Professor Fink explains why

I frequently get asked to make custom projects, but once they find out how much it’s going to cost, the deal is basically dead. When they ask “why it is so expensive,” I explain to them that I do not live in China and work for $5 dollars a day. I also work with real wood which is expensive. I recently turned down a kitchen table project because the customer wanted a “man-made” laminate top. That’s just not my shtick.

Here’s a classic example of what can rack up the time for a custom project; templates.  Arts & Crafts furniture that have corbels and repeating patterns are well suited for the use of templates.

Makin' Templates






Today, it took me thirty five minutes to make these two templates out of MDF.  (in the voice of Professor Fink)

It’s the paper cutting, the spraying, the adhesing, the coping, the rasping, the smoothing, and oy the sanding! See? All that takes time and it’s all the little things that add up.

I was a fan of Norm Abram’s New Yankee Workshop, but what you never saw was how much time he (and perhaps his helpers) took for the milling, repetitive work, sanding, cursing, and the finishing. His show gave non-woodworkers and novices alike the impression that a roll top desk could be made “in about an hour” to coin a phrase. And yes, pun intended.

About yaakov

Husband, Abba, Furniture Maker, Turner, Bookseller, and all around working stiff.
This entry was posted in In Yaakov's Workshop and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Professor Fink explains why

  1. Andy Coates says:

    I suspect you’re preaching to the converted, Yaakov…even if some of us are gentiles!

  2. Lazy Larry says:

    This is why I take my clients to my workshop and explain the costs of the equipment and timber….most do appreciate the work but some think I should compete with workers paid a bowl of rice a week…I only use the best timber, glue etc…and target the market that will pay….still looking by the way..

  3. Tom says:

    Pick up a couple of pieces of junk furniture and leave them in your shop to demonstrate the difference in quality and durability vs. a couple of your show pieces. Let them decide if it’s worth the difference. If they’re happy with the $69.99 MDF and plastic desk from Kmart, they’re never going to buy from you anyway.

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