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HOW ARE THONET BENTWOOD CHAIRS MADE?


WHAT IS A THONET BENTWOOD CHAIR?

German Furniture Company Created by Michael Thonet

A piece of furniture for sitting

Made from moulded wood


STAGE 1 CUTTING

Beech logs are sawn into boards by machine.


STAGE 2 SOAKING 6 rods per chair.

The boards are then cut into rods.

And soaked in water for 24 hours.


STAGE 3 STEAMING The rods are steamed at temperatures of between 90ยบc and 100ยบc

Under a pressure of 0.7 atmospheres.


STAGE 4 BENDING The wooden rods are bent into the desired form around a bending form. Beech wood rod

Flexible metal strip

The wood is backed with flexible metal to prevent splitting by distributing pressure. Clamps hold the metal and the bending form in place.

Bending form


STAGE 4 EXPLAINED

Beech without Metal. The outer fibres are stretched, causing weakness and increasing the possibility of splitting.

Beech backed with metal. With the metal distributing pressure evenly, the outer fibres are put under less strain, resulting in a lower chance of splitting.


STAGE 5 DRYING

After drying at 60ยบc for between 24 and 36 hours...

60ยบc the wood is removed from the forms & the metal.

Bending form

Beech wood rod bent to the desired shape

Flexible metal strip


STAGE 5 EXPLAINED

Hardened resin holds the fibres firmly in the new shape.


STAGE 6 DRILLING

Holes are drilled into the chairs before assembly.


STAGE 6.5 CANING

Canes are weaved & threaded through the holes drilled into the seat ring.

1

2

3

4

5

6

The seat was caned to allow spilt liquids to drain. This suited Cafes and Bistros.


STAGE 7 PACKING

The components are flatpacked, which was revolutionary at the time. 4

5

2

1

3

1x Seat 1 1x Seat Ring 2 2 x Legs 3 1x Back 4 1 x Backrest 5

2 x Nuts 10 x Screws


FINISHED CHAIR

The finished chair as seen in cafes and bistros worldwide. The later model of the Number 14 is called the Number 214 and is still produced by Thonet today. The Number 14 chair achieved several million sales by the early 20th century. It is the most widely produced chair in the world.


MICHAEL THONET TIMELINE

The life and times of the inventor of the Number 14 Chair.

Born in Boppard Am Rhein, a small river town in Germany.

Completed carpenter’s apprenticeship and became an independant cabinet maker.

Began to experiment making bent wood furniture

Sold his Boppard establishment and emigrated to Vienna with his family.

Founded new company: GerbrĂźder Thonet

1796

1819

1830

1841

1849


3 Produced his No. 1 Chair

Won bronze at the World’s fair in London for his Vienna bentwood chairs.

1850

1851

1 Won silver at the World’s Fair in Paris as his The No. 14 production (Konsumstuhl No. 14) methods improved. was designed.

1855

1859

The No. 14 won gold at the Paris World’s Fair.

Michael Thonet died in Vienna.

1867

1871


PETER ASPEY AMY SIMS


How are Thonet bentwood chairs made?