, "tradition" or no... :)
...

You think the "old masters" never used a "trick" for effect????

In production casework today, it's likely not plywood substrated but MDF or some variant thereof...
The precedent is, of course, veneer work over inexpensive substrates which goes back to the Egyptians if not before.
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Is there *any* historical

True. But let me clarify where I was going with the question. In the absence of any experience with veneers, I would assume that provided that a backing veneer is present, the veneered solid panel would behave (from a seasonal movement perspective) just like a solid/glueed up panel. Therefore, from an structural design perspective, a veneered solid is the same as a solid, which is very different from modern dimmensionally stable sheet goods.
So if I may try to reword the question a little better: When constructing casework, were sides always frame and panel construction prior to the 20th century?
-Steve
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: True. But let me clarify where I was going with the question. In the absence : of any experience with veneers, I would assume that provided that a backing : veneer is present, the veneered solid panel would behave (from a seasonal : movement perspective) just like a solid/glueed up panel. Therefore, from an : structural design perspective, a veneered solid is the same as a solid, : which is very different from modern dimmensionally stable sheet goods.
Nope. A veneered piece of plywood or MDF will not have the seasonal changes in width that a solid does. Think about it -- what is plywood itself made of?
    -- Andy Barss
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solid,
So you agree.... right? VS = S <> ply or MDF
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:>>> Therefore, from an :>>> : structural design perspective, a veneered solid is the same as a : solid, :>>> : which is very different from modern dimmensionally stable sheet goods. :> :> :> Nope. A veneered piece of plywood or MDF will not have the seasonal :> changes in width that a solid does. Think about it -- what is plywood :> itself made of?
: So you agree.... right? VS = S <> ply or MDF
Sorry -- I misread your original post -- thought you meant a veneered panel with manmade substrate.
So, yes, I do agree. I suppose there *might* be a difference due to the glue under the veneer blocking some moisture transmission, but that's probably not going to matter much.
    -- Andy Barss
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All good stuff to think about.
Yes, flat panel frames are a classic element. In the Stickley furniture at the turn of the last century you could order casework pieces with solid wood or flat panel sides and backs. Of course their typical furniture did not have raised panels on doors per se but the flat panel frame is still a classic case side element and often paired with raised panels in the doors.
I too do not like the faux joinery for the sake of the asthetic. However when something like a through tenon is so identifiable, it's hard to discount the addition of a faux through tenon in a lower cost piece to add some classic appeal.
In fact, the Mission style had non-esential, seemingly required joinery. Consider the gussets added from legs to table tops. Clearly not a joinery requirement but seem to recall some element of classic architectural design. From a structural perspective, pure window dressing.
Thanks for the opportunity for some pleasant musings
BW
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Stephen M wrote:

You've got more serious problems ("my wife forbade me") than what to charge your friend. do you interfere with her activities in the kitchen as she does with your woodworking?
Dave
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Hey! I rule the kitchen....except when it come to baked goods.
She's working on her masters in religion and philosophical thought... so the wields a pretty big stick when it come to issues of ethics.

forbade
When she does cook, I have *try* to restain myself not to meddle.
As far as woodworking is concerned, She does not meddle and I have learned not to ask.... it goes soemthing like this:
Me: Sweetie, should I put one knob or two on this drawer front?
Her: I think the drawer should be wider.
Me: Mutters and walks away.
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Stephen M wrote:

I've got the opposite problem with my SWMBO. She doesn't provide many suggestions for design changes. Design the biggest bugaboo of my woodworking endeavors. Not sure if it's the left or the right side of my brain that's been on permanent hiatus. I can execute things just fine, but the design phase elicits much angst.
On the topic of cooking--I've learned to stay out of the kitchen when she's cooking. :)
Dave
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"Stephen M" wrote in message

LOL A woman can run more rabbit trails than brer rabbit ever thought about. Just about the time I think I've broke SWMBO of hitting a point on meadow larks instead of quail, figuratively speaking, she comes up with a response just like the above ... gotta be the estrogen.
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On Thu, 15 Sep 2005 11:18:39 -0400, Stephen M wrote:

So she should be familiar with "to the laborer his hire" and "bind not the mouth of the kine that tread the grain".
I don't want to get between your wife and you. How you run your marriage is NONE of my business ... at least not at this distance. But ethics call for fair and just compensation for results / effort (whatever the agreed upon metric), not for enforced martydom .... which is what being required to donate your skills to an ideal you do not believe in (her sense of ethics) amounts to.
Bill
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Questionable IMO.

Pretty much that simple If two parties willfully agree to a price it is very ethical. Only when there is subterfuge on one side of the other that it easily becomes unethical.
There is nothing wrong with doing 100 hours for free for a friend, but neither it is wrong to accept some sort of payment in cash or some sort of material compensation.
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wrote in message

so
very
No there is nothing wrong with it. However, I came to feel that my original thinking on the subject was flawed.
I felt awkward charging a good friend, so I figured it should be way below fair market value. That was a cop-out. I should either charge FVM or not at all.
Since I'm not comfortable with option A, it will be B.
_Steve
-Steve
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Stephen M wrote:

Now you've learned your lesson. Don't discuss the details of something like this with your wife if you are too weak to stand up to her. Geez, if my wife "forbade" me to make a measily $10/hour on a big project like that, I'd just laugh at her and do as I pleased. Tell her that you're already cutting your friend a break because the fair market value is 5k. Stop asking your wife for permission to do everything. You're a grown man. Just do it. It amazes me that you made your friend go through through this silly loophole thing with the "Gift" just to appease your overdemanding wife. Again, don't give her the details. Just tell her that you're building something for Glenn. Don't mention finances. Don't ask permission, just do it.
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Damn, did I cross post to rec.couplestheropy again?
Dude, lighten up!
When I used the term "forbade" I was embellishing. A less nuanced translation: she felt strongly about it and I actually value her opinion.
My stepdaughter is 8. Sometimes she misconjugates or drops a preposition. In the interest of desiring to see a more articulate North America, I have declared myself the household grammar Nazi, yet there are no swastikas in my home.
Would you think me an Arian racist bastard?
That's OK; I'll get over it.
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Stephen M wrote:

Sorry man, it seemed from the original post that you really wanted to do the project for cash but couldn't because your wife forbade you. I guess the reality is that you really wanted to trade instead of accept cash, and you're using your wife as an excuse, plus you got a good story out of it? Don't take this as an attack, but I thought you genuinely wanted to build this for money and was giving you practical advice for the future.
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Stephen M wrote:

I had meant to reply to this back when the thread was started, but it slipped by me. Now that it was "refreshed" today, I'll make my contrib.
We have EA bedroom furniture. To the best of my ability to tell, the sides of the carcass of our dresser IS a solid wood glue-up. Unless these plywood panels you refer to (that are made to look like a glue-up) actually have both veneer faces matched - i.e. when I look at the carcass sides from both outside and inside, the joint lines are consistant on both sides; that would be quite the attention to detail if they are in fact plywood veneers.
Just FYI, Chris

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