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Woodworker’s lament, redux

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Mass-produced furniture can be nicely made, or terrible junk. Sometimes it can be both.

Remember that entertainment center my wife and daughter bought a couple weeks ago for our new home? Like most woodworkers I was bothered that they paid money for something I could make. But then, I had no time to make it and my new shop isn’t ready to turn out that kind of stuff yet. Besides, the photos looked pretty good and it was a perfect size and style for where we wanted to use it. So I bit the bullet, and got ready to welcome the thing into our home.

Well, they delivered it the other day. On the one hand, it really is perfect for where and how we want to use it. It has plenty of room and accommodations for wiring, a real plus, and it’s massive and heavy, which I like a lot. Visually, it looks beautiful: The finish is nice, the style attractive, and our family room’s appearance just improved about 500 percent.

But boy howdy is this thing terribly made. The joinery is OK and seems solid, although there are a lot of staples and such, and while the wood is thick and heavy, half is veneered particleboard while the rest is ply (although the non-presentation sides of all of flat stock it has no veneer at all.) Two of the doors barely close, and will need to have the hinges repositioned to fix it. There are a few spots the stain didn’t reach.

And, oh, the sharp edges. Every angled edge that has veneer or edge banding is razor sharp. Everywhere. I cut myself twice while assembling it.

The bottom line is that this thing is a compromise. It looks fantastic and, functionally, it more than gets the job done. With a bit of work on my part – redoing those doors, getting rid of sharp edges, some stain touch-up, etc. – I can make it better than it is.

Meanwhile, my time is being better spent working on assignments and getting my new shop in order.

In the end, I think I win.



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