View Poll Results: Buy or make?

12. You may not vote on this poll
  • Make

    6 50.00%
  • Buy teak

    3 25.00%
  • Buy dark brown

    3 25.00%
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Thread: Economics of woodworking?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Upstate NY

    Economics of woodworking?

    I built a walnut table about 15 years ago. The picture is the real color; I don't know why it is so reddish.
    My wife wanted a couple chairs for the room to replace some white wicker chairs she never liked; so I was going to make a pair. Then she found some chairs at Target that are pretty much what I would have made (less the exposed fasteners).
    After discount and plus tax they come to $100 each. That's not a bad price and they look like decent chairs.
    I have other projects and don't need to make chairs, but still...
    And if I do buy them, do I get the teak or the dark brown. My wife figures the teak and we can try to tone them to match the table.
    It is an enclosed porch that we rarely use.
    Last edited by Wade Lippman; 04-17-2019 at 10:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Definitely buy. I won't try to choose between the teak and dark brown, but $100 for a decent new dining room chair is pretty good.

    If you went to purchase teak you'd be amazed at the cost. You'd certainly spend a lot more than $100 per chair on teak. The places that grow teak allow it to export cheap in finished products and charge a big tax on raw wood teak.

    If the chairs really are teak and not just colored to look like teak. Commercial chairs are often made of some inexpensive wood and then finished to look like some other wood.

    Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.

  3. #3
    If most of us were honest about what our time cost coupled with the cost of materials plus the value of what we have sunk into tools and the physical plant of our shops compared to what you could buy that would adequately serve the purpose. . . . . .

    Well let's just say that the hobbyist woodworking market would be much smaller.

    Same with most hobbies. At least with woodworking, compared to say model trains, or building race cars, you can say you almost come out even at the end.

    I read a post on a maple syrup forum (another "hobby" of mine). It was comparing the efficiency of different evaporator set ups. The last comparison was the configuration of the evaporator relative to the value of your time. It basically said "Buy maple syrup in the store. Costs $10 a pint. Comes in a nice glass bottle with a convenient screw cap"

    The fact is, you only have so much time, so you do need to pick and choose. I definitely have struggled with that in my woodworking (hobby) career. Actually it probably is one of the main reasons I do it as a hobby and not my paying career. At least I mostly get to pick and choose what I build (sometimes at least).
    Last edited by Andrew Seemann; 04-18-2019 at 12:21 AM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Unless you are already skilled at making chairs and have the time required to do it right, no question, this is a good "buy" situation, but I'd do more shopping before making a decision.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Pueblo, CO
    I often get into the make vs buy discussion with the wife. If the piece meats all her expectations and the price is not unreasonable, it's a buy. If the piece only comes close or the price is out of line, then make. It's a hobby for me so I prefer making things that can't be bought.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Western PA
    I think its apples to oranges on this one, and most comparisons similar to the true subject of the thread. Things i build for my house have a lot more value and appeal to me and my family than store bought items. To say that Target chair is equal to what i would make is simply not true. My chair would be better quality, match the table's color and grain perfectly, and have a personal connection/touch. With all that said, i am not against buying utilitarian things. Most of my builk deck furniture was purchased--but i still sit in my western red cedar Adirondack chairs 99% of the time--and your situation might be similar for this sun room. For other builds, and especially higher end builds, i definitely think woodworking "breaks even". All of my tools paid for themselves many times over let alone the stuff ive made for myself.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Northern Oregon
    Easy. Go with what your wife wants!
    "Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t - you’re right."
    - Henry Ford

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Perth, Australia
    It depends on whether you wish to treasure the chairs, have the family show them off with pride, and marvel at them every time they are used. Or just get something that really does not mean much.

    This is not about economics. You know that you will build them

    Regards from Perth


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    McKean, PA
    I'm confused. If the table is walnut, why would you add teak chairs?
    Lee Schierer
    Captain USNR(Ret)

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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Kapolei Hawaii
    Quote Originally Posted by Andrew Joiner View Post
    Easy. Go with what your wife wants!
    +1. Happy wife, happy life. Can't get easier than that one.....
    I'd buy if the wife likes it.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Wayland, MA
    Is it possible to buy a chair that won't promptly fail for $100? I'd certainly buy rather than make unless I found the project particularly intriguing or had time hanging heavy on my hands, but the last couple of times I've been chair shopping the prices seemed to be 3-4x that to get ones that weren't already wobbly and 10-15x that to get a chair like one I'd like to build if I had the time, skill, and inclination. Heck, it costs about that much just to have a simple drop-in cushion reupholstered! (which is why I'm doing that job myself and we're not buying new chairs).

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Quote Originally Posted by roger wiegand View Post
    Is it possible to buy a chair that won't promptly fail for $100? ...
    No...? We bought some flat-pack Target chairs once. They were finished to look like mahogany (very nice), but were a Chinese softwood held together with dowels and screws. They lasted about 3-4 yrs at the kitchen bar; 2 failed and are now secure residents of a landfill; 2 best ones are propping up my sons' friends around a ping pong table. The latter might see another 3-4 yrs, based on the current very light use they see. College is certainly extending their life expectancy ...both chairs AND sons!

    You didn't say if these are flat-pack or factory assembled, but I wouldn't expect much from Target-grade chairs. Buy what fits, you like, and/or can afford. Just jump with eyes open.
    Flamer. noun (slang) – One who flames, or uses vitriolic criticism.
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  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    I'm confused. If the table is walnut, why would you add teak chairs?
    I am thinking that 'Teak' and 'Dark brown' refer to the finish color of the chairs and not the material. I assume the teak color would be a little more gray.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    The ad. says the chairs are made from acacia wood. If you like them, fine, buy them. But if you really wanted walnut chairs, keep looking, or make them. What's wrong with the chairs in the picture? If the answer is "Nothing" then make a couple of copies.


  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2016
    Ogden, UT
    If I was really interested in making the chairs (which would take me a long time, I've never made a chair before), but also really interested in using the table then I would do both: buy chairs and make chairs. That way you can enjoy the table and not feel pressured to get the chairs done quickly.

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