Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Fit To Be 8 Way Hand Tied?

No More Talking To The Hand

When shopping for upholstered seating , it used to be that the popular advice to guarantee you get the best quality upholstered seating, was to ask the following 3 questions:

1) Is the spring system 8 way hand tied?

2) Was the wood used for the frame kiln dried?

3) Was the double doweled joinery method applied when constructing the frame?

Of course the other considerations would be the type of foam/padding and of course the fabric choice. However, those are options that usually most furniture salespeople ask customers.

Now, I was informed to ask the above 3 questions when I purchased my first "quality" upholstered seating at Macys home furniture department store many years ago. In keeping to that advice throughout the years, I found it very helpful whenever I walked into a furniture showroom and asked the 3 questions. It even seemed to impress many of the salespeople at the time complimenting me on educating myself about the basics for quality upholstered seating.
However, it seems that in recent years, the upholstery manufacturing technology has changed. Or, perhaps I should say it has improved.

It appears the term "hand tied" is beginning to lose it's appeal. It's competitor, Pirelli webbing(created by Pirelli tire manufacturer, widely used in Danish furniture since the 1950's) has started to gain momentum as the preferred construction for today's consumers. Danish & Italian furniture makers argue that Pirelli webbing, at minimum, offers the same reliability as 8-way at a much less price.

Today, La-Z-Boy Furniture, a national furniture manufacturer in the U.S., boasts about it's 8 way "machine" tied technology that provides equally distributed amounts of strength to its tie method making it superior to the antiquated hand tied process. They'll further remind you that man made 8 way hand tied isn't always going to be consistent as the worker creating the ties may lose strength after working on a spring system for so long whereas a machine does not.

Even Consumer Reports have chimed in educating its readers to :
  • Disregard the term “eight-way hand-tied springs.” It’s no longer synonymous with comfort or high quality. Other types of springs--coil, cone, S-shaped, and grid--can be just fine; they mainly influence how comfortable the sofa feels to you.
The jury is still out with me on whether or not the fact that the once valued term "hand made" is slowly becoming discounted as the inferior method, is a good or bad thing. On the one "hand", I view this as technological progress which is generally considered a good step toward innovation for the human race. On the other "hand", there is a real appeal to me that a hand made item is the measure of craftsmanship.

8-way hand tied construction


Paris Atelier said...

Very interesting! I'm looking for a new and fabulous sofa so this is very informative for me! I was thinking about you yesterday when my husband called me liberace and hope you are well my friend! The best of best wishes to you!

Scribbler said...

Thank you for the information. This is why I like your blog so much. I am a retired design professional, and I do not keep up so much with the new technologies.


Mama said...

I think I am with you on the this and I am in love with some of these sofa's here.
We had our living room sofa's made by Wesley Barrell, just before we transferred to the USA, you might like their website.
I had waited almost 15 years for my "dream" sofa's (looking in their shop window almost weekly).
They even had the arms of the sofa's sprung (in case we had large crowds and people sat on them). They are beautiful and look as good as new after nearly seven years. The only thing now is that I am a bit tired of the fabrics and would love to change it, but that will cost almost as much as the original price of the sofa's, yikes. I am looking for a less expensive option, maybe you can suggest something, thanks and I am enjoying your blog, Kathy.

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Chris said...

holy moly. It's amazing all the stuff you are teaching me. Will you come with me when we get our new chairs?

Anonymous said...