I've recently been discussing this topic with our of our Family members off the board, and the conversation was so interesting I wanted to bring it up here. I imagine this has been discussed before, but I'd like to hear the opinions of some of our woodworkers.
We need cabinets. Lots of cabinets in several rooms. I think it's cheaper to make them. Everyone else I talk to seems to think it's not cheaper or barely cheaper. Here's my thinking:
I looked around and the cheapest cabinets I could find, ready made and off the shelf, at a big box store, for a 24" wide, 30" tall, 24" deep cabinet with a door, with hinges and handle hardware would be about $150, and that's pressed board.
So I looked at what the materials would cost for me to make it with 3/4 ply + wood + hardware + glue/misc = and I come up with $50. And for the sake of discussion, even if I'm wrong (as my husband says) and I've underestimated by 50%, then that's still $75 or half of the cheapest stuff I could find off the shelf, which really isn't even comparable to what I'm talking about making. For this discussion, I'm considering maple wood and maple plywood. I'm not including costs of my time or the cost of machinery, and I'm not talking about drawers either, which I know cost more. I'm talking just plywood, wood, screws, glue, finish, and hardware.
I contacted a business in a nearby city that makes cabinet doors. For maple they gave me a ballpark figure of $50/sq.ft. So for a door to fit this size cabinet, that's $250 just for the door. Now to make upper, less deep cabinets, let's say $50 for 24" wide, 30" high. So for one linear foot of uppers and lowers, that's half of $75 + half of $50 = $62.50/linear foot of homemade upper and lowers. When I look in magazines or online, I find a rule of thumb that cabinets cost anywhere from $300 to $1000 and up per linear foot.
So am I the only person on the planet who believes firmly that cabinets are cheaper to make? By the way, I don't suggest for a second that it's an easy job--I know it would be an enormous amount of work to make a room full of cabinets. But I do think it's cheaper. A lot cheaper.