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  1. #21

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    I agree with Rev.

    I've been piddling and tinkering on things my whole life and love DIY in general. I own every issue of MAKE and spend my childhood in the family shop. There are a few tips that I've found to be true.


    First of all, unless you truly enjoy the tinkering and figuring things out or you have a serious financial need to save money, don't bother. Its just not going to be worth it.

    If you do enjoy it, then factoring in your time on the project is irrelevant. If you didn't spend all Saturday working on making some widget, Its rarely a real economic opportunity cost. You probably wouldn't have spend the time earning money or cleaning the house, you'd have probably spend it doing some other recreational activity that very likely would have cost you money.

    So if the final results of your project is a cost of $100 plus 10 hours of labor, that's 10 hours you'd have probably spent losing money somewhere somehow anyway.


    Always make sure you count the cost of all the little odds and ends. These things can be a killer on your budget and its all too easy to think of the project only in terms of the big pieces of material that go into it. I once built a soxhlet extractor from parts I found at Lowes and while the main device was mostly pvc with a heat lamp and a copper cold finger, all hooked up to a refrigerator compressor that was 'free' I spent almost an additional hundred on small copper and brass fittings along with some air hose fittings


    If you have to order from several places to get the parts you need, consider shipping.

    For instance I make my own hiking poles with $14 carbon tubes, some feet that cost a buck or two each, some foam grips that cost maybe $3 each and some paracord. They are a few ounces when done and much cheaper than anything at REI that's twice the weight but I end up spending more on shipping than on the actual parts.

    Also, going in you have to think about the extras you know you're going to just HAVE to get while ordering that one part you need some somewhere. You start thinking that, "hey I'll probably get it sooner or later, I'll say one shipping if I just go ahead and pick it up with this order"

    Eventually I want my own shop with a CNC router, and a RepRap machine among other toys and I could do a while lot with either of those. In general I don't consider having to purchase a tool as part of the project cost since it should be around a lot longer than the project takes. Some tools though are unlikely to ever be used again. If possible, borrow, rent or resell these if you want to save money. Another option is the disposable tool. I'm talking about something most likely from Harbor Freight. They do sell items that can last just as long as anything you'd find in Sears but in general the items you buy there will be starting to fall apart by the time you finish your project. Sometimes that's OK depending on how much you saved on the tool and how likely it is you'll need it ever again.

    Be careful not to misjudge or you'll end up with a tool that works just fine but isn't quite what you need or should have purchased and you end up having to get an additional model.

    A lot of the DIY appeal to me is that I can combine different ideas and create the ultimate super widget that all shall be envious of and stunned by my gadget making ability.

    The reality it doesn't appear to have been done before there's probably a reason why. Don't get me wrong, this risk and experimenting is the fount of progress and development but there are a lot of failed prototypes along the way. If you're OK with that then you'll have a lot of fun even if it doesn't work the first 12 times, but if you want to make sure you DIY investment isn't going to be a failure, follow existing ideas and plans. In other words K.I.S.S.

    In business resources are only valuable under certain circumstances. The most overlooked of those is that they have to be well organized. If you buy raw material, especially if we're talking about buying in bulk, you have to remember where you put the extra for the next project or you mine as well count ALL that material has being required for just the one project. If I print an extra form at work and don't need it, I trash it. I don't have a place for 'extra paperwork' or the room to make such a place and I'll never remember where I stash if it I just cram it somewhere but I know exactly where to find and print it again and the time I'll save doing so is worth more than the piece of paper I tossed out.

    The following image pertains more to food but some of our consumables go bad as well. Glue goes hard after being opened. Tape breaks down on the role, some brake fluids start to go bad once opened, temperature and humidity can ruin many things before you get back to using it again.




    All and all I've never regret anything I've made or tried to make even if most of the items don't work. That isn't always the point and at the least I learn a lot doing it. That is much harder to put a price on.

  2. #22
    Senior Member finskie's Avatar
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    +1 to rev. Other than the homeade stoves that i've made (which have saved me tons) all other DIY projects have been generally not cost saving. Especially any of the sewing related ones. Bottom line is that I've recently bought quite a few pieces of gear, and don't feel like I am being overcharged in the least. However, I can't believe people pay what they do for a "bush buddy" but that is just my opinion.
    What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. - C.S. Lewis

  3. #23
    Senior Member WV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by WV View Post
    Once you start making things you can't buy the fun increases, and the rationalizations start to sound sensible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dutch View Post
    Chicks dig guys that can sew.
    Well, most of them (rationalizations, that is).

  4. #24
    all secure in sector 7 Shug's Avatar
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    I don't DIY as much as I did in the beginning. From time to time I get the urge though........... It is rewarding to go through the process and gives a better understanding as to what goes into a particular piece of gear.


    Quote Originally Posted by Bombadil View Post
    +1 to rev. Other than the homeade stoves that i've made (which have saved me tons) all other DIY projects have been generally not cost saving. Especially any of the sewing related ones. Bottom line is that I've recently bought quite a few pieces of gear, and don't feel like I am being overcharged in the least. However, I can't believe people pay what they do for a "bush buddy" but that is just my opinion.
    Stoves are a ton of fun to make and I just buy them now.
    As to money spent on a BushBuddy.... it is a piece of gear that I consider to have heirloom quality to its stainless steel construction and craftsmanship that I cannot replicate. I will pass this on someday with my name etched on it. I also like that it does not rust.
    To me it is a wee work of art..... shoot, I can spend $100 on a good dinner with my wife.
    Shug
    Whooooo Buddy)))) All Good in the Backwood Hood.

    Shug's YouTube Videos

  5. #25
    MAD777's Avatar
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    Yeah, BillyBob, I had FUN! You've nailed it right there for me. If I don't count my labor, I probably saved a little bit, now that I've been able to spread the cost of the thread injector over many projects. But, it's all about me doing it.

    As grok said, "20 hours of labor (so far) Priceless." And that's my point. I enjoy planning to sitting at my thread injector, priceless entertainment. (I also tie my own flies.)

    To actually go out in the woods using something that I made and it serves me well, gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
    Mike
    "Life is a Project!"

  6. #26
    Dutch's Avatar
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    For me the real deal is that if I didn't have DIY as a hobby then I would have some other hobby to take up my time. Do you know what golf costs? This produces something I can use and I am proud of while it entertains my mind. I've learned new skills, I've found a productive way to spend my time and my stuff wasn't made in a sweat shop. And I love to show off my wares.
    Peace Dutch
    GA>ME 2003


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  7. #27
    Senior Member TeeDee's Avatar
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    Cost savings - Myth or not ???

    For me the cost savings have been substantial.

    Not counting my Bridge Hammocks, just the savings in top quilts and under quilts is very substantial. I have 2 down top quilts and 2 down under quilts. I bought the 900 fp down from Ed Speer when he had his special for members. If I remember correctly, it was $24 for 3 oz bag. I used 5 bags per quilt, top and under quilts. That's $120 per quilt for down. I forget the exact cost for the fabric, but conservatively at $6/yd and 6 yds per quilt, the fabric adds another $36 per quilt. Each quilt, both top and under, has between 5" and 5.5" of measured loft. The only quilts that compare are the JRB Mt Washington 4 with only 4" of loft at $404.94 per quilt with 900 fp down. That's a savings per quilt of $250 or $1,000 for the set of 4 quilts.

    I started with a Hennessy ULBPA hammock. Learned quickly that, although I am not especially claustrophobic, I did not like the bug netting that close to my face. Using the Safari dimensions posted on Hennessy's web site, I made my own interpretation. Loved it in comparison to the ULBPA, but would not consider it a backpacking hammock, car camping okay. That hammock cost me for 3 yds of nylon ripstop from JoAnne's Fabric at about $4/yd (using a coupon) or about $12. I went hog wild and used Thru-Hiker nanoseeum. Still the total cost for the hammock came to less than $30. A savings of about $200 over Hennessy's price.

    Then I read about the Bridge Hammocks on the Aussie site and knew I had found my backpacking hammock. For what the ULBPA cost me I can make 13 or 14 Bridge Hammocks and I have a backpacking hammock that is more comfortable and lighter. It took me about 4 of the 13 to experiment and discover the design principles of a Bridge Hammock and settle on the dimensions I now use for all my Bridge Hammocks, so I am still ahead by at least 9 Bridge Hammocks.

    Now, the JRB Bridge is $200 each. For that $200, I can make the same 13 or 14 Bridges that the ULBPA cost me. Now the JRB Bridge is an excellent hammock and for somebody that doesn't do DIY or doesn't care to read my posts detailing the Bridge Design principles or read Grizz's excellent threads on his adventures in making Bridges, then I highly recommend the JRB Bridge Hammock. For me, the JRB Bridge violates several of the design proiciples that I have established and so I consider my Bridge Hammocks superior to the only commercial product available. But then I don't consider myself to be biased even though others do.

    I have made more than the 13 or 14 Bridge Hammocks for which I have saved the money by DIY instead of buying commercial. I have still saved money since, just counting the Bridges I have kept for our own use and would have to purchase otherwise, it would have cost me a minimum of $800 for the same JRB Bridge Hammocks TiredFeet and I have for use. Those 4 DIY Bridges have cost me about $60 to $65 total. Less than $100 counting the cordage in the arcs and suspensions. So I'm still $700 ahead in the transactions.

    I haven't counted the good will and friendship that I now have from those who are using the Bridge Hammocks that I have given away since it is impossible to put a price on such.

    If I now add in the fabric used for the Insultex top and under quilts at approximately $50 each for a total of $200 and I'm ahead about $1,500 for the Bridges and down and Insultex top quilts and down and Insultex under quilts.

    If I add in the fabric for Bug netting and over covers and my savings will probably drop $100 to $200. I still have more than $1,300 in savings.

    If I now add in my time per hour at the rate I was paid before retirement 15 years back, that $1,300 disappears in considerably less than 1 days time on my part. Would it be fair to add in my time?? I certainly don't think so since I would probably waste it doing something totally unproductive otherwise or even if productive, maybe not saving as much money. But then I would have to pay a lot more than $1,300 to have somebody teach me the design principles of Bridge Hammocks that I learned in saving the $1,300. So I still think I am far ahead in the bargain.

    So are DIY cost savings a Myth ??? Yes and no - a lot depends on the project and your own expertise. I installed a standby generator for our home with a completely customized electrical installation. My estimate of cost savings, not counting my time, is a minimum of $16,000 based on the minimum estimate of 6 I obtained from venders in our area. Where I lack expertise, then DIY would not be cost effective. Where I do have expertise, then DIY can be very cost effective.

    Just my experience.
    Those who sacrifice freedom for safety, have neither.

    Do not dig your grave with your teeth. (Unknown)

  8. #28
    MrClean417's Avatar
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    In Model airplanes, RC primarily but working into CL now, you can buy ready to fly. You can pay someone to set it up for you and many do. Heck, at the upper levels of IMAC competition there are folks that have a primary and a backup ship and some in the wings in construction, all by another modeler, each costing 25-30 grand. There professionals. The flying skills of these pilots from the just soloed trainee to the most skill full pilot are the same as the person that rolled there own. There are cases of pilots that couldn't be as good of a pilot because regardless of knowledge, intent, time and skill gained, they just don't have the ability to produce a true airframe. I can produce a serviceable unit but I know those that can do much MUCH better. My peanut scale FF ships always seem to have a little twist in them somewhere. AH well, everything is better with practice but talent is born not made.

    I do not look down on folks that buy all they're equipment. I wouldn't look down at a Golfer, Mountain Climber, Nascar driver, Football star just because they couldn't produce the equipment they need to perform their art.

    I have enjoyed flying some of the planes that were RTF or ARF as much as some that I've rolled my own. And in many cases the RTF's and ARF's were actually cheaper.

    Didn't make up for my enjoyment of producing my own gear. In many cases I've spent more on an ARF because I had to redo things to my specifications or my needs.

    So, what are you doing in the hobby/sport? Are you just looking to save money? Are you looking to LEARN something? And what kind of enjoyment do you get out of it?

    I'm thinking bout saving up on my Paypal account for a warbonnet purchase. I also think my DIY needs to be two layers for my load and will make the purchase sometime this week to add on to my hammock. I don't regret any purchase and as far as what I have so far, I've bought 4 yards of fabric, some needles and thread and 25 feet of Amsteel.

    I've tied, retied, hung and rehung. It isn't perfect yet but I'm having a blast. There are pioneers including yourself Rev that show me the errors of my ways and the techniques used to get there. I like to think with this knowledge if I came across an idea to make things better, I'll have the skill sets to make that come true. Hennesy, Speer, Brandon, all the makers of the bought stuff we'd all buy came up on the same route so anything is possible.

    Knowing what I know now I still think I can produce a hammock perfect for me for cheaper then what I can buy one for. My skills might actually improve to where the quality will be up there with the manufactuers, but at the very least, good enough to not make any difference.

    The 100 thousand dollar house for 250 is a good example of someone starting off with no knowledge base, no skills and ending up paying for an education. The very same thing some of us are doing. However, its HIS 100 thousand dollar house, he made it, it's unique, maybe thats good, maybe its bad. Reminds me of Little Bill's house in 'The Unforgiven'.

    Can you DIY for less than bought? Yes.
    Can it cost more? Definately.

    What, I ask, are you buying?

    Me? I'm getting more then just a Hammock.
    From Somewhere near Parkville, Mo
    William Crane
    aka MrClean
    Everything you need to know about Hammocks in vids and reading:
    Hammock in 3 minutes D. Hansen - It really is this easy to make a hammock
    Shug's Hammock Newbies videos - Takes you buy the hand and shows you in video
    The Ultimate Hang D. Hansen - now read about everything
    JustJeff's Hammock tutorial - more reference
    TableclothFactoryBlanks - shorter lengths available on sidebar
    The TurtleDog Stand thread - Hang anywhere.

  9. #29
    Senior Member animalcontrol's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dutch View Post
    For me the real deal is that if I didn't have DIY as a hobby then I would have some other hobby to take up my time. Do you know what golf costs? This produces something I can use and I am proud of while it entertains my mind. I've learned new skills, I've found a productive way to spend my time and my stuff wasn't made in a sweat shop. And I love to show off my wares.
    I agree with Dutch here...

    Additionally, what price do you put on understanding your equipment...HOW it works and better yet, how to FIX it if something goes wrong?

    In todays world, you dont have to know anything about how your car works...AAA will change your tire if you get a flat. Someone will cut your grass or shovel your snow. A nanny will raise your kids...
    I'm sure none of these things are money savers.

    I'm **** proud to hike into the woods using items I took the time to learn how to make, the time to actually make them and to count on them to (depending on the weather) save my life. **** proud.

    How much money is that feeling worth?
    "Every day is a new day to a better future"
    "Of all the things that matter, that really and truly matter, working more efficiently and getting more done is not among them." ~ Mike Dooley
    "What if I told you that you couldn't have anymore of anything... No more friends, no more money, no more anything, until you first got happy with what you have?"~ Mike Dooley
    "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." ~ Socrates

  10. #30
    Senior Member BrianWillan's Avatar
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    I have found that DIY in some instances will save you money if and only if what you are after is a custom piece that just isn't available on the commercial market.

    A buddy and I do woodworking as a hobby and I can certainly tell you that there is no savings in building quality cabinets or furniture there. The cost of materials is significant as is the time investment in most cases. I can understand that people get enjoyment out of doing things for themselves and I do get that to a point, however time is a finite quantity and once you've used it, there is no getting it back. So for the people that invest many hours of their time/labour if they were to pay themselves even the minimum hourly wage, now how much money have you saved vs buying the commercial product?

    So my rule of thumb on things is that if I can get the materials for a good price and the project doesn't take much time (less than 1 hour) then I will DIY. For me this includes things like splicing amsteel or zing-it to make whoopie slings or tarp guylines, etc. After doing my DIY quilts with my mother's help, although the material costs were about 1/3rd of the price for commercial offerings, the aggravation factor became large and ultimately I found that I wouldn't do that type of large scale DIY project again. Anything that would take beyond an hour (as far as hammock gear goes) I will buy commercially if the cost is reasonable.

    Cheers

    Brian

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