Let’s talk about materials for a minute here.
The material defines a project, it is the project.
You can have a smashing design but if you use the wrong material everything will seem boring and bland.
Cheap materials can actually be more expensive than quality materials
Let’s say for example that you build a shelf out of plywood... how many people do you think would pay top dollar to get that shelf.
Not that many I guess, you probably couldn’t even sell it. But let’s say you made it from solid Oakwood - that is a shelf a lot of people buy and you are actually adding to the value of the raw material by turning it into a product that someone wants.
This was just a simple example, but it clearly summarizes that cheap materials can actually lower the value of your product and your design.
I know you probably wouldn’t choose to use cheap crap material to produce a simple but high-value shelf from, so let’s take another example.
The value of a woodworks time
Let’s say you were building a large bookshelf, here you can choose between MDF or solid hardwood.
In my humble opinion if you are looking down the “production line” the MDF bookshelf would actually be the most expensive to produce and the one customer would pay the least amount of money for.
The reason for this is that the refinement process of the MDF bookshelf takes far more time than the refinement process for the solid hardwood.
With particle boards and plywood, you need to prime it and painted at least two or three times, and then if it gets scratched it is very hard to repair without it being noticed.
With the hardwood bookshelf, the material is already primed when you start finishing the wood. In my opinion, the finishing process of hardwood is easier and more forgiving than doing a paint job.
Plus you have the added benefit that scratches and other errors can more easily be repaired and fixed when you’re dealing with a hardwood material. This is, of course, dependent on the finishing method but in general, it is much easier to repair a product made from hardwood.
Do the math: material + time = cost of woodworking project
So more often than you think, when you do a cost calculation including the hours that you would spend finishing, the product build from materials that need a paint job often costs just as much as a product made from a quality material that needs minimal finishing process.
You could then ask yourself what type of product would I actually enjoy spending my time producing; a product made from MDF where it had to do a lot of painting, or a product made from quality wood material like solid Oakwood or Maple, where I have the opportunity to work with actual wood.
And what type of product would you be most proud of producing and handing over to your customer?
I always prefer handing over products made from the best materials possible. Where I know they will value the product for many years to come.
Plus, a product made from high-quality materials often tends to last a lot longer, and they are easier to recycle when the products it’s no longer needed.
Don’t dictate, but show the honest possibilities
Remember you shouldn’t push your own opinions onto your customer - only make recommendations.
If a customer wants a white painted bookshelf then, of course, you can sell them a white painted bookshelf. It might be that type of aesthetics that is the best fit for their home.
But be very clear and honest about why a white painted product made from cheap materials costs almost the same as a product made from expensive hardwood. Your time is valuable, treat it with respect.
Also, if a client wants a white painted bookshelf they could probably find one that would fit their needs an IKEA, Costco, or any other furniture store for that matter. Of course, if they’re in need of a custom-made tailor-fitted product that cannot be found anywhere else, then the higher price of your product will be a value that they would like to pay for.
Should I only make things from expensive materials?
No, but if you want to get paid top dollar for your products, choosing a higher quality material will always help and justify a higher price.
And you’ll probably enjoy working and producing the product even more.
The woodworking world is sometimes described as a big sandbox where you can make anything and everything you want, with the only requirement being that it be made of wood. But there are plenty of tools that speed up the process, and since we have entered the digital age let’s take a look at some…Read More