Furniture Structure and Materials :Part 2

Metal Furniture

•  Metals are used to make parts, such as legs, frames, and table bases, and as a primary material for office furniture, kitchen cabinetry, utility shelving, and storage units.

•  Steel in the form of rods, tubing, and sheets is the most used metal for furniture.

•  Aluminum in the form of tubes, and formed sections, such as angles, channels, and T’s is used for cast legs, frames, and small parts.

•  Metal office furniture and utility files, cabinets, and shelves are made of sheet steel.

•  The sheets are cut, and then bent to form box shapes, or with bent flanges (edges) used to make shelves or tops.

•  The gauge (thickness) of the sheet metal is an important factor in determining the quality of a piece. Sheet metal that is too thin will not hold up well. Thicker sheet metal is stronger, will last longer, and will resist denting and deforming.

Plastics used in furniture

•  Plastic Laminates: are composed of layers of heavy paper impregnated with melamine resin.

•  Acrylics: such as Plexiglas and Lucite, resemble glass in their transparency, but can be made translucent and colored, and opaque. Acrylics can be bent and molded into curved shapes.

•  Molded Plastics: such as styrene, polyethylene, nylon, and vinyl, are often made into small parts, such as glides, rollers, edge trim, and drawer pulls.

•  Fiberglass: a hybrid material in which glass fibers are embedded in a molded polyester resin. Used to make custom auto body parts and small boat hulls.

A molded fiberglass part for an airplane

Making fiberglass objects

Two half molds that will be used to form a fiberglass drum.


Fiberglass chairs using a design from the 1950’s that show the fiberglass fibers.

The Eames' fiberglass reinforced chairs solved the problem of how to make a seat out of a single shell. This chair went into production in 1950.

This chair has a molded fiberglass frame that is made of fire-retardant polyurethane foam.

Fiberglass seats designed by Swedish designer Peter Fargring and produced by London based LosPalurdos.

Molded fiberglass

Molded fiberglass chairs