Black Tea Aged Coffee and Wine Bar

About a year ago, when I had just started doing woodworking as a profession, I got my first furniture commission.  I was asked if I could make a coffee and wine bar that looked like a $1500.00 Ethan Allen piece for less than $500.00.  Being a naïve young woodworker I said “sure”.  By the time I was done, I was left with zero profit and a lot of lessons in how to price my work going forward.

Another lesson I learned was that I really should have a solid plan before just plunging headlong into a project.  I had done all the math in my head (and you’ve heard how that turned out), and once I got started building the bar, I did everything by gut instinct.  If I was really smart, I would have created a materials and cut list, and drawn up actual plans for building this to refer to in case I got stumped.

The client was absolutely thrilled by the finished piece, and for a first-timer, I was also pretty impressed with myself.  I was able to pull this whole thing together with cheap pine and using an aging technique that I wasn’t sure was going to work, but wound up looking exactly like the customer wanted.

Black Tea Stain

I learned that the wood, regardless of quality, was always going to be more expensive than I expected, and that there was going to be at least one tool or piece of hardware that I was going to have to buy to complete the project.

Coffee Bar Bones

This was fun in a lot of ways.  Thankfully the weather at the time was pretty cooperative, so working in my single-car garage workshop was tight, but doable.  I had no workbench space to put the piece on, so I wound up building the entire coffee/wine bar  on top of a plastic yard wastebin.

Door Hardware

Along the way I found that I really enjoyed working with the client to delivery what she saw in her head.  She gave me the freedom to select the hardware to put on the doors, and I was relieved that she liked what I had picked out.  As far as first experiences go, it was fairly straightforward.

Back to list

Related Posts