Is Making Furniture Cheaper Than Buying It?

It is a difficult position to be in when you find yourself having to decide between building a furniture piece on your own or buying it.

One of the main purposes of making your own furniture is to save money, but what if making it is just as costly as buying? 

Depending on the item that you are making, it can be much less expensive to build your own furniture rather than buying it. However, the more complex a project, the more time, material, and money must be dedicated to its completion. If the process is too tedious, buying may be more economical. 

Making your own furniture in a world that is mass-producing items at such an accelerated rate can give you the ability to craft a beautiful woodworking item without having to worry about the quality.

Before starting a project though, take time to consider a few things that might affect whether you are better off making or buying it.

Continue reading to learn how to determine whether making furniture or buying it is going to be the option to save you money. 

How to Determine if Making Furniture is Cheaper than Buying?

Neither making nor buying furniture is unequivocally considered to be the money-saving standard for furniture purchases.

There are certain things that must be considered for each individual piece that will help you to determine if making the item or purchasing it for yourself is the better option. 

To determine if making furniture is cheaper than buying it, consider the following conditions: 

Determine Overall Cost 

When you find a piece of furniture that you hope to create, you first want to do a bit of a price comparison.

Unless you are making something extremely unique and custom, there is likely a product out there that is almost identical to the project that you are about to tackle.

Before you purchase any materials for the build, you need to first calculate the cost of how much all those materials will be and then compare it to the cost of the piece in-store. 

This means adding up the cost of everything from the screws you are using, to the glue, to the wood, to your own time.

Once you have all of this calculated, if the price is still lower than that of the same item in-store, then you may see it as more economical to make the item yourself.

If it is costlier than the in-store item, buying it may be worth it to save your own time and efforts that would have otherwise been spent on something more affordable when purchased.

As you can tell in this determination, the up-front price is not going to be the only part of the total cost that comes with making or buying furniture.

Not only will you need to evaluate all of the materials, but you can also consider the value that you have (or have not) put into learning how to complete this type of project.

If you are handy, good with woodworking, and are fully capable, the project will be easier for you, but you also run fewer risks of having to buy new material from making a rookie mistake.

Determine Your Availability 

Many of you have heard and many of you will hear it again: time is money. This saying is popular for a reason and it is the first thing you must take into consideration before you start on a big project.

If you are in need of a coffee table in two weeks, but between now and then you have a full-time job to get to, have two t-ball games to coach, need to mow the lawn, and have three different dinner plans with friends, guess what you don’t have a lot of? Time. 

Therefore, in two weeks you will be scrambling to get a half-finished coffee table into the house while your guests look for a mantle to place the drinks on instead.

Even if you are more than capable of creating the piece, if you do not have the time to finish it, then making the piece of furniture yourself is a surefire way to burn the little time you do have in a very unnecessary way.

This is because it would be more efficient to simply buy the piece. 

Along with this concept, if you find yourself scrambling and running out of time for a piece that you thought you could make yourself, you might be willing to spend more money on a last-minute piece of furniture than you would have had you not attempted to make it yourself in the first place.

Determining your availability can largely affect the overall cost of making or buying furniture.

Determine the Difficulty Level of the Project

Although with woodworking anyone can learn just about anything, it is also important to be self-aware at the exact moment you start any new project.

Although you may be capable of the task in a few weeks or months with a bit of practice, the furniture piece that you have chosen to create may require more than the skills you possess currently.

Even more, if the project requires advanced skills, it is going to require more time. Time is money, remember?

To decide if making the piece of furniture you have in mind is going to be cheaper than buying it, you need first conclude how difficult the project is going to be.

If it is something easy when compared to your skill level, it could mean a quick in and out type of case, which could ultimately save you money. 

If it is relatively difficult and falls in more of a moderate level, this means it may take more time, but you are capable of handling it.

If the project is difficult and will require extensive research, time, or new skills learned, making it may not be worth it.

Noticing the level of difficulty and your ability to work with this is essential to the overall cost of crafting or buying a piece of furniture.

Will the Piece be Seen? 

This may sound like an odd question at first, but consider how much the item will be seen in either your home, your yard, or just within the location you plan for it to go.

If you are making a tiny wooden box for your niece to store under her pillow when she loses a tooth, this could be an item that is worth making to you because it will not take much time, is very simple to make, and will only be seen by one person.

Well, two- if you count the tooth fairy. 

This then takes some pressure off of perfection due to its lack of being seen.

However, if you have a piece that is going to be the first thing people walk in to see when they come into your home, this may be something that keeps you from making it yourself and sends you on to purchase it from either a store or another woodworker that you know will create their pieces with a little more precision than you are able to produce yourself. 

If you have a piece of furniture that will require beautiful and intricate detail, a gorgeous stain, and a durable finish, then you will need to add in these costs to the overall cost of making that piece of furniture.

Again, the cost comes down to the details in the piece.

Is the Quality Level Comparable? 

Branching off of the ability of someone else or stores ability to produce a piece that is more precise and consistent than your own, you also have to think about the quality level that you will be able to ensure with each individual piece versus what a store is going to have. 

If you consider the item you plan to make, is it going to be something that no store can even come close to when it comes to your abilities as a craftsman?

If that is the case, then the quality you are able to afford with your own two hands would be well worth the time compared to purchasing the same item. 

What if the quality would not be as good as the stores though?

If you know your abilities and have seen what a store is able to offer and can definitively say that the quality of the item from them is much better than what you could construct, then purchasing the item is going to be worth the investment. 

How Custom is the Item? 

When it comes to building furniture, there are pieces that are cut and dry and then there are those pieces that require meticulous attention to detail.

Detail is a wonderful thing, as it helps to separate your run of the mill pieces from those that are truly exquisitely beautiful. 

However, if you are making a piece that requires a large amount of customization, the time and effort put into the item may end up costing you more than if you were to buy it.

Of course, this depends on your skill level and the wood/tools you already have in your woodworking shop.

The level of customization means considering the different types of woods, cuts, colors, and small details that are needed before it is completed.

If this level of customization is either something you simply do not have the time to fool with, do not have the resources or tools available to finish, or do not have the skills to accomplish, then heading to a store or finding a more skilled craftsman may be worth handing your money over to.