I’m becoming and anarchist

Don’t worry, I’m not going off the deep end…

I’m currently reading, “The Anarchists Tool Chest” by Christopher Schwarz. Basically, you get to the point where you are tired of buying junk. Everything is mass-produced, and usually by someplace known as ‘China’. They know that we are a throw-away society…ask them, they’ll admit it happily.

This is why I’m a woodworker. I would rather spend my free time toiling away making something that doesn’t suck. Something that won’t be at the local landfill in a couple of years…that’s right IKEA, I’m talking about you. I’m tired of accepting what our society is accepting…this throw away mentality.

Even when you think you are buying something of quality, it might not be up to standard. Let’s take one example that coincidently happened at the same time I am reading The Anarchist Tool Chest. We have an ash dresser in my older son’s room that was bought from L.L. Bean. This company stands by all the products they sell…I like that very much. However, everything at L.L.Bean has been going down hill fast since they started outsourcing to this ‘China’ place.

The ash dresser was no small chunk of change, and it is made of solid ash so we figured it was most likely the higher quality that you can get today…of course I wanted to build it myself. We should have known when the first dresser arrived damaged that the life of this piece of furniture would not be long. The second dresser arrived usable…it had a couple of imperfections, but we could live with them.

It’s been a couple of years since we purchased the dresser. Last week, I noticed what looked like a scratch in the top. As I moved to take a closer look, my heart stopped for a moment. It was no scratch…there is a huge gaping split in the top. It split right at the glue line of two boards about four inches in length. You can literally see all the way through the top into the first drawer. The glue line just completely let go.

We have had a crazy winter this year in the northeast. There have been large fluctuations in temperature and humidity in short periods of time. Obviously, the construction choice was not able to withstand these fluctuations and the movement of the wood.

Upon closer examination of the dresser, I immediately saw three reasons for the split. First, they didn’t allow for wood movement when they attached the top; second, they only finished one side of the top; third, the glue joint wasn’t closed properly. These are all things you must think about when designing and building furniture.

This is what you get these days…shortcuts. It most likely will cost the company less money to replace pieces than to slow down the manufacturing process to build correctly. It is very hard to find furniture that is built with traditional methods like dovetails and mortise and tenon joinery. A lot of people will look at the drawer and see dovetails and think it must be good, they used dovetails on the drawers. You have to look further…this is a scam.

This is why I am becoming an anarchist. I am tired of buying junk that ends of filling our landfills and wasting our hard-earned money.

I may get the commission to build a replacement for the dresser. If so, you will be able to follow the construction here.

– JR