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
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*
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
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
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
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*
precedent for this in solid wood furniture design, or is this simply the
evolution of design enabled by the invention of plywood?