Friday, February 5, 2016
The perils of aging furniture
Perhaps I should title this post 'The perils of aging cheap furniture'. In my days as an active pastor, not so very long ago, I bought half a dozen 36"x72" bookcases to hold my library. To my surprise, units made of 'real' wood simply weren't available. Those I bought - the best of those available in local shops - were made of chipboard with a veneer coating. I spent some time assembling them and loading them up with my books.
They've been with me through a few moves (the last being at the end of January, coming down to our new home in Texas). Despite their relatively cheap construction, they've stood up to the strain of being carried to and fro . . . until now. It seems that one of them has finally had enough. Its cheaper chipboard can no longer securely hold the pins that support the shelves. After two collapses in quick succession this morning, I had to run out and buy some L-shaped support brackets. I'll have to drill holes for them and screw them into the shelves and the sides, to make sure my books stay where I want them. A couple of others have enlarged support pin holes, and I've had to plug them and insert conventional wood screws to hold the shelves instead.
It's frustrating to find that the only bookshelves available for normal consumer purchase (i.e. at less than nosebleed prices) are made of cheaper materials like chipboard or fiberboard. In browsing through online vendors, I couldn't find a single bookcase at an affordable price that was made of solid wood, the way I remember them growing up. I suppose I could make my own if I had the time, space and facilities to do so, but I can remember them being in every furniture store in the 'good old days'. Apparently wood's become too expensive, or is too heavy to be shipped at a reasonable cost when assembled into furniture.
The same thing applies to so much in the way of furniture that I see in the shops these days. It's all cheap chipboard and stapled artificial fabrics that rip or come loose as soon as you look at them. There's nary a screw or support bracket to be seen. When I was growing up, a young family starting out could buy cupboards, or bookcases, or chests of drawers, or sideboards, in the sure knowledge that if they looked after them, they'd still be usable well into their retirement. Not today. Everything seems to be disposable. You buy it resigned to the knowledge that in a few years, maybe (if you're lucky) a decade or two, you'll have to replace it.
Color me unhappy. Yeah, I'm an old curmudgeon . . . but I miss the higher-quality world of my youth.