Many small wood working businesses in Pretoria and Centurion will make furniture items to your specifications or will help you plan and design a piece for a specific purpose or position. These custom furniture designers will work in a wide range of materials, from steel and glass to solid wood.They will build anything from a garden bench to a dining room suite.
I want to talk about the types of furniture available and what you can expect from the small wood working business in Pretoria. I used to run a small furniture manufacturing business and I can guarantee that they cannot make any mass produced poorly produced item cheaper. If you have seen it in a large department store and are sure you can get it done cheaper, chances are you are wrong unless you are going to make something they have in solid wood from board products.
If you want something made to order, there is a triangle of trade offs to take into account, Quality, Speed and Price are the three corners of the triangle, no matter what you want to buy, only two of these will be applicable, If you are in a hurry, you are going to have to choose between quality and price. My dad always taught me that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing well, and anything done well cannot be rushed. The only way to speed up the production process is to either cut corners or add more man power. Adding man power adds cost, cutting corners reduces quality.
Custom crafted furniture in Pretoria vs Production lines
Production lines allow furniture manufacturers to reduces costs while increasing production, This can come at a cost to quality. Too many cooks spoil the broth is an age old saying. It holds true in production lines as well, the more people in the process, the more likely you are to have someone that has no pride in his work. I have yet to see anything mass produced as good as anything crafted by someone that has pride in his work. I have also yet to see anyone that can make a bespoke hand crafted piece cheaper than a mass produced item of the same type.
What is the difference between a Bespoke piece of furniture and a custom made piece of furniture?
Bespoke and custom pieces of furniture can be made with the same materials, using similar or even identical design components, The difference between bespoke and custom is made to fit. A bespoke piece of furniture is specifically designed to fit a designated space, A custom piece is designed to go anywhere it will fit.
A bookshelf made to fit a specific corner or alcove can be described as bespoke and will usually have odd dimensions. Making a bookshelf that will fit in that space, with room to spare, that can also be moved into another room or house, would make it a custom piece. In reality there is very little difference between bespoke and custom furniture in terms of design, except that the one will more than likely be fitted permanently.
Veneer, Melamine and plywood furniture
Board products have their place, and they can reduce the cost of custom furniture, but the thing to remember is that board products will not last as long a s solid wood products, the only exception is ply wood, Plywood is the most expensive of the board products and has been in use since 1865, with industrial production started in 1928.
Plywood with veneer faces can reduce the cost of components, but sometimes solid wood is actually cheaper than veneered boards. Recently I sat with a client and we costed a cherry built in cupboard using shaped veneer doors vs solid wood doors and it was more cost effective to use solid wood as far as materials go. Obviously there is more effort in building a solid wood piece so the labour is dearer. but in the cherry example above including labour the cost difference was negligible. For the few extra Rand the solid wood was a far better option.
The majority of furniture found in the national retailers is made with veneer or melamine boards. Basically these are chipboard with decorative faces. I don't like chipboard because I have a problem with furniture that does not last, Cheap furniture is never a good idea, I have never seen a chipboard piece more than 50 years old, but I have seen solid wood furniture older than 200 years old. The difference in price between a pine cabinet and a melamine cabinet is really not that much if you take lifespan into account.
Reclaimed wood or pallet furniture
Pallet furniture is a misnomer, there is no such wood as pallet wood, Pallets are made with crating grade wood and depending on their source, pallets can be made with good wood like Oak, Baltic pine, Pine, Saligna or totally unexpected timbers like Rhodesian Teak. I have seen plywood crates made with better quality than locally available commercial plywoods. The biggest problem with pallet furniture is that people build poor quality, unfinished pieces and call them rustic.
Rustic furniture is not unfinished, poorly built rubbish. It can vary from furniture built with logs to furniture you would expect to find in a log cabin built by a farmer and his son, 150 years or more ago. It is not a few planks nailed together with a coat of paint. I have never seen any old furniture that was not properly finished, even in the 1800's home crafters of furniture knew that splinters were no good.
I hate the trend of building furniture from reclaimed timber, not finishing it and calling it rustic. Having said this there is no reason, that nice pieces cannot be built from reclaimed pallets, I have used reclaimed timber in a number of pieces that I built over the years, the difference is that I planed and sanded the pieces so they looked like furniture, not just a few planks nailed together in the general shape of a table.
I also acknowledge that some people like the look of what I consider poorly finished work, and there is always someone out there that can build a piece and be happy to leave it unfinished.
Solid wood custom furniture made in Pretoria
With solid wood you can have a production line piece or a custom piece, Most of the small businesses on this site will only offer the former, They will do one offs for discerning clients. These need not be very expensive, because depending on the material used some pieces can be considered budget and others a good investment. There is someone out there that will work to must budgets, except the same as at "insert Shop name here" only cheaper.
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