The 3107 Chair: Prep the Veneer

In the idyllic Danish countryside, 15 miles northwest of Copenhagen, autonomous robots transport pallets of veneer down the aisles of Fritz Hansen’s 161,000-square-foot chair factory. Nearby, human workers inspect each of the over 400,000 chairs made here annually, half of which are Series 7 chairs, with the 3107 model at its forefront.

A worker runs two strips of veneer through a machine that glues the edges together.
A worker runs two strips of veneer through a machine that glues the edges together. Photo by Alex Subrizi.

Precut 22-by-33.5-inch sheets of .04-to-.05-inch-thick inner veneer arrive at the factory from mills in France and Germany that have reforestation programs. The outer veneers are ordered from the same mills, but with a custom request passed down directly from Jacobsen. “He made it difficult for us,” explains Thomas Touborg, Fritz Hansen’s executive vice president of supply chain. “He decided the outside wood should be .03 inches thick and the world standard is .02 inches.”

The sheets of outer veneer are cut into 4.5- and 5.5-inch-wide strips, as Jacobsen also specified. They are then run through a machine that glues pieces of alternating widths together by their edges. A thin piece of cotton is adhered to each reconstructed 22-by-33.5-inch sheet for durability.

Next, an employee clamps three hearty handfuls of stacked veneers at a time into a stencil and cuts them into rough versions of their final shapes using a band saw. (The scraps are sold to factories equipped with wood-burning furnaces capable of filtering out the toxins from the glue.)

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