About Peggy Farabaugh

She is a CEO who brakes for salamanders, has bottle-fed rescued squirrels and spent her vacation building furniture for a rural school in Costa Rica. She believes in the future and in the people who will build it. A former distance-learning professor at Tulane University with a master’s in environmental health & safety, she turned an interest in forest conservation and endangered species into a growing, local business. She delivers rainforest statistics at breakneck speed, but knows how to slow down and appreciate the beauty of a newly finished piece of heirloom furniture.
Cyber Monday Fine Furniture Sale
America’s Top 5 choices for our 2014  Black Friday Fine Furniture Sale.  Save 20% on your favorite designs storewide!

Looking for the best fine furniture sale this Black Friday?  We polled our customers to find out what topped their wish list in fine furniture sales this year. The Top 5 Fine Furniture Features are listed below.  Naturally we’ve put them all on sale!  We’re offering a full 20% off* (plus free shipping) which is our best discount and lowest price ever.  So if you’re finally ready to invest in the fine furniture you’ve always dreamed of, take a serious look.  All of our real wood furniture is 100% American made, built to order right here in Vermont and guaranteed for a lifetime of service to your family.

Craftsman Style Furniture

Our customers’ favorite Vermont made Craftsman Style Furniture is the Cherry Moon Collection.   It’s contemporary Asian design has a light but grounded appearance.  Reverse-tapered legs, posts and an intricate cove under the tops round out the design to give any room a comforting and natural feeling.  Rich black walnut, half-moon drawer pulls complete the design of these natural cherry, maple, and walnut hardwood pieces.

Mission Style Furniture

Traditionally mission style furniture is characterized by rectilinear design, simple, straight construction, heavy proportion and exposed joinery.  It’s typically made with oak wood and given a medium or dark stain. Drawer pulls are often simple round brass rings or rectangular back plates of solid brass with canted corners and an oval bail handle.  But today’s Vermont made mission style furniture incorporates modern contemporary design features and is often crafted of cherry, walnut and maple wood.  You can customize it online to get whichever traditional and contemporary features you like.

Shaker Style Furniture

Vermont craftspeople have mastered the art of simple elegance in their many variations of American Shaker style furniture, ranging from a strict interpretation of the original Shaker pieces to creative versions with modern functionalities, curves and hardware.  Simple aesthetics and sturdy design remain at the heart of today’s Vermont Shaker style furniture.

Natural Cherry Wood Furniture

Natural Cherry Wood is a favorite among our customers as it develops a lustrous, rich reddish brown patina over the years.  Premium quality real cherry wood furniture is hard to find and often imitated (poorly) so don’t be fooled by the imports sporting cherry trade names.  Vermont is well established as the “go to” place to purchase real natural cherry wood furniture.

Black Walnut Furniture

American Black Walnut Wood is the only really dark North American wood. Like cherry it’s a prized, premium hardwood that carries a commensurate price tag.  Vermont woodworkers are specialists in black walnut furniture, handcrafting it from top quality solid walnut wood.

So there you have it, our customer’s Top 5 Fine Furniture Sale categories for Black Friday 2014.  Is there something here for you?  Let us know what you’re shopping for this Black Friday on our Facebook.

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Today’s post is Part II of our Hardwood Furniture Buyers Guide.

Hardwood Furniture Finishes

Hardwood furniture finishes: oil, wax, lacquer or poly?
Which fine hardwood furniture finish is right for you: oil, wax, lacquer or poly (hint: got kids?  Go for the lacquer or poly)?  This cherry wood dining table is finished with a blend of hand rubbed linseed oil and Poly gel.

Waxes and oils, such as beeswax or mineral oil are often used as hardwood furniture finishes because they sink into the fibers and condition the wood. These finishes bring out the grain of the wood and create a soft, supple surface but they need to be reapplied periodically. Alternatively, lacquer, shellac, varnish, poly and other non-porous coatings may be applied just once, creating a water proof coating that is almost maintenance free.

Which is best for you?  Well if you have young children you many not have time to be oiling furniture, so lacquer may be your best bet.  On the other hand, if you adore the feel of a well-oiled natural wood surface and you don’t mind taking the time to re-oil periodically, go for the oil and wax.

Care of Fine Hardwood Furniture Finishes

Fine hardwood furniture is an investment that should increase in value over time, however that depends on how well you care for it (particularly for furniture with an oil or wax finish). If you follow the furniture maker’s instructions your wood furniture should last a lifetime and more!

Oil Finish on Quality Hardwood Furniture
This Cherry Moon Nightstand is made with cherry hardwood and finished with natural linseed oil. To keep the wood soft and supple, it is smart to re-oil it 1/month during the first year.

Protect Against Water and Humidity

Wood is very sensitive to changes in relative humidity. As the weather changes, so does the relative humidity in your home and in the moisture content of the wood in your furniture. Fine hardwood furniture that’s coated with lacquer or poly is sealed and protected from the occasional water spill.  More about care for wood furniture with a lacquer finish.

Replenish Oil and Wax Finishes Periodically

Oil and wax finishes must be replenished frequently during the first year. A rule of thumb is: clean and oil your wood furniture immediately upon delivery into you home. After that oil it once/week for the first month. Then oil 1/month for the first year. After that oil your furniture 1/year. This will result in a soft supple patina that will not only protect your furniture but add to it’s beauty and value over time. More about care for wood furniture with an oil-wax finish.

Construction Details in Fine Hardwood Furniture

Joinery

Mortise and tenon joinery illustration
Mortise and tenon joinery is often used to attach side pieces to corner pieces and legs.

Joinery speaks clearly about the craftsmanship of a piece. Be sure to inspect corners and drawers to see how they’re crafted and look for these robust and durable joints:

Mortise-and-Tenon Joint

Mortise-and-tenon joint are often used in armoires, dressers, chests, cabinets, tables, chairs, desks and bookcases. The tenon (projecting piece) on a board is inserted into the mortise (cavity) on another board, then glued. An M-T joint may be further secured with a peg inserted through both pieces.

Dovetail Joint

The dovetail joint is typically used in drawer construction. Wedge-shaped projections on one piece interlock with corresponding slots on another.

Hardwood furniture construction details
Dovetail joints are shown attaching drawer fronts to the sides of the drawers (middle photos). Quality hardwood furniture also employs sturdy hinges and finished backs on case goods.

Use of Veneers

Veneers have taken a bad rap over the past several decades because much of the cheap, imported furniture sold in big box stores is made with low quality plywood or fiber board, then covered with a thin wooden veneer. Although solid wood construction is often preferred by those seeking high quality hardwood furniture, there are certain furniture designs that require veneers, for example sleigh beds that have curved wooden panels.

Why Hardwood versus Softwood Furniture?

In the world of trees and lumber, hardwood is relatively rare. About 80% of all timber comes from softwoods like pine, hemlock, cedar, and spruce. Only 20% of our timber is from hardwood trees like cherry, maple, oak, walnut, mahogany, teak and beech. As such, hardwood is relatively rare and expensive so why choose it over softwood? Generally speaking hardwood is more dense than softwood and has a tighter grain making it more resistant to decay. The density also makes hardwood more difficult for craftspeople to work with, but the beauty of the grain and the patina that develops over time makes solid hardwood furniture a prized possession.

If you’re in the market for high quality furniture, what’s your favorite wood? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

 

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Hardwood Dining Table and Chairs | Cherry
This hardwood dining table, buffet and chair set is made of American black cherry wood.  Mortise and tenon joints are used as well as dovetails in the drawers of the buffet.

Shopping for top quality hardwood furniture? We encourage customers to take their time and learn to enjoy the details that make fine wood furniture an heirloom you family will cherish for generations. This short guide tells you what to look for in your fine wood furniture, including types of hardwoods, joinery and finishes.

America’s Top Hardwood Choices for Fine Furniture

The American Hardwood Information Center lists 23 different species of American hardwoods including alder, ash, aspen, basswood, beech, cottonwood, hickory, sassafras and elm.  The following are time tested favorites for American made hardwood furniture.

American Black Cherry

Cherry wood is a reddish brown hardwood with a smooth, fine grain.  It’s perhaps the most prized furniture hardwood in America. People are often surprised to learn that natural cherry wood furniture changes colors over time– quite a bit actually. It starts out as a light-toned wood and darkens as it is exposed to light.

Top Quality Hardwoods include American Cherry, Maple, Walnut, Oak
These top quality hardwoods are favorites in the world of American made furniture: Cherry, Maple, Walnut and Oak.

Sugar or Hard Maple

Sugar Maple Wood (aka: hard maple) is usually light reddish brown in the center or heartwood but sometimes considerably darker (dark maple is often mistaken for cherry wood). Maple sapwood is typically white with a slight reddish-brown tinge. Maple is heavy, strong, stiff, hard, and resistant to shock.  It has a fine, uniform texture with generally straight grain, but variations such as curly, wavy, rippled, birdseye, tiger, flame or fiddleback grain occur and are often selected for specialty custom artisan furniture.

Oak

Oak has been the wood of choice for many of America’s most beloved mission and craftsman-style furniture makers, like Gustav Stickley, Greene and Greene and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Oak is a solid, sturdy and very durable hardwood with generally uniform coarse texture and prominent rays in the grain.  Oak wood may darken slightly over time, taking on more amber tones however the change is very subtle, unlike the significant color change with cherry wood.

Black walnut is North America's only chocolate brown hardwood
This hardwood bed, night stand and chest set is made of black walnut wood.  Black walnut is North America’s only chocolate brown hardwood.  It’s relatively rare and typically carries a 20-40% price premium.

American Black Walnut

Black walnut wood is the only dark North American wood. It’s prized by woodworkers for it’s strength, grain and color which is a rich chocolate brown– with occasional purple tones. There are over 20 species of walnut trees but it is the Eastern Black Walnut tree (aka: American Walnut) that is native to North America and is used for our American made walnut furniture.

If real top quality American hardwoods are important to you, be aware that imposters are everywhere.  Much of the “maple”, “walnut”, “oak” and “real cherry furniture” on the market today is actually made from cheaper woods like rubberwood, poplar, alder or other fast-growing wood alternatives.  They are often illegally clear-cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests, then bleached, texturized and stained to look like American hardwoods. When considering a purchase of wood furniture from large  “American furniture companies” like Bassett, Broyhill, Lane, Lazy Boy, Kincaid, Ethan Allan, Thomasville, Pennsylvania House, Drexel, Heritage, American Drew and Pottery Barn– be sure to ask what the wood species is and where it was grown.  You may be surprised by the response.

If you’re in the market for solid hardwood furniture, what’s your favorite wood?  Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

Next up: Quality Hardwood Furniture Buyers Guide, Part II: all about fine furniture finishes, joinery & solid wood vs veneers.

 

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Buying new hardwood flooring? Tips for buying sustainably harvested wood.
Buying new hardwood flooring?  Ask if it’s made from legal sustainably harvested wood.  Watch tonight’s Global News documentary to see why.

As a sustainable wood furniture company, we don’t usually have much to say about hardwood flooring.  But recent news & events in this area are so compelling I thought our readers would be interested to hear a few details.

Hardwood Flooring, Lumber Liquidators and the Forest
A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that Lumber Liquidators (America’s largest retailer of hardwood flooring) is under investigation by federal authorities for possible violations of the Lacey Act – a law banning the illegal harvest and trade of wood and timber products.

Hardwood Flooring and the Future of the Forest

Every year about 7.5 billion square feet of flooring is purchased in the USA (Freedonia).  If it takes roughly 1 acre of forest to produce 500 sq ft of flooring (UN Report by TimberGreen) then by my calculations it would take about 15 million acres to produce 7.5 billion sq ft of flooring (the amount sold annually in the USA).  By comparison, the state of Vermont is 5.9 million acres so each year an area of forest about 2.5 times the size of Vermont is logged to supply the American wood flooring industry.  Granted, my calculation is mushy and imprecise but even so, it begs the question: where is all that hardwood flooring come from?

Where Does Your Hardwood Flooring Come From?

We always encourage people to buy American made wood furniture because we know that environmental, health, safety and quality standards are high here in The States.  The same is true for American made wood flooring, but that integrity built into American made wood products makes them more expensive than imports.  So, not surprisingly about half of the hardwood flooring in America is imported (USITC Publication 4032).

The Siberian Tiger's Fate Rests with Lumber Liquidators?
The Siberian Tiger’s Fate Rests with you, the consumer and global timber companies like Lumber Liquidators.

The Trouble with Imported Wood

The imported wood products industry is now controlled to a large extent by organized crime.  A recent report Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers reveals that “demand for hardwood flooring and furniture in the United States, European Union, Japan, and China is fueling corruption and making the world’s last temperate hardwood forests into a major epicenter for illegal logging… Organized criminal groups send out logging brigades to steal valuable hardwoods from protected areas” thus decimating the last remaining habitats for iconic species like the Siberian tiger (in fact all species of big cats are now critically endangered as are all species of big apes, such as gorillas, chimps and orangutans).

Consumers Will Ultimately Decide the Fate of the Forest

As consumers we need to ask ourselves whether we want to buy the cheapest wood products we can without regard to the legality or sustainability of their origins.  Think about it. How could it be that hardwood flooring from the rainforest of South America or the Russian Far East is half the price of local hardwood flooring?

There is a high price being paid for these bargains– we just don’t see it.  Check out this video to see what the real price is, in terms of irreparable environmental damage. I’m betting, it’s a price you’re not willing to pay.

What You Can Do To Help

Maybe you’re not in the market for hardwood furniture or flooring but you still want to help protect the forest and it’s inhabitants.  Join the folks at Sierra Club in signing this petition to enforce the Lacey Act which seeks to eliminate trafficking in illegal wood products and penalize those who import illegally harvested wood products and wildlife.  Sign it today!

References

  1. EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency), Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Furniture & Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers
  2. Timber, a book by Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister
  3. TV Documentary, “Liquidating the Forests
  4. Global Tiger Day, Organized Crime and Timber (the New Heroin)
  5. IKEA Cuts Down 600 Year Old Trees, Suspended From FSC
  6. American Wood Furniture Is Linked To Global Forest Conservation
  7. Where Does Your Furniture Come From?
  8. Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?
  9. Organized Crime Is Getting Rich By Cutting Down The Rainforest

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Modern Craftsman furniture, handmade in Vermont. Quality USA made!
Vermont is America’s last great bastion of consummate craftsmanship. The Green Mountain state boasts over 2000 small furniture making companies. They’re keeping the spirit of American craft alive! Commission Vermont made furniture from one of the masters in The Guild and you’ll enjoy your investment everyday as it’s value appreciates over time.

New flash: the stock market’s volatile and the price of gold just took another tumble.  Here’s an idea… invest a portion of your money in something you can literally appreciate every day:  handmade Craftsman Furniture!  I was looking on the Stickley Museum website this morning and noticed that Gustav Stickley’s “Columbus Ave Sideboard” which he crafted in 1900 for his own home was sold by Stickley’s heirs to Barbara Streisand in 1988 for $363,000. Eleven years later, Barbara re-sold the sideboard to an un-named buyer at a Christie’s auction for $596,500.  $233,500 in appreciation just over 10 years– that’s not a bad rate of appreciation is it?

Bedroom furniture: Craftsman and Shaker style. Made in Vermont, USA
It’s not Gustav Stickley and it’s not going to sell for half a million dollars at Christies.  But it is high quality, solid cherry wood furniture, made in the USA by Vermont craftsmen and women.  And it’s guaranteed for a lifetime of service.

The Stickley museum website highlights other antique arts & crafts, mission and craftsman furniture pieces that have shown tremendous appreciation in value, including:

Now… original antique furniture is not for everyone.  Most of us would probably prefer to have beautiful, high quality furniture that we’re not afraid to use.  Which brings me to Vermont.  It is America’s last great bastion of consummate craftsmanship.  The Green Mountain state boasts over 2000 small furniture making companies.  The cream of the crop are members of an elite association of master level furniture makers, The Guild of Vermont Furniture Makers.  Tomorrow’s antiques can be commissioned from Guild members today, with a good bit of certainty that their value will increase over time.  Check out The Guild’s website and visit one of their shows or tour their workshops for an up close and personal view of truly fine craftsmanship.

Mission Style Buffet Sideboard
This Vermont made Mission style buffet & sideboard, is handcrafted of real solid cherry wood and guaranteed to last a lifetime.

We have a selection of craftsman furniture for sale at Stonehurst, our furniture and home decor showroom and we can also help you map out a tour of Guild members studios, focusing on those best suited to the type of furniture you’re looking for.

When you invest your money in tomorrow’s Vermont made antiques, you are also investing in American jobs and in the future of American craft.  What other kind of investment could give you this kind of appreciation?

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.