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Making small tables and such, to sell?

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Benchwayze

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Hi folks;

It seems there might be a ready market for pine, farmhouse style furniture; especially of the 'chunky' style. Unless I've missed the boat again! 🤨

Also, I have a set of ready-turned legs I got before I was ill, and now a friend is coveting those legs made into a 1.5 metre coffee table, with a Parana-pine top. I do have some 25 year-old sill board lying in the rafters! I could use the Domino for that, to get used to the machine again, but I am wondering if I would be ripping off my friend to actually use ready-made components, domino joinery; or even pocket-hole construction. I have used both methods for my own purposes, and I doubt if she would mind either method, as long as I was up front about it. However, I still feel I might be cheating.
(I should add, I am NOT denigrating properly made Pocket-hole furniture; it has its place I know.)

Also I don't have a clue what to charge someone for 'not real' woodwork. Neither would I make a simple end table, for instance, in a quality wood, and using traditional joinery methods; and then sock friends in the eye with a reasonable charge for the trouble!

I am not thinking of making a habit of this, but the occasional sale would help with materials, and new Festool stuff! 😉

Seriously though, my house is in an advantageous, position; first house on the right, at the corner of the access road to the estate. My shop is also on the front of my house and weather permitting I could leave an 'unwanted gift' for passers-by to see. Anyone with eyes couldn't fail to see and from previous experience, I know that does work. ('There's this real old guy
🤠
making nice furniture just round the corner!') Of course I don't want to go into business, but as my weight drops and I feel more mobile, I am beginning to get pine-appled off, watching YouTube, and practicing my guitar! And I do need a better reason to get up in the mornings, because these days, I can't get the guitar gigs anyway! 😂

I'm not looking for a turner I should add. I just thought I might get some viewpoints on these part-time ventures.

Thanks folks.

John
 

marcros

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as I see it, you are providing a friend/customer with a solution. most people wont care about the jointing method and whether the legs are pre-made. Some will actually prefer it because they wouldn't be able to afford the alternative and it is the difference between having something or having nothing. I can't comment on the charging.

As a part time venture, I wonder what types of thing would sell. I think that making things to sell would be a hard battle- competing with imported stuff and ikea is no fun. selling a service that "I can make you a shelf to fit your space" might have some mileage.

I have looked at table legs in the past, and there seems to be the hairpin leg company and etsy as the main options. In the states you have many more options. I am surprised that somebody hasn't made a catalogue of wooden table legs and started to offer them. Offering a couple of styles in oak, ash, pine, etc would make "bespoke" table production viable to people with limited tools.
 

Cabinetman

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Hi John it’s very difficult to put a price on something that somebody else is making when we don’t know really what level of craftsmanship you would be inputting, I imagine something around £150 mark? But I could be totally way out. As you say you’re not particularly doing it for income but you don’t want to give it away either.
As you say, you have an advertising space outside your house, how about a noticeboard with photos of your work. As Marcross just said a shelf for a space type work always goes down well. It’s ridiculous but it pays a lot better than bespoke furniture – I know!
A reputation and word-of-mouth in your area will be invaluable to you, very best of luck Ian
 

marcros

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or make s
Hi John it’s very difficult to put a price on something that somebody else is making when we don’t know really what level of craftsmanship you would be inputting, I imagine something around £150 mark? But I could be totally way out. As you say you’re not particularly doing it for income but you don’t want to give it away either.
As you say, you have an advertising space outside your house, how about a noticeboard with photos of your work. As Marcross just said a shelf for a space type work always goes down well. It’s ridiculous but it pays a lot better than bespoke furniture – I know!
A reputation and word-of-mouth in your area will be invaluable to you, very best of luck Ian
or make something for the local church/village hall/other raffle. just make sure you enjoy making the item, it would be horrendous to get a few orders for something that you despised making!
 

D_W

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Primitive furniture came and went here and eventually the last listings I saw were sawmill owners (who were, I guess, trying to stay busy between jobs).

I guess harvest tables must've been on cable channels and in HGTV type magazines (that sounds dumb, but the cable channels have print magazines, too), and now something else is all the rage.

My suggestion would be to see if you can find something quick to make that's popular on cable or in magazines right now and aim toward that.

There is one professional shop here that isn't nosebleed furniture, but it's still absurdly priced and the guy and his wife seem to be successful selling his narrative to people who don't know what they're buying (they make stock items but try to get people to buy "personalized one of a kind" projects. Their FB and other advertising is heavy on woo and kind of light on anything that any hobbyist couldn't make - e.g., long grain cutting boards for $175).
 

Jameshow

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I'd do a selection of items. 20 spice racks isn't any good.

Also look at the seasons summer - outdoor furniture, autumn winter log stores, bird tables etc you get the idea.

Often little things sell too. A wine bottle / glasses holder or a chopping board. Make it quirky and different.

I went in a shop in Aberaron this summer full of such stuff. Sadly a sign said no photography! I should have sketched the items!!

Cheers James
 

billw

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Whilst I admit I bought a coffee table for a grand (and have no regrets) I suspect that going down the route of making smaller desirable items is probably a better way forward these days. Quirky wine racks, cutting boards, etc have way more chance of being picked up and promoted than a one-off, so @Jameshow is quite right in his suggestion.
 

Benchwayze

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I am sorry I haven't been back to my topic. I have just realised that watching a topic is not automatic now. I need to get used to electing to watch my posts or I will just wonder why no replies are forthcoming! Duhhhh! 🙄

Thanks for all the replies folks.

A notice board would be a good idea, but I imagine someone around here would complain; and the Council might also get at me for using residential premises as a business!

I like the idea of donating something to a Church Sale though. I am not a churchgoer mind, but I think our local lady incumbent won't split hairs!

Bill,
Talking of buying, as opposed to making, I just bought a 1920s gate-leg table. Similar to a Sutherland. Just the right size for me to eat at! Desperately need to get rid of an extending-leaf table, as it's too, too big.

Thanks again folks

John :)
 

Benchwayze

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I'd do a selection of items. 20 spice racks isn't any good.

Also look at the seasons summer - outdoor furniture, autumn winter log stores, bird tables etc you get the idea.

Often little things sell too. A wine bottle / glasses holder or a chopping board. Make it quirky and different.

I went in a shop in Aberaron this summer full of such stuff. Sadly a sign said no photography! I should have sketched the items!!

Cheers James
Thanks James. No problem for me; I have a photographic memory for things I want to remember! Quite selective in fact! 😁
John
 

Benchwayze

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Bill,

I do have that set of turned legs that have been hanging about for some time. They'd make a nice coffee table, so maybe that would be a good start.

John
 
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Benchwayze

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Primitive furniture came and went here and eventually the last listings I saw were sawmill owners (who were, I guess, trying to stay busy between jobs).

I guess harvest tables must've been on cable channels and in HGTV type magazines (that sounds dumb, but the cable channels have print magazines, too), and now something else is all the rage.

My suggestion would be to see if you can find something quick to make that's popular on cable or in magazines right now and aim toward that.

There is one professional shop here that isn't nosebleed furniture, but it's still absurdly priced and the guy and his wife seem to be successful selling his narrative to people who don't know what they're buying (they make stock items but try to get people to buy "personalized one of a kind" projects. Their FB and other advertising is heavy on woo and kind of light on anything that any hobbyist couldn't make - e.g., long grain cutting boards for $175).
Had to remind myself of what a Harvester Table looked like!!!
I have made a number of similar tables in my youth for colleagues, who wanted kitchen tables. I enjoy making them; complete with benches, but my own kitchen is just not big enough to have one myself!

Ain't that the way? 😁
John
 

D_W

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just not big enough to have one myself!

Ain't that the way? 😁
John
my workspace is about 25x29 feet. I kind of feel that way about power tools!! If they can't hang on the wall, then they're too big for my shop.

Ditto on those tables - they're a space hog. I live in the middle of medium hardwood paradise (appalachia / Pittsburgh PA). Wood at retail isn't really that cheap, but wood off of the log straight from a sawyer can be super cheap (sometimes a dollar a board foot for air dried oaks and $2 for select cherry). Those tables can be made and sold by a guy with a mill cheaper than the wood can be bought at retail. As long as they don't have outright splinters sticking out, anything else is fair game. saw marks, etc, whatever - just sand the tips off and cover it with finish. "rustic".

The real issue with craigslist here is that such a table for $400 (that weighs 200 pounds) is among people moving and selling dining sets for $200.
 

Cabinetman

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Unless you have upset your neighbours, a small noticeboard would not upset I am sure, The best thing is to talk to them, and having some experience of councillors, if you aren’t causing a problem with dust and noise they really aren’t out to cause problems - and extra work for themselves. You would be amazed at what some people get away with. Ian
 

Cabinetman

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my workspace is about 25x29 feet. I kind of feel that way about power tools!! If they can't hang on the wall, then they're too big for my shop.

Ditto on those tables - they're a space hog. I live in the middle of medium hardwood paradise (appalachia / Pittsburgh PA). Wood at retail isn't really that cheap, but wood off of the log straight from a sawyer can be super cheap (sometimes a dollar a board foot for air dried oaks and $2 for select cherry). Those tables can be made and sold by a guy with a mill cheaper than the wood can be bought at retail. As long as they don't have outright splinters sticking out, anything else is fair game. saw marks, etc, whatever - just sand the tips off and cover it with finish. "rustic".

The real issue with craigslist here is that such a table for $400 (that weighs 200 pounds) is among people moving and selling dining sets for $200.
S
Hi DW, I have been out to your neck of the woods a few times and it’s stunningly beautiful. I have been to Pittsburgh several times, squirrel Hill? Your workshop sounds a nice size and in proportion to me, mine is just a bit long and thin, I looked at timber prices and was quite shocked at how expensive it was even at quite a large lumberyard, I am looking at setting up a workshop in Pennsylvania, probably Lancaster County and from what you’re saying the way to go is to buy from guys who slice the trees in the wild, and then I kiln dry it myself? I really was shocked that I could buy American white oak at my local yard here a great deal cheaper than I could in America. Ian
 
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D_W

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I'm about 10 minutes north of the city (squirrel hill is on the east end). Pittsburgh is an odd city - there are about 2.2 million people in the metro area, but the city only covers a small geography in the middle of it, then suddenly as you're driving, you see a sign that you're out of the city into another borough, and nothing has changed other than the sign.

If you're going to lancaster, there will be expensive retail shops, but there will also be amish and mennonite sawyers and they'll work for a lot less than retail price.

Figure $3 a board foot for good clear cherry here air dried, $5-6 at a good lumber store and at more of a millwork or home center place, the price can be higher (they're selling to businesses who just want specific stuff and fast and who will pass the cost along to a customer - not a good place to buy project lumber).

My local mill guy will charge close to retail for really good clear lumber, but 5/4 #1 common cherry, he charges about $2 a foot for kiln dried.

As far as the white oak goes, there were two distillery accidents here in the states at huge commercial distilleries (several hundred thousand, maybe a million barrels destroyed in storage area collapses) and the market for white oak has been strong for a couple of years while they buy it and billet it to make staves. Once they're done rebuilding, the bottom will drop out of the market and quartered white oak will probably go back to about where cherry is. Cherry isn't worth much right now in logs or wholesale lumber, but the retailers don't really lower their prices when that happens - so you can find it with the independent guys like my mill guy where anything less than perfect wood doesn't cost much.

Ugly slab furniture is kind of popular right now, so some of the local bandmill sawyers have gone to marketing slabs to diy-ers. Half of my lumber guy's attention is diverted to that, too.
 

Lons

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Hi John glad you're getting back up and running again.

If you haven't recently looked at what those table legs and Parana pine cill is worth then maybe you should as a start then discuss that with your friend before making anything, I expect you might get a shock at cost to replace and you might find she also has a rough cost in mind and might even be concerned that she is ripping you off. Communication can't hurt.

ATB
Bob
 

Benchwayze

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Hi Bob

Thank you. The legs I've had here for some time and I recall they were about twenty-five notes! The Parana pine is old sill board that I used for shelving in my PC 'parlour', way back when Parana pine wasn't so rare as it is now! I have quite a pile of it in the rafters of my shop. Must get my 'home-help' to get some of it down. There's my problem; ladders and steps being most precarious for me.
Asd for pricing, I shan't lose out on the deal, but in any case you should see the pencil-portrait this lady did of my granddaughter, when she was a babe. And that was a gift!

Cheers
Back at the bench! John
 

Lons

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Hi Bob
As for pricing, I shan't lose out on the deal, but in any case you should see the pencil-portrait this lady did of my granddaughter, when she was a babe. And that was a gift!

Cheers
Back at the bench! John
That changes things a bit John as it's a bit of gift barter in practice. (y) I'm all for that.
 

Benchwayze

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Exactly Bob. I'm something of an artist myself, but this lady is a professional and she's darned good!

John
 

Cabinetman

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Hi DW, Thanks for that, lots of good info there, so a board foot measure is one 12th of our cubic foot pricing system, well that’s easy enough, so those prices aren’t too expensive really at all, it sounds like I shall have to find myself a good local mill.
I didn’t realise Pittsburgh was quite so large, we drive straight in to squirrel Hill and I haven’t really checked out the large suburbs around the centre. Cheers Ian
 
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