Guerilla Furniture Design: making your home beautiful with waste materials

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Will Holman is a maker’s maker whose HOWTOs have graced Make, Instructables, Readymade and other hotbeds of DIY; his new book Guerilla Furniture Design is a beautifully written and inspiring design manifesto disguised as a project book,

Don’t leave the end of the threaded rods protruding past the nut because the thread will remove a strip of skin like a carrot peeler.


The legs, I like a lot. They’re great legs. And the top surface looks good. But that all-parallel construction is clinically ludicrous. It’s, like, the opposite of how to make a rigid spanning structure. Even these glamor shots show the top undulating like the dunes of the Sahara.

But the nice thing is that when you build it yourself you can take the good parts and make it your own (e.g. with proper supporting beams). I’m always poring over Enzo Mari’s fantastic Autoprogettazione, even though nothing I’ve built much looks like his designs; it’s more like a power-up that when you read it, you can feel your making-furniture meter fill up and start flashing. I’m hoping this book will work the same way.

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I think I can see what you mean - that under load the strips of wood will try to move apart? Doesn’t the compression of the threaded rods prevent that?

How would you do it differently? Run the trestles the other way (across the width of the table) like a more conventional table or a workbench?

If one planned ahead fairly meticulously, one could work out what length rod one needed and use closed end nuts, which would also look pleasingly industrial.

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If the rod is just a little bit long, an extra lock washer would take care of that. I just hate brushing against a bolt and then seeing the strip of skin hanging off of it. Might also want to run the threaded rod through a hollow piece of tubing just to cover the threads.

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You could grind it off - it’s not as though disassembly/reassemby is a requirement - the use of glue precludes that.

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Yeah, that stack of planks has no resistance to bending, and while the rods will keep it together, they’re pretty flexible too; if you jumped on the middle of this table I’m pretty sure you could make the planks split apart. I mean, sure, some furniture is fragile, but you don’t expect it of something containing this much wood and steel.

Given that you need specialist power tools anyway, why not get hold of a router, cut a few 1-inch grooves across the bottom, and fit joists into those?

Or even just put the rods at different vertical levels-- if they weren’t all in the same plane they’d give a lot more more resistance to bending. But my other doubt about the rods is that they have to supply a lot of tension, so they’ll probably bite into the wood over time and get looser. Huge washers might help.

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Don’t the rods running through the bottoms of the legs do the job you describe (being at different vertical levels)? I guess that cutting slots to put joists in would interrupt the visual rhythm of the underside.

I don’t think the bottom rods would do much to stiffen the table top, because the legs in between are free to flex.

It’s true that the joists would make it a different table, but you could easily conceal them (rout the slots, fit the joists and then add a few more planks on either side).

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As a guerrilla furniture maker/fighter you are expected to tolerate pain

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You can make furniture from pretty much any random pile of seasoned wood as long as you have a planer:

That’s how those warped boards salvaged from an old barn instantly become straight and usable.

For the top, get some heavier rod stock such as what’s used for garden cart axles, have someone thread the ends on a lathe, countersink the hole and use large washer with a low profile nuts. Put some glue between the boards and put it face down on a concrete floor with a couple tons of weight on it, then tighten it up. .

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