Customers often come to us because they're shopping for eco-friendly, sustainable furniture. At Vermont Woods Studios, our mission is founded on environmental and social responsibility so we find ourselves discussing FSC certification and other aspects of sustainable furniture almost every day. Here are some of the basics on FSC:
What is FSC?
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent,
non-governmental, not-for-profit organization that promotes responsible
management of the world's forests. It is widely regarded as one of the
most important initiatives to promote responsible forest management
worldwide. It places a special emphasis on rainforest conservation.
L to R photo credits: Reststart Forestry, Allard Lumber, Wayne Fawbush, Ellen Kahler, Copeland Furniture, via the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund.
by environmental groups in 1993 FSC manages an international standard
for well-managed forests and a process for tracking and certifying wood
furniture, flooring and other products derived from those forests. FSC
addresses numerous aspects of sustainable forestry, including ecological
issues, old-growth forests, plantations, restoration, biodiversity,
native habitat, indigenous people's rights, and sound management for
The FSC label provides certification of the
chain of links between the forest where a product originates and the
consumer. For example with wood furniture, each of the following
businesses involved in transforming a tree into a piece of furniture
would have to be FSC certified in order for that furniture piece to be
FSC certified. It's called the "chain of custody":
- Certified forest owner- Must employ a professional forester and
develop a forest management plan which meets stringent ecological and
- Certified logger and sawyer
- Certified lumber wholesaler
- Certified lumber retailer
- Certified furniture maker
- Certified furniture retailer
Benefits of FSC Certification
In my opinion, FSC provides the most rigorous certification process
available. It's widely considered the gold standard in sustainable
forestry and has moved the world forward in many areas of rainforest
Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection is handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple wood from local Vermont trees.
Challenges for FSC As you might expect FSC
certification involves extensive rule-making and auditing that can be
quite expensive (and controversial) to implement. It can add up to 50% to the price of the
end product although the hope is that this cost will decrease as FSC
certification becomes more mainstream. Still many small manufacturers
are unable to assume this cost and are thus not FSC certified.
challenge for FSC is the rampant counterfeiting of FSC documentation
accompanying raw lumber that is being illegally clear cut from the
Amazon and other endangered areas of rainforest. Also FSC has been
criticized for being too lenient,
particularly with their policy allowing limited old growth logging.
Should You Buy Only FSC Certified Furniture?
Authentic FSC certified furniture is a responsible choice for the
eco-conscious homeowner. However there are many genuinely responsible,
green, eco-friendly furniture makers who are not FSC certified due to
the red tape and expense involved. Conversely there is a large market of fake, FSC
labeled furniture that comes to us through layers of corruption
In Vermont, many of us who were certified by FSC for years have been moving away from it lately. Not because we don't support the ideal, but because we have so many other systems in place that effectively ensure our furniture is authentically green and sustainable. At Vermont Woods Studios not all of our furniture is FSC certified, but it is all made from sustainably harvested wood from local and regional forests.
If FSC certification is important to you, check out Copeland's Harbor Island Furniture collection. It's handmade here in VT with FSC certified maple from local Vermont trees. And let us know on our Facebook or in the comments section below how you feel about FSC certification.
Yesterday I wrote about our solid cherry furniture so today I wanted to follow up with a post about the furniture we carry that incorporates cherry veneers.
Sometimes customers come to us, initially averse to veneer but once they take a closer look they often change their minds. I realize veneers have been given a negative connotation by companies that stick them on particle board to make cheap furniture.
But did you know that premium quality, high end veneers are used by some of the world's most skilled furniture makers to add artistic flair and style to their work?
This is the case with the following six high end furniture collections:
Cherry Moon Furniture
Vermont Shaker Furniture
American Shaker Furniture
Copeland Sarah Shaker Furniture
Copeland Monterey Collection
Copeland Berkeley Collection
These furniture collections are made with all solid cherry wood except for the sides and backs of case goods. Real wood veneer is used for case goods (chests, dressers, cabinets, night stands) sides and backs for esthetic and structural design reasons. The pieces are made with frame and panel type construction and the use of solid wood in this design might cause the panels to warp in conditions of changing humidity.
As solid wood furniture specialists at Vermont Woods Studios, we spend a lot of time discussing the specifics of solid wood versus veneered construction methods with our customers. Details for each of our collections are found in our Construction Details pages. We welcome your comments and questions either below, on our Facebook, by phone or in person at our Vernon VT showroom.
At Vermont Woods Studios beds and bedroom furniture pieces are some of the most popular pieces we offer.
Now during our bedroom sale is a great time to furnish or update your bedroom with our 100% American Made, real wood Bedroom Furniture. You'll save 10% off any single piece, 15% off two pieces or 20% off 3 or more pieces (plus Free Delivery).
Create your own bedroom set with over 40 bed style options, plus dozens of nightstand, chest and dresser options.
Classic and timeless Vermont styling, handmade with uncompromised craftsmanship, and solidly built for generations of use. Real wood bedroom furniture you will appreciate and enjoy forever. And you can sleep tight knowing your new bedroom furniture investment is backed by a lifetime warranty.
Check out our bedroom sale and get started shopping for your new bed, nightstands, chests, dressers, and mirrors securely, easily, and conveniently directly from our online store.
* Excludes Copeland, Artisan, Barnwood & Polywood furniture. This Sale ends at midnight on August 21st.
Manjula, Kendall and Loryn have been working very hard this week on making it easier for you to shop for all solid wood bedroom sets. Check out this ultra-modern Astrid Cherry Bedroom Set page they've recently finished. It's a contemporary Copeland Furniture creation, made right here in Vermont of course, and crafted from all real solid cherry wood.
We've had Copeland's entire collection up since the start of 2012 but customers were looking for an easier way to build bedroom sets and compare pricing for different combinations of chests, dressers, beds, night stands and mirrors. Now you can use the drop-down menus on this sets page to price out dozens of options for your Astrid Bedroom Set.
I'm looking for feedback to see if this kind of presentation is helpful to you. Let us know in the comments section below or on our Facebook. Thanks!
A thick, organic slab table
handmade by Dan Mosheim of solid, claro walnut wood. The end grain and live edges are characteristics of the real thing.
Walnut furniture has been one of our best sellers this year, in spite of the fact that there is a 10-30% premium on the wood. Walnut wood is becoming rare (due to a disease called Thousand Cankers) so we are super careful about making sure ours is sustainably harvested from forests where re-planting is well managed.
We use a couple different types of American walnut wood for our furniture.
For thick, organic slab tables we often use claro walnut wood from huge old (up to 100 years) shade trees that have been taken down (usually from city streets) because of safety reasons. These slabs typically have beautiful, interesting character resulting from things like burls and branches.
For modern looking furniture, customers generally do not want "character wood" so we use younger walnut trees with straight grain patterns grown in managed forests in the mid-west (since walnut doesn't grow well in Vermont). This is the contemporary SoHo walnut 4 drawer chest, made by Copeland Furniture with solid, walnut wood.
Whether you're shopping for organic, walnut slab tables or Modern walnut furniture, it's important to verify that you are indeed getting real, solid walnut wood, as opposed to cheaper woods that have been stained dark to look like walnut. Be sure to ask your salesperson to confirm the wood type and its origin before you buy. Ask if the furniture has been made from solid walnut wood or walnut veneers.
Learn more about walnut wood and see photos of beautiful walnut furniture on our website. If you take the time to find real solid walnut furniture as opposed to what most stores call "walnut" you'll probably have that furniture for a lifetime. Enjoy it!
Vermont is America's "go to" store for authentic Cherry Wood Furniture. Cherry has been the wood of choice for hundreds of Vermont craftsmen for decades.
Whereas most of the big "American" furniture companies have outsourced their wood furniture manufacturing to Asia and Latin America, Vermont companies (with the exception of Ethan Allen, unfortunately) have remained here in the USA.
Vermont cherry furniture is made to a higher standard and it's still made from real, solid American black cherry wood. In contrast, many of the well known "American" furniture companies from North Carolina now use Asian woods like rubberwood which they stain and call "cherry".
So it's no wonder that customers come to us with many questions as they seek to find and purchase authentic American black cherry wood furniture. I thought I'd round up five of our previous blog posts written in response to customer questions about "cherry wood furniture" in hopes of streamlining your research on the subject. Feel free to post your own questions and comments below or on our Facebook.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it's still frustrating to see people take your work, copy it and sell it as their own. Unfortunately the Internet has made that a full time job for many companies around the globe.
The latest copycat we've come across is a company calling themselves American Eco Furniture. See any similarities in our logos? Our Vermont Woods Studios logo (above) has three trees made with thumbprints to signify the handcrafted nature of our furniture. The trunk on each tree is unique to convey that our furniture makers are independent, with their own styles, designs and crafting techniques. Our American made furniture is carefully handcrafted in Vermont of solid, sustainably harvested wood. It's guaranteed for a lifetime. It truly is the real thing.
They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery but it's still frustrating to see people take your work, copy it and try to sell it as their own. Contrary to the information on their website, most of the furniture sold by this copycat is neither eco-friendly nor American made.
By contrast, most of the furniture sold by this company is neither American made nor eco friendly.
It turns out that we can have attorneys go after this company (and the many others like it) but I'm not sure we can afford to take our focus off making Vermont Woods Studios best in it's class– in order to chase them down. It's kind of like that "Whack-A Mole" game. New scams just keep popping up.
I can't help humming that old song by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Remember it? Ain't Nothin Like The Real Thing, Baby.
So I just have to hope consumers aren't getting us confused with the fly-by-nights. In talking with our customers we've learned they typically spend 3-4 months shopping and researching before they make an investment in American handmade furniture. I think that's what it takes anymore to make sure you're getting the real thing.
What do you think? Drop us a line in the comments section below or on our Facebook. We love hearing from you!
By Loryn Dion
Here at Vermont Woods Studios, a big part of our mission is to support and give back to our local and global community, specifically to those that are helping to better our world through forest conservation. While many companies and organizations promote a similar cause in their missions, VWS staff members like to do more than just write out a check or sit in the office talking about our plans but not physically putting them into action.
Thursday, the folks at the Bonnyvale Environmental Educational Center (BEEC) welcomed Peggy and me to their beautiful sanctuary, a vacation away from the hustle and bustle of the average work day. BEEC is a member-based, nonprofit organization founded with the mission to develop a more ecologically informed citizenry through education and action in order to enhance and sustain the vitality of southern Vermont’s bioregion. BEEC’s land and facilities include 100 acres of mature forests, open pasture lands, hiking trails, sweeping hilltop views, and a classroom and office, all situated in a beautiful rural setting less than 10 minutes from downtown Brattleboro.
BEEC also coordinates and leads important community-based environmental research and conservation programs, including watershed stewardship, reptile and amphibian conservation initiatives, and biodiversity planning and protection.
Check out those hill tops!
We traveled to BEEC for a meeting with Patti Smith and Belle Coles, two staff members of BEEC, to brainstorm some ideas for a partnership between our organizations. BEEC has some fantastic programs that they organize throughout the year and they are always looking for volunteers and sponsors. Vermont Woods Studios is hoping to help them out with one or more of these projects in the not-so-distant future.
Although Peggy and I were there on “business,” we were able to go on a nice hike to see the amazing views of the Vermont landscape and meet a lazy little possum named “Samuel Gompers.” Samuel and his siblings were rescued when they were just babies after they lost their parents. Samuel is very happy at his home with BEEC staff and enjoys eating blueberries and Japanese Beetles! I’d say this was a very successful business meeting!
If you’re interested in helping out too, the next big event that BEEC is holding their annual Hike-A-Thon. Last year, they raised over $1400 through the fundraiser. To learn more about BEEC’s projects, check out the event calendar on their Web site.
And to learn more about our participation in a future BEEC project, keep following our blog or follow us on Facebook!
Mr. Samuel Gompers
Loryn Dion is a Marketing Assistant at Vermont Woods Studios, an online furniture gallery which showcases Vermont’s finest wood furniture. Follow our blog to learn about Vermont fine furniture, Vermont happenings, our mission, and our team.
Copeland's Horizon Modern Storage Bed
features four sturdy drawers and an optional bench-footboard. The night stand is designed to allow room to pull the drawers out. Bed is shown in a dark chocolate stain. It's also available in natural maple or maple with light colored stains.
Our friends at Copeland Furniture in Bradford, Vermont have come out with what I think is America's best selection of storage beds. Apparently our customers agree because these platform beds with under-bed storage were our best sellers last week.
Perfect for apartment or condo living Copeland's modern beds are designed for both comfort and style. This one, the Horizon Bed is shown in a dark chocolate stain over maple wood although several lighter stain colors are also available.
Each piece in the Horizon bedroom furniture collection is handmade in Vermont with solid, sustainably harvested maple wood and carries our Vermont Woods Studios Lifetime Guarantee.
Copeland offers several other storage bed designs including the Berkeley Storage Bed, the Monterey Storage Bed, the Dominion Storage Bed and the Harbor Island Storage Bed. These American made platform beds literally do the heavy lifting when it comes to under-bed storage and customers appreciate the high quality and craftsmanship that's become synonymous with Copeland Furniture's brand. We think you will too!
Vermont woodworkers: this is a no-brainer. Vermont Fine Furniture & Wood Products Design Competition is a great opportunity to gain recognition and notoriety for your work.
Calling all Vermont woodworkers and fine furniture makers. The 9th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture & Wood Products Design Competition wants YOU. The festival which has been dubbed one of Vermont's Top Ten Fall Events by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce is a great opportunity to gain recognition and notoriety for your work.
Join some of the world's finest woodworkers and furniture designers and compete for best:
- Custom Studio Furniture
- Production Furniture
- Custom Woodenware and
- Carving and Sculpture
There is also a special category where students and apprentices can compete. The Woodworking festival takes place September 29-30, 2012 in Woodstock, Vermont and the Design Contest entry forms are here. If you're not already linked into the Vermont woodworking community, we recommend you become a member of the Vermont Wood Manufacturing Association, VWMA first. That gets you a discount on entry fees and insider info on all things wood in Vermont. We hope you join with us, VWMA and the "best of the best" woodworkers who are letting the world know that Vermont's the Fine Furniture Capital of America.