This solid wood furniture buying guide looks into facts about purchasing traditional furniture in solid wood. To begin with, if you really like preserving furniture, you ought to ask yourself a few questions before you start the hunt.
1. What is the particular styling you are looking for?
2. How long do you wish to keep the furniture?
3. Does it require regular maintenance?
4. Is it too outdated to be out of vogue say ten years from now?
5. Would you get bored looking at it some years from now?
Most of us like to preserve furniture for the value it holds. The style and theme, or something from the era that makes all the spending worthwhile!
Solid wood or Hardwood furniture: It is important to know the difference between hardwoods and softwood. Hardwood is sourced from non-needled tree like maple, cherry or mahogany. The wood is reputed for its robustness and durability, but is difficult for any carving and detailed form of wood work. Make sure solid wood furniture actually has solid wood on all furniture parts and pieces. Also, solid wood expands and contracts as per temperature and humidity changes, so furniture done in plywood and framed in veneered solid wood may be a good idea to purchase.
Solid woods are dried slowly in kilns till it retains about six percent moisture content. Then it is cut and shaped into pieces that provide the structural integrity of the furniture. Such solid wood pieces may include legs, casing and details that support the furniture. The joints are often given additional strength with bonding glues. To ensure a good job and whether furniture is properly joined, you can lift it by one corner and see. On lifting, the furniture should stay firm and retain its shape without racking or twisting.
Softwoods: Derived from needle-bearing trees such as pine or cedar, softwood is great for carving and their surface can be carved, but the wood may look weathered due to its soft surface that can easily be marked and blemished
Plywood and Particle Board : Use of non-solid wood to construct furniture has been the most misunderstood concept. As solid wood can expand and contract as per humidity changes in the weather, it is important to use plywood or ground wood to help with achieving a stable and user-friendly product. Especially in door and table construction, solid wood needs to have a flat base to reinforce the required stability. Plywood products manufactured of ground up wood are robust and less prone to warp or split. These large flat panels are usually framed in solid wood and covered by veneers to recreate the look of one large piece of wood. Veneering is a process by itself, and is explained in the next point.
Veneers : Veneering is a process that allows the natural grain to emerge beautifully on the surface. Traditional bedroom furniture and dining tabletops and dressers used veneering with a thin slice of wood selected for its outstanding character. Veneering has been used traditionally, dating back to ancient Egypt and Rome in the 17th Century. We find wood veneers in different types of furniture and pricing today. The advantages of veneering are many. In covering the core panels, veneers are often applied fashioning patterns that actually enhance the beauty of any furniture piece by many folds. Usually, more expensive woods which would be too costly or fragile to use as structural parts are used as veneers.
The Finish : Finishing plays a vital role in the appearance of any furniture. The finest furniture sold these days usually involves an intricate finishing process to achieve the flawless look. Involving different steps, once a furniture piece is ready it is thoroughly sanded or wiped. To highlight the wood grain, sometimes steel wool is used. For traditional designs, fly specking or distressing is undertaken to bestow the piece with antique looks.
Later, a sanding sealer is applied during final finish. A final sanding is done prior to the application of the top coat. Also, lacquering is done; it is used during last step for the final look, giving the piece its finished appearance. Lacquering whether done in matt, flat or glossy finish can endow a piece with great beauty and also make it waterproof and durable for the long run.
Engraving or Printing : Veneering is a costly process and to cut the cost, there is a method that is used to reproduce the wood grain. The wooden image is applied on top of flat panels like a look alike. If you are looking for the original thing, try to check the surface closely, when engraved, the grain will look even and uniform, almost flawless with no texture variation which is a sign that it can’t be done from a piece of wood. Engraving and printing is normally done on the insides of a furniture piece that makes the finish less expensive. However, one of the major drawbacks of such an alternative is that it is not resistant and the grains may easily come off when exposed to water or any solvent.
For solid wood furniture like cabinets and storage units, you may want to make sure that the drawers are jointly secure and dovetailed for easy gliding. Also, pay attention to the doors so that they swing open easily without squeaking or rubbing, and that long doors are attached with study hinges. Practical details should help you check out with the manufacturer before you make the move.