Vermont Woods Studios Handmade Furniture

Fine Wood Furniture: Origin, Sustainability and Karma

January 3rd, 2012 by Peggy Farabaugh

Clearlake-rockerA couple weeks ago I attempted to work through a definition of "fine wood furniture" at the request of one of our customers.  I couldn't find any type of universally (or even generally) agreed-upon definition, so I thought I'd try to make one up.  But as I waded into it, I realized how difficult even that is. 

There's just so much ground to cover in "fine wood furniture" such as style, type of wood used, craftsmanship, type of joinery used, finishing products and techniques, the use of hand tools versus precision machinery, the use of veneers versus solid wood, and of course durability and longevity. 

So I've been opining my way through each area– well just to generate some discussion really, because I think that would be more valuable than an attempted definition of "fine wood furniture".

 

Today I wanted to talk about where "fine wood furniture" comes from and how it makes it's way to your bedroom or kitchen.  Would you believe that most of the so called "fine wood furniture" that's sold in America today is made in China or VietNam from wood that was logged unsustainably (and often illegally) from the rainforests of South America, Africa, Siberia and Asia?  I know it sounds like extremist rhetoric, but it's really not.  Kendall just published a page on sustainable furniture today, reminding us about the environmental damage that comes from rainforest destruction.

So my point is, if you're going to define fine wood furniture, you probably do need to address where it comes from.  Furniture from small companies like Vermont Woods Studios that use American-grown, sustainably-harvested wood and local craftspeople is different than furniture that's made overseas with illegal wood by people paid 25 cents/hour.  It feels different.  It has better "karma".  It makes you feel proud to own it.  You find yourself telling people all about where you got it and how long it took to make and how the joinery is designed, right? 

Another note– most American fine wood furniture comes with a lifetime guarantee– an important indication of sustainability.

Next post, I'd like to share some sustainable practices I've been impressed with at Copeland Furniture and Clearlake Furniture, both Vermont companies.  After looking at the green practices Vermont furniture makers have been famous for over many generations, you may find youself agreeing with me that Vermont is the Fine Furniture Capital of America.

Thanks to Clearlake Furniture for the photo of their Rocking Chair

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