Design and quality of finished surfaces of furniture

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Furniture production, although a major aspect of tertiary wood processing in Ghana, does not contribute significantly to the export earnings of the Ghanaian Timber Industry. Hence, its potential must be fully developed to significantly increase its contribution to national economic growth. The aim of this thesis is to investigate the extent to which improved furniture design could promote growth in the furniture industry. This requires, among others, an examination of the quality of furniture produced in the country in terms of style, construction and finish and how this affects the profitability of manufacturers and the satisfaction of end-users. Studies and surveys were conducted to identify factors that influence the design and quality of finished surfaces of furniture. Tests were carried out to determine the effect of the process of manufacture on finished wood surface quality. A furniture prototype was also designed and manufactured for a furniture exporting company in an attempt to practically apply principles of design within a manufacturing system. It was observed that traditionally, “design” has been largely relegated to a secondary place in the furniture industry because of its loose usage which connotes “style”. Artistic talent has, therefore, been one major criterion for the employment of furniture designers. However, design must be viewed as a multi-faceted discipline when applied to the furniture industry, if a strong competitive ability in terms of style, construction, finish, and pricing on international markets is desired. Major factors affecting the quality of finished surfaces of furniture included the preparation of the surface, the accuracy of machining and the mode of application of the finishing chemical. Investment is required in efficient and effective sanding equipment and techniques. The furniture prototype was exhibited at the GIFEX ‘95 and the interest expressed by prospective buyers was viewed as an indicator of the success of the design. The stage was set, through product development techniques, to establish the best conditions for ease of manufacture of the table and for enhancing its aesthetic appeal. It is found that to significantly improve the design and quality of finished surfaces of furniture, the following areas must be given closer attention and the inherent problems dealt with: Product Development, Market Research, Manufacturing Processes, Quality Control and Personnel Training.
A thesis submitted to the Board of Postgraduate Studies, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, in partial fulfilment of the requirement for the award of the Degree of Master of Science in Wood Technology and Industrial Management, 1996