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Is Do-It-Yourself the Answer to Your Expensive Bedroom Furniture Woes?

Is Do-It-Yourself the Answer to Your Expensive Bedroom Furniture Woes?

Buying quality bedroom furniture is expensive. Even bargain bedroom furniture isn’t exactly cheap… not unless you consider those flimsy plastic made-in-China drawers that some college students use in their dorm rooms to be furniture. In theory, you can get significant savings by buying everything you need as a package. In practice, many packages come with extraneous pieces in them. Adding insult to injury, the pieces you want (for example shelves and storage chests) do not come included and you have to buy these extras at their full listed prices. Fortunately, for those with patience, there are some solutions.

The default choice for most furniture shoppers is to buy online or wait for a warehouse or clearance sale. After all, everyone knows they can get some very steep discounts this way. Seeing 30% to 50% off the list price is common. Selected pieces may even go for 70% or 80% discounts at certain times, for example when the retailer is trying to clear their last showroom display piece of a discontinued set of furniture so that they can bring in the next season’s fashion.

But what if you cannot afford to wait? What if you need it within the week (or month)? One possibility is to build it yourself. Do you say that you have no skill at carpentry or woodworking? Nonsense! Most people have the ability to at least hammer two pieces of wood together. At its crudest, that is all it takes to build the simplest furniture. Buy some wooden planks (and plywood boards) with squared-off edges and the dimensions you want, stick them together with wood glue at the ends to make the initial joint, then hammer some long narrow nails in (carefully) to reinforce the joint. Of course, there are limits to what you can build this way, but a simple shelf or bookcase is well within the limitations of this technique. If your shelf needs to carry heavier things, you may need to hammer in some additional blocks of wood around the joints to reinforce them even more. And do not forget to paint your shelf – it is going to look very ugly otherwise.

But what if you need to build something a little more complicated? Frankly, if you don’t have the cash, you don’t have the right to be picky. But let’s ignore all that. One option is to look for furniture blueprints. Visit your local library and ask the librarian for help. They should have something under the DIY, woodworking, carpentry or furniture sections of their catalog. Photocopy the blueprint you want as a reference, then go to your local lumber yard or carpenter’s workshop and buy the wood you need. The best wood to use is a softwood like beech or pine. Oak is expensive and too difficult for most beginners to work with. In any case, pay them a small fee to cut the wood down to the sizes you need. You will probably need to drill some holes, so go beg or borrow a power drill from your friends or neighbors. After that, it’s just a matter of following the blueprints to assemble the separate pieces of wood together into the bedroom furniture you desire.

The final step is to “finish” the furniture you just built. Step number one is to smooth down all the surfaces with sandpaper. Doing this by hand is extremely tedious and a bit time-consuming. So go borrow a power tool with a sanding attachment from someone and use that to speed up the task. The next step is simple – just paint it and you are done. While there are higher-quality and more sophisticated finishing steps for DIY projects, let’s leave those for the enthusiasts.

The first time you build a bookcase (let’s say it’s for your son’s bedroom), it will probably take the whole weekend (not including the time you need to wait for the paint to dry). You may need to look up the Yellow Pages to find someone to sell you the wood. You may need an hour or two to call on your neighbors to borrow tools you don’t have. But think of the advantages – the real solid wood you use is almost always stronger than the fiberboard that most modern furniture is made of and you save a lot of money. In addition to that, your next project will go much faster, and the next one faster yet.

Overall, for those with the right inclinations, building their own standalone bedroom furniture provides self-satisfaction, quick gratification and considerable cost savings. While DIY is not for everyone, if you have a tight budget and need a particular item of furniture fast, you will certainly need to consider it.