Putting it in perspective, sticker shock and the cost of wood

I've been thinking of building a couple of simple end tables for the family room. When done, it will probably be $250 for wood and another $25 for supplies, plus whatever so figure about $300. Add in the tools accumulated over the years and I think it can be a pricey hobby at times.
Today we stopped at a furniture store. We're looking at upholstered furniture and quality stuff runs well over $1000 and up to triple that. This is all nice stuff that will last probably the rest of our lives. We did not look at any of the tables though as I have this idea of what I want to build. Meantime, my wife spotted a small table next to a chair. She pointed it out to me and it was maybe 15 x 20. Looked OK. I reached over and grabbed the price tag and nearly choked. This little table was $749. .
Suddenly, as my heart began to beat again, my simple table project seemed to be quite the bargain. We just don't buy furniture very often so the price was a bit of sticker shock. OTOH, we have our bedroom set for 42 years and for the most part it still looks as good as the day it was delivered. As to the doors and drawers works as well.
We did find three pieces we liked, negotiated a little better price, made the buy. The Hancock & Moore recliner is leather. I've had leather in cars, but this is the first time for furniture.
Next time you think wood is expensive. go to a furniture store and compute the cost per board foot of the finished stuff. Far more than the 3X material cost some guys here tout for figuring selling price.
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wrote:

Have you ever wandered through any of the Stickley-Audi showrooms in CT? <G>
On the other hand, there's a Pompanusic Mills <sp?> store in West Hartford that defines "overpriced", making Stickley look like a fantastic value.
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wrote:

You can get free wood or you can pay $10 a board foot at the BORG. I built a cherry table from a neighbor's tree he cut down.
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Pompanoosic Mills in Ridgewood, NJ is almost within walking distance, and we bought a 3-seater couch and 2 single seat chairs in the Mission style, which we love. Sometimes expensive is worth it. We might never buy anything else from them, since Ikea is close to us too <grin>.
We did go look at Stickley in Manhattan, and liked some of what we saw, but the pricing was wrong for us, and the staff were looking down their noses at us - something I intensely dislike.
--
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Han
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I didn't look at the chairs, as I was there on a mission. When I came home I explained the place to my wife as Ikea made from real wood.
The bedroom chests and beds I saw in West Hartford were kind of scary. Drawer fronts with widely differing gaps and zero attempt to select similar boards, metal drawer slides that rolled open on their own, and doors that wouldn't stay shut. Normally, I would not expect to see metal slides or biscuit joined plywood drawers in dressers and chests selling for the marked prices in this particular store.
One could possibly make the point that display models take a beating, but I've never seen these issues in other stores in the same price range. I saw the Pompy stuff more on par with commercial furniture or better grade cabinetry, as opposed to fine furniture. I've never seen a piece on display in a "better quality" showroom with messed up face gaps or drawers and doors that won't stay shut. The West Hartford store holds themselves out as on par with the finest furniture, maybe the Ridgewood folks take a different approach?
I originally went into the store because I was commissioned to make a king platform bed along these lines: <http://www.pompy.com/furniture/?category=9&producti38 , in tiger maple, with a birdseye headboard. Pompy gets $3800 for this simple bed, made of plain maple, and $5200 for birds-eye. The hidden structure of the bed is birch plywood.
That is NOT cheap furniture! <G>
When I did the custom bed, I cut the drawer fronts out of continuous Tiger Maple sides, so when the drawers are closed the figure moves uninterupted from front to back. The cherry bed I saw on display had no attempt at all to harmonize the side parts. I don't think the drawer fronts were even from similar trees. I looked again to see if the store staff had inserted the wrong drawers in the wrong slots, but couldn't see a pattern.
The display bed also had a glossy, rather heavy, cabinet grade finish, which my customer described as "institutional". On her bed, we agreed on a lightly oil-popped figure coated with a rubbed down nitrocellulose lacquer. She finished it with a Tempur-Pedic! <G>
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Totally agree. Like you, I steer clear of building larges pieces with lots of upholstery. Having bought some Morris style leather recliners 4 or 5 years ago we also looked at the Stickly furniture. The standard sized chest of drawers was over $5k. The Stickle Morris style recliner was double what we spent on our well known name brand recliners. To back up your findings of how better furniture prices compare to your cost of wood to build the same thing, when you get into the well known top end stuff the ratio increased even more. When you get into the "really" top end stuff you can easily justify adding a large piece of equipment for that job. My wife wants a "nice" jewelry box. I had to do quite a bit of searching before I stumbled upon a couple of web sites that offer very nice jewelry storage cases. For the style she is looking for, the prices range from over $2k to over $4k. Some of these jewelry chests go up to $9k.
You are probably going to want to take a look. ;~) Both sites have great pieces.
http://www.westcreekstudio.com /
And for what she has picked out,
http://www.gerstnerusa.com/jewelry/22k.htm

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$2,200 for an 18" x 20" chest? If you're gonna make one, make several, Leon... If those suckers really SELL for that much, you can give up your day job... ;-]
mac
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Interesting thought, LOL, this "is" sorta my day job.
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I thought you did bigger stuff, like cabinets and entertainment centers??
mac
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<snip>

I've been designing a "simple" entertainment center... mostly plywood with pine trim molding (no hardwood here) and no doors or anything.. Pretty much a 10' long, 8' high and 23" deep set of adjustable shelves..
At $30 a sheet for plywood, I'm looking at over $300 for ply alone... DAMN! Maybe we should just buy one... Then my wife got online and looked at particle board stuff in that size and her best deal would have been over $600... for friggin' particle board!
I'm much more of a turner than a flat work person, but how bad can I screw up a big box? I'm going for it, to justify recent purchases of the TS and planer, if nothing else... lol
mac
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Or you can go look at the compressed paper and chinese particleboard "furniture'. Terry Pratchett writes in one of his books about $50 boots. A poor man can't afford the $50 boots so he buys $10 boots. The rich man buys $50 boots and wears them for many years, while the poor man buys a pair of $10 boots every year and ends up spending more over the same period.
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wrote:

I'm pretty sure you're familiar with the Manchester Woodcraft / CT Valley School of Woodworking.
If so, you're familiar with the cherry hall table on display, the Woodworking II school project.
Did you know that a non-woodworker walked in out of the blue and offered $800 for it? Bob accepted, and built another during the next class. <G>
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Thanks for the reminder. I remember that table and it is just about what I want to make. At least when I'm done, I know it will be worth $800 each. I'll have to stop back and take a peek at it.
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