About Peggy Farabaugh

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.
Astrid Bedroom Set | Solid Wood Furniture | Black Walnut | American Made in VT
This top quality solid wood furniture set is handmade of real solid American black walnut wood.  To get the best price, shop for Astrid bedroom furniture as a set and save on white glove shipping and delivery.

I’ve been looking for a widely accepted definition of “solid wood furniture“.  I’m finding the same thing as when I looked for a definition of “American made furniture”.  Anything goes.  Here’s an example of what I found on a popular reference website (About.com),

”Solid walnut wood furniture means that all exposed parts of the piece are walnut. But the frame and inner parts may be of other, less-costly wood.  Thin layers of fine, decorative wood can be bonded to the face of low cost wood pieces. This is called veneering.”

Now does that sound like solid wood furniture to you?  I don’t think so.  If you’re shopping for high quality furniture and solid wood construction is important to you, try asking your salesperson these 5 questions to help clarify things:

Is This Real Solid Wood Furniture or Veneered?

When you take a look at the edge of a solid wood tabletop you can see if the graining on the top carries through on the edge – the way marbling does in a piece of steak.  If this is not the case, you are looking at the “banding” on a veneered piece.  Another way to tell solid wood is to look at the underside of the piece.  Does the grain look like the same as the wood on the table top? If not, then it’s probably veneered.

Is this Furniture Made Of Hardwood of Softwood?

In North America, typically the best quality solid wood furniture is made of native hardwoods, such as cherry, walnut, maple, oak, ash and birch.  Although hardwood is more expensive than softwood, it has a higher density and is therefore usually harder and heavier.  Hardwood grain is closed, tight and non-resinous as opposed to softwood grain that’s loose and resinous, thus it splits easy.

Is the Craftsmanship Top Quality?

You can buy plenty of solid wood furniture that’s of poor quality.  For example, I just searched for “solid hardwood furniture high quality” and Google shopper’s first result was a solid wood bed for $68.98.  What good does it do to have solid wood construction when poor workmanship is going to limit the life of a piece to a couple years?  Check for solid craftsmanship, top quality joinery and meticulous finishes in your furniture.  A salesperson should be able to show and tell you about construction details such as mortise and tenon joints, dovetails, miter joints, finger joints, splines, biscuits, dowels, butts, dados, rabbets, tongue and groove and more. Durable, robust joinery is critical to the life and usefulness of a piece.

Finish is important too.  Most imported furniture is finished with cheap coatings that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde and benzene) which can cause asthma and allergies especially in young children.  Ask your salesperson to explain what’s in the finish and how many coats have been applied to protect the furniture over time.

Is This American Made or Imported Furniture?

Are you wondering why imported furniture is so much cheaper than American made furniture?  It’s not just that Chinese wages are about 1/10 of American wages.  It’s about where the raw materials come from.  In the USA, wood furniture is made from sustainably harvested wood that comes from well managed American forests.  With imported furniture, the wood is typically clear cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests.   Although imported furniture often carries labels that it’s made of American cherry, walnut, oak or maple woods, that is rarely the case.  These labels are trade names used to describe woods of suspicious origin that are stained to look like familiar American woods such as cherry and walnut.

Am I Getting The Best Value and Price?

Top quality solid wood furniture is inherently expensive, so you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the best value and price.  Find a local craftsman or retailer you can trust. Try to purchase your furniture as a set, rather than piece by piece if possible.  Purchasing furniture sets not only creates efficiency in the craftsman’s workshop, it also saves money in shipping and delivery.

For more tips on purchasing top quality solid wood furniture with the best value and price, visit our Facebook and join the conversation.

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.

All Weather Adirondack Chairs from Vermont Woods Studios
The backyard of Stonehurst.  These wooden Adirondack chairs are longtime residents and have actually weathered quite gracefully.  But today’s POLYWOOD recycled plastic outdoor furniture lasts a lifetime…

We’re in the middle of winter here in Vermont but elsewhere in America people must be preparing for Spring.  We’re getting lots of inquiries about our POLYWOOD all weather Adirondack chairs.  It seems we’re not the only ones unwilling to haul outdoor furniture back and forth from the basement every year.

Polywood all weather Adirondack chairs | Recycled plastic milk jugs
Which Adirondack chairs do you prefer?  Wood or recycled plastic?  And which setting do you prefer?  Winter in the backyard of Stonehurst or summer on the banks of Lake Champlain?

Unlike the wooden chairs above, today’s all weather Adirondack chairs are made of recycled plastic milk jugs or POLYWOOD.  They offer the traditional design that’s proved itself comfy for generations along with new state of the art plastics technology that makes these chairs super durable. POLYWOOD holds up against harsh weather such as rain, snow, ice, and salt water.  It’s insect, mold and mildew resistant, requires no maintenance and even comes with a  lifetime guarantee.  Best of all, there are over a dozen colors to choose from and you’ll never have to touch up or paint (POLYWOOD’s color runs all the way through each recycled plastic board).

So, let us know which Adirondack chair (wood or POLYWOOD) and which seasonal setting (winter in the mountains or summer on the lake) you prefer on 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.

Floor Cloths | American Made | Cameron Howard
Artist Cameron Howard is passionate about the history and beauty of American floor cloths.  Here she’s showing us samples, photos and floor cloths that she’s made for customers all over New England and beyond.  We love passionate people!

Dunberry Hill Designs

Vermont’s premier custom floor cloth maker, Cameron Howard of Dunberry Hill Designs visited Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture store yesterday.  Wow!  We learned a lot about the history of this unique piece of Americana and the processes by which these top quality floor cloths are made.  Plus we got to see, feel and walk on some extraordinary works of art.  Did you know that floor cloths first became popular during the Industrial Revolution when sailing ships were coming into New England’s harbors to be re-fitted?  Torn sails would be salvaged by sailors’ wives and re-purposed in the home to keep drafts from blowing through floors and walls.  Soon artists began to see the cloths as a canvas and began applying classic American and European designs to them.

Top Quality Custom Floor Cloths

Today’s floor cloths adorn all types of homes, businesses and museums throughout America.  The floor coverings are made of heavy weight cotton covered with 5 coats of a special varnish which makes them extremely durable.  Artistic designs include historical early American motifs, geometric patterns, French Country style, arts and crafts,  mission style and modern designs. Custom designs are a favorite among Cameron’s customers.  The artist works with homeowners to make sure floor cloth colors match or accentuate existing decor (such as wall colors, counter tops, fabrics and art work).

Custom Floor Cloths | American Made in VT
Cameron’s paint samples are sent back and forth to customers to ensure that just the right colors are achieved.

How To Commission Your Own Unique Floor Cloth

Cameron Howard’s Dunberry Hill Design studio is in Townshend, Vermont.  Customers are encouraged to call or email Cameron prior to stopping by.  We hope to be getting some floor cloth samples at our furniture and home decor store soon and will keep you posted here on our blog.

About the Artist, Cameron Howard

Cameron Howard is a professional chef who served up her talents to upscale restaurants in New York,  Boston,  Maine and the Windham Hill Inn in Vermont.  Ten years ago she put the culinary pot on the back burner and turned her passion towards weaving. From there, she segued into decorative painting and the world of traditionally handcrafted floorcloths.  We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm for Cameron’s work with you at Stonehurst, our home design gallery in Southeastern Vermont.

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.

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.