Custom anything is expensive, but mostly you are seeing the difference
between the cost of real cabinetry and the stuff made by slave labor
dumped here by China.
I would have to see examples of the cabinetmaker's work to tell if it's
expensive or not.
That price is very possible for a good custom setup, but could be high for
fairly simple stuff. .Depends on the specs and material used. Ask over on
rec.woodworking for some places to go or people to contact.
I haven't read all the answers to your query, but let me tell you about my
When we bought our first house, we wanted to add kitchen cabinets. They had
to match what the builder had installed. When we got a price quote from the
local cabinet maker we were floored at the cost.
What I did was decide to build them myself. I bought a radial arm saw,
although a table saw would have also been a good choice. You can buy the
right kind of material for your project and build what you want without
having to compromise with what is available.
When I got done, the cost including the tools needed were less than the
price quote and now I still have that saw and the other tools even though
it is four houses later.
In my experience, doing a high quality paint job (semi-gloss, oil
based) on wood is more time consuming and tedious than a stain and
varnish (satin or low sheen, which is my preference) job of equal
quality. This may account for some of the high cost.
A very high quality set of book shelves, like you describe, built by a
custom, high end cabinet maker, isn't disposable furniture like you
find at Wal-Mart, Sams, Office Depot, Staples, Ikea, or most any home
furnishing store. If you hire this fellow to build your shelves you
then have heirloom quality furniture that will last several lifetimes.
If you look at the cost per day of ownership across all those
lifetimes, that $6,000.00 piece of furniture was actually cheaper to
own than that disposable stuff you see every day.
(Remove the Primes before e-mailing me)
They are pretty big, so figure $500 for oak lumber and maybe $100 for other
Making them cabinet quality could easily take 2 weeks, at $60/hour; that is
So, yeah, we are in the $6,000 range easily enough.
Now, if you just want some painted pine bookcases, and want them to look
"nice", you could probably find someone to make pretty decent ones for under
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