Popular Woodworking 2009-11 № 179, страница 15

Popular Woodworking 2009-11 № 179, страница 15

The Wood Whisperer


To Build or Buy?

Cost, time and a spouse's patience help determine the course of action.

I t's a dilemma nearly every woodworker must face. Whether you are a weekend warrior or a woodworking pro, eventually you will ask yourself, "Should I build or buy?" I know for many, the thought of building their own furniture was the reason for getting into woodworking in the first place, and buying furniture is borderline sacrilegious. But we need to be realistic. We simply cannot build everything. For the pros, time is money and working on a personal project means one less commission for a client. And for you hobbyists, well, you barely get enough shop time as it is. But building things for our own homes is really at the heart of what we do. The need to surround ourselves with our own creations is natural, instinctive and very important to us. But things such as immediate gratification and cost are always there to confuse the decision-making process. There has to be a better way!

That's the thought that ran through my head as my wife and I pondered the furniture (or lack thereof) in our new house. Here's a small sampling of some of the things we need: a kitchen table and chairs, entertainment centers for both the family room and bedroom, office furniture, a coffee table, a closet organizer and a new bedroom set.

So how do I decide what to build and what to buy? Considering I won't have a shop right away, things that are needed urgently are not good candidates for my project list - for example, the kitchen table and chairs.


nline EXTRAS

To download a PDF of the Wood Whisperer's Build-or-Buy Worksheet,

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Analysis. Sure, as a woodworker, you could build all the furniture you need - but that may not be the most practical approach.

As much as I would love to build these items, we can't go very long without a place to eat. So let's break it down. A kitchen table is a simple project that would take a week or two, at the most. But how about those chairs? Well, that's a different story. You either need to do a bunch of mock-ups or you need to find a set of plans that are close to what you want, and modify them accordingly. Assuming I find an appropriate plan, I still have the challenge of making the entire thing look nicer than the table and chairs my wife just fell in love with at the store. All things considered, this is one project I am not going to tackle. If I had a fully functioning shop, I might consider making the table and buying the chairs. That's an easier pill to swallow than giving up on the entire grouping.

Now although I eventually arrived at a decision concerning the table and chairs, I may have saved myself some time and frustration if I had some simple way of addressing the build-or-buy question. So after some serious thought over a cup of coffee at my new kitchen table, I've come up with a quick, decision-helping worksheet that may in fact do just that. All you need to do is answer the following nine questions as honestly as possible then add up your score. The final result tells you whether you should build or buy. As it is, the worksheet will give you a very generalized objective answer.

The Wood Whisperer's Score

So just for fun, let's test the quiz with a real-life scenario. Our kitchen features a small

24 ■ Popular Woodworking November 2009

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