Into the Belly of the Beast


On our way to the lumberyard this morning, Brendan and I stopped at the local IKEA to check out an interesting joint used on some of IKEA’s more expensive tables. Also, Brendan likes the meatballs there.

The joint is used on the company’s Lisabo tables and is a prime example of how CNC can be used to improve the craft. Instead of using a CNC to cut an ancient joint, the designers created an entirely new knockdown joint. It’s a self-wedging tapered tenon that locks with a single screw.


Check out the video here. More fascinating details are here at Core77. Here’s IKEA’s nice video on the joint the company calls the “wedge dowel.”

We were both impressed by the joint’s rigidity and simplicity. Still, I wasn’t there to buy an IKEA table. We also checked out several of IKEA’s other semi-staked designs. One used a threaded tenon to attach the leg – nice but the lack of rake and splay killed the look.

We also checked out a table with a flying saucer design. The legs use machine screws and a threaded plate to attach them to the top. Very clever, but it is inherently a weak design as the machine screw is embedded in end grain. These tables are $30 and are not expected to last long.


There also was a fascinating staked sitting bench that used a clever way to introduce rake and splay to the bench. The rake was drilled into the cross battens. The splay was introduced by insetting the batten at an angle. Again, a great application of CNC.

The bench was pretty comfortable. Not comfortable enough to purchase, however.

IKEA scored only two sales from us today. First was the meatballs with gravy (yum, gray food), which Brendan snarfed down in a few minutes.


The second purchase was a couple sheepskins for my Welsh chairs. While in Wales, I noticed that John Brown’s extended family used sheepskins on their chairs to add comfort and warmth. These skins were a shocking $29.99. I bought two and we tried them out at dinner tonight (which was also not meatballs).


My daughter Katy reports: “They make me feel like royalty.”

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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16 Responses to Into the Belly of the Beast

  1. johncashman73 says:

    I can picture a larger version of those skins in your giant antler-stump chair in the LAP library.

  2. mike says:

    Does the title refer to your journey or that of the meatballs?

  3. jenohdit says:


  4. tmsbmx says:

    Now if I saw you at IKEA I wouldn’t believe it, and yes us Swedish like the gray meat you need to try korv a gray Swedish sausage lol.

  5. J.C. aka BLZeebub says:

    Really like the color you chose for the stick chair. The skin looks like it will take the chill off your buns on those chilly mid-western nights too. Now all you need is lap blanket and a good book. Maybe a toddy too.

  6. Pete McKinlay says:

    Someone at IKEA is a fan Tom Fidgen as well… That “bench” looks a lot like his saw bench.

    I guess it is furniture , even if utterly disposable.

  7. Jon Hershey says:

    Forget the gray meat – is that a pink frosted donut on the table?

  8. Nate R says:

    That ash (ish) table is good looking. If only I could figure out angles I might could try to make one a la ADB. Maybe some day…

  9. Interesting to see you mention that bench. I saw some of those used as seating in a museum a while back and was fascinated with them. It’s a very clever design and I thought I might build something similar, but longer, as a garden bench. I was amazed when I turned it upside down and saw the Ikea logo as I’d pegged it as being from a more upmarket brand.

  10. Steven Kirincich says:

    I hear that the Turks should get credit for Swedish meatballs.

  11. Pascal Teste says:

    In the IKEA video, I found it troubling and a bit sad to hear one of the fellow towards the end of the clip saying on the topic of IKEA’s new Wedge Dowel Technology: “We believe that easy assembly will be important for IKEA and our customers. When we were kids, we built tree houses. Today kids grow up with a phone in their hands. It doesn’t come as natural to them to assembly furniture with a screwdriver.”

    I will not be surprised if someday IKEA will go a step further and come up with their version of a Campaign furniture and have the piece pop up in one piece, by itself, after opening the cardboard box. Only tool required a small box-cutter. The kids of “today’s kids” will be ecstatic!

    Chris, keep up the excellent work you are doing at Lost Art Press!

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