Recently I built a desk for my basement, and while I was working on it I realized that other people (like my devoted readers) might be attempting to build custom furniture and get in over their head (like I did at times…). For the sake of this post, I will define what I am calling a “custom” piece of furniture.
A “custom” piece of furniture means that you are winging it…you are not following a set of plans to the letter, you are either building straight from your mind or significantly changing plans. Anyways, here are three questions I would suggest you ask yourself BEFORE building a “custom” piece of furniture.
Question #1: Does it absolutely, positively, have to be a custom piece of furniture?
Yes, if you can avoid it, AVOID IT. When you “go rogue” building furniture, you open yourself up for several problems that you would never experience if you were following plans (such as not having enough materials, making wrong cuts, finishing something incorrectly, etc.
Question #2: What are your project constraints?
- Space: Often this drives custom furniture. You will have a space that you have to build something to fit in, and since other people do not face your challenges their plans will not work for your needs.
- Materials: Are you using some materials that you cannot get any more of? For my desk build, I used some reclaimed cedar that I had a very limited amount of. Using that material constrained me to certain dimensions for the table itself. The old saying “Measure Twice, Cut Once” definitely applies here.
- Comfort: I am a taller guy, so I need some additional height/width to be comfortable. The same space that would make me comfortable would not necessarily make my wife comfortable though…anyways, you need to take a TON of measurements.
Question #3: What is your budget for the project?
Do you know what is a great feeling? Coming in under budget. Do you know what is a terrible, TERRIBLE feeling? Spending more money on something than you thought you would. Sit down, put a pencil to your brain and write your first refrain…actually DO THE MATH to make sure that you will know how much the project will cost. I would suggest adding in some buffer as well (maybe add 10% onto your final number) to make sure that you will have enough money set aside for the project.
So those are my tips! If you have any questions, drop a comment below!