I realized this morning that I never summarized the outdoor fire table final costs for everyone. I think it’s a good exercise to show what things like this cost if you’re looking to do something similar. It also shows why I like to do things myself, because I’ll try to give a comparable example of what it would have cost to buy instead of make.
Let’s jump right into it in the order of the build posts that I made. I am very bad at tracking my hours working on a project, which makes detailing how long I worked on this very difficult. I’ll do my best, but understand the hours are very rough estimates. Moving forward I’d like to do a better job of tracking my hours, just in case I want to sell some of my creations and figure out a decent rate for my time worked.
Design – $0 and 2 hrs
Most of the design work involved searching for fire pit inserts and adjusting the size of the concrete insert to match. I knew ahead of time about how big we wanted the final table, so once the final insert was chosen, the rest was pretty simple. Any future builds wouldn’t need any design time, unless I wanted to change styles or sizes.
Concrete Insert 1 – $93 and 10 hours
- Melamine Board – $30
- Bucket – $3.50
- Trowel – $22
- Glass Cleaner – $3.50
- Silicone – $9
- Set Control – $3
- Flow Control – $3
- Cement – $19
A lot of the hours here went to building the mold for the concrete. I also had to spend a decent amount of time wet setting the concrete after pouring. Future builds of the insert are much cheaper, since some of the items bought are non-recurring costs. Luckily, I screwed up the first insert, so we get to see exactly what a second one costs now.
Concrete Insert 2 – $37 and 6 hours
- Melamine Board – $15 – moving forward, the new design allows complete reuse of the mold. No additional board purchases required.
- Flow Control – $3
- Cement – $19
Again, a lot of the hours here went to building the mold. Moving forward I think the mold is a better design that would be quick to assemble. Unfortunately, wet setting the concrete does still require some time, but not using set control helped decrease this time period on the second build.
Concrete Sealing – $20 and 1 hour
- SILOXA-TEK 8500 – $20 – This was a 16oz sample and I have enough left over for several additional concrete inserts or reseals.
One hour might be generous on this, it took very little time to put two coats on the concrete insert.
Fire Pit Insert – $655 and 1 hour
- Fire Pit Insert and Burner – $348
- Glass Wind Screen – $135
- Glass Stones – $104
- 3’ Gas Hose – $12.50
- 4’ Gas Hose with Regulator – $13.50
- ¼ Turn Shutoff Valve – $26
- 150k BTU Air Mixer – $6
- Misc Couplings – $10
I included the shopping hours for the insert in the design portion. I think after getting all of the supplies, it took less than an hour to assemble and check for leaks. Obviously, this is a fairly expensive portion of the outdoor fire table final costs. I don’t think there is much room for improvement here.
Wood Table Top – $331.50 and 15 hours
- Cedar – $318
- Oak Dowels – $3.50
- Stain – $10 (Using a portion of a gallon bought for other purposes)
Really rough estimate here on the hours. I think I worked on this over several nights and then a couple of weekends. I’m definitely improving in my efficiency, especially doing mortise and tenon joints. Likely, future builds could drop this down to about 10-12 hours.
Table Legs – $435 and 2 hours
I absolutely love these table legs. They are not cheap, but they fit the build perfectly. Maybe in the future I could do some welding, but that’s not happening anytime soon.
Final Total – $1571.50 and 37 hours
Future Builds – ~$1440 and 20 hours
This build was my most expensive build to date, but I also think it’s my best build to date. There are some costs that I can’t reduce moving forward, but not screwing up the first concrete insert will help in the future. I also think I can really reduce some of the time it took to build the table. Now for a comparable cost to buy something instead of build it.
Assuming an hourly rate of $50/hour, my table cost $3,421.50 to build. That hourly rate is definitely high for my skill level right now, but low for real woodworkers. Assuming the reduction in hours moving forward, I could probably build another table for $2,440.
For this build, I’m not going to consider my hours as a cost. I enjoyed doing it, I learned new skills, and I created something I’m extraordinarily proud of. So in my mind, I got a beautiful outdoor fire table for $1,571.50 and saved over $1,800 against a comparable retail product. Not bad at all.