Old Couch Teardown

And now, something a little different from the usual fare. Today’s teardown project has no electronics in it whatsoever. It is an exploration into an entirely different category of home consumer merchandise: furniture.

This old couch had been in service for several decades and long overdue for retirement. The default option was to treat it as bulk waste and call for pickup, but let’s see what we can learn from its deconstruction.

We start with seat bottom cushion which were easily removed. Some coins were found but there were little else of value trapped within. Too bad – we once found a lost cell phone in here, but not today.

Couch Teardown 02 - bottom cushion removal

Unlike the bottom cushions, this couch’s back cushions were attached and had to be cut off for disassembly.

Couch Teardown 03 - back cushions cut off

Each armrest cushion were held by four of these rivet-like structures, two inside and two outside of each armrest. It was easiest to cut fabric around each rivet than trying to unfasten them.

Couch Teardown 04 - armrest cushions

Those armrest cushions were the final pieces of soft padding material. Everything that remained are fabric and rigid structure.

Couch Teardown 05 - all soft padding removed

Fabric panel cutting started with the bottom-most sheet. This sheet is not typically visible, made of a thin and partially transparent material that is also very tear-resistant.

Couch Teardown 06 - tear resistant bottom

This sheet was fastened by staples. The decision was made to cut instead of pull to avoid staples flying everywhere possibly puncturing tires and feet.

Couch Teardown 07 - evil staples

Seat springs were visible once that bottom fabric panel was cut away. We’ll be back for those springs later. For now focus is still on removing pieces of fabric so we proceed to cut back panel.

Couch Teardown 09 - cutting back panel

We can see more of the wooden frame once the back panel was removed. These wood beams were surprisingly irregular in their dimension. Each segment might be a little wider or thicker than its neighbors. Not that a great deal of precision was necessary – pieces were held to each other with copious amounts of staples. This construction method does not demand dimension accuracy. It’s possible this flexibility allowed the couch to be built using scrap wood left from manufacturing other things.

Couch Teardown 10 - back panel removed

Cutting off the back panel also exposes these metal strips. These were used to cover up fabric seams. When installed properly, they are not visible and thus preferable to staples.

Couch Teardown 11 - fastening strips

With the removal of each fabric panel, the couch looks less and less like a couch.

Couch Teardown 12 - side panels cut off

Returning to the bottom, a bolt cutter helps cut off the springs. With the first cut I discover they are bent in a direction to support weight. This discovery was accompanied by reinforcement that it’s always good to stay back when cutting metal things to minimize chances of injury.

Couch Teardown 13 - cutting springs

By this point all loose fabric panels have been cut free, as has metal springs. Most of the remaining parts are wood and fabric glued to panels of wood. It is time for the reciprocating saw to make its entrance.

Couch Teardown 14 - all fabric panels cut off

A reciprocating saw made quick work of wood pieces. A few cuts, and the couch back is gone.

Couch Teardown 15 - seat back wood cut off

After a few more cuts, the couch is no longer recognizable as a couch at all. These easily managed pieces can now be disposed as regular household landfill and do not require special bulk waste procedures.

Couch Teardown 16 - no longer recognizable as couch

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