Whether you're an industrial designer, an ID student or a homeowner with a less-than-perfect house, learning how things are put together is of paramount importance. One way to learn this is by taking things apart. Disassembling something, then successfully reassembling it, will sear construction methods into your brain in a way that classroom learning cannot achieve.
If you take apart enough pieces of furniture, it becomes obvious that here lies a plug whose sole purpose is to conceal a screw. You'd be surprised by how many laypeople don't even notice the plug, let alone know what it's for.
You can exploit this ability for financial gain or to prettify your own home. For instance, if you're an ID student interested in furniture, go to a flea market and look for vintage furniture in lousy condition--something that would be desirable if it wasn't broken. You ought be able to scoop these unwanted pieces up for cheap. Then take them apart and see if you can repair them. Maybe you ruin the first few pieces, but once you start learning from your mistakes and perform a successful repair, if you've chosen your pieces well you ought be able to resell them at a steep profit.
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Minneapolis-based Dashner Design & Restoration maintains a YouTube channel where the owner documents his numerous fixes in a step-by-step way. Here's an example:
Most of his repairs require very basic kit--a rubber mallet, utility blades for scraping, sandpaper, glue, finishes, some clamps. If you come through his archive of fixes you'll learn, for instance, that it's easier to scrape the finish off of a flat surface, but when it comes to curves, applying a chemical stripper is easier.
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Build up enough of these tips, put in some elbow grease and you'll be cranking these out in no time. You'll also, if you intend to go into furniture design, gain an advantage over your fellow students.
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