By Yu-Wen Zhang
Recently, we found that there are still a lot of corrugated cardboard and leftover bits and pieces from our previous projects (Picture 1), and I happened to know some kids who needed a set of tables and chairs. Hence, I decided to build one using those leftovers.
For cardboard furniture, there have been several samples, both at home and abroad. Since we were building tables and chairs for children, we referred to the size of those on the market. For safety concern, we also took into account the specs for arcs, chamfers, and the structural integrity after assembly.
Design and production
There were two versions in the chair design. The first was a triangular model built using double-layer cardboard, which was 14 mm thick, with tenons to increase the structure integrity (Picture 2).
The second model adopted pieces with cross-joint that formed an arc shaped, coupled with a seat cushion (Picture 3).
For the table, we also used tenons where the pieces interlocked with each other, along with medium density fiber (MDF) boards as the table top, so that the whole structure became stable and durable ( Picture 4).
Many of our previous cardboard works were mainly made for installation art, while the one this time was as for people to use. The key to the design is the strength of the model. Although a child will not weigh over 15 kg, it must be able to support at least 5 times the set weight as the static loading, just to guarantee safety. Therefore, a reinforced board was added to the bottom of the table and chair. Also, the entire structure was assembly by gluing cardboard pieces in different directions to add to the structure integrity.
Since the structure of the tenon was simple, and there were not too many inclined planes on the graphic model, the purpose of using modeling was to check whether the specs of the finished product were correct and all parts went where they should have been (Picture 5).
Laser cutting for furnishing
Laser cutting uses high temperature to break the surface of paper, so it is easy to cause cracks when cutting the pieces. Therefore, instead of cutting, it is suggested to use fixing through gluing to add to the structure strength. For this project, except for a few large parts as the main structure, the other parts were not too big, so the little pieces of leftovers came in handy (Picture 6).
The processed cardboard pieces were later flattened and glued. Before the glue dried up, the pieces should be pressed with heavy objects on top to prevent warping (Picture 7).
After all the parts are assembled and glued separately, it is recommended to wear gloves to press all the sharp edges inward. This is really important, not only because the cardboard pieces are very sharp, but also the assembly becomes easier with all the edges bent inward (Picture 8).
After completion, all the pieces can be assembled anywhere, and some tape or double-sided tape can be applied to strengthen the structure. For example, the seat cushion and seat back can be glued with thick double-sided tape to prevent possible damages by children using them (Picture 9). We also tested the structure integrity (Picture 10), before we let a child sit in it ( Picture 11).
This project once again showed the spirit of Makers in solving problems. It was also a great example of, in an eco-friendly way, designing and building a piece of work that can come in handy in real life. It is hoped that Wen Create Maker Room could spread valuable ideas and visions through the building and design of countless projects to come in the future.