If you’re looking to buy a piece of furniture that will stand the test of time, you will be looking at wood. How can you tell whether a piece is made of good quality? Here are some pointers.
Look at old furniture
Up until a few decades ago, all wooden furniture was made with great care. If you go to a second-hand furniture shop and look at how the drawers, shelves and other parts are put together, you will see that great construction is made to last. Looking at how older pieces of furniture have stood the test of time will give you an idea of what to look for in freshly-built furniture. For information on the different types of joints, check out the WWGOA’s guide.
Comparing modern furniture
To a certain extent, the price you pay for a piece of furniture will depend on the quality. When buying something that is intended to last, you can use certain features of furniture to work out how well-made they are.
At the lower end of the spectrum is engineered kit furniture. This usually comes flat-packed for home assembly but can also be found pre-constructed. Instead of using wood and wood-crafting techniques, these pieces are often made from chip or fibre board with a laminate coating.
In the middle, you will find furniture made from wood, but it is of low quality (such as pine or beech) and parts that are not on display are sometimes fibre board or chip board. This furniture is made with quicker techniques, frames are stapled, and joints may be glued rather than mortised.
In higher-quality furniture, the wood has been air-dried and the tone and grain will be matched. Looking at the construction, you will find dovetails, mortise and tenon joints and frames that are both glued and screwed.
It is also possible to have furniture made to order, like the bespoke commercial desks from Simon Kohn at http://simonkohnfurniture.co.uk/our-work/commercial/reception-areas-and-desks/. Craftsman-made bespoke pieces are constructed to fit a certain space or function, and they are a good way to guarantee that no one will have the same piece as you!
Solid wood furniture is an investment. Choose wisely and you will be able to pass it down the generations and know that you have bought something that will stay beautiful for years to come.