Well, I just went to the lumber supplier and picked out some African mahogany for the dining room table I’m going to make. Yikes! The bill nearly topped $1,000! I’ve found that for casual furniture (Ikea style) the material costs (were I to make it myself) are in the 35-55% range – so I can make a cheap table for about half of what it might cost at Ikea, but that margin goes down as the price goes down. Factories are highly optimized for producing runs of that sort of furniture.

With higher end furniture, I’m finding the ratio is more like 3:1, 4:1 or even 5:1. A simpler version of this table can be found on line for around $4k. Of course, mine will have all sorts of little oddball mistakes in it. I’ve also discovered that “first run” furniture from designers is often priced a little less for just that reason – it’s a learning curve.

I’ll post photos when the wood is delivered, and periodically throughout the construction process. Meanwhile I need to prepare – clear space in my shop, put away the boxes I haven’t yet unpacked, and sharpen up all the hand tools I’ve neglected over the past months.

I’ve noticed something interesting at my favorite sushi restaurant (and it’s true for sushi bars in general) – whenever the chef is finished with a particular roll, he cleans off his work space and knives, and essentially restores everything to it’s original pristine condition before taking on the next order. At any point in the day, his workspace looks as clean and orderly as it did when he started his shift. I am nowhere nearly as disciplined – I need to go through a periodic “purge” of my workbench – but I would like to adopt that habit, at least before starting a new project.

More to follow!


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