This is an extension of my last article on pricing custom furniture. In this article I’ll price out a bookcase then change some materials and features. We’ll start with a simple design that is 48” tall, 36” wide and 12” deep. The center shelf will be fixed, and there will be two adjustable shelves.
We will build our first version out of red oak. So what would our book case cost? Based on current material pricing it would sell for $390.00. If we switch to poplar it would lower the price to $360.00. Changing our material to walnut makes the price jump to $505.00. How about an exotic like zebra wood? Well that will run you $750.00, almost double the oak price.
How about we switch from solid wood to cabinet grade plywood (veneer)? There is less preparation, and it can be just as strong, if not stronger, as solid wood. Again starting with red oak we’d be looking at $315.00, a $75.00 savings. A walnut veneer case would sell for $375.00 a savings of $130.00.
With these savings why wouldn’t you always go with veneer? Well, veneers are only 1/128” thick so if you get a scratch it is likely to penetrate the surface. That said, with proper care and a good finish, veneer furniture will last for years and years.
Now let’s take our solid oak bookcase and add a pair of doors to it. We’ll use middle of the road hinges and door pulls. If we go with raised panel doors our price moves from $390.00 to $515.00. Why? More materials and more labor increase the cost. Change the raised panel doors for glass and our new price is $480.00.
So what happens when we change the size? Well let’s go back to our original design and change the width from 36” to 24”. Remember we started with a cost of $390.00 and adjusting the width changes our price to $375.00. Why such a small a change? Because the material difference is minimal, but the labor stays the same. It takes as long to cut a 36” board as it does a 24” board. This is good to know because people often adjust the size in the hopes of getting a better price, when that little or no affect on the cost.
I hope this has given you some insight into what affects the pricing of custom furniture. Materials, design, and features all effect the final cost. I suggest you choose what you really want; you’ll have it for years to come. You don’t want to look back later and say “I wish I had spent a little more and bought what I wanted.