Tips and Advice on Buying High Quality Wood Furniture
Shopping online for high quality wood furniture requires some research. After all, fine furniture is a big investment–one you’ll want to own and enjoy for a lifetime. Vermont furniture makers have a rich history of crafting quality hardwood furniture for over 200 years. They are considered America’s fine furniture authority so we’ve rounded up a bit of their wisdom to share with you.
It’s not that easy anymore, especially if you’re shopping online. I just googled the phrase “top quality wood furniture” and came up with products like a 5 piece dining set for $356 at Target and a twin bed complete with underbed storage at Walmart for $139. Those are not products that most of us would call “high quality”.
Checking Quality in the Showroom
At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve been working for 9 years to be able to provide a showroom (Stonehurst) where customers can come and experience the beauty and honesty of true high quality wood furniture. I’ve noticed that when customers visit us, often they split up in the store. One person chats with us about their needs and the style of their home, while the other person inspects the quality of our furniture. He/she opens drawers, looks underneath table tops, moves dressers around to see how the backs are attached and so on. This is an important part of the purchase process. But what if you’re shopping online?
How to Gauge Quality when Shopping Online
Online fine furniture stores must provide enough detail via photos and articles to enable customers to judge their quality. On our website, for example we post a “Construction Details” page for every furniture collection we offer. Here you’ll find details ranging from the natural characteristics of the wood, to the type of joinery used, to instructions for care & maintenance (which are dependent on the type of wood and finish selected).
If you’re shopping for high quality wood furniture, you’re seeking craftsmanship that will be beautiful, remarkable and make your investment last a lifetime, right? It isn’t necessarily hard to find quality craftsmanship, but you’ll have to veer off the beaten big box path and steer over to the local furniture makers in your neighborhood.
Now before you get nervous about price, know that with high quality wood furniture (and most other things, I suppose), you truly do get what you pay for. A good craftsman will save you money in the long run because quality wood furniture lasts a lifetime. It’s something you can hand down to your children and grandchildren.
As you’re shopping for this investment, here are a few things to look for:
Real Solid HardWood Throughout
Top quality hardwoods that are grown in America and suitable for high end furniture include black cherry wood, black walnut wood, oak, maple, ash and birch. These wood species have high densities and tight, non-resinous grains. Plus they sand well and polish to a silky smooth and supple finish.
Hand Made in America
Furniture that’s hand made in America gets an immediate gold star for integrity, just for the fact that the wood is legally and sustainably harvested (this is often not the case with imported furniture). You can also feel good that USA made furniture is creating American jobs and sustainable economies. Another benefit: no worries about toxic finishes and glues (common in imported furniture) that might offgas in your home or be ingested by small children.
Drawers Made of Solid Wood with Dovetail Joinery and Robust Drawer Slides
Drawers and Doors provide perhaps the quickest and easiest quality check on craftsmanship. Make sure they are well fitted and adjusted properly. Drawers and doors should close easily and be flush with the cabinet front. The hardware should be substantial and adjustable in case of jostling during shipping and moving processes be sure to have your delivery crew make any necessary adjustments before they leave your home).
Smooth and Supple Furniture Finish
When you run your hand over a piece of high quality wood furniture, it should be as soft and smooth as a person’s skin. Fine wood furniture is sanded many times and eventually with a very fine grit sandpaper. The finish is typically a traditional hand-rubbed oil finish or a lacquer.
High Quality Wood Furniture Deserves A Lifetime Guarantee
I can’t imaging getting a lifetime guarantee in a big box store but most local craftsmen are happy to give a lifetime guarantee on their handmade wood furniture.
For more tips and advice on spying good craftsmanship in high quality wood furniture, visit the Hardwood Furniture section of our blog.