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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Looking at wood in the big box stores to build a desk or some end tables, I was kind of surprised to see how expensive wood is these days. Even a solid pine top goes for around 40 bucks.

I thought I could save money by using mdf and veneer or laminate, but again I was more shocked to see even some plain white countertop laminate sheet go for 50 bucks. Looking at veneer on woodcraft, I found that it seems cheaper to use birch plywood than it is to buy a sheet 2x4 shhet of birch veneer!

Granted, I would like to get into the hobby, but Im starting to wonder if I should buy my solid pine from Ikea?!

Should I be looking at say, a lumber yard for materials? Why is veneer and laminate seem more expensive?
 

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Veneers are top notch quality......virtually perfect grain structure usually. Plywood on the other hand, usually has some defects.

If your comparing solid wood furniture to the prices of cheap put together furniture, you won't save any money. However if your comparing to top notch furniture, then you'll save a ton.
 

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For example...

I'm building the bottom one......and while not exactly the same, the top one is at the furniture store for 729....I've got about 200 dollars in mine. The top one is a nice piece.....but not any better quality than mine.
 

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When talking utility furniture, I don't think it's likely you can build it for less than the likes or Ikea or many other large retailers. They have the advantage of volume wholesale buys, and their suppliers have the same advantage when buying their materials, not to mention dirt cheap overseas labor.

On the other hand, a DIYer has to buy domestic wood at retail prices.

The justification for DIY woodworking has to be in other areas, like better quality materials and construction, unique or personalized design, personal satisfaction, or therapeutic value.

EDIT--That said, I think you can save money compared to buying higher quality up scale furniture, largely because of the much higher markup on that kind of product.
 

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ed_h said:
When talking utility furniture, I don't think it's likely you can build it for less than the likes or Ikea or many other large retailers. They have the advantage of volume wholesale buys, and their suppliers have the same advantage when buying their materials, not to mention dirt cheap overseas labor.

On the other hand, a DIYer has to buy domestic wood at retail prices.

The justification for DIY woodworking has to be in other areas, like better quality materials and construction, unique or personalized design, personal satisfaction, or therapeutic value.

EDIT--That said, I think you can save money compared to buying higher quality up scale furniture, largely because of the much higher markup on that kind of product.
+1 the crib I made was equal to the one we were going to buy until I wrecked a leg and had to remake it. Mine was solid Cherry with an edible finish compared to the white pained store bought one. Mine lasted through two kinds and would hold the whole family including mom and dad when we used it as a toddler bed. Store bought one would never have held up like that.
 

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quality issue

when you do a quality job of building something as above, it will last for several generations. The Ikea stuff will be at the curb in less than one generation.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That coffee table looks very nice Ryan. My father runs a furniture store just like the one in the picture and the mark up is insane. But, no one is getting rich either.

Thanks for the replies, that all makes perfect sense. Economy of scale for the cheaper stuff. And China of course. Not much is made in High Point, NC anymore.

Maybe I am wrong, but I thought I could laminate some mdf for cheap relative to solid wood.
 

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I think you might want to look at lumber yards if you haven't already. Sometimes plywood is cheaper but I've found the dimensional lumber is almost always cheaper at a lumber yard than lowes and home depot (especially if you buy rough lumber). pretty much any store that specials primarily one type of item is always cheaper than the box store. I save about $500 getting my drywall from a drywall store instead of HD. Also if you're looking at the premade shelves or round table tops they sell at the box stores, I think you're going to be paying a lot more than if you buy the lumber and glue it up yourself.

I think everyone else has summed up what you'd need to consider in regards to cost comparison/savings. No way I could build something cheaper than i'd find at target or lower end furniture store, but my wife loved a vanity they have at Pottery Barn. It's way more than I'd want to spend on something like that, so we ventured to build one similar our selves. http://www.woodworkingtalk.com/f13/vanity-build-39079/. With that, I did save a bunch of money.
 

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It is like homebrew... you can't make Budweiser for less than Budweiser does, but you can make a bottle conditioned Abbey style Belgian for less than retail.
 

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Also if you look for deals you can find them I just picked up 150 ft of ash for 75 bucks. If you can meet and befriend the guy who cuts the wood you can get a good deal. I buy most of my wood from a guy that saws wood for other people. Sometimes he saws logs for half the wood. Then he sells that lumber to a few guys like me. He always has a huge variety of woods and the most he want for even walnut and cherry is usually 2 bucks a foot. Cedar oak and other cheaper woods are always just a little more than a buck a foot. Craigslist is your friend when looking for deals on lumber.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
no one is getting rich at the furniture company my dad works for. It's a local business, but some big chain would be a different story Of course.


I didn't think of Craigslist. There is an 84 lumber in my area. But I'm not sure what else is around. I'll have to look deeper.
 

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Plankwalker said:
no one is getting rich at the furniture company my dad works for. It's a local business, but some big chain would be a different story Of course.

I didn't think of Craigslist. There is an 84 lumber in my area. But I'm not sure what else is around. I'll have to look deeper.
But there's your dad...the salesman...the vendor....the truck driver....the guy actually building them.

The furniture company has less money in materials into the same piece than I do based on their ability to buy in bulk. Someone's pocketing the 500 extra dollars.

And anyone who's convinced there's not margins in furniture is hiding under a rock ( if your dads place is different good for him). I was shopping for a couch a few weeks ago, picked out a great leather reclining sofa....while I was sitting on it deciding, another couple purchased one about 10 feet away, and agreed on paying the signed price of 2700 dollars. They walked away happy, but I knew I wasn't willing to pay the 3800 dollar price tag on the one I had picked out. After negotiating for 20 minutes, I paid 1500. Now the two couches they sold were both flexsteel, both leather. They didn't sell me mine below cost, so that says they made some money on me, and probably a boatload more on the other couple. Bottom line....there's a lot of profit in furniture for someone.
 

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Saving money on building it yourself can be deceiving. To start with you can't pay more than $5 a board foot and expect to be off to a good start. Time is free, right? It is if your not using time that would be normally be expended in making a living. We must be honest and add up all the costs.

On the other hand. If we can't purchase a piece without a payment plan. But we can put it together over time by spending the money on the wood first and the finish and hardware later. We could be money ahead. For me there isn't a furniture manufacturing company that can satisfy my level of quality for the price.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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Al B Thayer said:
Saving money on building it yourself can be deceiving. To start with you can't pay more than $5 a board foot and expect to be off to a good start. Time is free, right? It is if your not using time that would be normally be expended in making a living. We must be honest and add up all the costs.

On the other hand. If we can't purchase a piece without a payment plan. But we can put it together over time by spending the money on the wood first and the finish and hardware later. We could be money ahead. For me there isn't a furniture manufacturing company that can satisfy my level of quality for the price.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
I only pay 2.85 for rift and quartersawn oak.
 

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Al B Thayer said:
Saving money on building it yourself can be deceiving. To start with you can't pay more than $5 a board foot and expect to be off to a good start. Time is free, right? It is if your not using time that would be normally be expended in making a living. We must be honest and add up all the costs.

On the other hand. If we can't purchase a piece without a payment plan. But we can put it together over time by spending the money on the wood first and the finish and hardware later. We could be money ahead. For me there isn't a furniture manufacturing company that can satisfy my level of quality for the price.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
I don't pay more than 2.85 a foot for rift and quartersawn oak....

And the time I spend working on the furniture...is much cheaper than therapy....lol. For me I'd woodwork if I had to pay by the hour....it's relaxing and therapeutic. So I have a hard time affixing a cost to my time building stuff. If I wasn't about to go down to the shop....I'd watch tv the rest of the night.....so this time is free.
 

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I only pay 2.85 for rift and quartersawn oak.
Wow....That is a great price. Plain sawn oak is at least 3.50 per board ft around here in north Florida (at least that is as cheap is I can find it). What part of the country do you live in?
 

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$5 a board ft for FAS cherry. I rounded up. I paid last load 200 bf $4.30. But thats way far south. I can do better on seconds but then making furniture out of seconds would not garner a fine price either.

Al

Friends don't let friends use stamped metal tools sold at clothing stores.
 

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cps said:
Wow....That is a great price. Plain sawn oak is at least 3.50 per board ft around here in north Florida (at least that is as cheap is I can find it). What part of the country do you live in?
The Midwest. It takes shopping around, I buy my wood 4 hours from my house when I go to visit family because around my house the same wood is 5 bucks a foot.
 
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