Friday, June 4, 2010

How to Identify Quality Wood Types for Furniture?

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Wooden furniture is made from many types of wood. However, good furniture has some standardized characteristics that include durability and beauty as its primary qualities. And these qualities are instilled in the furniture by the use of good types of wood. So, the foremost rule for identifying quality wooden furniture is to assess the wood type used for making it. How this can be done? Here are some pointers to consider when looking for quality wooden furniture.

Hardwood v/s Softwood- Basic Types of Wood for Furniture

Wooden furniture is made from both types of wood- hardwood as well as softwood. Hardness of the wood makes a durable wooden furniture. However, if you go by literal meaning of both the terms, you can be disappointed because not all hardwoods are hard, and not all softwoods are soft. Hardwoods come from flowering trees such as maple, cherry, oak, ash, walnut, and mahogany where as softwoods come from conifers like pine, spruce, redwood, and cedar. Hardwoods are more strong and stable type as compared to softwoods but there are exceptions too (gum is one of its example). So, we come to a conclusion that although wooden furniture made from hardwoods are more durable, the furniture made from softwood are also not that bad, especially if you want decorative carved furniture. To have detailed information on wood types for furniture, you must read Types of Wood Furniture- A Comparison of Wood Types

Wood Grain & Color- Check for Quality Here!

The grains of any type of wood are determined on the basis of annual growth rings on a tree. There are many types of woods that have subdued and others that have clearly defined grains. These grains can again be of any type- straight grains, stripes, swirls, waves or curls, ripples, eyes, or with mottled effects. Colors of woods too range from white and pale yellow to red, purple, and blackish brown. You should check grain and color of the wood to identify the wood quality.

Hardwoods generally have a more fine textured grain as compared to softwoods. The wood types that have distinctive patterns are considered more valuable than woods with subdued or indistinct patterns, If you see that a wooden furniture piece has weak looking grained wood then it might have been stained to give them some character.

Tips for Checking Wooden Furniture for Quality

There are two possibilities where you might get a wooden furniture with compromised quality. One, you may get wooden furniture made from veneers & inlays and second, you might bring furniture made with two or more types of wood. Veneer is made with a thin layer of good type of wood glued to a base of less expensive wood or plywood. When more types of wood are used, the quality wood type is used for more visible portions like table top or body of chair and cheap wood is used for lesser visible portions like table and chair legs.
  • To check whether your wooden furniture has veneer, look at the edge of the wood surface- a thin layer glued over a base wood will be seen there.
  • Compare the unfinished surface (like under the table top or chair seat) with the finished wooden surface. If there is some difference, it might be veneer.
  • Similarly, look for signs of staining at the legs of furniture pieces to make out whether it has been made from different combination of woods. Staining and finishing of cheap woods are essential if they have to be matched with quality wood types!
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