Grumbles from the shop #1: Shaking my head...we'll never learn

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Blog entry by dennis mitchell posted 02-24-2009 06:29 AM 1690 reads 0 times favorited 40 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Grumbles from the shop series Part 2: Support your local cabinet maker »

I spent the day installing cabinets, I built, in a manufactured home. Kinda like spreading caviar on wonder bread. Actually it was a sales office. They were busy. I guess the depression is driving folks to these “bargains”.

My sister bought a 12 year old one down in Nevada. In 12 years the outside trim was falling off. All the windows failed. The roof leaked and needed replaced. The dry wall was cracking. This was all just normal wear and tear. I’ve done a bit of work in them before and am shocked at how cheap these things are. I’m really shocked that people keep buying them. They are not that inexpensive.

In my part of the country it is illegal to build on many pieces of property, but you can put up one of these fancy trailer homes. Sometimes I think the government is really out to screw us. They sure want to control every little detail.

I put a spiritual value on the craftsmanship of my work. When I build something. I’m building for families and generations. Today I saw my work go to help tear down America. We buy crap and the worst the economy gets the more crappy crap we buy. It’s not because it is cheaper. My cabinet bid was cheaper that the guy who was getting his cheap prefabs from HomeDespot. We have quit buying from small family size companies. That is what has driven them out of business. Not that Walmart is cheaper. We swallowed the lies.

The average American would never consider buying from a local furniture builder. That means that the local furniture builder has stopped trying to build affordable furniture. I see stuff imported from Asia, built by guys making $2.50 a day, selling for more than i would charge. I’ve seen the look of contempt from folks who could not believe that it would take me 4 weeks to build a piece of furniture.

I might just sound like a bitter old man. Would you believe I’m a very lucky guy. I’m one of the few that get to live the real American dream. Not the Donald Trump I’ll f the next guy till I’m filth rich dream. When did ethics quit being part of business? No I’m talking about working to live, not living to work. We idolize the entrepreneurial spirit, but crush the reality of it. Maybe this has turned into a political rant, so I’ll shut up and go dream some new furniture designs that will never get sold.

40 comments so far

View mrsawdust's profile


48 posts in 3564 days

#1 posted 02-24-2009 06:37 AM

please don’t shut up. you do not want to be part of the silent majority, do you? they, along with political correctness are a big part of the ruination of this great country!

-- mrsawdust, pittsburgh,pa.

View Larry's profile


200 posts in 4209 days

#2 posted 02-24-2009 06:43 AM

Dennis (Grumpy) – you have visiting too many stores in our area – come to think of it – I am not sure we even have a real furniture store here. Its too bad your not closer to Sun Valley and Jackson Hole – although I am sure you have sold some of your projects in those areas. The type of furniture you build has a real attribute for those areas. Its just too bad we have become a throw away society.

-- "Have you hugged your pet today?" ---------- Larry

View Jeff's profile


7 posts in 3383 days

#3 posted 02-24-2009 06:44 AM

I agree with the last comment. How what we hold sacred has degenerated in standards, honesty, quality. Nobody seems to care about their appearance or their work ethic. Scribe

-- Jeff, British Columbia Canada

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3685 days

#4 posted 02-24-2009 06:45 AM

“Kinda like spreading caviar on wonder bread. ”.....You always crack me up , Buddy ! Glad to see that your sense of humor hasn’t gone down the drain : ) I lost my job 3 months ago in a small custom cabinet and millwork shop due to the economy.Still looking for another one : ( Chin up , my friend , and keep smiling through the pain : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View JuniorJoiner's profile


486 posts in 3437 days

#5 posted 02-24-2009 07:54 AM

I coudn’t agree more. furniture and homes have both degraded in quality to the disposable level.
the only thing i can think to do about it is educate everyone who will listen of it’s downfalls. and educate ourselves about how to do it properly. one day people will want quality again.
we just have to show them the option.
so keep ranting.

-- Junior -Quality is never an accident-it is the reward for the effort involved.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4024 posts in 4061 days

#6 posted 02-24-2009 08:41 AM

Preach it, Brother!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Huckleberry's profile


218 posts in 3850 days

#7 posted 02-24-2009 09:08 AM

About a year ago I was looking at new houses, or should I say my wife was and I was drug around through it all. Any how we were in this one house and the agent tells us that all of the bathroom and kitchen cabinets are from Ikea. This stuff was hideous and the builder was actually proud of what he did. My question for the builder was about warranties on the cabinets and such his reply was none at all. So had I not know the difference and bit at this I would be doing a whole renovation on a house that I bought new within 3 to 5 years. I should have taken pictures of that stuff it was awful stuff. But I guess that is what most people are into the good ole throw away stuff.

-- I cut it twice and the damn thing is still too short!@#$%

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4158 days

#8 posted 02-24-2009 01:16 PM

education, education, education.
People just don’t know – as you say “we believe the lies”. We don’t know what a “real” piece of furniture costs to be made.
I’m hoping that the one silver lining of our economic crisis is that we move away from the disposable mentality and start purchasing “for keeps”. When we get back to that philosophy then we will want to invest in quality rather than something to look good until our taste changes.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View scarpenter002's profile


606 posts in 3902 days

#9 posted 02-24-2009 02:38 PM


-- Scott in Texas

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 4403 days

#10 posted 02-24-2009 02:39 PM

wow, what stirred you and I up. Did you see my blog from yesterday?

In our area it is just the opposite, you can’t put a trailer house on a property. One stubborn guy about 6 miles west of me put his trailer house down and refused to remove it. So, finally submitting to the law, he put a huge barn around it. Gotta love the rebels among us.

Hang in there Dennis, if we all make it through this chapter in America, there might be some changes, until our Grandkids do just what we did, and it will all start over again.


-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View snowdog's profile


1164 posts in 3980 days

#11 posted 02-24-2009 02:45 PM

I have said it before and now you hear people like glee beck saying it. Revolution could happen again (but we keep acting like sheep), we need to stand up and be heard. Tell people to stop believing the lies, don’t be quite, the other team sure is not quite about their beliefs. You need to stand up and be counted, vote with your dollars and get other to do the same. STOP voting the same crooks into office.. I could go on for a few pages but I’ll stop there.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View ShawnAllen's profile


28 posts in 3450 days

#12 posted 02-24-2009 03:15 PM

Well, I almost bought into the BB stuff but on my bathroom reno the work we’re doing is intended to last and look good too (1/2 bath to full bath/laundry). We had a local cabinet maker build a couple hatch doors, upper cabinet and lower countertop and bins for ~1150.00. Seemed kinda steep, but installed there is no way anyone will ever mistake these for anything but the custom work they are. And so of course had to go back to the same shop for a matching vanity, and got a deal on that b/c I had to wait for ~8 months on it.

The previous owner couldn’t believe we’d do “all that work just for the two of you” – hrmmph! I actually NEED that 2nd bath :)

There are a few of us around who prefer to NOT go the mass route.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 4159 days

#13 posted 02-24-2009 03:40 PM

I feel your pain Dennis. I notice a lot of places around here selling furniture (not just Ikea) that is cheaper than I can buy the materials to make the same thing for someone. If it was simply a matter of the labor costs being different I could accept that. But when the total product costs less than my materials, it explains why no one is buying from local furniture makers. Of course the items will probably not last as long, but they are cheaper.

Hang in there Dennis. One day people may come around and begin paying for quality and not just price.

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3891 days

#14 posted 02-24-2009 03:47 PM

seems the “all about money” crowd are presently watching their millions and billions of net worth turn into the chump change they call “my paycheque”.

Even some of the “wealthy” put in the cheapest crap referred to as “high end cabinetry” which is nothing more then future landfill ….fill. Doors are stapled together, finished with auto NGR, the 100 grit sanding marks make the colours allover the map. Cheap 3/8” melamine gables dadoed into solid edges held with hotmelt and staples… astounds me how even the brightest minds fall for the lure of “junk”...............and whats worse, they expect that the junk should be equall in quality to that made by a talented craftsmen so the parts are sent back to the manufacturer which in turn makes even those companies “squeel” like a stuck cat.

Going into furntiure big box stores and asking the salesperson if the product is “solid wood”, then listening to the “speach” about the care and quality, select grains etc and knowing the whole while that the piece of furniture comes from a plastic injection mold and also knowing that the salesman really does think he/she is telling the truth.

I sometimes think that if you want to make a living at this trade you must always keep in mind…........”Its a paycheque” and do what you must to feed your family….......sad indeed but reality all the same

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View HokieMojo's profile


2104 posts in 3725 days

#15 posted 02-24-2009 04:13 PM

I am surprised to hear this. I thought one of the selling points of these things is that my manufacturing in a factory, quality control could be much higher and there could be tighter tolerances. Also, they claimed that they could have people that really knew what they were doing because they focused on a specific aspect of construction. I wonder if I’m misunderstanding, if there are variances in quality among different builders, or it I just bought into the marketing.

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