Friday, July 24, 2009

How is Custom Furniture Priced?

When people ask me about custom furniture, one of the first questions is how much will it cost. Well the answer to that is, “it depends”. Even if they are looking for a simple book case there are a lot of variables that affect the price. On a basic piece of furniture there are three major factors that determine the final price.

The first is material. Is it made of furniture grade plywood (veneer) or solid wood? Is it made of red oak or mahogany? The selection of materials can have a huge impact on the price of the finished piece.

The second thing that affects the price is how long it takes to build. The more details and flourish’s you want, the longer it takes to build. Also solid wood takes longer than plywood due to the extra work needed to mill it to size. Do you want doors? How about drawers? These things take time and add to the final cost.

Hardware is the next thing. Will you need drawer slides, hinges, drawer pulls, knobs, or something more exotic? Most people don’t realize how much variety there is for simple items like this. Drawer slides can range from $2.00 to $50.00, although I generally use slides closer to the $15.00 range. Hinges, knobs, or other hardware is all the same, the cost from one to the next can vary greatly. It just depends on your wants and needs.

With all that said, the thing to remember is that custom furniture doesn’t need to be expensive. A piece that has a design with clean lines and basic (but well made) hardware can be reasonably priced. You also have the value of getting the exact design you want, in the correct color that matches the rest of your decor. Add to that the knowledge that it will last a lifetime, and you’ll see that custom furniture is not an expense but an investment.

Stop by next time when I show you how I would price out a bookcase, changing some of the items we talked about here.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Can My Table Be Saved

YES! End tables, coffee table, desks, and more. They all have something in common. A surface that is just waiting for a scratch, ding, or water stain. A question I often hear is “Can my table be saved?” The good news is “yes” and often the repairs can be done by you.

FinishThe good news is that most tables have a tough finish that minimizes damage. The bad news is that the tougher the finish, the more difficult it is to repair. Urethanes and varnishes create a “plastic” protective film. In many cases repairs in this type of finish call for the entire surface to be stripped and re-applied. Other finishes like shellac or Danish oil can be spot repaired saving time, money, and the patina your furniture has acquired.

Dings and scratches are the worst. The good news is that if the scratch is minimal it can often be hidden with a wax “crayon”, touched up with stain, or filled with a shellac stick, a colored stick that is melted into a defect and sanded smooth. Dings are a little tougher. Repairs depend on the depth of the damage and can frequently be fixed with the use of a “Dutchman”. A Dutchman is a matching wooden plug, set into the surface while matching the grain as closely as possible. This type of repair is often best left to professionals.

Water stains, or those annoying white rings, are not as bad as they look, nor are they difficult to repair - usually. A glass set on a wooden surface is the most common cause. I always start with something simple. Wipe the area with isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol usually draws the moisture from the stain and you’re good as new. If that isn’t enough, the next step is to use some mineral oil, a mild abrasive called pumice and some elbow grease. While these two techniques usually work, there are always those few tough stains. For those it’s back to sanding and refinishing the surface as I mentioned above.