Wood Furniture

Traditionally, furniture has been made of wood, which is undeniably a staple material in furniture manufacturing. Solid wood furniture can last for generations with minimum care. Not only is wood everlasting, but it is timeless as well. Whether it is a new dining room table or an heirloom armoire, wood furniture combines an eternal beauty and that can be seen in almost every decorating style. The natural beauty of wood furniture will add warmth and character to any room.

solid wood table
wood table corner joint

Hardwoods

Hardwoods are produced by trees that reproduce by flowers and have broad leaves. They have a more complex structure than softwoods and are often much slower growing as a result. Quality furniture is generally made from hardwood which comes from deciduous trees like oak, maple, mahogany, teak, walnut, cherry and birch. Besides furniture, hardwoods are frequently used to make musical instruments.

outdoor wood chairs

Softwoods

Furniture may also be made from softwoods, which come from coniferous trees such as pine, fir, redwood and cedar. These trees tend to grow faster. Furniture made using softwood are less expensive than pieces made from hardwood. It's possible to find good quality furniture in these woods, but they require more care because they're more prone to scratches and dents.

wood cabinet

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood, also known as composite or manufactured wood, is derived from wood products. It is not necessarily an inferior material. It is strong and is less subject to splitting or warping. Veneers are the most common form of engineered wood. Engineered wood can make sturdy, long-lasting and highly attractive furniture when it is made with high-quality veneers.

wood dresser drawer
drawer dovetail joint
wood dresser side and back panels
wood furniture reinforcing block
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Furniture Construction

Solid wood is the best choice for furniture. There are two primary components to look for in quality wood furniture: type of wood and the construction. Furniture is made from different woods classified as hard, soft or engineered. The type of wood that is used is one of the factors that determines how long furniture will last and how well it will age. Construction is also key. Quality construction contributes to the beauty, functionality and durability of wood furniture. To clean and protect all the natural wood furniture in your home, apply Scott’s Liquid Gold several times a month.

Construction Considerations

Drawers and Doors
Joints
Panels
Corners
Drawers should run smoothly on glides and have stops to prevent accidentally pulling them all the way out. The best drawers have bottoms that are not affixed to the sides but “float” in a groove, allowing for minor expansion and contraction caused by changes in humidity and providing extra strength. Doors should close neatly and be flush with the cabinet front, and the hardware should be of good quality. Test for sturdiness by trying to rock or jostle the piece. It shouldn't squeak, twist or wobble.
Joint construction can tell you a lot about craftsmanship and is the main determinant of quality furniture. The joinery and sturdiness of a piece will tell you a lot about its quality. The two best and oldest types of joints construction are dovetails and mortise and tenon. They make the strongest and most visually appealing joints. Good joints may also use dowels or screws. Avoid anything held together with staples, nails or glue.
Back panels that face the wall are the generally attached with screws to help ensure lateral stability. Backs and unexposed parts should be sanded smooth and well-fitted. This is an important feature––only well-constructed furniture has these details. Look for thin sheets of wood between drawers in a chest of drawers or desk. While not necessary, these “dust panels” improve structural strength, as well as protect drawer contents.
Corners should have a reinforcing block attached at an angle. Look for corner blocks that add to the strength and stability to a piece. These aren't visible from the outside. They bolt to both sides of the interior corners.
TIP: Lift the piece of furniture at one corner––it should not twist or squeak. Check that all legs are touching the floor. Press on various corners to see if the piece rocks or wobbles.

Wood Furniture Finishes

Every piece of furniture, whether new or antique, needs a finish, but no single finish is right for all situations. Finishes are divided into two categories: penetrating finishes and surface finishes. The best way to know the difference between penetrating wood finishes from surface wood finishes is to understand how they work.

Penetrating Finishes

A penetrating finish does exactly that, it penetrates the wood and dries inside the wood. Most penetrating finishes result in a more natural look. They seep deep into the wood grains and become hard. Most oil finishes fall into this category.

Surface Finishes

A surface finish stays on the surface and dries on the top layer of the wood. Surface finishes do not have a natural look or feel, but they tend to last longer. Most waxes, varnishes and shellacs fall into this category.

Although staining furniture is optional, a finish is essential to protect the wood's surface. Without a finish, wood will dry out, crack and deteriorate, or swell if it is exposed to moisture. A good finish protects against stains and enhances the appearance of the wood. Pieces that get a lot of daily use should be protected with a surface finish.

5 Reasons

to shop for secondhand furniture

You can often find expensive, time-tested, name-brand furniture in excellent condition at an affordable price.

Older furniture was meant to last a long time. Many secondhand pieces are handcrafted with top quality materials.

Shopping for secondhand furniture is a treasure hunt. You can find unique, one-of-a-kind pieces with a story to tell.

You can customize previously owned furniture. Fresh paint, stain and upholstery allow you to match a color scheme or style.

Buying secondhand furniture is better for the environment. It saves resources and reduces emissions, while reducing waste and packaging.

5 Tips

to care for & preserve wood furnishings

Limit direct sunlight exposure as much as possible. Over-exposure to direct sunlight will cause any finish to fade over time.

Avoid excessive waxing. This will cause moisture from a glass to leave a white milky ring on the surface of the wood.

Avoid excessive exposure to smoke. Wood is a porous surface that will absorb the odor will cause the finish to yellow.

Don’t use cleaners containing bleach. Bleach will lighten or remove the wood’s natural color and can damage the wood grain.

Don’t use cleaners containing ammonia. Ammonia will dull and discolor some types of wood and cause a painted finish to yellow.