You know that feeling, when you walk into a room that is decked up with beautiful furniture, the accessories carry their own charm, and yet, here I’m sharing a few tips that sure would help you pick your wooden furniture.
How to select Wooden Furniture
1. The quality of materials-
Each type of wood brings something different to the table. Some woods are cheap and plentiful, while others will stand the test of time more readily. There are two primary types of wood materials: solid wood, which includes both hardwood and softwood; and manufactured wood, which is an engineered material that is often a composite of real wood and synthetic materials.
1.1 Solid wood-
Solid wood is not simple solid wood but is any wooden material that does not have hollow spaces in them. It holds immense strength and is not prone to much degradation.
1.1.1 Hard wood (No its not at all hard but durable)-
Contrary to popular belief, hardwood is not the supreme species of solid wood found in nature. It simply means that it comes from “deciduous trees”, this species of trees shed their leaves annually. Having said that, hardwood is the most durable wood, and hence, expensive. Common hardwoods are- Mahogany, Walnut, Oak, Maple, Cherry, Beech, Hickory, Teak, Alder, Rosewood, Mulberry, Merbau.
1.1.2 Soft wood (The real hero in the furniture industry)-
This is the most widely used wood for furniture. Softwood comes from “coniferous trees” that are evergreen. Common softwoods are- Pine, Sal, Red Cedar, Redwood, Juniper, Yew, Spruce, Fur, Deodar.
*Facts to remember– Hardwood has darker shades of red and is a bit expensive. It grows slowly. Softwood, on the other hand, grows easily, has hints of yellow or red and is not that expensive, unlike its counterpart.
1.2 Manufactured wood-
Although this is not solid wood, but they do contain various types of wood, and are used in wood furniture making.
Considered original engineered wood. Made of layers of veneer bonded together to give durability and strength. Plywood can be pretty solid and last a good amount of time, if it has enough layers. You should look for nine or more layers. You should be able to count the layers on an exposed side.
Made by cutting the circumference of a tree, this wood is this and durable at the same time. These are thin wood sheets, size ranging from 3mm and above. The thinner veneer is better, since thick veneer is more likely to split. Veneer actually doesn’t split as much as hard wood . On the other hand, you may get blistering over time, or it may start to peel.
1.2.3 Medium density Fiberboard-
Prepared by residuals of hard or soft wood.
1.2.4 Medium density Particle Board-
Made of wood chips and shavings bonded together with the resin used as an alternate to plywood.
2. Signs of Quality–
You need to be very vigilant when checking the quality of the wood furniture, it is a crucial thing to do. I’ll pen down the important things that you should see-
The finishing should be even across the whole piece, with uniform colour. Otherwise it would indicate cheap making.
2.2 Feel for heft
A good quality wood furniture will be heavier than a similar piece of cheap quality. Weight indicates its made of better quality wood.
A good piece of furniture should feel solid. It should not wobble or wiggle at all.
2.4 Check the joints
Joints can tell a lot about the quality. Joints like dovetail joints (where two pieces of wood come together with interlocking pieces, secured with glue) and mortise- and- tenon joints (these join when one side of the joint has a long cavity. The other side of the joint is craved to fit into that cavity, sort of like a letter sliding into an envelope) are more stable and other types of joints.
3. Things to avoid
There are certain things that are red flags, let’s go through those
3.1 Low-quality joints-
These include dowel joints, which are held together with dowels, and butt joints, where the joint is two flat boards against each other, held together with either nails, glue, or maybe screws.
3.2 Skip staples and nails-
You should prefer wood furniture that is put together using screws and glue, since screws have better grip, and hence will help with the longevity of the furniture. Whereas, glue offers more stability.
3.3 Check for cracks and knots-
Cracks in the furniture make them more susceptible to split at some point. You should also ensure that the furniture does not have knots. Additionally, the furniture should be hard, meaning, you shouldn’t be able to scratch it easily. If you manage to do so, its probably not good quality wood.
3.4 Drawers with wooden sides-
Wood slides won’t work well over time, you should prefer metal slides.
Quality Checklist- After each question, answer with a yes* or no.
- Is the wood furniture made from hardwood?
- Are the joints tight-fitting?
- The joints are glued carefully without any glue showing?
- Either the joints doweled, mortise and tenon, tongue and groove, bolted, or screwed, not stapled?
- Are the corner blocks tight-fitting, glued, and screwed into the frame?
- Are the outside rungs or posts on each side of the chair back-projected through the seat to the underside?
- Do the chair legs have stretcher bars and rungs for reinforcement?
- Are there vinyl or rubber tips on the ends of the chair legs to protect the floor?
- Does the chair or bench feel sturdy?
- If upholstery is used, can it be removed for reupholstering?
- Chair or bench legs sturdy when pressure is put on them?
- The chair or bench legs level with the floor?
- Are the stained surfaces uniform in colour?
- Is the finish satiny smooth and free of rough spots?
- Are the edges and ends finished evenly throughout without finger marks or teardrops?
- Is the chair or bench finished on the back and underside?
- If there is labelling, did you read the information?
- Is there a warranty?