In February 2011 I spent a week in Surucuá,
invited by the OCT to teach a workshop on “Furniture
Assembly and Disassembly.” The main objective was to teach
local artisans, who came from nearby communities, how to
make threaded parts, so that their furniture could be easily
shipped and assembled by the end purchaser.
In this article I describe the workshop and
my experience with this group, which brought so many
pleasurable hours of working and learning.
Why threaded parts?
The OCT program
has long looked for practical ways to simplify the assembly
of its furniture, by screwing the parts together. To achieve
this goal, the workshop was divided into two sections: The
first task was to teach attendees how to make tap and die
Using old techniques would have several advantages,
including the use of available tools, wood scraps, and
recycled metal parts, and the possibility of making other
sets locally, including those in the different sizes that
might be needed.
The second task was to teach the artisans how to make the
male parts of the assembly as an independent element,
because it is not usually possible to cut the male threads
directly onto the leg of a bench or table.
It was also
necessary to focus on technical issues that contribute to
the process, including adequate seasoning of the wood parts,
and the use of a lathe, which was improvised for this
workshop using an electric drill.
The hard woods normally
used are difficult to season, reaching a stable condition
only after months of air drying. Green wood leads to several
problems, including failure of glue joints, checking, and
loosening of assembled parts.