Build or Buy – The Media Bookcase – part three

With the design in order and validated, it comes to to weigh the options completely: build, or buy?

The Ikea Billiy Bookcase is $70 and can be picked up in about 90 minutes. Extra shelves are $10 each, and I would need probably two. That’s $96 with tax for everything I’d need to solve my media issue. Ninety minute trip, about the same again to build it leisurely. It’s already the finish that was requested.

To build it, I plugged all the calculations in to Cutlist. I could not build it out of one sheet of plywood. So I would need two sheets of ply, plus a rear 1/8″ sheet. Made out of paint-grade plywood, I’d be looking at between $90-$120 for that. I could get away with edge banding with the maple I have, or purchase melamine for another $15. Or 3/4″ poplar for around $20-$30 I’ve potentially spent $50-$70 more on materials before the build begins. Plus paint. Now the project has doubled in price. The project would take about 90 minutes to rent a truck, drop off and return. It would take a few days of multiple sessions to get it built. Plus another $20 to rent a truck.

I’ve got the tools, I’ve got the time. What doesn’t make sense is paying double for the privilege of making something. Not something as mundane as a bookcase. There are other things I would like to make, including for the shop, that I think would be a much better use of my resources. I’ll think it over for a bit, but I’m certainly leaning toward buy.

When deciding if something is worth building, this is a good decision process to go through. Look at all the options. Is it something that you would build no matter the price? Then by all means don’t settle for store-bought items. If cost is the primary factor, be honest with your estimates. If you need something now, then go buy it. Not everything has to be done from scratch.

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