Metal Chiavari Chairs: Why Not?

We have seen them on the market for quite some time and decided it was time to investigate Metal Chiavari Chairs ourselves and see what they were all about.

We researched the top factories in China and we found the following things:

1) The paint color options can be strange and generally poor representations of the original colors they seek to emulate. Some of the metallic colors like gold and silver do turn out okay.

2) Metal Chiavari chairs are light, but very hollow feeling and make a lot of noise when in use.

3) We sat down on one sample and pushed on the chair back hard for about 1 minute and this caused the chair to collapse and break. The construction was very poor.

The concept of Aluminum Chiavari Chairs is generally a good idea… it’s lightweight, and metal can be stronger than wood. However, we found this is not the case in the chairs we tested. The Aluminum is indeed lightweight, but the joints are all held together by improper welds- it is much harder to weld aluminum than to weld steel, so for the low prices, it seems these welds were done in an unsophisticated manner. These chairs have hard but brittle joints and that are strong initially, but once force is applied in cycles (such as stacking, and sitting down on the chairs repeatedly), the weld breaks easily.

We were also surprised to find that the joints were not true furniture joints… they are simply aluminum tubes put inside one another and then welded. Therefore, these joints are not durable like wood joints- this is a major detriment to long-term durability. Plus, you cannot weld these joints easily. Once the weld breaks the loose tubes fall out!

A good wood joint is quite the opposite. A wood tenon (the spindle) is put inside a mortise hole (the hole in the leg) to create the joint. There is wood all around the wood tenon and this construction is what creates the strength. As a person rocks in the chair, the racking motion causes the joint not to come undone, but to be even stronger because the mortise walls are putting downward pressures all over the tenon. This allows the wood chairs to have some small racking movement which makes the chair comfortable but also very strong and not brittle.

To help with this idea, here is the biggest difference: The wood spindle has wood all around the tenon head once it is inside the joint which cause a tight fit and a strong joint. The metal chairs have only a tube put inside a hole and then welded. There is no mass in the mortise hole (because everything is hollow) supporting anything so the spindle just falls off once the weld breaks.



Written & Published by Vision Furniture

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