How to make European-quality furniture

Photo Caption: European quality furniture

It is widely observed that the quality or surface finish of the furniture produced in Europe is much superior than the one produced in our country. Now-a-days a good number of Indian factories are using heavy-duty European machines. The surprising fact is that in-spite of using European machines, imported raw material and accessories, we are miles away from European quality and finish. Despite heavy investment in men and machinery by the aspiring Indian factory owners, this scenario is resulting in poor quality, lower sales prices, delayed payments, lack of repeat orders and finally financial crises. In short, the situation of many factories (there may be a few exceptions) with huge investments on machines and the factories that are without machines is almost same as far as return on investments and profits generated are concerned. I have observed this in many factories that approached me for revival. At the end, in spite of slogging for day and night and after sacrificing personal life, one has to face dissatisfied customers/financial worries and tensions. My Guru has told me that “What seems to be very simple is very difficult to achieve and what seems to be very difficult is very easy to achieve.” I experience similar dilemma in while solving the major quality issues in furniture and woodworking factories.
If we minutely study the manufacturing process, making top quality furniture seems to be very easy but practically it seems to be very difficult to achieve the desirable surface finish. The main reason is that at every step we generate a few problems that escalate at next step and at the end we have heaps of problems resulting into poor finish, non-uniformity, cost overruns, delayed deliveries etc. To know the shortcut to achieve the target of making top-quality furniture, one should carefully study following aspects:

  • Raw Materials and Consumables

    Poor bonding of woodchips

  • Machinery
  • Optimum Manufacturing Process
  • Furniture Designing Details
  • Techniques for Perfect Surface Finishing
  • Packaging

If we take care that we do right things in the first step only and see that no defects are carry forwarded to next stage, then there is no reason why we should not get the European quality products from our factory. Let’s deep dive into each of the above-mentioned aspects.

Thickness variation in the board causing density variations

Poor Edge banding

1. Selection of Raw Materials and Consumables
The basic raw material for panel furniture is Particle Board/MDF/Plywood/Veneer etc. It is seen that many a times the price is the only criteria in selection of the material. Cheaper boards may have thickness variations/density variations/glue content variations etc. Due to excess glue, the board may become hard and heavy. The cutting becomes tough job and saw blades need frequent sharpening and after sharpening too, the cutting is not smooth. The edges get burning marks. All of this result into poor edge finish, poor bonding and thicker glue line. These boards also tend to warp thus making the furniture look cheap.
Poor gluing makes the board weak. The hardware fittings become loose in few days. The board swells at edges leaving the edge-band behind.
Thickness variation in the board results in causing problems in drawer boxes. This results in either loose or tight drawers and also in non-interchangeability. Due to this, each drawer has to be marked with its placement.
The other important point to be noted is the thickness of the decorative paper used and the resin loading in it. Thinner grammage paper results into poor finish in course of time and also the wood chips impressions can be seen on the surface.
Poor edge banding results into manual finishing that is uneven. A good maintenance of the machine is very important. Cheap edge bands tend to delaminate and also discolour in few days. This makes the furniture look cheap.
Fixing the good quality hardware and fittings is the next important area. Inaccurate fixing of the hardware makes the furniture messy in spite of using expensive hardware. Jig – Fixtures are available from renowned companies to fix their hardware efficiently and accurately.
There is no fun in saving few thousand rupees in buying/selecting board/hardware/ glue etc. and risking the business and company’s brand image.
(To be continued in the next issue)

Shantikumar Mansabdar,
Woodworking Consultant

Tel: + 91- 93739 01117