This is a quick survey.
I am considering offering furniture kits for sale. I currently have
developed designs for some simplified Mission type End Tables, Coffee
Tables, etc. However, I am inspired to do more classic versions,
closely resembling traditional Stickly styles.
Regardless of your desire to work from a kit vs raw lumber, which
pieces are of the most interest to you? Occasional tables, bedroom
casework like dressers and nightstands, chairs, bookcases, writing
tables or desks, etc, etc?
He probably would if someone is willing to pay the price...but then there go
He did say kit - that could include a section of white oak log, some ammonia
But to answer your question in a more serious tone. I would think that the
smaller case pieces would be more apt to sell than larger pieces simply
because of the cost of QS white oak plus not everyone has a large shop where
one can assemble larger pieces. I work from rough sawn stock because its
available at "reasonable" cost for our area whereas the borg choices are
outrageous - for junk wood.
It's expensive furniture to buy ready-made. I have no idea how that
I agree. End-tables, night stands, that kinda thing. I love all that
mission/Stickley stuff. (not necessarily out of oak, I think cherry
works well in those designs.) I was wondering how much authenticity
SonomaProducts was going to go for.
Interesting you mention the Borg. One impetus for this idea was a
realization that I can likely offer a low end kit (simple joinery in
Red Oak) for approximately the same price you would pay just for the
same amount of lumber at the Borg.
The short answer is yes.
My plan is to offer a sliding scale of complexity\authenticity. The
least expensive kit would be made from Red Oak, pocket screw joinery,
simple laminated legs (as opposed to furniture stock). The high end
kits would be select QSWO and all the classic joinery ranging from
simple M&T all the way up to through tenons and 5 piece legs. I haven't
decided if I would actually laminate up the legs or provide the inner
and outer pieces llose.
Probably small stuff - stools (but not loose ones), end tables, maybe
coffee tables, etc. Do you know if there's a demand for such kits?
Personally, much of the joy I get from making something is the
knowledge that it used to be a piece of rough lumber (or even smooth
lumber). If all the pieces were cut out, it would be a puzzle, more
like a Sauder kit. If that's the point, fine, but I'm not sure the
dedicated woodworking crowd should be the intended audience. Then
again, I'm sure there are people interested in woodworking who don't
have the tools or the time to prepare stock, but still enjoy assembling
Thoughts from others?
[snipped for brevity]
A long time friend of mine in Florida sells sauna packages via the net.
He's doing quite well. When he first tabled the concept (started off
with hot-tub kits), he slugged it out having to not only build the kits,
but to build onsite and install them as well. That led to his current
He still does kits. I recall some skeptics insisting it would never fly.
FANAFI... find a niche and fill it.
I need to talk to him about the quality of his graphics on his website.
LOL..doesn't seem to slow him down much.
Passion and hard work..and a controlled willingness to take a chance
my buddy in Toronto: "You can't get to second base and keep one foot on
my buddy in Rochester NY: "you ain't getting laid with pants zipped up."
Calculated chances are fun.
My gut feeling is that it might turn out to be a pretty small market.
If you look at a magazine like American Bungalow or Style 1900, which
cater to the crowd that really appreciates quality Arts & Crafts
furniture, there is very little in the way of do-it-yourself content in
either the articles or the ads. The only 'kits' that come to mind in
these magazines are for picture frames and book ends, which are
probably just flat-packed for shipping.
I get the feeling reading these magazines that the skill level of the
typical reader plateaus at writing checks and dialing 1-800 numbers
with their credit cards ready.
The ww crowd, on the other hand, would typically build furniture for
the enjoyment of building furniture. A kit would take most of that
If there is an intermediate group that is somewhat handy and wants to
save money compared to buying antique or reproduction A&C furniture,
you run into the issue of them putting price ahead of quality. I think
most furniture retailers offer Mission-styled furniture at all kinds of
price points and corresponding quality levels. It would take some
(expensive to you) customer education to explain why they should pay
you more for a box of parts than they can pay for the finished
furniture at Sears or Wal-Mart.
All that said, however, a small market may be all you really need. To
keep good margins in a small shop you'll have to concentrate on quality
products. Too many mass producers are chasing the low quality end of
the market. The crowd that reads American Bungalow and Style 1900
aren't afraid to spend serious money on furniture. Maybe as an
experiment you could pick a design for something small and easy and
invest in a small picture ad in these magazines. Offer the kit with
different levels of completion (e.g., machined but unsanded, sanded,
finished, and, what the heck, completely assembled). Then you can see
what the market is looking for. If you find a market, you can expand
into bigger and better kits as time goes by. You might even offer kits
from the original Stickley catalogs. If there's no market, you're not
There's several companies around selling kits for Grandfather clocks
for many years. It might pay to examine how they do business, the
amount of support they offer, etc., and try to copy that level of
Good luck with that!
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