Build vs. Buy


Quality isn’t cheap.

Yes, you can buy facsimiles that are cheaper than what it would cost you to build. You can also buy versions of those things that are several times more expensive than what it would cost you to build.

Any dope can go and buy a $20 plastic veneer pressboard bookcase at an ultra-cheap discount store. I’ve been that dope. And in two years the thing was trashed – falling apart, plastic coating chipping, the CARDBOARD backing coming apart, etc. I wasn’t extraordinarily rough with it either, just average, ordinary bookcase use.

My father has a bookcase he built more than 30 years ago that looks just as good as the day he completed it. And it ain’t falling apart folks, even after having been moved into three different houses and with children, and now grandchildren, grabbing books here and there. It cost him more to build than some flimsy thing he could have bought at the time, but far less than a fine furniture store would have charged for the same thing. Plus, he built it to his own specs to meet the needs he had at the time.

Some woodworkers start the craft because they do get the idea that they can build that chair, or table, or bookcase much cheaper than what it costs in this, that, or the other catalogue or furniture showroom. But I guarantee that 100% of them do it more for the love of the activity and the pride that comes with building something with their own hands – that they can stand back and tell anyone, “Yes, I built that.”

There’s a lot of love for quality, non-disposable furniture. Why else would family furniture that’s passed down for generations be so cherished? In my home I have furniture that was built by multiple generations of family members. I can build any piece of furniture that we could possible want, but we hold on to these family items because they were built to last and were built with strong, knowledgeable hands.

Heirloom furniture is an ultimate recycling program. It lives on and on and on. Cheap, plastic crap occupies space in a landfill in at best a couple of years from the time of purchase. Sure, it may be cheaper today, but how much have you saved if you have to buy new every couple of years?

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Published in: Uncategorized on June 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well said sir!

  2. Agreed! I haven’t “built” a lot of pieces to date, but everything I have still holds up and looks good. Even “shop class” projects from -many- years ago.

  3. Our family still has a Buffet built by my Grandfather in 1918. It was built in High School shop class his Senior year. His shop Teacher would meet him at 6am each morning so he could finish before the school year ended. Both signatures are still on the bottom. Not only has the project survived, but the story behind it lives on.

  4. Totally agreed! Nice read!


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