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Designer/Builder Jesse Frome uses mechanical engineering to build unique, one-of-a-kind furniture pieces with organic, biomorphic forms. Getting his business off of the ground has involved building mechanical jigs for NextFab’s tools in order to rapidly prototype his designs. And Frome has accelerated his iterations by receiving feedback from the vast network of expertise in the NextFab community of staff, members and residents.
Frome has an innate fascination with mechanical objects and the thrill of invention. “To me there’s nothing more exhilarating than watching something invented go from paper to reality.”
Walking through the streets of Barcelona, he was inspired by the works of Antoni Gaudí – a style based on fluid, natural forms and “using as few straight lines as possible.” Frome was stationed in Spain during his service in the US Air Force and spent his free time teaching himself tool craft and experimenting with materials.
The time that it takes to build unique work in this style is considerable, making the finished pieces expensive. Frome wanted to develop a process that would allow him to build his furniture quickly without compromising quality or design. His solution involved building a screw advance box-joint jig designed by Matthias Wandel of Woodgears.ca.
The jig allows Frome to make quick, precise and consistent box joints that have the practical advantage of being incredibly strong. He is using these joints on his Lap Desks and Side Tables, “I think it’s a product that there isn’t already an excellent solution for. I think right now, the only way it’s even possible is due to the box joint jig that https://onhealthy.net enables me to mass-produce the joints more rapidly and deeper than any machine on the market.”
The box joint jig is mounted to a table saw and uses advance gears to move the work piece to quickly and precisely cut the “fingers” at the proper thickness and spacing. This is done on both sides of the joint, ensuring a very tight fit and a strong joint.
Frome attributes his abilty to develop his process and adapt quickly to the NextFab community, inclusive of staff, members and residents. When asked who has helped him to get up and running, he responds enthusiastically, “Everyone! Laate [Olukotun]… every employee, the woodworking team, the metal shop, but mainly the employees of NextFab and Tony [Sacksteder] from upstairs. I go to him for advice. Tony was sort of the chief product engineer/structure consultant, while Laate gave me the best design advice that truly brought this to where it is.”
Frome’s hard work and long hours are paying off. His sales are taking off through his Etsy site as well as word of mouth. He has his work on display in several Philadelphia area cafes which has led to sales to cafes and their customers. He’s also working on a custom project with The Center for Art In Wood as well as engineering his next production tool for streamlining his working process further.
As his business grows he looks forward to further collaborations with NextFab staff and membership. “That’s one of my favorite things about being at NextFab… networking that you really can’t get anywhere else.”