When I lived in London I did a short course in furniture design at Central St. Martin’s College, run by Ben Panayi. As part of that course I produced a design for a lampshade made from polypropylene.
While I was designing my pattern as described in my previous post, I was experimenting with some cheap fabric that I did actually buy from Spotlight as practice material. I wanted to iron out (mind the pun) any problems by sewing some cushion covers with this practice material first before getting the real fabric design custom printed.
There was much to enjoy about making the cushion covers for the couch. Moving on from plywood to work with another material, attempting to sew for the first time since I was in school, sourcing foam and finding a suitable fabric with a pattern that would match the frame. I knew the cushions would make or break the whole piece of furniture. I also wanted to explore the possibilities of digital printing onto fabric.
Plywood has a property that is very useful indeed for ensuring your pieces are rigid: it doesn’t have a preferred grain.
If you wanted an ‘L’-shaped section using solid wood, you would need to fashion two pieces and join them together. With any joint, there is inherent weakness: it’s weaker than if it were a single piece. With plywood of course, you can make this a single piece as it’s a sheet material.
For every piece of furniture or object I have in mind to make using digital fabrication, I spend a lot of time thinking how the components will be assembled together. These components can be other pieces cut out of the same plywood sheet or externally-manufactured items like dowels, hinges, bolts, electrical cords etc.
This is a way I have used to enable one piece to ‘grab’ another without the use of a slot joint, or even a screw, nail, bolt or glue. Using a dovetail bit, a CNC router can mill a groove into plywood in which the gap at the surface is narrower than at the bottom of the groove.