The question of whether it is cheaper to build or buy furniture is a surprisingly complicated one. There are many factors at play here, including build quality, make time, cost of materials, and longevity.
For specific projects, it can be cheaper to build than to buy. Still, often there is a more affordable alternative available from shops. However, cheap store-bought furniture can also be made from less durable materials, so by building your own, you will likely end up with something higher quality than you could afford in the shop.
In this article, we’ll look at all these different factors and considerations to find out once and for all, which is cheaper: store-bought or home-built. We’ll also be showing you how to build amazing furniture on a budget. Let’s get right into it!
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Pros and Cons of Home-Built Furniture
We’ll start by looking at some general advantages and disadvantages of building your own furniture before looking at the cost comparisons in more detail later on.
Here are some of the pros and cons of home-built furniture:
- It can be cheaper than buying if done right. Building solid wood furniture is often less expensive than buying it since most of the cheap furniture available to buy is made from engineered wood like plywood or particleboard. That means if you build using solid wood, your furniture is also likely to last a lot longer than the cheap store-bought stuff!
- You learn a new skill. The longer you spend in the workshop, the better and faster you will become. That means someday you may even be able to sell your creations for a serious profit! Also, do not underestimate the satisfaction and enjoyment you can get from building something beautiful from scratch.
- You can make custom-built furniture to fit your space. If you wanted a professional to make, for example, a table that fits snugly into an oddly-shaped space, it would be a lot more expensive than building it yourself. That is because you cannot make custom-built furniture on a factory assembly line.
- You can end up spending so much time that the savings aren’t worth it. This is particularly true when you are just starting. Working out how to design furniture, buying tools, working out how to use the tools; all this takes time that you could be spending doing something else.
- It can be more expensive than buying, particularly if you use expensive materials and then make many mistakes. It is not just the woodworking itself that is easy to mess up; it is also the design process. For beginners, this may end up costing more than buying furniture of equivalent quality.
- There is no warranty on home-built furniture. If it breaks a few months after completion, you will have to spend a lot more money and time to repair it. This will make you long for the days when your furniture was under warranty.
The Cost of Buying Tools
Buying tools is an area where the new DIY often drops more money than they need to. You do not need every tool under the sun to build a dining room table, nor do you need every tool you own to be top-of-the-range.
Here are a few tips for populating your workshop with tools without breaking the bank!
- Consider buying combo kits! There are loads of great combo kits available on Amazon, like this DEWALT 20V MAX Combo Kit, which comes with a drill, a reciprocating saw, a circular saw, and an LED work light for just $282.95! That is a big saving when compared to buying each tool individually.
- DCD780 DEWALT 20V MAX* 1/2-inch drill/driver in the cordless tools combo kit features two speed transmission(0-600/0-2000RPM)12345
- DCS381 DEWALT 20V MAX* reciprocating saw with keyless blade clamp in the cordless tool set allows for quick blade change without touching blade or reciprocating shaft
- DCS393 DEWALT 20V MAX* circular saw with 6-1/2-inch carbide blade as one of the essential construction tools can cut 2x4's at a 45-degree angle in a single pass
Last update on 2023-06-10 at 22:36 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
- Search online for the best deals. Tool superstores may not always have their best deals in-store, so it is worth checking out the website before committing to a tool.
- Stick with one brand. This is a particularly good idea with battery-powered tools like handheld drills. As is the case with the above Dewalt combo kit, the same brand tools will also use the same battery packs and chargers, so you will not need to buy new ones every time you get a new tool.
The Cost of Buying Wood
Different types of wood can have very different price tags. As a general rule, hardwoods like oak and mahogany are more expensive than softwoods like pine and fir. However, you also have to take into consideration the durability of the wood. It is no good using cheap wood if you are going to have to replace it.
Here are some tips for choosing the right wood:
- It would be best if you looked for wood that is easy to work with. Building your own furniture will certainly not be cheaper if you are using a wood species, which is so hard to work with that you constantly have to throw out timber due to mistakes!
- Durability is also key. Building two tables which last 10 years each will always be more expensive and time-consuming than building one table which lasts 20 years. Buying high-end wooden furniture from the shop is almost always more costly than building it since high-end furniture is usually very decorated.
- On the other hand, you do not want to spend too much on wood if you make mistakes and throw out wood. For example, do not use ebony or mahogany for your first project, which may end in tears.
This is one of the best ways to save money on DIY furniture. You can also make some great designs using repurposed materials! Do you have an old broken telescope in the attic? Try using the legs as the base for a new lamp. Do you have an old window frame? Try painting the glass with chalkboard paint to make a new message board to hang in your kitchen. Here are some more tips and ideas for repurposing materials:
- If you don’t mind your furniture looking rustic, there are loads of places to find free timber. For example, pallets are often made of oak or pine, and places like supermarkets will usually give them to you free of charge!
- If you are willing to move away from the wood, you can even make a small sofa from a freestanding bath! Cut out one side, and you have the perfect shape for a stylish couch.
- Use what you have. If you can think of a way to turn some old junk into something fresh and exciting, then go for it! You do not have to follow the instructions of someone online who has already attempted the project. You can go your own way.
Often it will be cheaper to build your furniture than buying furniture of equivalent quality. However, it will always be an option to buy something less expensive from somewhere like Ikea.
The question becomes whether you want something cheap and flimsy or if you want to spend the extra time and money to make it last. Building durable furniture from high-end solid woods is always less expensive than buying something of the same quality from a store.
Repurposing materials and buying combo kits of tools are great ways to keep the price tag down on your DIY projects and make home-building the much more attractive option. Be careful not to do anything too ambitious, to begin with, as you might end up costing yourself money due to beginner mistakes. I wish you the best of luck in building your own furniture!
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