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.

Loft Bedroom Furniture Collection

Our new Loft bedroom furniture collection is proof that simple is beautiful. It’s clean, modern design utilizes simple and straight lines to highlight the natural beauty of the wood. The crisp right angles and straight lines make this bedroom set ideal for practically any contemporary bedroom style.

The centerpiece of the Loft Collection is the ultra minimalist bed. It has quite unique legs, which draws attention to it but in a way that doesnt distract from the rest of the room. It’s bold and beautiful but not in your face. The case pieces are expertly crafted and unassuming. They are versatile enough to transform as your aesthetic tastes change.

Why we love the Loft Bedroom Furniture Collection:

-The Minimalist bed reduces clutter in your bedroom.

-It’s unique geometric look stands out from traditional bedroom furniture

-It’s perfect for both husband and wife

-It’s extremely versatile

-It’s better for the environment

-It’s reasonably priced

-It’s guaranteed for life

-It’s made in Vermont and supports the local woodworking community

-It’s just plain beautiful

The Loft bedroom furniture collection is expertly crafted in Vermont using sustainably harvested solid wood. Each piece is custom crafted to ensure the highest standard of quality. An eco-friendly, hand applied oil finish tops off the artistry of this design. If you like it as much as we do, why not make it your own? Shop it online or give us a call at 888-390-5571/contact us with your questions.

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.

If you share your bedroom with your spouse, space can get tight quite easily. Especially when it comes to dresser space. While one option is to get separate dressers all together (although that might end up taking up more of your bedroom space) there are several dresser options that can accommodate your storage needs! We’ve hand picked five 10-Drawer dressers that are ideal for sharing, or if you’re anything like me, perfect for storing your never ending collection of clothes. These solid wood 10-drawer dressers are all expertly handcrafted in Vermont, from sustainably harvested wood.

10-drawer dressers

1) Our large his and hers Modern American 10-Drawer Dresser #2 features smooth clean contemporary lines. This dresser shown has a two-tone look with natural cherry hardwood with black walnut accents. It’s a perfect piece for sharing, with enough storage space for everyone! The unique styling of the drawer pulls gives this 10-drawer dresser a chic, zen style look– a must have for the asian furniture lover. What’s even better about this piece is that it can fit both a masculine or feminine space, keeping everyone happy.

 

10-Drawer Dressers2) Our Contemporary Cable 10-Drawer Dresser features solid hardwood construction and traditional joinery. Unique cable pulls complement the Contemporary Cable Platform Bed. It’s unique styling makes it the perfect dresser for the modern or contemporary designed bedroom. The 4 smaller drawers at the top are large enough to store your socks & undergarments, while the remaining 8 drawers provide an ample amount of storage for your clothes!

 

10-Drawer Dressers

3) Our high quality solid wood Modern Shaker 10-Drawer Dresser is the ultimate in bedroom storage. This shaker dresser features a modern twist on shaker style, and is versatile enough to match the decor of any bedroom.

 

10-Drawer Dressers4) Copeland’s large, luxurious, cherry wood, Monterey 10 Drawer Dresser fuses American Art’s & Crafts style with modern Japanese and Asian design. Handmade with natural cherry wood, this large, high end dresser can be customized online with your choice of 5 shades of cherry. It’s sleek styling makes it a must have for those looking to save bedroom space.

 

10-Drawer Dressers

5) This solid wood Contemporary Craftsman 10-Drawer Dresser features floating panel sides with gentle arches. It’s sturdy, handcrafted, and absolutely stunning. The 10 large drawers make it a great choice for the clothes collector who can never get enough space! 

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.

Vermont Made Home DecorVermont Made Home Decor is the perfect accessory to beautiful, natural wood furniture. While the furniture itself is comfortable and cozy, the home decor adds a layer of chic Vermont style & sophistication.

Vermont is known for its beautiful and unique artistry; from furniture to pottery to glassware, if it’s made in Vermont you can be sure that it is made with quality and elegance. The Vermont made home decor we carry is a representative sampling of some of Vermont’s most esteemed home decor brands– from Simon Pearce glassware to our newest addition of Hubbardton Forge lighting. We are thrilled to bring the best of Vermont Style home decor to the public, in one easy to shop website.

Decorate your entire home with Vermont made home decor for a look that is as eclectic as it is sleek and charming. Start with the custom crafted wood furniture, and complement it with hand blown glass, hand-painted pottery, luxurious linens, and beautifully handcrafted lighting. Each element of Vermont made home decor is unique in it’s style and it’s story, and we are excited to tell you more about them…

 

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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.