Rib Chair: 2002 - CMU Shop
This was our final project for first semester furniture class. We had to make a seating device, and mine got out of hand. This looks to be one of those projects which never really ends. At first I wanted to make a simple chair from some canvas and 3 wooden rods, 2 which crossed for the feet, and one which bent up to become the third leg and back. All that simplicity went away, though, with one simple sketch. Sometimes that's all it takes to ruin your life. The proportions were so right on, and it would have looked so cool, but making it work would take more than a year (It still doesn't). From plywood with metal packing straps and cork knuckles to cast aluminum with kevlar string, the materials and forces involved became massive. So, the chair became a sculpture, for the final crit (really scary too) and next semester it became a coffee table to try and prove my concept. I must repeat: IT WILL WORK!
This table was my term-paper. All second semester of furniture class, we had to work on one thing. I of course had something obscenely complex, a chair which I had not yet finished from first semester. The idea had evolved that I would have these ribs supporting a translucent canvas, which were cantilevered out like a spine. The mechanics of this are more than you could ever hope to solve, so it was a little scary when my calculations started saying that for my failsafe condition (300 lbs on the very lip of the chair) one of the tendons was under 2000 lbs of tension. The compression and torque of the ribs was also massive, and I never got around to calculating them, but wooden parts were being destroyed under compression, and laminated ribs would de-laminate with the torque. So, to make a long story short, I changed the chair to a coffee table with no failsafe calculations and much less force, SO I WOULD PASS AND GRADUATE. Yes, senior-itis bit me hard. The table does work though. And as soon as Jeff builds his furnace, we'll start casting aluminum. Tee Hee!