Sunday, 28 April 2013
The trials and tribulations of making things.
A few weeks ago I was contacted by someone who had seen a piece of my furniture on my website. They had been looking for a something like it for ages, and the one I had made fitted the bill exactly. Even the wood was perfect. They asked if I could give them a price for how much it would cost for me to make another. I said I would, and that I'd give them the low down within a couple of days.
I duly worked out the price. What I normally do is work out how long it will take to make, which gives the labour charge. On top of this I then add an estimate of the materials. I never know this amount exactly as the price of timber constantly changes, and I have to visit the timber merchant and select the boards before I can get an exact amount. So when I give an estimate, I normally say it will be X amount plus or minus Y depending on material costs. Y is normally only a couple of hundred pounds.
I passed on the estimate.
A couple of days later I got a reply. It was a out of their price range. They wondered if I could still make the piece, but out of cheaper wood.
We had water troubles in the workshop. The biggest was that we never had water for three months as the main into the building was crushed by all the lorries that deliver to a unit further down the road. As the road is private, there was an argument as to who would pay to get it fixed. Good news is that we didn't have to pay when it was fixed.
Anyway, one of the taps in the workshop was broken. You know how it is. Turn it for ages and nothing comes out, and then a big rush of water. So the bloke who runs the workshop called in a plumber to have a look.
The plumber came in, had a look, got his spanner out, fiddled around, and changed a washer. Tap fixed!
When the bloke who runs the workshop saw the bill of £80 + VAT, he said “but you only changed a washer. Can’t you use a cheaper one?”
A stroll through the park across the road from the workshop takes you to a street with a few nice shops in.
One of these is a sandwich shop and they sell some really nice looking artisan bread. I went in the other day to have a look.
I couldn't believe the price of the bread. £4.95 for a loaf!
Now I know a bit about baking, and bread is only really flour and water and salt and yeast. Water (if your main isn't broken) comes out the tap, yeast will grow by itself, and salt comes in very big bags for not much money. How much must the flour cost then?
A cabinet maker, a plumber and an artisan baker walk into a pub.
“Three pints of your finest real ale, please.” asks the plumber.
“No problem” says the landlord who pulls the pints. “That will be £11.55, please.”
“Hold on!” says the cabinet maker. “That’s a bit steep, isn't it?”
“Yes” says the plumber. “I know water comes out of the tap.”
“And I know that you can grow a yeast culture.” says the baker.
“And I know that hops and barley don’t cost much.” adds the cabinet maker.
“Ah yes gentleman” says the landlord. “It isn't the ingredients in the beer that make up the expense. Okay, there is a tax to pay to the government to be accounted for too. But what you are paying for is the skill and knowledge of the brewer who makes the beer.”
“Oh!” say the cabinet maker, plumber and baker in unison, with a look of enlightenment of their faces.
To see more of my furniture, have a look at my website and the pictures in the gallery section.
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