Custom furniture etiquette

I found a coffee table I like on, but it’s about 400 miles away. I’d either have to pay $150 for shipping or plan a trip out to the east coast to pick it up (not the end of the world, I make the trip frequently for work, I’d just have to drive).

It’s not a groundbreaking design, but nearest I can tell it’s a custom style by this particular builder. How much do woodworkers care about IP? Is it rude if I send the link to some local builders and ask if they’d copy it?

IANAW, but I do know that hobbyists copy designs all the time. With custom furniture, much of the “worth” of an item is in the implementation, not the design.

Furniture designs get copied all the time. If you’re just asking a local builder to make something to match a photo I don’t think you’re doing anything underhanded.

Assuming that the craftsmen you’re looking at are very good, and practiced in this particular design, I imagine it would be worth it to go ahead and pay the shipping. Somebody else, making it the first time, is likely to either charge you about that much more anyway, or produce an inferior work.

I’d say shop the design around to some local woodworkers. Show or send pictures without prices so there’s no incentive to undercut the original guy by a few bucks just to get the job.

All things equal (same species and qualities of wood, same dimensions, etc.) the cost should be pretty similar from one to another unless someone adds a “nuisance tax” or if someone’s really cheap, they may not be prepared to make what you really had in mind.

One caveat is if the design features something unique like “live edge” timber or unusual materials like the reclaimed gym floor table that’s on custommade right now, it will be really tough for anyone else to replicate it.

Print out a couple of the pictures, shop them around locally, and if the builder asks give him the direct link. There are those who will not copy another shops work and some who get fussy when they get copied but they are few and far between. I do metal more than wood but I’ve had other people even offer me tips (and actually true ones at that - not the “bullshit good luck jack” type) on how to copy something they make commercially.

If you’re willing to trust strangers with your stuff, there’s an app called “Roadie” you can use to have people who are doing the drive anyway to deliver stuff to you. That might be cheaper than shipping (but it also would be amateurs hauling your coffee table)

I’ve not used the service, but it sounded like an interesting idea.

You know, that’s a very good point; it occurs to me that he’s probably got a couple of jigs built that make cutting this particular shape easy, which anyone else would build from scratch. I think I’m just going to order the “original.”

That’s pretty cool. Looks like there’s a bed that needs to be moved in the opposite direction. I could actually make a little money on this trip :slight_smile: