Some of my pieces are utility furniture that could easily be purchased at an IKEA or Bed, Bath & Beyond. And those store-bought pieces would serve their purpose just fine for a modest price. But instead, I choose to make these things by hand. “Why?”, you ask. Three reasons, really.
The first reason is probably the most obvious: I enjoy the making. If I didn’t derive extreme satisfaction from the work of my hands, why bother with the sometimes-arduous act of hand tool woodworking? And I certainly wouldn’t write about.
The second reason is probably also obvious: I can make to exact specifications. Store-bought items are rarely just the right size. For example, I needed a wall rack for towels that could fit behind a bathroom door. It also had to hold all my bath towels and hand towels and allow the door open all the way. What is the likelihood I would find a 14″ x 30″ x 7.25″ rack at a store? And in the same color white as the walls? Possible, but unlikely.
The third and final reason is less obvious: I can make something that will last. This is the core of the Christopher Schwarz philosophy of Aesthetic Anarchism. The work of my hands is far more durable than anything I can buy at a store. Dovetail and housing joints in pine are stronger than metal screws and dowels in MDF by orders of magnitude. Barring catastrophe or relocation, I will never again need to make another behind-the-door hanging cabinet for the spare bathroom.
I do not discount the labor required to produce the piece. But, in my mind, the labor costs are worth the benefits of making it myself.