Furniture Lab

Furniture Lab

What is Furniture Lab?

comments (10) May 19th, 2011 in blogs

AsaC Asa Christiana, Special Projects Editor, Fine Woodworking magazine
thumbs up 6 users recommend

Art staffer John Tetreault built our first Furniture Lab project, a cool combo of weathered barn boards, traditional joinery, old computer circuit boards, and LED lights. He parks his Bose Ipod system inside.
And heres a preview of a table I am planning, to go between two Morris chairs. Note the two possible designs we are playing with. Both are a combination of lumber made from pressed bamboo and funky new plastic panels from 3Form.
3Form makes a wide variety of resin panels, some colored, some textured, and many with cool materials bound inside. This one has Gingko leaves and stalks inside.
And this 3Form material is textured. It reminds me of raindrops hitting water.
This is the lumber I want to use in the base of my table. It is made by Cali Bamboo, by pressing stalks of bamboo into dimensional form.
Art staffer John Tetreault built our first Furniture Lab project, a cool combo of weathered barn boards, traditional joinery, old computer circuit boards, and LED lights. He parks his Bose Ipod system inside. - CLICK TO ENLARGE

Art staffer John Tetreault built our first Furniture Lab project, a cool combo of weathered barn boards, traditional joinery, old computer circuit boards, and LED lights. He parks his Bose Ipod system inside.


Woodworking has a problem: More people are going out than are coming in. Most of yesterday's shop classes and factory jobs have gone, and today's kids excercise their thumbs where past generations built tree forts and hot-rodded their cars. And if we are going to grab their attention, I don't think it will be with dovetails and handplanes. Those will always grab some newbies, but not enough in my estimation.

But there are green shoots of hope for the handcrafts. Check out Make magazine for a strange new intersection of high-tech and handmade. And the brave souls at The Furniture Society have had their ups and downs, but have never stopped looking forward.

The truth is that most of the furniture in Fine Woodworking is either a reproduction, or a close relative of one. And that's how most readers want it for now. They love the close connection to history. I do too. But where is custom furniture going? That's what Furniture Lab aims to find out.

We'll start by exploring two tracks:

1. Working with found items, breathing new life into the past. And already our own art staffer John Tetreault has led a junkyard excursion and made his first Furniture Lab piece, a brilliant blend of weathered boards, 20-year-old circuit boards, and LED lights he found online.

2. Working with exciting new materials. I've been making some traditional bow-arm Morris chairs, and I need a small table to go between them. So we designed something revolutionary, I hope. The base will be made from a new type of dimensional bamboo lumber, called Lumboo, simply bolted together. And the tabletop will be a thick piece of a new material called Varia Ecoresin, from 3Form, simply bolted to the base. Ecoresin is amazing stuff, with a variety of manmade and organic materials bound inside it.

We FWW staffers are doing this Furniture Lab stuff on our own time, so it had better be fun. And it has been a blast so far. We all love traditional woodworking, but there is a great sense of freedom in throwing the rules out the window. We want to hear from you. Think we are on to something here? Want to join in?



posted in: blogs, modern, furniture, furniture lab, Contemporary


Comments (10)

thomassir857 thomassir857 writes: Your blogs and its stuff are so notable and worthwhile it can make me return.
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Posted: 3:06 am on June 13th

jacko9 jacko9 writes: Interesting concept and one that I can identify with since I seem to never throw away any material that might be useful in the future. New living styles in homes with wall mounted flat screen HDTV's and computer centers with WiFi connections throughout the house challenge the furniture maker to provide useful new forms of furniture.
Posted: 9:43 pm on January 27th

Rhino40 Rhino40 writes: With the decline of massive tube-type TV sets and their replacement with flat panels that are often hung on a wall, also in decline are the large purpose-built armoires and entertainment centers made to house those bulky old sets.

Many of these--whose quality of materials and workmanship vary wildly--are finding their way to curb sides--and eventually landfills. A sad waste in many cases.

How about a project where a television armoire or entertainment center gets re-purposed--the former as a sort of mini-closet (which is, I think, what armoires used to be for in the days before TV) or the latter as storage cabinets or dressers?
Posted: 11:59 am on June 9th

AsaC AsaC writes: Thanks, all--
JD--I think you are right about the clunkiness. These are only a couple of initial ideas, mind you, but I will definitely lighten the base, and your ideas are excellent ones. Not sure how to float the top, but it will be something probably bolted right through. I think 3-Form actually makes some extender-type posts with nice screws on them, or maybe I saw that somewhere else.

AcaciaDave--I love that quote!. I think we are all citizens of ImagiNation. That's what will make FurnLab a hit, I hope.

Lindhrr--Keep it positive. Let's celebrate everyone's efforts, so people feel encouraged to break out of the box. 3Form's stuff is for sale, by the way, so they are inviting people to use it, and my design will be more than just a slab of 3Form with no other ideas invested, I'm sure. C'mon brother, join the ImagiNation!
Posted: 6:59 pm on May 24th

robertwf robertwf writes: There are many different lines of furniture I would like to see as many as possible here presented in a coherent manner.
Posted: 1:32 pm on May 21st

Acacia_Dave Acacia_Dave writes: OUT STANDING !!!! I think your furniture lab is a great way to clean up and reuse,repurpose our world. I am an award winning woodworker in Southern California. I make custom pieces from art furniture to built-in cabinets. I sure would like to be part of your endevor by sharing my experience with who ever wants get some saw dust and shavings on thier work clothes. AcaciaFineWoodworking is building a new site that I hope you would use to help the cause. I truely believe the wood can have at least three lives. Fist as the beautiful tree with it aromas and shade. Second as a piece of furniture or house trim or something. And third as a repurposed piece of what ever the maker has in mind. In the movie "Miracle on Thirtyfouth Sreet" there is a great line "There is the French Nation, the English Nation and the IMAGINATION". My imagination runs pretty wild and I would like to share it out there.
Posted: 10:37 am on May 21st

lindhrr lindhrr writes: Looks like a typical steal a craftsmans idea........3Form???????Wonder where I have seen this texturing used and developed...now cheapen this wonderful craftsmans work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted: 7:58 am on May 21st

AndyRey AndyRey writes: This sounds interesting to me. While I do some interest in traditional furniture styles I have always been more interested in modern design. The notion of using "junkyard" finds and new materials is very interesting.

It feels right to me to break out of the box we've built and to start looking at some creative 'rule breaking.'

I am interested and can't wait to see how the little tables turn out.
Posted: 4:16 pm on May 20th

Ed_Pirnik Ed_Pirnik writes: I must say, it's refreshing for us to be able to let our "hair down," break the conventional furniture making rules and essentially do whatever we please, without worrying about conventional furniture design trends and pleasing a specific audience. Furniture Lab serves to allow folks to really experiment - and quite frankly, repurposing materials just makes so much sense to me, what with all the bric-a-brac just laying around being unused nowadays.

Ed
Posted: 8:40 am on May 20th

jdmaher jdmaher writes: New materials usage will be exciting.

The lumboo and varia table might be interesting, but the design looks clunky to me.

In the drawings, the top seems to float. How ya gonna do that?

Me, I'd think about achieving that same effect between the top and bottom. Use varia between top boards, but minimally (cubes around perimeter as spacers between lumboo?). Use varia as legs, only in four corners? Lighten the basepiece with less lumboo; maybe just cubes of lumboo and alternating cubes of varia, arranged only around the perimmeter of the base?

It'll be interesting to see what you come up with . . .
Posted: 5:49 pm on May 19th

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About Furniture Lab

Inspired by the steampunk and recycled furniture movements, Furniture Lab allows the editors of Fine Woodworking magazine and FineWoodworking.com to really let their hair down.

Here, you'll find us cooking up all manner of design experiments. We aim to incorporate salvaged and recylced items into our furniture and will be veering way off the traditional path of Fine Woodworking.