Picture of Nomad Furniture: design, case studies, and philosophy
(Dedicated to the Instructables member who said he wanted more nomad furniture essays.)

SHAMELESS SELF-PROMOTION --  I talk more about various thing at my blog, Tristram Shandy in the 21st Century, www.tristramshandy21st.blogspot.com --wt

If any of you have a doubt after seeing the second paragraph, let me say now that this Instructable is indeed about material things you can build, and, yes, it is aptly titled nomad furniture despite that the second and third paragraph and perhaps following paragraphs (I write extemporaneously) seem at first to betray The Writer-to-Reader Contract. Enough said. I need not say anything more about lack of patience for inductive ideas in todays I want it NOW society. I need say little about some poets greatest of all lines from a poem I cant find right now (paraphrased), My students want to tie a poem to a chair and beat a confession out of it. No siree, this Instructable is and will be stripped down the merest of dripping wet skeletons....pretty soon.

The Statue of Liberty-From-Massive-Possessions would have a base inscription rather like this: Send me your over-burdened rooms, your bent-spines, your over-complexified psyches, your materially confused masses. He would look like .... (I think it should be a he in this case, and let me justify that.)

The Statue of Liberty-From-Massive-Possessions should be in the form a slender but well-made male who looks as if he would not choose to carry a lot of stuff even if offered it for free; if he looks like a weightlifter....big problems (as our Statue of Liberty does -- shes one tough one, thats for sure; if Godzilla attacked, she would thrash him to jelly with her Flaming Torch of Freedom, and head-butt holes in him with her Radiant Spike Helmet of Destruction). A beefed-up Statue of Liberty-From-Massive-Possessions would seem to have formerly lived a life-style enabling him to carry great burdens of consumer junk, and perhaps, like any addict, be ready to go back to that life again. OK.

Well, few people need to be convinced that even a settled-stuff-ridden society such as America does not have some aspects of nomad life-style. Our cars today are as good as the houses of another generation even considering the space issue (engineers can solve that easily with inflatable space) -- by the blind and earless gods! 1,000 watt radios, AC, TVs CDs, DVDs, GPS, SR, and cup holders that take, hold out, reach out, clutch dearly. With fold-down rear seats, sleeping in your car was never easier, assuming you dont have a van. What is VW Bus nostaligia but a contemporary myth used to justify our unfulfillable (if you pay taxes) yearnings for nomadism? Our daily backpacks carry survival gear that could keep us going a week (below the 40th parallel), in good books, snacks, and rain-wear, if we can only find a water source. Finally, our life-paths partake strongly of nomadism -- college-student life is the best example, but we do tend to move around a lot. Are you convinced yet?

OK, after you graduate, you may be divorced/divided (flip the coin, heads, you stay together, tails, not). You will be moving. To smaller a place. What a great time for nomad furniture? Or what if you stay married, or never marry and stay with your Other, or have a series of insignificant shallow relationships, but you have to move any way because you were laid off, fired, became bored, or promoted (Sally, you can have that vice-president job, but youll have to move or commute to Wyoming.)....?

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY -- You all need nomad furniture. Read the rest of this Instructable to see a nomad bookcase (an early and a later version), side stand/desk stand (was used for both), computer desk (alluded to in my Fun with Office Rectangles essay), map-table/map storage box, and night-stand (you will need some rest when you are finished here).

Note that all the stuff I build is so simple that the construction steps simply leap out at you without the need for extra words here; this leaves me room for the more important ideas surrounding these material things.

MarcioWilges7 months ago

I personally prefer furniture with wheels so that it would be easy moving it around when you decide to switch the furniture pieces around for a change. I have built a mobile server tray which is very useful for when guests come over and you need to serve drinks or food to more than just a few of them. the convenience factor is truly what I prioritise whenever I think of refurnishing the house.

Wade Tarzia (author)  MarcioWilges7 months ago

Sounds like a good idea for small tables.

KTo2882 years ago
It seems that as you progressed with your experimentation, you spiralled onto a path once trod by others, your later pieces especially the map box, reminds me of the campaign furniture that once accompanied British officers around the globe.
Wade Tarzia (author)  KTo2882 years ago
I have no doubt I was solving some similar problems in similar ways = parallel evolution. :-)
dimdiode4 years ago
I very much like the whole 'Nomadic Furniture' thing - from when I bought the book of the same name, By James Hennessey & Victor Papanek - originally, I believe written in 1973. I bought mine when I first saw it in the UK, in 1974. It is still available, with Amazon selling a 2008 version. I doubt very much they updated it much, as the contents have the same relevance now as they did then. I must say, even though it's more than 30 years old, I still look through it for inspiration - it is THE BOOK, as far as I am concerned, on this subject.

Anyone with the slightest interest in this subject should grab a copy (no - I don't have a vested interest, I just say what I think.)

Well done on your piece as well, though, nicely done.
cophet dimdiode4 years ago
Yes I bought "THE BOOK" when I moved to Europe in 69 and it does give one inspiration when looking through it. That and all the Whole Earth Catalogs I still have, I just can not throw them away. I buildt several projekts from "THE BOOK "and the one I liked the most was the card-board soffa, chair. It was great and everyone liked it, maybe I will make one again someday.
Take care everyone,
there was some qusetion about the use of through tenons so i looked up a example of a shelf from the craftsman style furnature era hop it show you all the through tenon is the design feature you want for knock down furnature and it looks just great Roycrofters is the r symble stand for
Wade Tarzia (author)  rapidprototyping4 years ago
I once went to a museum with the Roycrofter's stuff feaured. Nice stuff!
gamerguy995 years ago
Oh my god. I thought I was the only one in the world with that ancient GE alarm clock, i've had that thing for at least 18 years, pure awesome! :D
its realy that old. i have one up in my room.
I also have that same clock. Been around as long as I can remember and love having it wake me up to NPR in the morning.
Wade Tarzia (author)  hobsonsp4 years ago
Mine used to wake me up to NPR, but that function did fail. Only the alarm stills works. Sounds like an aircraft cockpit fire alarm :-)
Wade Tarzia (author)  gamerguy994 years ago
Ha! It keeps on going, too! Haven't the heart to get a new one while this still works.
Topcat20214 years ago
I love the furniture that you have made and the narrative that you have created to go along with the furniture; it was a good read. I read the comments that were posted and you have no need of defending yourself, some will understand some won't. The pictures offer a great wealth of information in ideas to create furniture pieces for myself. Keep up the good work and I'm sorry that those beds you have made were never used I hope that things change for the better in the future.
Take care and strive to be as Verbose as you can.
Wade Tarzia (author)  Topcat20214 years ago
Have not logged in in a long time. Thanks for the kind words. I will continue to be verbose. it is Life Force at its most overt :-)
Awesome stuff!

I'm doing an entire building method from 2x2x8 lumber. Check my other stuff too:

If you drill the 2x2 sticks you can go crazy and make all kinds of furniture:

There is also slotted plywood furniture:
CliffyQS4 years ago
I agree with Topcat2021. Enjoyable to read, interesting projects. I'm off to re-read this one yet again, and read your other Instructables several times.

Inspiring, I hope to build more with some of these ideas, both useful items and toys. So far I have built one headboard, one child-sized bench, and little else.

on a more personal note, I'd like to say:
It's really tragic that the beds were never used as intended.
I hope that things improve, I truly do. Hopefully everyone involved will see this site and think better of you.

Best wishes for smoother sailing ahead.
oceanbaymae5 years ago
It's not ugly, all you need to do is sand it down and slap a new coat of varnish on it. Good as new. Simple but functional.
I have always kept my possesions down to what could be hauled in one van load. I'm taking about everything I own so you have to reduce your possesions down to the necessities of life. I'm packing the van for move it be ideal to break down furniture into components that lay flat on the van floor or a trailer pulled behind if necessary. I never plan to store anything i own you get more into it then it's possibly worth. but then again your furnature can be better then most othewrs as your dollars are going into stuff you use everyday. I think alot of tressel coffee tables and kitchen tables. underdressers side tables and book shelfs. I also think a entertainment cent is a necessity these days this has become a lower profile unit then in past as monitor / tv become larger less you have it wall mounted. a place for the desk top if you even own one anymore. A place to set your glasses at night or that cup water for late night thirst. keep up the good design work you have inspired other they link back to you here too cool dude.
MT-LB5 years ago
I like the idea
wallyw5 years ago
Is there a guide somewhere for cutting the tenon/wedge?
Wade Tarzia (author)  wallyw5 years ago
Maybe, but I don't know where. Any fine furniture textbook would tell you (if they had edge and tenon designs). I think an ~ 1 to 8 slope works well. If the slope is too steep, the wedge will work itself out within days or weeks from mere floor vibration from people walking. Also, depends on the hardness of the wood; a softwood wedge deforms a little and can hold like a nylock nut does, so to speak.
if your going to be cleaning under the desk why not desig it to be multi functional . look into fine wood working back issues all on cd twenty bucks back in the day they showed a fancy saw horse made of oak woods the 2 X 3 boards were hewn with an hand adze this gives the wood texture and is a vey nice look it is a style of saw horse that is built using mortices and tenons an old door laid on top makes a table a five or six panel door one of the old school doors is stromers and fir a flat top to it. the weight of the top might keep it in place or put trim on it so it fits and covers the door. wa la desk and when you need to vacuum under it move it piece by piece and re assemble piece by piece really no fastners necessary. I have my whole shop sewt up this way. open door lift saw to table plug n go next trade for router or lathe clamp to door heavy doors and saw horse dont crumble or sway. no particale board or flormaldahide in this construct
I belive there are five essential elements to the furnature of a nomad they beith a underdresser for the bed roll out bed socks on underwears on toss old sock corner basket next drawer shirt then pants both legs at once. With paractice one can get dressed fast answer the door just before they knock. two night stand essential for glass of water must stay hydrated or shrivel up and blow away. glasses and night light to see in dark room wall can break nose on way to john all that water and place to find glasses when waking that knock at door again who is that anyway. a coffee table place to eat breakfast lunch and dinner . oval is better those pesky corners are sharp and you like to wrestle company after they keep waking you up. next is book case for those manuals periodicles and your important stuff how to manuals. a roycroft design just looks great. and now a days its a monitor stand you know you want one because your tv is now your monitor as well.
and that means dresser size entainment center everything has surround sound even computers there it goes again thats that pesky sound oh it the cell phone again must be thosae guys at the door can hear them knocking with surround sound up and on. I'd add a kitchen cabinet i like this one design none of the other stuff is necessary i'm a verbose minimumalist.
bed nightstand oval coffee table bookcase and monitor stand.
davodana5 years ago
Help!  I don't quite understand the tenon/wedge method.  It appears that that the "ear" sticking out beyond the bookcase side (the part which the wedge goes through) is at a level HIGHER than the shelf itself.  So the "ear" is NOT a direct extension of the shelf which fits through a slot in the bookcase wall.  Am I correct?  How does it all go together?  How does the "ear" fit with the shelf?
Wade Tarzia (author)  davodana5 years ago
The shelf and tenon are the same piece.  Perhaps the photo angle confused you. It's just a classic tenon and wedge, no fancy tricks, no worries! :-)
 yeah... there's some crazy optical illusion going on in that picture... it looks like the tenon is an inch or so higher than the shelf. It also looks like it's a different colour.
Nothing strange in what you see, the tenon is farther back than the face of the shelf, and the angle of the camera is shot from above, so it’s natural to look higher. If you draw an imaginary line from the top edge of the shelf  and try to go around you will see that it meets the top edge of the tenon.
The change in color I will guess is from the exposure of the tenon to more light than the shelf which most of the time covered or shaded from the books. Also this can happened if the tenon got more varnish on it than the shelf, if it was varnished while assembled.
Nice clock radio. I have been using the same exact model for years. Still works great, in fact.
opanocat55 years ago
 I just checked your word count...

.... ITS OVER 5000!!!!!
Wade Tarzia (author)  opanocat55 years ago
Sorry I could not think of any more to say on the subject at the time.  I will try to say more later. I am ashamed of my brevity....
hardlec5 years ago
I inhabit a "manufactured home" (Yes, Virginia, it is a Trailer!!!)  It was furnished when I moved in, in early thrift shop.  The time will come when I need to replace things, some earlier than others.

I ould like to know if there are further resources on making furnature, but mostly I want to build kitchen cabinets that are more efficient stewards of space.

Wade Tarzia (author)  hardlec5 years ago
I'm sure there are all sorts of resources out there, but I didn't use any of them, you know as much as I.
peterlonz6 years ago
The pic shows a well made, well finished, attractive, small piece of furniture. I have done a fair bit of home furniture construction & would like to offer a few comments: Never use nails for structural fastenings in furniture, take the trouble to buy "countersinkk headed" longish screws ( longer holds better in end grain) preferably Phillips or Pozidrive (not slot headed type) with full length parallel thread. Use the screws with PVA (Gorilla what else) glue to achieve strong movement free joints. Yes it means you will need an electric drill & selection of drills plus a good quality three lobe countersink tool. But then you are set for life! Pine is a good low cost readily available material, well suited to beginner projects. Be carefull to wipe off excess glue that oozes from joints, this ensures you can stain the timber lightly should you wish ( light spirit based stains can be applied before or after glue up). Allways finish with at least two coats of a good quality satin finish polyurethane clearcoat. You need to be especially careful with brush application, everything must be spotless & dust free, use about 5 to 10% thinner (usually turps) with the first coat & do not try to build coat depth, settle for penetration. Second coat again do not attempt to build coat depth & be carefull again about dust & avoid runs at edges.
Wade Tarzia (author)  peterlonz6 years ago
I finished it in linseed oil, but I wish I had used tung oil. The nails actually look good. They are copper rse-headed boat-building rivets used without their roves; the square shafts hold well enough for the use.
I saw this when looking for furniture ideas and decided to build two wedge bookshelves for use as a desk. I am in the middle of that now and thought I'd actually read you essay. It was quite entertaining. Thanks and great job.
Done now.
Wade Tarzia (author)  WhyIsThisOpen6 years ago
That looks great! I see you also have an old electric pole insulator on your desk as I do -- always a good conversation piece.
ultrauber7 years ago
I kinda got lost at the intro. What are you trying to teach us?
Wade Tarzia (author)  ultrauber7 years ago
Life, the universe, and everything -- I tried to get it all in. It's hard work. ;-)
So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish !
42!!! YES! I love it when people pick up on these things!

  • Wade, so I assume your alarm clock bench/desk/end table doesn't get moved a lot. There are lots of cobwebs all over it! Yikes! I also love that alarm clock, my father used to have one just like that back in the 80s. I think he still has it actually. Thanks for a great ible.
Wade Tarzia (author)  The Dark Ninja6 years ago
Yes, the cosmic digits are always important to consider. Long have I mediated upon 19,742.42424242 ;-) The cobwebs are part of the design. My aim was to produce a natural variant of the flying buttress, produced through aerodynamic Brownian motion. Must NOT move the nomadic nightstand (for paradox is part of art!). Yes, this is a 1980s radio alarm clock, showing its age since it no longer works quite properly. But I keep it around as an example of heirloom technology (and it is one of the first clock radios I owned with battery back up! That could save a guy's job, when you think about it). However, I am always interested in passive dust collection strategies. Know any? I am disturbed by dust on the whole, yet beyond going around and actually removing it, I am clueless about what to do. Sounds like an award-winning instructutable could be done for this topic.
Loved the essay. I spent three or four years living a semi-nomadic life. I sometimes wish I were single again (even though I love my husband to death) so I could be free to travel again.
DanAdamKOF8 years ago
Nice read!
Wade Tarzia (author)  DanAdamKOF8 years ago
Oh, thanks. I was wondering if people could read any more ;-) I mean, really READ (read something larger than can fit in an average screen e-mail message box). Possibly the computer screen (not necessarily the computer) will be the critical factor in the decline and fall of western 'information-age' society, wherein the information is sometimes curiously defined and detested. ;-)
I'm a strong believer in utility before fashion. However, utility should aspire to embrace some fashion. As for the long diatribe, I'm afraid I respectfully disagree on a few counts. First, ones ability to read is evidenced not by their willingness to read an unnecessarily long rant, loosely connected to furniture creation. Second, you most certainly broke the "writer & reader" contract. You underestimate your audience. You intentionally speak over them as if to say you are their superior in some cerebral way. Third, as a person who profession requires clear concise communication at all times with all concerned parties, you take way to long to get to the point. Nobody ready a DYI forum is going to be interested in your overly complex way of explaining you affinity for simple furniture. Fourth, I get why you do it. Do you?
  • neller75 - I know you posted this a long time ago, but this was funny, so I fixed it a bit....
"Third, as a person who (read: whose) profession requires clear (insert: and) concise communication at all times with all concerned parties, you take way to long to get to the point. Nobody ready (read: reading) a DYI forum is going to be interested in your overly complex way of explaining you affinity for simple furniture."

Just helping you make your communication "clear and concise"...
Wade Tarzia (author)  neller758 years ago
Hello. I simply disagree. First of all, my profesison, whatever you imagine it to be, does not require clear and concise communication at all times. Just sometimes. As when I might say, "If you press that button, we'll all die." Otherwise, cultural context of language is a bit more complex than what you imply. So, usually I like fashion before utility. I do not believe that concise writing is always proper, and in fact I adore the digression at times, and so be it. Some other people do too. My contract with the reader is with the reader who thinks as I do; there's a difference to feeling superior and feeling that there's an audience niche out there for you. If you don't like it, you don't have to, and you don't have to read it. No problem; find what you like and celebrate that rather than tearing at the things other people like. Some people like the way I write and have told me so in public and private. Good enough for me. Why heckle me about it? I did not intrude on you; you chose to come here to me. That's what I do get.
Interesting. I presume you put up your instructable for people to enjoy? I also presume that when you posted it you were aware that the general public would have access to it? Having now made these to presumptions, I'm left to assume that you intended for someone to agree with you direct attack on 'people' accusing them of being unable to read because of technology. Basically you say in a passive way that people are some how missing out on reading long difficult to follow musings or streams of consciousness. I simply tried to participate in the discussion and respond to your accusation. I'm not attacking your furniture or it's creation. I'm responding to your accusation that technology is influencing people's ability to read. I simply disagree and backed up my statement. No venom. You however, again hide behind your passive over tones. I'm direct that’s all. Frankly, I don't really care. I was discovering this wonderful website and saw your post, which mostly I enjoyed except for that comment. No biggy. Fact is I lost my place today in my browser and had to start from the beginning. When I saw your post trying to catch up to where I was, I just had to look. When I saw the date this was posted, I thought there is no way this guy is looking at this post still for people's responses. There, was that a long enough digression? I can assure you I'll forget about this all hours from now. You need not worry that I might pollute your post again with my empirically minded rationalities.
Wade Tarzia (author)  neller758 years ago
Oh come now! The availability of public information means the inevitablity or magnetism of criticism? I disagree; it *could* mean live and let live. Seems to be true that Internet anonymity is training a culture of hecklers (not my idea, someone wrote about that recently....NYT?) The Instructables robot alerts us via e-mail as soon as a response is posted; we don't have to look for anything, but no matter, I am naturally interested in responses and would eventually check for them. I respond to many responses, generally hoping for a brief interesting dialogue but will also respond counter scoffers. Sometimes I think they are right; I have deleted two instructables when I did; but I happily admit to being dismayed by "too many words" complaints; I'd be a hypocrite otherwise in a life devoted to building things with words. So I respond to Instructables I like and keep silent when an Instructable doesn't impress me. You were a member for one day here and send a negative response right off. Jeez! There's something for everybody in this (at least we both agree here) wonderful site; no need to expect everybody conform to the same tastes.
I like the furniture, I especially like the way its written. I must confess I didn't read it all, perhaps a little over half of what is there. I guess everyone has got their own opinion about whether philosophy is relevant in this case or not, but I'd simply look at like this: there are many articles/instructables/guides to making furniture, simple clear instructions without the questioning and searching. It would appear that this is what neller75 was looking for. I am grateful for your alternative approach and greatly enjoyed what I saw. I'm not a word man, certainly not going to try and talk fancy, it was more about the furniture and what you felt about it, for me at least. Like you said if you don't like it, you don't have to. Keep up the good work, someone's gotta take the different approach or we'll all end up stuck with the same monotony.
Some will think that sadly, the Writer of this Instructible is correct: Technology and the ability to communicate ideas quickly and consisely has indeed made us a society intent on forgeting the power and the beauty of the spoken and written word. Some will take offense at this, and think that they can read and communicate adequately and adroitly, and that the Author is being condescending. Still others will believe that the Author is of a generation and a culture that is inherently different that that in Turn of the Mellenium America, and will either like him for it, or not. Frankly, it doesn't matter. It is not for us to berrate the Author. It is for us to read, or not to read. It is just the same as if something is on television that you don't like. You are free to change the channel. This does not need to be an argument, gentlemen.
Please pardon the misspelling of Millenium.
A thousand pardons, I presume.
It's sad isn't it. The transformation of humans into cyborgs, but who else will be the mindless automatons for the wealthy elite? Nothing beats being a tool.
how could i make this?
Wade Tarzia (author)  SuperCoPilot6 years ago
It's really simple. All the joints are just butt-joints (clamp wood, drive in nails). For scale, the alarm clock is 7 inches wide. The total height (including the lip) is 12 inches. The width is 9 Inches (or a standard 10 inch pine board). The draw has nothing fancy -- it is just another box, though the bottom is 1/8 plywood (the sides are all cut from pine board). The niche is 3.75 inches high inside, the draw is 4 inches tall. These dimensions suited my needs at the time and are not scientific ;-) in any sense -- vary them according to the stuff you want near your bed.
tagzisninja7 years ago
I like the way you approach the subject, with less about the how, and more about the why. the pieces that intrigue me the most were the beds and the computer desk. do you have any more pictures of the beds?
Wade Tarzia (author)  tagzisninja7 years ago
Sorry, no other photos at present. But the one I keep in my closet is getting use. My friend Ken just used it. Next time he visits, I'll ask him if I can get a good photo with a live subject using it, for the sake of science :-)
static7 years ago
years ago MI or PM or was it PS? had a series of plans for British campaign style furniture would modernize well I believe. More recently I pickup a brochure in student union at a nearby university for commercially available nomadic student furniture, resembling your 2 by examples. While they would take more craftsmanship and time to build, I would have to give the nod to the military campaign furniture for the modern nomad traveling by motor vehicle. that furniture was constructed to be rugged but lightweight and fairly impervious to the elements. Hitch an utility trailer to the car, load up the furniture and it's contents, drive across the country not worrying if it gets wet on the outside. I did get impatient and scrolled past the story to see what was built, but did go back to the story. I'm guessing the projects where built "back in the day". At a time there wasn't internet access for the citizens, much less instructables. Who could have known we could make use of photos of our projects in construction and recording the minute details?
Wade Tarzia (author)  static7 years ago
Yes, "back in the day," indeed! ;-) And taking photos was not even on my mind.
Rhyolight7 years ago
I rather like the social commentary/design philosophy/interesting sidetracks. It provoked thought beyond 'huh, collapsible everything." I am fortunate in being associated with the NH state archaeology undertaking. It holds a field school every summer, and with one thing and another we are very fond of the paleoindians. Every October for the past few years we gather at a particular campsite and dig in a controlled and scientific manner the living crap out of the site (usually trying to define the edges). The people whose traces we are finding probably gathered there for short seasonal reunions too, somewhat a sheep get like shepherds, shepherds get like sheep situation. The other reason your post interests me is that after four years living on the third and highest floor of her dorm, my daughter has become a grad student and we are wondering how to get her double-sized bed from NH to NJ with minimum difficulty or expense. Building one there seems like a fine idea. Good luck with Dayna and Brendan.
Wade Tarzia (author)  Rhyolight7 years ago
So you are getting to know the REAL nomads -- good for you. I once did a ton of reading about hunter-gatherer culture, and still catch up with an article from Current Anthropology from time to time. Yes, build a bed on-site, adapt it to its natural environment. The design work will be fun, and sleeping on it will not be too bad either.
zerol8on7 years ago
"Introduction to Poetry" Billy Collins
Wade Tarzia (author)  zerol8on7 years ago
I noticed this comment months ago but somewhy it didn't filter through until now: you were telling me who wrote that line 'my students want to beat a confession out of the poem'! How thick of me. Yes, Billy Collins (and I recently heard him read this poem somewhere, perhaps on the radio show Prairie Home Companion? Any way, thank you!
casp7 years ago
any chance you still have your plans & dimensions for the nomad night table?
Wade Tarzia (author)  casp7 years ago
I had no plans (I never do) but the measurements are 9 inches deep (width of standard lumber), 10 inches high to the top of the top-shelf (a couple of inches over that for the sides, which extend up over the top), and 5.5 inches to the top of the lower shelf. I came up with these dimensions by eye-balling the stuff I tend to put in the drawer and the shelf. I wanted space enough for a standard sheet of paper or notebook as a minimum. The draw should at least hold a typical clunky-style flashlight. The top should fit an alarm clock and whatever typical gewgaw one wants up there besides. Your own habits/ergonomics should set the parameters for the measurements. Have fun!
nerdnurture7 years ago
I thought this was great! I read all of the comments... I joined just a few days ago and one thing I love about Instructibles is that I can post whatever the heck I want to, for my own entertainment. And then I get a huge kick out of other people finding it worth responding to. It cracks me up that you put so much of yourself into this instructible and that other people got pissed off about it. If I was as articulate as you are, I could explain why that's so funny. But I guess you get it. (-;
Wade Tarzia (author)  nerdnurture7 years ago
No need to explain better; you did just fine. It cracks me up too, now that I'm a little more philosophical about it. ;-)
jenables7 years ago
I really like the furniture. The pieces are simple, but beautiful. However, I would love to see an alternate version of the instructions for those of us who don't want or need a philosophy lesson.
Wade Tarzia (author)  jenables7 years ago
Thanks. As for the goofy (but I hope sometimes revealing) philosophy: if I included none, I would probably would not post any instructables at all; there would be little in it for me. I wrote purely technical and scientific reports for a living for 15 years; I'm all done with that now until someone wants me to document a warp drive or something; for that I'll go back to utter brevity ;-)
HAL 90007 years ago
Thanks very much, I've been looking for a way to store my fast-growing record collection, and your bookshelf looks like a great design. I have always agreed with Frank Lloyd Write on "Form follows function," and I see a certain beauty in your simplistic designs. There is much beauty in simplicity, on many levels, and i think that most people have come to overlook the simple things in favor of more extravagant, less functional things. Great Instructable, i gave a +
anghasch7 years ago
I like the idea you have here. You should check out www.playatech.com for some amazing furniture made out of plywood and it uses ONLY plywood. No screws, glues or thing-a-majigs. )'(
rocinante8 years ago
Current prescription for a great weekend morning -- Read a Wade Tarzia instructable, (which I have already read for 5 previous weekends) and drink copius amounts of caffinated nectar. Keeping the faith that I can experience some drug induced state of 1960's, (minus the scratchy polyester,) euphoria if I catch enough of the references and draw upon the gods of self actualization with fervency. Many thanks from the slightly younger, if no less dissilusioned set. Ques. Books you can recommend on the nomadic types you reference?
Wade Tarzia (author)  rocinante8 years ago
Thanks. I recommend "Nomad" by Beck, covering a year of fieldwork with a modern Iranian nomad. Wonderful reading! For Tibet, a short but good read is "Himalayan Herders" by Naomi Bishop. For hunter-gathers (not pastoralists), Richard Lee's "The !Kung San" is classic and fascinating. For Irish peasant culture, which includes transhumant pastoralism, E Estyn Evans's "Irish Folk Ways" is another classic (though not about nomadism, there are interesting furniture traditions shown that are applicable). A classic Bedouin ethnography was written by Alois Musil, and I forget the title right now, but it might be "The Arab of the Desert." Many others too! For technical arguments, you can start with articles written by Walter Goldschmidt, and books, but I am way out of date, my post-PhD reading being more eclectic these days.
a6t1wzbk0tb8 years ago
Book: Nomadic Furniture (1973) Victor Papanek & James Hennessey
Wade Tarzia (author)  a6t1wzbk0tb8 years ago
Very cool, thanks! Pretty much everything has already been done before, but if if we took that to heart, we might never do a thing ;-)
Jouda Mann8 years ago
The way in which you lead us by hand down various paths of nostalgia is simply enchanting. I have always loved furniture like this, and it is readily apparent that you put your heart into a lot of the pieces that you have shown us. Thank you for the instructibles, and also for the great conversation.
Coati8 years ago
I love the bookcase.
books+time8 years ago
This instructable is hilarious. I love the self-quoting and the "nomad" furniture. These machinic assemblages are a testament to your movements through smooth space, outside of striated state space/time. I also like the subtle Vitruvius reference. Also, the wedge is a brilliant fastening system, kudos on that. Yay, my day is now happier.
Wade Tarzia (author)  books+time8 years ago
I'm so happy someone caught the Vitruvius hint! But be careful, now both of us could be accused of cultural literacy ;-)
I enjoyed your posting. Our furniture still shows signs of early graduate student and our interest in this top has been reawakened by our daughter starting graduate school in September. We are recommending Elfa wire baskets drawers for clothing. They aren't as pretty as your chests, but ship easier (I don't have a car big enough to pull a trailer). I didn't understand the map case description: To view the maps, a door latch unhooked the front, the front tilted down over the ironing board held by chains, and I had a map table (after tilting up the bulkhead that pressed the maps flat when stored vertically). How is the piece of plywood that holds the maps flat held in place? Is it visible in your photo?
Wade Tarzia (author)  thundernospam8 years ago
Hi -- Wire baskets are good, and they look much better than the alternative green plastic Rubbermaid stuff (though I have a few of those for basement storage). When in grad school I also used a large horizontal-sipper duffle bag shoved under my bed for daily clothes (back when I could get away with sweatshirts and sweatpants all the time ;-) I did not well explain the map case. It's original design was as a wall-mount. When not in use it looked like a thick picture frame, and I had a map as the picture. To access the stored maps, I unlatched the latch at top and tilted down the FRONT of the picture frame, which now hangs level via chains. The display map now only can be seen if you lay on your back on the floor, but with the ironing board in the way under it, you can't do that ;-) The front of the frame is three inches deep on the inside (now facing up to ceiling). The BACK of the frame remains screwed to the wall. The 3 inch deep front also has a "backing board" (or call it a false back, I suppose). This board presses flat all the stored maps. It too must be tilted up to allow access to the maps. I would just wedge its top edge under the support chains to hold it up. So in this version, the map table was actually the inside of the box. But now, with a shifting of hinges, the map table surface is the outer one once used for the display picture when it was in picture frame mode.
ProBiotic8 years ago
If you don't have time to read it, you're not going to have time to make it :) Matches up with WT's notes on the “want it now culture” hey… jj
jnollsch8 years ago
As a college student, I really appreciate how spartan and nomadic you have made your furniture, but as a design student I wonder if that means aesthetics has to be completely disregarded. Also, it is wonderful that you have a strong concept and social cause behind what you do. Art without concept is meaningless, merely illustration. It'd be great to see some furniture focused on the artistry as much as the concept as well, the tiled table sounds especially interesting.
Wade Tarzia (author)  jnollsch8 years ago
I agree -- no good reason exists to disregard aesthetics, with few exceptions. I love furniture that has strength, utility, and beauty. Unfortunately, I lack requisite skills and/or patience to attain that ideal as yet. As well, most of what I have made was made for very specific condition where time was the critical factor, and the stuff was not always meant to last (i.e., the portable computer desk, which lasted anyway) or be much looked at (the map storage box/table, first placed in a basement workroom, later pressed into service in my study, where I now regret its ugliness). It's great when utility meets beauty and has a beautiful strong child, certainly!
any chance of getting an instructable on how to build this stuff. i don't have the time at the moment to read all the way through the article, but i would like to try building some of this stuff. i will read it, but i don't want to have to read the entire thing over and over again just to build the stuff. from a quick scan i can tell that i agree with the idea, but i can do without the condescension.
I wonder if what some people call condescension is what others call social commentary? I suppose 'one man's blss is another's bane,' as King Kull once said. I think there is a 'thought in the wrought thing.' That's what they do for me, any way. It's a two-for-one deal, the thought comes with the thing, or vice versa.
further to that point, the condescension is not the result of the fact that you have given your instructions in words, that doesn't bother me. it comes from the fact that you seem to be refusing to accomodate those who either can't or don't want to sit through a wordy and rather long explanation of what they are building.
Well, to tell you the truth, I don't know how I would accommodate them. I just don't understand the issue. I apologize about that if I seem very thick about it. Really, I make two things with each instructable: a thingie, and a narrative. If you don't like one or the other as far as taste goes, fine, but... I like to write the way I do, I did not force it on anyone, I do not insist that anybody read it (though I'm happy if they do), and I don't myself go around scoffing at other people's writing style, or picture style, or cartoon style, or even project. If I made a technical error, I'll listen to that. If I could it better, I'll listen to that, if you have a question about the project, I'll answer. I don't know what else you want from me, or whether you have a right to want it, whatever it is. No condescension, I hope, but definitely bemusement. Still. Peace!
sundet8 years ago
Those are some pretty good ideas. I made a coffee table out of some plywood and some collapsable legs that I bought at the home improvement store. To make it extra nice, I tiled it.
Wade Tarzia (author)  sundet8 years ago
Yeah, tiling can be a nice addition to furniture, especially with the great selection available, from large decprative tiles (or even stone inserts designed for counters) to small tiles that can be artistically arranged like frescoes. My coffee table has game boards incised in them and expoxied over to double as places to put down hot cups or cold (wet with condensation cups), but a tiles were one of my options. They are great for outdoor furniture too: set into cement or to metal frames, they make durable, unrustable components of outdoor furniture that are way better to look at than white plastic stuff. I imagine you could set them into thick fast-setting cement, tile, then sit on that to contour to your butt, and have personalized tiled outdoor furniture.
robot8 years ago
:-) i think that too
PetervG8 years ago
Too long to read : / Sounds cool though