Why Most Commercial Furniture is Crap!

Article - September 26, 2011

I realize I am absolutely preaching to the choir here with this one, but I couldn’t pass up this opportunity. In preparation for Mini-Spag’s arrival, Nicole and I spent the weekend moving things around. Actually, I did all the moving and she simply told me where to put stuff. One of the big items being moved was an armoire Nicole and I received as a wedding gift about 10 years ago. The goal was to move it out of the bedroom and into what will be the rug rat’s “play room”. Frankly, its “dark mahogany finish” and traditional styling doesn’t really fit with a child’s play room, but it would certainly serve the purpose and hey…..we already own it.

Now here’s where the fun began. I tilted the armoire back onto my hand truck and started moving it out of the bedroom. I could see my tires were low on air but I was pulling slowly and making good progress. I should also note that my air compressor is now at the shop. One of the things I have been struggling with recently is the prospect of owning TWO of just about everything garage-related. I’m no Frugal Yankee but that’s something I have trouble accepting. Consequently, I have to deal with things like flat tires and a limited range of screw drivers.

But I digress. Everything was going peachy until I reached the carpeted play room. At this point, I was pushing the armoire instead of pulling and I began to realize that one tire was significantly lower on air than the other. Consequently, the armoire started to tip to the side. This was one of those times when things seem to go in slow motion. I knew there was nothing I could do to stop it, so I decided to lower the back of the hand truck in an attempt to help it drop gracefully. Mission accomplished! The armoire dropped a total of about 6″ and then rolled on its side. It was quite an amazing thing to see and I was quite proud of myself. I assumed that any damage would be minimal and easily repaired, or so I thought.

I stood the armoire back up and noticed that there was significant damage. Certainly much more than I would expect from the short fall it experienced. As you can see, the unit is primarily comprised of particle board. Now it should come as no surprise to you that particle board isn’t the best choice for building material, but these pictures do a great job of showing you why. When a nail or screw is stressed, it simply pops out a full divot of material. The lack of grain characteristics means that mechanical fasteners have very little true holding strength. And as you can see, the cabinet couldn’t even sustain a small drop and essentially buckled under its own weight.

I’m sure we all have commercial furniture like this in our homes. I don’t know about you but it is a personal goal of mine to make sure I replace every piece of crap furniture we ever purchased with something I made. In fact, folks who saw me make the Chest of Drawers in the Guild were able to see my critique of a dresser that was from the same set of furniture as this armoire. Now all I need to do is figure out a way to break the bed and the nightstand and we’ll be all set!


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