Advice anyone?

Hey everyone. I have had quite a few ideas for furniture lately. But what is the best way to make curvy, organic elements from wood (like bases)? I imagine it’s by using forms, veneers, and glue.
Also, if anyone has had success marketing and selling their furniture, would you please tell me how you did it? Thanks.

Many ways to skin a cat my man. You mentioned one way, steam bending, kerf cutting, and carving are other ways.

Marketing is a challenge. Self promotion is the best. Website, gallery contacts, furniture shows, etc.

Go get 'em!

Are you self producing? In that case, produce a good product and sell it at a reasonable price that still allows you to make money. Don’t dump a ton of money into tooling or buying inventory. These two things are tricky if you’re trying to make highly organic forms, because they usually require big tooling investment or expensive processes. And always remember that ideas aren’t worth much until you’ve figured out how to make them at a price the market will support. So don’t fall in love with a design. This is a hard lesson to get until you actually make that mistake yourself (and you will).

Minimize your personal labor input. Outsource as much work as possible to your suppliers. Keep it simple. Don’t start out selling anything that’s too big to send via UPS. Act like a real company, not a guy in a basement.

Don’t try to sell to everyone. Find a couple of good sized retailers (online or B&M) who can move some product, and setup a good website so you can sell some direct as people start to learn about you. If your pricing is a typical keystone arrangement (your wholesale price is double your cost, and the retail price is double the wholesale price), then selling one piece direct nets the same profit as selling three wholesale. So try to build your direct business.

And if you’re selling to a store, don’t be a dick and sell to their competitor down the street. Similarly, there are a million poser drop ship websites who don’t sell anything, but will ask to add you to their site. Don’t. It’s easy to figure out who the big guys are (ask what their volume is). You want to be relatively important to a couple vendors, not trivial to a hundred. And don’t consign anything. If a retailer is going to make you carry their inventory, then they shouldn’t get a retail margin. Plus a bunch of stores are going to shake out in the next 12 months, and your consigned goods will most likely be lost when the doors get padlocked. Another reason to go direct as soon and as much as possible.

Getting on the blogs is somewhat useful for publicity, but the average design blog reader is a broke ass design student, and not your customer. And the average blog commenter is an idiot, frankly. Magazines are better. Google Adwords can be good depending on the product.

I dont know too much about the marketing/sales end of your question, but I did do a quick stint in the manufacturing end of things.

Many people go with a vacuum bag approach to bending wood. They can be had for reletively cheap ( All you have to do is make a single mold and you can keep popping out the parts. The substrate material is going to be defendant on the radius of your bend. You can use MDF for some bends, but Luan may be needed for smaller radius. Veneering allows for a low cost quality finish that is highly customizable to your clients preference. I find that has great specials, and excellent wood quality.

hey joyride, thanks for the vacuum bag link. we have a couple of those at school but i haven’t had a chance to use them yet. i’ve recently had a little success bending by making a mold from plywood blocks – gluing and clamping the form in place…

can you explain a little about how a vacuum bag works please?

vac bagging is very simple. Make the mold, cover it with a plastic film so that the veneer doesnt get any bumps or anything, lay on the veneer and bending substrate with glue in between. Then slide it in the bag and start vaccuming. the pressure from the vac pulls the wood down on the mold until the glue dries (2-4 hrs). Then you can pop it out and you are done.

Here is an image of what i was pressing. You can see the bag (which is a 5’x10’ bag) pulling down on the layers of luan. the white part in the middle is the plastic sheet. Everthing under is the mold. Be sure to leave extra material, as you will be cutting it down

so essentially, the vacuum bag acts like the “other half” or the “Top half” of the mold, right?

also, is luaun sturdy enough to make a chair or table from? you can layer many pieces on top of one another like you would veneers right? correct me if i misspeak.

But what is the best way to make curvy, organic elements from wood can do very curvy surfaces

Yes, the vacuum bag removes the need for a more complex mold and a press or lots of clamps. Two or multi-part molds are still king for more rapid production of laminated parts from what I gather.

Luan is generally sturdy/strong enough to build furniture from, although its not as durable or as strong as the common North American and European furniture woods. A lot of furniture coming out of southeast Asia (Philippines especially) is made from luan. There can be a pretty wide range of densities in luan, so some of it (lower density) will be weaker and more prone to splitting. The color is also pretty variable, from almost white to moderately-dark red-brown-orange. Its often bleached to give a more uniform color prior to finishing. Luan works much like cedar or redwood - fairly soft, a little stringy, and moderate to easy splitting.

73Lotus was right on the money with his information. As far as using Luan goes, we used it for pretty sever bends that other wood could not make. We also ALWAYS used a catalyzed glue over traditional multibond. The catalyzed would fill in the voids created in the bending process and make it very strong. As far as color goes, it was always used as a substrate and covered up with a veneer