Do you know how to go about checking wood furniture for quality? It is not that hard, and you can learn to judge for quality by looking at the kind of wood that’s been used, the finish, and how the piece is constructed.
The kind of wood that is used has a lot of bearing on how long your furniture will last. It can be made of hardwood, softwood, or engineered wood.
Generally speaking quality furniture is made out of hardwood coming from deciduous trees such as oak, maple, mahogany, teak, walnut, cherry and birch. The wood will be air dried and then kiln dried to remove all the moisture.
Coniferous trees such as pine, fir, redwood and cedar produce soft wood. It is possible to find good quality furniture in these woods also, but these woods are more prone to scratches and dents.
Modern furniture is very rarely constructed of all wood. Plywood, or engineered wood is used extensively because it provides strength, and helps prevent splitting or warping. It can make for sturdy, long lasting and highly attractive furniture when used with high quality veneers.
The way a piece is constructed can contribute to its beauty, functionality and also how long it will last. The joinery and sturdiness of a piece will tell you a lot about its quality.
Mortise and tenon, and dovetails are two of the oldest ways of putting together furniture, and also make for the strongest and best looking joints. Good joints can also have dowels or screws, but will never be stapled. Any glue used will not show outside the joint.
Corner blocks add to the strength and stability of a piece. They are not visible from the outside, but bolt to both sides of interior corners.
A good quality desk or chest of drawers will have dust panels or thin sheets of wood between drawers in the body of a chest or desk. This not only makes them stronger structurally, but keeps dust away from clothing or papers.
Back panels that face the wall are the generally attached with screws to help ensure the lateral stability. Backs and unexposed parts should be sanded smooth and well fitted. This is an important feature as only well constructed furniture has these details.
Drawers fit well and have glides to allow you to effortlessly move a drawer in and out of its station. They will also have stops to prevent a drawer from being pulled out or falling. Glides in office furniture such as desks, file cabinets and computer armoires are important to the functionality of the piece.
Doors will close neatly be flush with the cabinet front, and good quality hardware will be used.
Test for sturdiness, by trying to rock or jostle the piece. It should not squeak, twist or wobble. Check if it is level with the floor.
A quality finish involves sanding, staining, and finishing. Neglect at any of the stages can affect the overall quality of a piece.
Sanding is the first step in the finishing process, and a good piece will be smooth so that when you run your hand over it there will be no rough patches. Sanding across the wood grain will also produce unattractive results such as dark lines or scratches across the surface. Improperly sanded wood will not take the stain evenly. Inspect the finish from different angles to check for blotchiness or scratches.
A good stain enhances the natural beauty of wood and adds color and character to the wood. It can make one wood type look like another one, or make different woods look similar. High quality staining will be even, without any dark spots. All sides and the ends should be the same tone.
Finishes range from high-gloss to matte. A high quality finish is satiny smooth and free of rough spots, dust specks, or bubbles. Look for depth and richness in the finish, which comes from several light coats of finish with sanding between the coats. A high quality piece is finished on the back and on the underside as well to reduce the chances of swelling or shrinking.
Some signs of poorly finished wood are:
- A rough surface
- A very glossy or cloudy surface that hides the wood grain
- Splintered edges
- Scratches, dents, or dust specks
- Dull spots indicating missed areas or not enough coats
- Teardrops” around the edges and on vertical surfaces
A distressed surface, however uses many of these effects to age new furniture and to heighten its rustic appeal. The wood is beaten, battered and nicked before applying the finish. However, good quality distressed furniture will be well constructed and sturdy.
source from: http://furniture.about.com/od/buyingfurniture/a/woodquality.htm