Fiberboard is different from particleboard in many important
ways. You know particleboard, its’ been around for 50 years that I know about, it’s the go-to material for low end furnishings. Those impressive looking desk sets at the ‘office supply’ store are all particleboard. The furniture at
Wallyworld is usually particleboard with a vinyl woodgrain finish. It crumbles, is weak at the joints and is lousy at holding screws but it’s cheap and therefore irresistible to industry. Get it wet and it crumbles into a pile of sawdust, another reason I call it ‘organized sawdust’. I own a kitchen cabinet business and for many years particleboard was practically the only material used for cabinets because it can be bought with the desired finish already printed on it, saving time and money. When Hurricane Charlie struck Southwest Florida in 2004, particleboard kitchens melted and overnight no one wanted it again. Our cabinet shop converted production to sustainable plywood and never looked back.
Both particleboard and fiberboard are made from every part of the tree that is not cut into lumber. This is called pre-consumer recycled material. Where particleboard is sawdust glued together, fiberboard is wood chips that have been cooked and broken down into individual fibers. These fibers are then rolled out and squeezed under high pressure and finally baked into a hard, dense sheet. The result is a material that looks like brown paper, has fibers running in every direction and is therefore, very strong. It is, in every way, man-made wood, with the color and surface texture of a brown paper bag but without the weakening wood grain. In the past, urea-formaldehyde glue was mixed in to bind the fibers together but new, very strict, federal formaldehyde regulations have forced manufacturers to switch to more expensive acrylic binders. Add enough of these acrylics and the fiberboard is water resistant, add more and it is waterproof.
However, fiberboard has a problem, one serious flaw. It does not glue, screw or nail well. This has limited its uses and is the reason you have never bought fiberboard furniture because manufacturers and designers could not figure out how to join this wonderful, green material.
I developed and have a Patent Pending on what I call ‘The Tool-Free Joint’. This mortise and through-tenon joint with a locking peg is as old as Joseph the Carpenter and very easy to assemble. Designing it to be completely cut using automatic machinery is a patentable breakthrough. This Joint accentuates the positive aspects of the fiberboard material (no wood grain means new free-spirited designs are possible), eliminates the negative aspects (the joining problems: we don’t mess with Mister In-between) and allows the structural use of fiberboard for the first time. Finally, we cut a simple hammer from the left over space between parts (reducing waste), and include it with every piece of furniture sold. Since this hammer is the same density and hardness, it does not mark or mar the finish when used for assembly.
Terrapeg is the brainchild of eco-friendly, furniture designer Frank Schooley. Terrapeg’s environmentally friendly designs combine flat pack technology with innovative, recycled fiberboard material to produce affordable, green, beautifully crafted, designer furniture. With more than 30 attractive designs, Terrapeg’s appealing and durable furniture offers everything you need to furnish a home, office or school.