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From the April 2015 issue.

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I love Ikea. Yes, I said it.

This store has provided me with an understanding of furniture design and with products I use on many of my projects. For some I’m happy to pay, but for most I haven’t had to pay a penny.

I first became aware of furniture design while walking our dog. Seriously. To get to the off-leash park, we walked down back lanes.

I was alarmed at the sheer quantity of discarded furniture – Ikea furniture, to be precise. I began to examine this stuff more closely, and gradually a pattern emerged.

From this pattern I formed a “law” of furniture design. Take, for example, Ikea beds: Pieces broke right where the mechanical fasteners were placed. Well, it figured, two kids jumping on a bed = dynamic load. Therefore, dynamic load + barficle-board + mechanical fasteners + time = garbage.

I learned about chair construction – actually how not to construct a chair – while working at Chez Phillipe, a cozy French bistro. Maybe it was serendipity that caused me to observe how Ikea chairs failed, but I made the necessary observations seated on the “throne.”

When a chair failed, the waiters hauled it off to our tiny staff washroom. At any given time, there were five failed chairs crammed into that tiny john.

The owner would salvage what he could from broken chairs and re-assemble a single one. Missing chairs were replaced with the same Ikea model and given a coat of lime-green paint (to match the decor of Chez Phillipe).

There were three major causes of failure: First was choice of materials; the chairs were softwood, pine I think. Again, wood around the mechanical fasteners failed, or wood was compressed and then racked, and fasteners would fall out.

Second is that dowels make lousy joinery for dynamic loads; they invariably failed.

Third is poor stock selection. The curved rear legs…

… Continue Reading at: www.popularwoodworking.com [source]