Right and wrong
Yes, I am very lucky, I take great pleasure in making things with my own hands, but most of what I produce pays the bills and goes to my greatly appreciated clients. However, occasionally, usually for a few weeks over the summer I turn my attention to my own projects.
It's great in that I get to build things exactly as we want them, but sadly time is money etc so it costs me much the same as I would have to charge clients with the exception of a few corners cut with my own work.
And so it was, a few weeks ago that we decided we needed some new outdoor furniture instead of the old plastic chairs we've been sitting on for 3 years.
As much as i'd like to have a bespoke oak bench hand carved with the names of my children like one I made for a client last summer; as the wife points out, we have different priorities.
We looked online at our options, as ever the sums don't seem to add up for me, “how can they produce it at that price?” is my usual reaction. The main reasons are quality and quantity allied with the cost of labour in the countries in which it is produced.
The same applies to most mass produced furniture which is why I have never tried to compete in that market. Our work is handmade and bespoke and if i'm brutally blunt, you get what you pay for. That's not to say I don't have the odd bit of flatpack furniture wobbling about, it's great if it does what you want it to do.
Anyway, I decided to set myself a challenge, to produce a garden chair that we would want to own for under £100.
I based the design on an old enduring favourite, “The Morris Chair” and paired it back to it essential components. Armed with my simple design I popped down the builder's merchant and bought a few boards of 4x1 planed and tanalised timber. Returning to New Red HQ, I set about producing a chair as efficiently as possible, not rushing, as that's where things get dangerous, but saving time with the use of a nail gun and some fast drying waterproof wood glue. A few hours later a neat little prototype chair emerged to be christened “The NewRed unpicked Morris prototype mark 1a” or “Numpty Chair” for short. See picture below and it's more illustrious cousin.
Produced in hours rather than days or weeks, the result met the brief and was quite liberating to make compared with the usual exacting standards to which we aspire. However, I haven't yet managed to find the time to produce any more, so it's back to plastic for the time being.
Next time, I'll describe how to build your own shed for under £250. This goes against everything we stand for as a business, but it makes a nice change.....