Cables and wood: a combination with multiple advantages in the assembl – Meubles câblés jamésiens

Cables and wood: a combination with multiple advantages in the assembly of furniture

I have often been asked where I came up with the idea of using a steel wire to assemble a piece of furniture. The idea is not very original since cable is already widely used in civil works. For example, the Montreal Olympic Stadium uses steel cables to assemble its components, including 38 consoles that form its frame. Each console consists of several sections assembled to each other using pulled steel cables. Assembling wooden furniture with cables can be inspired by the same techniques because what can be an advantage and offer great reliability for structures on which our safety and our life depend, can offer a similar advantage all the more so for everyday objects. Our life does not depend on the solidity and stability of the chair or small wooden table we use, but these are qualities that consumers seek in their furniture, and rightly so.

The first thing people notice in the Forêt Nordique cabled furniture is the lack of nails and screws. This is only partly true since the application of tension in cables still uses screw elements, namely tensioners and eyelet screws (see photos 1 and 2 below). But one of the real less apparent advantages is that the tightening of the different pieces against each other takes place only in three places in the case of our chairs and in one place in the case of our other furniture. The application of tension in a cable allows the tightening of all the parts it connects, one against the other. However, what is interesting about replacing several screws with a cable for the assembly of wooden furniture, if only to reduce the number of clamping points. Certainly, the furniture that the consumer assembles itself offers the advantage of occupying a reduced space during delivery. So, we might as well exploit this advantage if there is a need to dismantle the furniture and bring it up again and again, as in the case of moves, for example. In this case, it is better to make the assembly and disassembly easy and fast, even relatively instinctive, since one does not move ten times a year. It is also better to try to limit the number of spare parts in order to reduce the risk of losing them during transport. Only then can we claim that this is a real advantage. To return to the strength of a piece of furniture once assembled and especially the maintenance of this strength over the years of use, steel cables have the property to stretch to a certain point when pulled but without distorting. Thus, once the tension is properly applied in the cable, it could be reduced by a little over time without affecting the stability of the unit. And if necessary, the tension in the cable should be reapplied.


Photo 1                                                     Photo 2

Forêt Nordique furniture uses a cable assembly approach, developed and proven for more than 5 years in the workshop and in real life. Several improvements have been made, including minimizing the number of cable deflection points and the introduction of metal components at these deflection points (for example, metal plate at the front of a chair paw in Photo 3 and aluminium dowel on a table leg shown in Photo 4).


Photo 3                                                     Photo 4

The design of our furniture conceals cables and especially other hardware parts in the less visible parts, offering maximum visibility to the wood (examples in photos 5 and 6). Some portions of cables remain visible, arousing the curiosity of observers who end up asking to see the underside of these furniture (for example, the Sakami coat tree in photo 7).

Photo 7

The use of steel cables in the assembly of components is widely and for a long time exploited in civil engineering works, but its application in wooden furniture has very few known precedents. The Forêt Nordique furnishings exploit various innovative approaches including a standardized design of the components to offer variants to the original furniture. The use of the steel cable as a method of assembly, however, remains their first distinctive feature.