Does Building Your Own Furniture Save Money? From Sawmill Creek
The original poster of this discussion thread knew he was opening "a loaded question with lots of variables" – but he asked anyway. We're sure eZine readers will have just as many opinions on this matter as those expressed on the Sawmill Creek forum. - Editor
"I know this is a probably loaded question with lots of variables, but generally speaking does it save money to build your own furniture? My wife and I are building a new house. When we move in we're going to need to get a flat panel TV console. We went shopping for them and they cost about $600. My wife said 'Why don't you just build one?' Never mind that it's probably above my skill level but it got me to wondering if it would really save money. I haven't priced hardwood lumber yet, but I know it's expensive. About how much do you think it would cost to build it out of cherry or mahogany?" - Trever
Many of the responses did not give a yes or no answer but, instead, "it depends."
"Depends on where you are going to get it from, depends if you have the tools already, how much your time is worth/if you would want to do it anyways, and if you can actually find what you want. The other thing to add is that when you build something, you choose the quality of everything. If you build it well, you could have a piece that is passed down for generations." - Jim T.
"The answer really depends. Do you have sufficient tools for the job? If so, you could build a very nice stand for much less than $600. If you need to buy some tools, obviously it will cost more, but you can make up for it the more you build, but then again, the more you build, the more tools you want/get!" - Dave G.
"The answer is yes, no and maybe. No, if you have to buy any tools and or tooling. Yes, if you build something at a level you are VERY comfortable with...if you can work 'above' the materials you are using. Maybe, since none of the above will likely be the whole story."- Van H
A couple of people thought the answer to the "Does building your own furniture save money" question was "yes."
"I got into woodworking in part because I thought it could save money. Truth be told, for a lot of what I want to build, it WOULD save me
money simply because much of the furniture we want/need would probably need to be custom-built by a furniture-maker. So in that case, it's my time, not his, and that's where there could be any potential savings. That being said, it does depend on having a certain level of competence as a woodworker, but developing that is part of the fun." - Victor R
"Absolutely it does. Well, let me qualify that statement. You can buy comparable furniture for tons less than you can build it, but without a workshop you might need psychiatric care to deal with your life issues. Building furniture takes your mind away from the real world long enough to be real therapy. Now, when you add the cost of the storebought furniture to the doctors bills, you save $$$$$."- Faust R
"I think a good way to answer this question is by thinking about 'out-of-pocket' costs. You can hang onto more of your money if you do things for yourself. You contribute your labor to the endeavor, and avoid parting with cash to pay others to do things for you. The cash is the out-of-pocket part of the equation. I find that the money I put into tools makes me more self-sufficient. The tools I buy improve the quality of my work, and allow me to get more done (raise my productivity)....That 600 dollar piece of furniture is from your net pay. You have to pay your taxes on your income before you net the 600 dollars to buy that piece of furniture. Perhaps you had to earn 1000 dollars of income to net 600 dollars?...So if you want to move towards self sufficiency and keep more of the hard earned cash in your pocket, go ahead and build that first piece of furniture." - Mike A
For many more respondents, however, the saving money answer was "no" – but they found other reasons making furniture was worth their while.
"The truth is no. And you are fooling yourself if you think it will. It not only will cost you more money but also a lot more time then you think it will. But when you build it yourself, you get exactly what you want, the size you want, the shape you want, the style you want. That's something you can't buy in a store. And that is why it's worth it." - Ray M
"Building your own furniture is a great challenge and affords a lot of personal enjoyment but doesn't save money. Regardless of materials used, it's just not possible for a one-man shop to compete with production shops cost-wise. If you start comparing to stuff like Ikea furniture, it's even worse." - Cody
"You may or may not save money, depending on how good you are at sourcing wood on the cheap and getting or borrowing the tools to do it. However, the satisfaction level of producing a piece like that that you see and use every day is worth it, especially if your wife has asked you to do it." - Josiah B
"You don't get into this hobby to save money, but rather to enjoy the process or make your own creations." - Benoit
Glue Metal to Wood from WoodWeb
This discussion asked for tips and techniques on how to accomplish adhering metal to wood. - Editor
"Any suggestions for affixing stainless steel bar top to a plywood substrate? We tried silicone and didn't have much luck." - Rich
Respondents recommended methods of surface preparation, and a few different types of adhesives. - Editor
"As long as the metal is cleaned from any oils, most [polyurethanes] (like Gorilla Glue) will bond to it. - Rick
"Epoxy. Just be sure the surfaces are clean and scuff them up with some coarse paper." - Jeff
"Most general contact cements will work." - Robert
"True poly adhesive/caulks typically have the best adhesion and toughness for bonding different materials. These are not [polyurethane]. The best is 3M 5200. It is a marine or black white poly adhesive/caulk. It has been renowned in the marine community for over 30 years. The claim to fame is that it will hold a lead keel on a boat hull with no fasteners. PL & Sikaflex make a similar product." - Adam
And a suggestion for changing the material.
"I'd recommend MDF for the substrate, or else kerf the plywood to accommodate differences in expansion between the materials." - Tom