Tips on Buying Real Wood Unfinished Furniture.
We are pleased to offer the following definitions and tips for buying unfinished wood furniture.
Ready-to-finish furniture gives you a wide range of options that can meet all your furniture needs. We offer quality products from both local craftsmen and national manufacturers that will fit any budget.
Solid Wood means that all exposed parts of the furniture are made of solid board, either softwood or hardwood lumber. No veneers or particle boards are used. When solid boards are used in furniture construction, they are glued together side-by-side along the edges. Often, a number of boards are used to make the wood more stable and reduce the chance of warping. Solid board can always be identified by following a seam to the end, where you will find the "end" grain.
Many veneers are glued over the edges to look like solid wood, but they will always be faced on the end and show no end grain. Remember, "all-wood furniture" is not necessarily solid wood. A veneer can help you achieve the look you desire at a cost lower than solid lumber. Veneers can be overlaid on plywood or particle board. A plywood core is lighter, less expensive and more forgiving if damaged, but it can swell if it gets wet. If damaged, particle board will often fracture because the material is so hard it cannot absorb a shock.
|There are three types of glue-up in most solid wood furniture:|
|•||Plank is made of pieces that have the same length, but varying widths.|
|•||Laminated is made of pieces that have the same length and width.|
|•||Butcher block is made of pieces with varying length, but the same width.|
Veneer is a thin layer of wood applied in sheets over underlying layers of wood, plywood or particle board.
Plywood is made of thin layers of solid wood glued over each other with grains running at 90-degree angles to produce a strong core. A veneer is often glued on top.
Particle board is made by gluing chips and particles of wood together and pressing them into sheets, upon which a veneer can be glued. Hardness is determined by the specific density of the wood, not by whether a tree is classified as a "hardwood" or "softwood."
Hardness is determined by the specific density of the wood, not by whether a tree is classified as a "hardwood" or "softwood."
|•||Hardwoods come from deciduous trees. (e.g. maple, oak, alder)|
|•||Softwoods come from conifers. (e.g. pine, spruce, fir)|
Some hardwoods, such as balsa wood, are softer than some softwoods, such as pine.
Drawer construction is generally a good indication of overall furniture quality. Some drawers have no guides. The lack of guides allows more "play" and can cause the drawer to bind when it is opened and closed. Others have wood-to-wood center guides, nylon-to-wood center guides, side-mounted roller guides or center-mounted metal guides.
Roller guides and center-mounted metal guides normally have built-in drawer stops, and some have lifetime warranties for drawer operation.
Many drawers have glue-blocks to strengthen the bottom. Most ready-to-finish chests have wood drawer bottoms not always the case with prefinished furniture.
Now, as in the past, doweled and dovetailed drawer joints indicate a high degree of craftsmanship. However, modern machine technology, good bonding glue and pneumatically driven staples coated with resin have afforded savings in construction while providing durability.
Quality wood furniture purchased today can be used for a lifetime. Ask your ready-to-finish furniture dealer to show you other things to look for and the many benefits you'll find in solid wood furniture.
Tips on Choosing Wood for Unfinished Furniture
|Wood has always been a favorite material for making furniture, and for good reason:|
|•||Wood is available in various colors, grains and hardnesses. It can be cut and shaped into a large variety of attractive designs.|
|•||Wood is shock-resistant and very durable, generally outlasting synthetic materials. Scratches and nicks are easy to touch up.|
|•||Wood has lasting value. Genuine wood furniture may cost more in the beginning, but it often grows in value as it is handed down from one generation to another.|
With unfinished real wood furniture, you can add other pieces at any time and match the finish something that is often not possible with prefinished furniture.
Types of Wood
Unfinished furniture is available in many types of wood, each with special characteristics. And because each tree yields lumber with its own grain patterns and character markings, each piece of genuine wood furniture has a unique personality.
You may not be familiar with every type of wood, but all make quality furnishings of various types. Your ready-to-finish furniture dealer can advise you about the stains and finishes to use for best results on each type. Here are the kinds of wood commonly used to make ready-to-finish furniture.
Alder is a hardwood from the Pacific Northwest. It is very consistent in color and takes stain well. It ranks third behind oak and pine as the wood most commonly used for ready-to-finish furniture. Alder gives the look of many fine hardwoods at a reasonable price.
Ash is a long-fibered, light-colored hardwood with a tight grain much like birch or maple. It is good for bending, takes stain well and is used mainly for chairs and stools.
Aspen is a softer, light-colored, even-grained hardwood. It accepts most stains well, but may need a sealer or a coat of mineral spirits to achieve an even stain. Nonpenetrating stains work best on this wood.
Beech grows primarily in the Northeast and Canada. It is a cream-colored hardwood often used for sporting equipment, such as baseball bats. It has an open grain pattern similar to that of oak, and takes stains well.
Birch is fine-grained hardwood that grows primarily in the Northeast and Canada. White in color, it takes any color of stain well.
Maple is especially abundant in the eastern U.S. It is a very light-colored hardwood with a very even grain texture. Eastern maples are generally harder than western maples because of the colder winters and shorter growing seasons. Both are very durable and take any color of stain well.
Oak is the wood most commonly used for ready-to-finish furniture. It is a very hard, open-grain wood that comes in red or white varieties. Red oak, which has a pinkish cast, is the more popular of the two. White oak has a slight greenish cast. Both woods stain well in any color.
Parawood from the Far East is used for much of the furniture made in that part of the world. The wood is as hard as maple or ash and takes a very even stain. It is yellow in color, with a grain similar to mahogany.
Pine is a softwood that comes in many varieties from various parts of the world. In the U.S., Eastern white pine, ponderosa pine and sugar pine are some of the varieties used to make furniture. All have yellow coloring with brown knots and are excellent for staining. With some stains, a sealer helps prepare the wood to achieve a more even look.
Radiata Pine is a plantation-grown wood from South America that is harder than other pines and has fewer knots. This variety of pine has a beautiful grain pattern.