Category Archives: furniture

Confessions Of A ‘Kaki Bangku’

So the cat is out of the bag.  I was never a sportsman, much less a soccer fan or player.  Perhaps it was because of the allergic reaction of my limbs to grass.  But that was a different story.

In my youth days, we used to make low-rise stools to provide posterior support while we worked on household chores like washing and cooking or even while playing games.  

All that were needed were a piece of wooden plank (preferably half-an-inch thick at least), a handsaw, some nails and a hammer.  Just had the plank sawn into 3 suitable sizes and then bang-bang…voila, we had our “bangku”.   Length and breadth were flexible — could be custom to suit any bum size.

By the way, Penang Hokkiens call them in such Hokkienized way, that one would think “bangku” is a Chinese term.

What’s The Colour Of Your Stool ?

Mine came in various shades of brown, and very hard !   They smelled good too. Before anyone throws up, am talking about the home-made wooden stools that we had in our home decades ago.  LOLX.

Apart from the bedroom set that my parents bought for their wedding, almost everything else was D-I-Y by my dad (of course aided later on by me 🙂 ).   We made a total of 6 stools as per illustration, a dining table, a workbench, a couple of racks and cabinets too.

We were blessed with the advantage of being in the vicinity of a sawmill — which had ample supplies of discarded timber odds & ends — and  a basic set of woodworking tools, a tradition of ‘berdikari’ and spirit of ‘jimat cermat’.  Those were the good old days, really.

Look Ma, No Nails !

In the old days, before the invention of the veneer ply or “plywood”, all wooden furniture – including cabinetry – was constructed from pieces of solid integral timber.

Even though machine tools were not readily available at that time, every piece was very precise and the work was finished to an artisan’s exacting standards.

Most amazing of all were the joints.  Almost none of these had a nail, or a screw — as dove tail joints were extensively employed.   How did those craftsmen achieve such precision ?  The work quality was of “Rolls-Royce” grade — and the masterpieces were meant to last for generations.

By comparison, the modern-day pieces are more like beat-up, multi-crash patch-up jobs — held together with copious quantities of staples, and sneakily clad with plasticky glamour laminates.  But then, in this age of “Buy Today, Discard Tomorrow”, few would complain.

Ada Rotan, Pepijat Pula Membiak

Since the days of our nenek moyangs, rotan or rattan has been used to make furniture and a myriad of other items.  It is extremely strong and tough, yet can be coaxed into contorted twists and turns – properties which make it so endearing.

In younger days, we had several rattan chairs.   Nice to sit on, quite relaxing.  However, these were very prone to infestation by bed bugs.   These little pests liked to hide in the crevices between strands,  and once a nice juicy bottom settled in, they would come out to feast.  The itch would be unbearable and often led to rashes and some bleeding.

We would then overturn the chairs and bang them on the floor to shake out those bugs and then sprayed some Shelltox to kill them.    Enemy temporarily repelled but they would return, again and again.

Deck It Easy

Or say, “Take it easy” on this Lazy Man’s Chair (a.k.a. “Deck Chair”)

A clever design: it had a collapsible wooden frame over which a piece of canvas cloth was slung and fastened.

It was my favorite type of chair, where I would just relax and form my dreams and visions. Alas, I always had to look out for my uncle, who was an avowed enemy of this chair – he claimed that it would make me a lazy bum.

We had two of these back then in Butterworth, but I think we gave them away to our neighbours when we moved to the island in 1973. Ever since then, my butt had never seen better days…..haiz. Thinking consciously, I have not seen this deck chair anywhere, in anyone’s home for the last 35 years.   This generation is definitely missing out something.   

Life Was A Bed Of Canvas

In the days of old, life was not a bed of roses — and certainly not a box of chocolates — and most of the folks were poor and slept on straw mats laid out on bare wooden floor or cement floor.

A Canvas Bed was a luxury. For a poor tired soul worn out by a day’s hard toil, it afforded him/her that proverbial cosy rosy slumber. It was nice to sleep on, especially on a warm humid night, with convection cooling reaching underneath the body, and the canvas providing contour-compliant support for the body. Sounds rather advanced, right ?

In retrospect, the design was simple, elegant and low-cost, and it could be folded and tucked away for space-saving.   Periodically, the canvas had to be scrubbed with detergent and dried out in the sun for hygiene reasons – human body odour, mites, etc.