Here in Maine, business is done very simply: agreements are accomplished with a smile and a handshake. That’s how I like to do it as well. It depends on a level of trust and communication between the maker and the customer. With over 35 years of experience, I have found that to be by far the best way to work.
Is This Furniture For You?
The simple answer to that question is, yes, of course it is! The longer answer will take a few more paragraphs. Many people are unfamiliar with the idea and process of buying furniture from a small shop that builds pieces one at a time to order. This is very understandable, because most furniture nowadays is sold in large stores or warehouses, and made by factories in places that you’ve probably never heard of. I have a low overhead, and don’t do much advertising, so almost all of the cost of a piece from my shop goes directly into that piece, and to you. I also enjoy having the personal touch of knowing the people who are going to be using the furniture that I build.
In addition, the word ‘custom’ brings up images of ‘expensive.’ But it needn’t be, and often isn’t any more expensive to buy a table or desk from my shop than to buy mass produced work. I think that you will find my pricing schedules very reasonable when matched to the quality.
Often I will adapt one of my existing designs to suit a customer’s particular needs. Maybe a table needs to be a foot longer, or you want maple instead of cherry. Since I build one piece at a time, those changes are easily made, for often little or no more cost.
By far the greatest advantage in buying furniture in this manner is that you get exactly what you want!
Most of my customers do not buy a whole houseful of furniture from me (although they are welcome to, of course). Instead, they are looking for one or two special pieces, maybe a dining table, a writing desk, or their bed, to have in their lives. Having a piece such as that enriches ones life, ages gracefully, and is something that will endure and last for generations to come.
I do have a number of pieces on hand that are available for immediate sale. Look in the Showroom for current listings, and for what’s in my catalog. If you see what you want, that's great and just let me know.
More likely, you want something you don't see. The process can still begin with a phone call or email, and a conversation about your ideas. Since you aren’t just walking into a store, seeing what you want, and coming out with it, how does one buy furniture from Charles Durfee Cabinetmaker? Occasionally I can steer you towards a design that I have already done, or that can be easily adapted. Besides what’s posted on this site, I have an extensive collection of photos of past work, which can be mailed or emailed to you.
Coming out to the shop and showroom is encouraged, if it can be managed. I think that you will find that the photos of the work are only the beginning of the experience, and that seeing actual pieces is invaluable. However, I make many pieces for customers who haven’t been able to come to the shop, and it always works out well.
If your needs require some new thinking, I can render a sketch. I can also work from photos, if available. With some pieces, I will build a rough mockup to be able to judge proportion and size. All of this becomes part of the conversation. Some of this type of work may incur additional charges.
Once the details of the design are substantially complete, I will give you a price quote, as well as an estimated time of completion for your project.
A deposit of 50% will secure a place in my production schedule. The balance will be due on completion of the work. Deliveries within Maine are subject to 5% sales tax. Delivery or shipping is extra.
I will let you know what an estimated time for completion will be, and will keep in touch during that time. Since I am a one person shop, and attend to all aspects of production myself, there is almost always a wait involved--sometimes as much as six months, but generally less. I like to move things along, but also will take whatever time is necessary to do things right. So hopefully, in the long run you won’t mind waiting, and I thank you for your patience!
I will either deliver pieces myself (generally, to addresses within New England), or have them transported by moving companies that specialize in small quantities and careful service to the customer. In either case, the piece will be blanket wrapped and brought to your home. This makes any chance for damage or loss minimal. Any problems will be immediately attended to. If the piece is small enough, it may be carefully crated and sent via parcel express. Of course, you are welcome to visit my shop and pick up your furniture yourself.
Shipping costs are additional, and can vary widely. Approximately 10-15% of the purchase price is a rough guide.
My reputation is really the only foundation that I have in this business. Thus, total customer satisfaction is most important. I want you to be pleased with what I have built for you, and will make all reasonable efforts to correct whatever is not right. Materials and workmanship are completely guaranteed to satisfy, and as long as I am able, I will personally fix anything that needs it. I can confidently predict that what I make will outlive us! I can also say with pride that in the over 35 years I have been woodworking, I occasionally have had to make a small correction to a piece, but have never had one come back rejected! Please be confident that you will be satisfied. The fine print: There isn’t any!
Thanks for reading this! Regards, Charles Durfee