Not many of you know this, but I consider myself quite the handyman when it comes to woodworking and carpentry. Mind you, I would never build my own house as I tend to make things of lesser quality when they are for myself. I have no idea why I do this. You would think I would put more effort into things I do for me, but it is quite the opposite. I am more inclined to put hours of work into someone else’s project than my own. However, I have made myself a few night stands, tables, desks, and chairs. And to get to the point; I have saved tons building furniture for myself.
I am not sure about in the US but here in Canada furniture is expensive. Even Ikea gets expensive when you need to replace things every few months. I prefer to buy things that will last a long time. The only downside to this – the cost. When I moved to my new apartment I searched high and low to find myself a living room table. I found many models I liked, but was pushed away by the insane price tags of $400, $500, and even $600 for a living room table table. I only wanted a simple design so I could not understand how such a simple table could cost so much. I use to help my father build quite a few things for our house when I was younger. I know that for a living room table $400 is extremely steep.
Anyways, these prices did not work for me. So with the knowledge I learned from helping my father make various things I headed off to my friends place who has all the tools I could ever need. However, if you do not have a friend with a bunch of tools this is what you will need to build furniture for yourself!
*Prices taken right off of the Canadian Tire website quickly. You could get these items at a farmers market or yard-sale for MUCH cheaper (sometimes 90%) and they will work just the same. However, if you insist on new you can still get most on these items on sale. Just wait for the specials.. Who buys anything for full price at Canada Tire anyways?*
- A hand saw - $12. Do not let anyone fool you, you can still make amazing things with just a regular hand saw. It just takes a tad more time and patience.
- A screw driver – $3-6 (This is one item you should borrow if you do not have it already)
- Screws - 2 1/2in $1.59 and 1 1/2in $1.59 for a total of $3.18
- Stain - $5.99
- Clear Coat – $5.99
- Sand Paper – $1-2 you only need the cheap stuff.
- Tape Measure – A tape measure is something you can spend a lot of money on. Despite this you can get away with buying one of those cheap $1 ones. However, I suggest you spend at least $5-$10.
- Wood - I was lucky enough to get my wood for free. But you shouldn’t need to spend more than $100 on wood. If you have a distribution center, a retail store, or a grocery store I suggest you ask them for their pallets. This is a great source for wood that is normally treated.\
So for no more than $136.16 (+ taxes) it is possible to acquire all the materials you will need to make yourself a table. And to be honest, with the materials above you should have enough to build a few furniture pieces.
I take the ideas for pieces by walking into furniture stores with my tape measure. From there I look for pieces that I like and start taking measurements. People may look at your strangely but keep it in your mind that you are saving money! When taking measurements make sure you pay attention to how the table is made. If there is anything on the table you feel that is above your skill level, omit it. A table you make yourself could be as easy as 4 legs with a piece of plywood on top. Although this is basic and won’t look good, could easily cost you only $40. If you spend the time looking and designing you can, even at a basic skill level, make a very attractive table that you will fall in love with.
If you already have basic tools, and have spare time to pick up a new hobby this is a perfect way to start. If you wanted (and got good enough) you could start selling your pieces for a huge mark-up. Perhaps your first few items will be a tad rough, but you will notice right from the beginning that they are much stronger than what you would normally buy in a store. They also have the great benefit of being fixable. No fiberboard snaps and bends, or panels so small that you can only fix them once. You will have long lasting furniture you will not have to worry about breaking every time you use it.
I am lucky enough to have a few connections that allow me to get most of my supplies for free. My pieces, no matter how big, usually end up costing around $20 to make.
Have you ever dabbled in woodworking/Carpentry? Or do you have a hobby that saves you money? Leave your answer in the comments.