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  1. #1
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    The Myth of Cost Savings

    I know I sound like a party pooper at times with my comments about saving money by DIY gear making. In general, I think the cost savings is an elusive achievement.

    Quite a while ago I came across a book which illustrates my point very effectively. I doubt it is still in print as it was one of those mock-u-mentory books. The title was "How to build a $100,000 house for $250,000." It started from the basic beginning, (buying land) and followed the process through to the completion of the house (in the third location purchased for said house) all the while touting the wonderful savings you would experience during the process. Needless to say, the carnival of errors outlined in the book were intended to be humorous but did bear a striking validity in the grand scheme of things.

    My first hammock was cheap-o Wal-Mart fabric bin hammock (when Wal-Mart still sold fabric.) It was a screaming disaster. I already had all the tools and equipment in my wife's sewing shop. So the "savings" would be significant right?. I had been sewing for years so I knew my way around the thread injector. But the design was fatally flawed. (Too short, too narrow too this, too that and other 2's thrown in. So... $9.00 was down the tubes. Still... not a bad step into the world of cost savings. The second hammock (after reading more about DIY hommocks here) was only a mitigated disaster. I did manage to make another cheapo WW fabric hammock the proper length and a better width. But not a good fabric choice all in all. Now I don't remember what the problem was. It was a while ago. It would work as a hammock but not a nicely as I had heard they should. So I started again. (Another $12 down the tubes.) Up to $$21 for the project so far. Still not bad for saving a ton of money right? (so far I was under the cheapest commercial hammock but still no suspension. ) My third hammock was more successful. The fabric was not WW cheapo. It was Joanne bargain bin but still upwards of $3 a yard. I finally reached the end result of a good basic top loading hammock at a cumulative cost of around $45. Adding in a substandard suspension (because I was going to save money) I was in the neighborhood of $60 total. Three sets of cheap webbing later (stretch, breakage and wear) and I was looking at an investment bordering on the $90 threshold.

    Still no bugnet. A requirement for me and my needs. I'm sure by now you can see where I am going. Later I bought a Skeeter Beeter for my daughter for ~$60 (less than I had invested in my own projects.) It was complete with bugnet and a suspension (not a satisfactory one it turns out but more seviceable than my earlier attempts.)

    Let's just say I could have purchased a reasonable system with bugnet, ready and professionally made for less than I invested in all my attempts. I have not even touched on my foray into Bridge hammocks nor charged anything off to my labor.

    Do I regret the efforts? Not at all. Did I have fun? Tons of it. Did I save money? Not a penny. Is my experience unusual? I doubt it.

    This is not a condemnation of DIY. I've been a contributing member of the DIY forums for a long time and I don't plan to stop now. But the myth of cost savings is out there and still in top form. I'm just suggesting it is an elusive beast.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

    "Bless you child, when you set out to thread a needle don't hold the thread still and fetch the needle up to it; hold the needle still and poke the thread at it; that's the way a woman most always does, but a man always does t'other way."
    Mrs. Loftus to Huck Finn

    We Don't Sew... We Make Gear! video series

    Important thread injector guidelines especially for Newbies

    Bobbin Tension - A Personal Viewpoint

  2. #2
    kayak karl's Avatar
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    i have built a prototype of every thing i have bought. as least i knew what i was buying. LOL
    It's not procrastinating, its proactively delaying the implementation of the energy-intensive phase of the project until the enthusiasm factor is at its maximum effectiveness.

  3. #3
    Senior Member moski's Avatar
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    So true !
    Spot on !
    Moski, who no longer feels the Secret Ninja Ski emptiness..............
    B/C he got them now

  4. #4
    Senior Member Danalex's Avatar
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    Good timing on the thread.

    I've been thinking about making my own tarp as a first project but just now PM'd someone to see if they are willing to make it for me. Probably cheaper in the long run and guarantee'd it will be nice when finished.
    "Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles"
    Hunter S. Thompson

  5. #5
    packeagle's Avatar
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    +1 on your thoughts. I have been thinking the same thing when it comes to DIY projects after my DIY Tyvek Tarp.

    I purchased a HH Exp. Dlx. for $100. Added DIY whoopies for around $10. Added separate ridge line for $20. so total of around $130 for a workable setup.

    My DIY hammock I bought $10 in fabric. $5 in thread (gotta have 100% polyester). $20 in separate ridge-line for tarp. 2-grommet kits totaling $8. Sub- par suspension $10. So $60. Total for my DIY. Now, lets look at other "costs". First, the hours I spent working on cutting and constructing all of the parts and pieces at say min wage of $7.40. Thats another $60. Bringing my total cost up to $120. Plus whatever my dad has in the Tyvek and Tyvek Tape that was leftover from his project. That has to hold some value. Lets go with eBay rates. $1.50 a foot for 12 ft. So, thats $18 in Tyvek. Figure what i used is about $2 worth. Bringing the overall total to something like $140.

    Confused yet?

    The reason I have explained it this way is to further drive home the point that while it may seem cheaper at the surface, DIY can nickel and dime you to death over time.

    Basically my pro built setup came in at 130 after my mods. While, my DIY comes in at $140 ish. With out bug net ridgline organiser or any of the nice features of my HH.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Good commentary Rev. Beyond material cost, one needs to factor in the worth of their time and see whether the benefit if DIY (real-if the item is unavailable elsewhere, or imagined-the pride and/or enjoyment of making your own) is worth it to you. Adjust cost of material and time based on your experience and likelihood of making mistakes (for me that adjustment had been high ). After making a simple GE hammock for the first time, I found I would have been better off getting a higher quality WB traveller cost wise.
    Last edited by BER; 02-06-2011 at 14:14.

  7. #7
    Pro Vagabond's Avatar
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    While I understand what you're saying Rev, through this website I have learned enough to save some money. Between my hammock, suspension, tarp, bugnet, TQ, and UQ, I think I've saved around 50%. I don't include the time, because for me, that is part of the appeal of hammocking. No one is going to pay me to lay in it, so why should I calculate my time to make it. Plus, the feeling of accomplishment is priceless.

    All that being said, I COMPLETELY understand why the gear costs what it costs. In fact, certain pieces, like quilts, are cheap if you do include the labor.

  8. #8
    PuckerFactor's Avatar
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    Well, I may have my head in the (overflowing) fabric bin, but I like to think I've saved money by going DIY. Maybe even made money. My first hammock was made out of the digicam urethane coated ripstop that BWDD now carries. Once I found out what I did wrong, it became my poncho. The nylon suspension rope I started out with went back in my truck, and I got amsteel, the same whoopies I use today. The UQs and TQs are all first generation "measure twice, cut once" DIY.
    Once my friends saw I could make stuff, they all wanted one. So now I've made several and sold them. Probably not enough to break even in the big picture, but I made a few bucks back over materials cost.

    Of course, all this doesn't account for the value of my time. Then I'm definitely in the red.

    Happy DIYer,
    PF
    It's better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

    Formerly known as Acercanto, my trail name is MacGuyver to some, and Pucker Factor to others.

    It's not procrastinating, its proactively delaying the implementation of the energy-intensive phase of the project until the enthusiasm factor is at its maximum effectiveness. - Randy Glasbergen

  9. #9
    grok's Avatar
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    hmmm. project dbl layer plus tarp

    12yrds sil coat digi 1.6 $50 including shipping on ebay
    4yrds down proof 1.1 $20 including shipping on ebay
    10 yrds zipper $8 including shipping on ebay
    2 rolls invisible thread $3 at hobby lobby
    Amsteel and lashit $40 Lots left over
    20+ hours labor (so far) Pricless.

    I'm buying my next one

  10. #10
    BillyBob58's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ramblinrev View Post
    ...........

    Let's just say I could have purchased a reasonable system with bugnet, ready and professionally made for less than I invested in all my attempts. I have not even touched on my foray into Bridge hammocks nor charged anything off to my labor.
    And, for the average single male and many married or even females: the cost of acquiring and maintaining a sewing machine. It would take a bunch of successful projects to make up for that cost!

    Do I regret the efforts? Not at all. Did I have fun? Tons of it. Did I save money? Not a penny. Is my experience unusual? I doubt it.
    Well that is the bottom line: did you have fun. That trumps other considerations like little to no cost savings. That, and customization of gear to exactly the way you want it.
    For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us....that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
    Romans 8:18,21-22

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