In Prison Architect you can fell trees to get wood. Prisoners which completed the carpenter apprenticeship program can then use these to produce "high quality beds" in the workshop which sell for much more than the license plates which can be made by other prisoners.

But is it really worth it? After all, the wood isn't free. It needs to be farmed in a forestry which requires the attention of non-prisoner workers which need to be paid. The tree saplings they plant aren't free either. So how much more lucrative are high quality beds compared to license plates?

Did anyone do the math?

  • 1
    It's not just about the money to be made from the beds sold, your prisoners learn a skill which goes towards reducing their reoffending percentage.
    – Tony
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 21:52
  • @Tony Sure, but just because I let a prisoner do the carpentry course doesn't mean I have to have him work as a carpenter. When it isn't lucrative, I can just as well have him make license plates.
    – Philipp
    Commented Sep 29, 2014 at 22:01

3 Answers 3


At the most basic level the profit from making license plates or superior beds is simply retail price - materials cost.

License plates use $10 of sheet metal to make 2 plates which sell for $20

Trees cost $100 and produce 2 superior beds sold for $800

Although the profit margin is greater it requires more investment (both time and money) to get to the position of producing beds, and this is where it becomes more difficult to calculate if it's worth it.

Both plates and beds need a workshop and for prisoners to complete the workshop safety induction, so we can discount those costs.

You also mention a forestry

... requires the attention of non-prisoner workers which need to be paid.

Metal deliveries have to be removed from the trucks by Workmen, so some paid staff are required, but if your delivery area is inside the prison prisoners will transport the raw materials to the workshop during working hours.

For a Forestry you still need workmen to get the saplings off the truck, but you also need Gardeners to plant them. The Workman are needed again to chop down the trees, so the additional staff required are Gardeners plus the wages for all staff involved while they are performing these tasks. Discounting the Workman from the equation each Gardener will cost $500 + $100 per day, and to be efficient you are going have to hire at least 5 (IMO)

I'm not going to add in the cost of an additional workshop building, as you could replace presses with carpentry tables. Saws, Presses and Carpentry tables all cost the same ($1500) although carpentry tables do take up slightly more space. The problem is the game will nag you that the workshop is not "complete" without a workshop press.

To summarise:

Prisoner carpentry training - $?? Can't remember if there is a charge, since you
                               have already hired the Foreman
Carpentry table             - $1500 each
                               (can be offset by not buying workshop press)
Gardeners                   - $500 + £100 per day per gardener
Tree                        - $100 each (takes time to grow)

So (in a simple calculation) the biggest cost is the additional labour required by the Gardener, compared to license plates.

I don't know how long it takes for a tree to grow but for the purposes of showing a calculation let's say it's 3 days:

Profit = 2 Beds   $800
         - Tree   $100
         - Salary $300 

Where salary = Gardener $100 * 3 days

I'm not including the Workman salary as he's always required if you are producing license plates or beds.

So there's still a good profit to be made from making beds and there are economies of scale. Once you have a large enough forest and enough carpenters to be working on lots of beds then it will make more money than license plates.

To answer you question "is it worth it?", I'd say yes. Not only financially but also from the fun in playing the game and using all the features.

Additionally, in the blog post for Alpha 18 Chris said

In future alphas we’ll be making use of this furniture

Although I'm not sure this will be of much use given how long it takes to get up and running making beds. All my prisoners will be sleeping on the floor for weeks before the first bed is produced :)

  • Thank you very much for your answer. But there is one figure I am missing in it: Does it take the same amount of prisoner-time to turn 1 unit of sheet metal into 2 plates as it takes them to turn wood into 2 beds?
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 14:40
  • Do you mean the time taken only in the workshop, once the wood has been chopped and put on a table? I don't know the answer but I'd be interested to find out. I'm guessing the time taken to chop wood or metal will be about the same, so the difference will be in the press vs carpentry phase.
    – Tony
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:36
  • I am talking about the time working in the workshop at the press vs. at the carpentry table. I assumed that the time used at the workshop saw to process wood and metal is the same, but there might also be a significant difference during this production step.
    – Philipp
    Commented Oct 6, 2014 at 15:38

I removed my carpentry table because it was hoarding all the wood. So I sell planks instead. 70 prisoners planks can fetch me 110k. With peak wood season, it can go up to 200k. With the same exact prison, I only get 30k to 45k from beds.(12 carpenters)


I don't think there is a good answer using math in here. There are many variables. Like Tony commented, if you invest in carpentry, you also reduce the reoffending percentage.

I personally prefer to invest in trees. You will need to watch the distance that the gardeners will have to walk to plant it. This strategy isn't as efficient, because you will need to wait some days to the tree grow, but it is a long term investment while the carpentry is a medium term investment. If you don't get bored, I suggest the long term investment.

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