Do You Have a Fatal Flaw in Your Wood Product Design?
By Matt D'Anca | Posted: 06/12/2014 7:00AM
Does your product have a fatal flaw? Don't let expertise cause you to overlook the obvious.
Sometimes I think I went into manufacturing because of a general proclivity I have toward snobbery. I am constantly disappointed with the goods that I procure.
But my disappointment is rather specific. Maybe it's not snobbery. I have high expectations for myself, and I have high expectations for the world around me. Most of the time, I'd rather not own something than own what I consider to be a poor version of a thing. But often, even when I have saved up and spent good money to buy a quality item, I'm disappointed by what I consider to be a “fatal flaw.”
The fatal flaw in question today is in regards to a messenger bag--or frankly most messenger bags, messenger style briefcases, and messenger style laptop bags. I hate, absolutely HATE how most of these products have a small carry handle in a position on the top flap where you could pickup the bag, BUT only if the front flap is securely fastened.
Now here's the thing. And here's how I know I'm not a snob. I have a Timbuk2 brand messenger bag that I actually used when I worked as a bike messenger one summer. The top of the line bag to have was the Chrome brand bag and it was dramatically superior to the Timbuk2 in many ways, but it was also a $300 bag and that was a really huge investment for me at the time. I like quality, but I am most impressed with value. I don't think that qualifies as snobbery. It came to pass that an REI giftcard was bestowed on me, and I used it to purchase the Timbuk2 bag because REI did not sell Chrome brand at that time.
The irony is this: I used the bag for about a whopping two weeks, whence I came to realize that I couldn't stand a shoulder strap bag while riding a bicycle and returned to using the backpack I had originally used. I did however like the messenger bag as a general purpose conveyance for personal effects. It was also a superior book-bag running between classes.
But here's the rub: I never really noticed the fatal flaw in the top handle on the Timbuk2 bag for 2 reasons: 1) The handle is placed not so much “on the flap” as at the juncture where the flap becomes the back of the bag. 2) Timbuk2 put two large velcro strips inside the flap and on the front of the bag, so even when you don't snap the front closure straps...something is holding that flap. Thanks to these two considerations, the top handle on the Timbuk2 bag is not a fatal flaw.
Stick with me here. This isn't meant to be a critique on messenger bags.
About the Author
Matt D'AncaMatt D’Anca, president of D'Anca Design, Inc., a custom woodworking and metal fabrication firm in Cicero, IL: "Using our own designs, based on customer's needs and specifications, we create top quality custom woodwork, metalwork, and mixed media pieces, including heirloom quality furniture, fine home interiors, and small batch manufacturing of short-run (under 100 units) of product for our clients." - M.D. He holds a B.S. in Environmental Chemistry.