Learning to tell the difference between quality and substandard wood furniture is easy. There are three key points to check: wood type, construction method and finishing. While there are many variances among quality wood furniture, knowing a little about each of those three things can be a huge help in determining whether to make the purchase or move on.
The type of wood plays a large role in how long the furniture will last and how well it will age. For instance, many pieces of furniture made from plywood or other engineered wood products will not stand up to the test of time. Cheaply made products can have paper-thin veneers that will peel or crack within a few years of use, particularly if they have been exposed to any kind of moisture. However, this does not mean that all pieces of furniture made from plywood are bad. In general, plywood is relatively inexpensive and often stronger than some of the softer wood species available; for those reasons, it is one of the most common building materials today. A good piece of plywood furniture will have a thick veneer – up to 1/8-inch of solid hardwood. Shoppers can often determine the veneer thickness by searching hidden areas, such as the back of the piece, the undersides of drawers, or other hidden areas where plywood edges might be exposed.
When it comes to solid wood, the choices are between hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwoods include species such as oak, cherry mahogany, teak, walnut and many others, while softwoods come from coniferous trees like pine, redwood, cedar or fir. Most people view hardwood furniture as higher quality than softwoods, but fine pieces can be found in both categories. Hardwoods tend to be much heavier and stronger while softwoods are a bit more prone to dents and scratches. Bear in mind that much of the scratch resistance will also rely heavily on the type of finish used.
Start with the basics when judging the construction of a piece of furniture. Make sure doors and drawers open and close easily and that they are flush with the exterior of the piece. With doors closed, check the seams between the doors and frame – they should be perfectly even all around rather than widening and narrowing between top and bottom or side to side. Try to rock the piece of furniture – a good piece will not wobble, squeak, or shift around if it is sitting on a level floor. Check the interior of the piece for corner blocks, as those help to increase the stability of the piece, and also make sure that any hidden, unfinished areas have been well-sanded.
Construction methods are one of the most important factors in determining the quality of a piece of furniture. Two of the best joining methods are dovetails and mortise and tenon – these types of joints are among the strongest and most visually appealing. Other types of joints can include dowels or screws, but avoid any pieces of furniture that have relied on staples as a main fastener system.
A good finish will make quality wood furniture (visit Ethnicraft Malaysia Quality Teak Wood Furniture) stand out from the rest at a glance. The finish should be smooth to the touch without any rough patches. There should be no scratches or lines across the wood grain, indicating that the piece was improperly sanded. The stain should be evenly applied and free of murky areas or patches where the wood grain is obscured. Pay close attention to the top coat. It should be free of bubbles, marks, or spots of dust. When the top coat has been properly applied in several light coats with sanding between coats, the piece should have a deep, rich luster.