Sunday, April 06, 2014
The problem with current furniture
It used to be that furniture was made locally by skilled craftsmen. Then came automation which allowed furniture to be mass produced lowering the cost, but they were still locally produced and designed by skilled craftsmen who used classic woodworking techniques such as dovetails joints, tongue and groove, mortise and tenon, and many others that hold wood furniture together with little more than a few drops of glue if that. Unfortunately with most furniture being produced in Asian countries such as China, the priority has changed from making quality furniture to making it as cheep as possible. Therefore rather than using techniques that can sometimes require some skill to assemble, everything must fold flat into a box and be easy to assemble by people with no wood working skills with only screws holding it together. On top of that as old growth forests are now hard to find or protected so the wood used tends to be from fast growing varieties that are not as solid and easily split and splinter. Even the finish applied to the wood is poor quality with usually only a single coat which is easily nicked and provides little protection to the wood allowing it to dry out and become even more brittle.
When visiting The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City they had a display of furniture from China that used ancient wood working techniques that used no screws or nails. While the furniture was fairly solid, it could easily be taken apart and moved to a different location to be reassembled. I wonder why these techniques aren't used today?
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