Let’s start today’s post with an update on the lawsuit situation. If you haven’t yet read about the car accident and lawsuit, you might want to get caught up on the situation. The lawsuit post was the single most popular post I’ve written yet, and garnered more comments than any other.
I guess my misfortune is a very popular topic.
We have some good news! Our lawyer called on Wednesday with an update. The driver of the Mercedes decided to settle rather than go to arbitration. In the end the Mercedes owner settled for $31,000 on top of what she had already received from the insurance payout. Her lawyer will take about 1/3 of this.
In the end, the Mercedes driver took home a little over $80,000 from the insurance payout, and the lawsuit settlement combined. That should be enough to buy her a new Mercedes SUV.
I can think of better things to do with $80k, but everyone has different priorities. Right?
None of the money for the settlement (including legal fees) is coming out of my pocket. It’s all handled by our insurance company.
Fortunately, our insurance rates won’t go up because of the lawsuit – other than the normal increase following the car accident (an 8% increase).
What a relief to be done with this lawsuit! I tend to stress myself out over stuff, and having it “settled” feels like a weight off my shoulders. I’ll sleep a little better tonight.
When you think about it, all parties are going to be happy this suit is over: The Mercedes driver is happy because she gets money for her new SUV. The lawyer is happy because he’s getting $10k out of the settlement, and we’re happy because this whole nasty business is done. A win-win-win. It almost sounds like a happy business transaction.
I’m very thankful the Mercedes driver had no idea what we were worth financially. Stealth wealth ftw!
I also wanted to say “thank you” to everyone for the helpful comments regarding the lawsuit. Many of you had great tips on insurance and lawsuits. It’s awesome to have such a friendly and helpful community!
Now, on to my current project…
The Knockdown Shop Table
I’m one of those people that likes to build stuff. I’ve always made things…even when I was a kid. Now that I’ve achieved financial independence, I have more time to build solutions instead of buying them. Frequently this ends up costing less too!
For my most recent project, I decided to build a knockdown shop table. A knockdown shop table is one that can be assembled in a couple minutes, and taken apart in just as little time.
I decided I wanted a shop table that could roll outside, and fold up flat against the wall when the cars were in the garage. It had to be cheap, quick to setup, hold heavy tools, and have wheels. Here’s what I came up with:
The knobs are made from leftover plywood scraps and some 5/16th’s bolts. They hold all the pieces tightly together. There are no screws or nails holding the table together. It’s surprisingly rigid too!
The wheels are from used roller blades. I deconstructed some from the thrift-store. The wheels have bearings and are fantastic for moving heavy things. By contrast, if I was to buy a caster wheel it would cost a minimum of $3 and they don’t roll terribly well.
Once the table is taken apart, it only takes a few inches of horizontal space. Here’s everything taken apart and stacked against the wall so I can drive the car into the garage.
Why Build It?
The genesis of this project has to do with saving space; I don’t have a terribly large garage area for projects.
I’m also one of those crazy people that believes garages should be for storing cars, not excess consumer junk! At night, the Tako family stores our cars in the garage. This protects them against the elements, and theft (a common problem in our neighborhood). Cars also last longer if you store them inside! The only problem – this doesn’t leave much room for working on projects!
Working on projects in the garage is also messy. If I’m sawing up wood in the garage it makes a terrible dusty mess; I don’t have room for a fancy dust collection system. Instead, I prefer to do my cutting outside. Rolling the tools outside is far easier than carrying them.
Building this table cost me very little. Most of the wood for the table was built from old garden shed scraps. We tore down the garden shed a few years ago, and I salvaged the usable wood. When free wood is available, I try to salvage it.
The tabletop is made from a Birch plywood – roughly a third of a sheet, or $19.
The wheels were salvaged from thrift-store roller blades. At $0.62 per wheel, the total cost of the wheels was $2.48. Miscellaneous nuts, bolts, and washers cost about $4.
Total project cost: $25.48
Why Building Is Better
Consumers go out and buy solutions. Financially independent people like myself can build solutions.
Building something is a fantastic activity for humans to engage in, but most people never build anything. They spend most of their free time watching TV while their bodies and minds rot away. It’s a sad state of affairs.
Building something is a great way to stay active. I get to think, learn, and practice different crafts. In my own working career I never would have the opportunity to build something like this. It’s also great fun, and nothing can replace that sense of accomplishment when a project is complete.
I confess…there were ulterior motives for building the shop table. I wanted to experiment with knockdown furniture, and the shop table was practice for building some.
I like knockdown furniture, but it’s absolutely non-existent in any quality form today. Notice I said “quality”. Sure, I could go down to Ikea and buy some flat-pack furniture. Technically that can be taken apart and re-assembled, but I wouldn’t call it “quality”.
Have you ever actually tried to move Ikea furniture or take it apart and re-assemble? Frankly, it falls apart. Ikea furniture isn’t designed to be moved or taken apart – It won’t stand up to the abuse because of the poor materials. I’ve talked about my distaste for poor quality consumer products before – this is another bad example.
Typical flat-pack furniture is made from particle board (or MDF) with extremely thin veneers. Particle board is made to be cheap, not strong. It’s mainly made from wood chips, sawdust, and some pretty toxic glues. It won’t take much abuse. Nor will it stand up to being moved or taken apart frequently.
So why does practically all furniture sold in the U.S. use particle board?
It’s really cheap…and looks pretty decent. Ikea and other furniture manufacturers turn out particle board furniture in giant robotic factories, giving them incredible economies of scale. When the average consumer compares the price of particle board furniture to solid wood furniture, they’ll pick the particle board every time.
Real wood furniture is expensive, and the labor to build it is very expensive. Heck, even something made with real plywood is expensive these days. Consumers have been trained to like cheap furniture.
Cheap furniture isn’t always a bad thing though. When you’re young and getting started in life, this kind of furniture can get you started at a very low cost. Unfortunately that also feeds the disposable-consumer mentality. Should we really be filling our landfills with cheap particleboard furniture that gets replaced every 5 years? It’s a sad state of affairs.
If furniture was designed to last longer, couldn’t we let the trees grow larger?
Rather than give in to this consumer mentality, I decided I was going to try my hand at building some knockdown furniture. It’s going to be done with my limited set of tools.
Maybe I’ll succeed, or maybe I’ll fail….either way you’ll get to find out!
[Image Credit: Flickr]