Eco Friendly Wood Furniture = American Made Wood Furniture

Last updated on October 3rd, 2022 at 04:14 pm

How do you know if
Our mission at Vermont Woods Studios is to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from.  Is Forest to Table furniture as important to you as Farm to Plate food?  Let us know why or why not on our Facebook.

Where Does Your Furniture Come From?

I started Vermont Woods Studios in 2005 to promote sustainable wooden furniture.  I’d been studying the impacts of illegal logging of the earth’s tropical rainforests and wondered “why isn’t anybody doing anything about this”?  With the destruction being driven by demand for cheap wood furniture, I realized there was something we could do to help… even from way up here in Vermont.  Thus our Vermont made furniture store was born, with the mission of raising awareness about where your furniture comes from and persuading people to buy eco friendly furniture made from sustainably harvested wood.

FSC Certification Problems

That purpose is still at the heart of our mission, although the definition of “eco friendly wood furniture” has changed.  Ten years ago the prevailing thought was that the hallmark of sustainably harvested wood furniture was a formal certification by the FSC, Forest Stewardship Council.

FSC is an international not for-profit group that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests.  It has been considered the “gold standard” for green certification and labeling of forest products since 1993.  Unfortunately, as pure as FSC’s intentions may be, the job of monitoring the entire planet’s forests has proved impossible.  With so much at stake and land areas too big to monitor, organized crime has taken over the global timber industry.  FSC certification is now systematically forged to the point where you cannot tell whether “certified” furniture is made from legal wood.

Illegal Wood:  Not Just About Climate Change & Loss of Biodiversity

A recent article by Alexander Zaitchik titled, Blood on Your Ottoman: Your Furniture’s Link to a Murderous Logging Epidemic chronicles the September 2014 murder of Edwin Chota and 3 other indigenous people in the Amazon rainforest.  The article highlights the fact that organized crime has upped the ante for illegal timber.  Murder is now fair game in their book and it’s happening more than you’d like to know.

“The first thing people can do is to revisit the assumption that buying “certified” wood products absolves them of responsibility for destroying the world’s remaining primary rainforests. If you’re buying Peruvian mahogany, or Brazilian rosewood, or Indonesian teak, there’s no way to determine whether or not it came from a legal, carefully managed tract, or whether a villager was killed for trying to keep that tree standing”.

Eco Friendly Wood Furniture = American Made Wood Furniture

Our message to conscious consumers shopping for eco friendly furniture, flooring, paper or other forest products is simple: buy American made.  In the United States logging is regulated and enforced.  There are more trees now than there were 100 years ago. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization FAO, “North American forest growth has exceeded harvest since the 1940s.  The greatest gains have been seen on the East Coast with average volumes of wood per acre almost doubling since the ’50s”.

Learn more about American made eco friendly wood furniture on our website and find out which companies say they’re “American made” versus those that truly are.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Custom Bookcases: Glass Doors, Wooden Doors or No Doors

Last updated on January 22nd, 2018 at 10:58 am

Getting Organized with Custom Bookcases

Custom bookcases might not be on the top of your Christmas list, but think about it.  Whether you have a home office or you’re trying to tidy up and organize your books and media, custom bookcases could make your life easier and more efficient in 2013.  Not to mention more beautiful.

At Vermont Woods Studios our biggest month for crafting bookcases and other organizers is January.  Could it have to do with New Year’s resolutions?  Must be, but we’re getting inquiries almost every day lately.  I think customers are realizing that there is a 1-3 month lead time for ordering custom bookcases.  So if you’re one of those people I thought I’d offer up some tips and advice about how to choose the right set of bookshelves for your home or office.

Glass Doors, Wooden Doors or No Doors

Are you really going to use those books or movies or vases?  Or will they just sit in the bookcase and collect dust?  Are they beautiful?  Part of your decor?  Or just obligatory (someone gave them to you and you can’t seem to throw them away) and you don’t necessarily want to see them?  Do you put things back neatly?  Or are you always in a hurry?  These are the kinds of weighty issues you’ll need to unravel before you decide whether or not to add doors to your custom bookcases.  Oh… and should the doors be glass to show off your chotskies or wooden to hide the mess?

Custom Bookcases, Bookshelves, Glass Doors, Wood Doors, No Doors

Custom bookcases might not be on the top of your Christmas list. But whether you have a home office or you’re trying to tidy up and organize your books and media, custom bookcases could make your life easier and more efficient in 2013. Learn more and shop for solid wood bookcases with full length glass doors, half length glass doors, full length wooden doors, half length wooden doors or no doors on our website.

One Big Bookshelf or a Couple Small Ones?

Once you’ve decided what kind of doors are best for your bookshelves, you’ll want to measure your space and get the cabinets to fit perfectly into it.  Some people love the integrated design of one big bookcase unit like the Modern Shaker Home Office Center Cabinet above (make sure you can fit something this big up the stairs and into your room!).  Other people like the versatility of combining several small bookcases in different ways.  One thing we always mention to customers is: if you’re getting a series of bookcases that you may want to place flush up next to each other, be sure you specify “no overhang”.  That means any molding along the top will be eliminated either on one or both sides, depending on how you want to configure the bookcases.

Measure Twice and Cut Once

We try to make it easy to customize your bookcase online, but it really is a good idea to give us a call or stop by the showroom to order custom bookcases, especially if they’re over-sized or designed to sit flush against each other.  We’ll help you get all the measurements right for your space so they’ll be no surprises when your furniture arrives.

Learn more and shop for solid wood bookcases with full length glass doors, half length glass doors, full length wooden doors, half length wooden doors or no doors on our website.

 

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Tristan Fletcher: Welcome to The Woods

Last updated on February 28th, 2019 at 04:04 pm

douglas-tristan
Tristan’s been learning the Vermont Woods Studios ropes from his dad since he was barely a teenager. I took this snapshot a couple years ago when we were renting a tiny office space from Teddy George at George’s Mill in Vernon.

This isn’t the first time I’ve had the pleasure of welcoming Tristan Fletcher into our family of hardworking fine furniture specialists at Vermont Woods Studios.  Tristan’s been helping us since back in the day when we were working out of the guest bedroom in my house.  He was barely a teenager when we started recruiting him to help with data entry and photo-shopping.  Over the years he’s added additional skills like computer networking and troubleshooting to his repertoire.  Not to mention lawn-mowing, wood cutting/stacking and showroom cleaning.

Come to think of it, Tristan’s probably a serious competitor to Ken and Loryn when it comes to winning the VWS “jack of all trades” award.

Here's Tristan and fellow "groundskeepers" at Stonehurst last summer.  The foursome (from left, Teagen Fletcher, Riley Farabaugh, Trenton Fletcher and Tristan)
Here’s Tristan and fellow “grounds keepers” at Stonehurst last summer. The foursome (from left, Taegen Fletcher, Riley Farabaugh, Trenton Fletcher and Tristan) managed to keep smiling (mostly) throughout  the process of cutting and stacking 40 cords of wood.

When I asked Tristan how he acquired his expertise with computers he said he got interested by playing online video games. “While at my friend’s house I saw his custom computer and at that moment it started my interest. As a computer gamer the technology is never enough so I tinker and get as much performance as I can. New leading edge things come out which make the computer work better/faster and instantly I need to have them.

I’ve been customizing computers for about 3 years.  There’s nothing like having all the separate parts and spending a day building and putting a computer together to experience the final product and being able to say “I made that”.

Tristan
“There is nothing like spending a day building and putting all the pieces of a computer together and being able to say “I made that”.
When he's not going to school, working at Vermont Woods Studios, building computers or hanging out with friends, Tristan likes to draw.
When he’s not going to school, working at Vermont Woods Studios, building computers or hanging out with friends, Tristan likes to draw.
Big sister, Taegen adds a little levity to the task of maintining our furniture showroom at Stonehurst.
Big sister, Taegen Fletcher also helps us out at Vermont Woods Studios.  No job is too big or too small

Everyone’s excited about having Tristan on board full time now at Stonehurst. We’ve stationed him in the Brainiac Room with Neville and Martin where he’ll be helping them turn our dreams into reality.  It’s great to have you on board full time, Tristan!

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Solid Wood Furniture Buying Guide

Last updated on August 14th, 2018 at 03:34 pm

Astrid Bedroom Set | Solid Wood Furniture | Black Walnut | American Made in VT
This top quality solid wood furniture set is handmade of real solid American black walnut wood.  To get the best price, shop for Astrid bedroom furniture as a set and save on white glove shipping and delivery.

I’ve been looking for a definition of “solid wood furniture“.  I’m finding the same thing I found when I looked for a definition of “American made furniture”.  Anything goes.  Here’s an example of what I found on a popular reference website (About.com),

Solid walnut wood furniture means that all exposed parts of the piece are wood. But the frame and inner parts may be of other, less-costly wood.  Thin layers of fine, decorative wood can be bonded to the face of low cost wood pieces. This is called veneering.

Now does that sound like solid wood furniture to you?  I don’t think so.  If you’re shopping for high quality furniture and solid wood construction is important to you, try asking your salesperson these 5 questions to help clarify things:

Is This Real Solid Wood Furniture or Veneered?

When you take a look at the edge of a solid wood tabletop you can see if the graining on the top carries through on the edge – the way marbling does in a piece of steak.  If this is not the case, you are looking at the “banding” on a veneered piece.  Another way to tell solid wood is to look at the underside of the piece.  Does the grain look like the same as the wood on the table top? If not, then it’s probably veneered.

Is this Furniture Made Of Hardwood of Softwood?

In North America, typically the best quality solid wood furniture is made of native hardwoods, such as cherry, walnut, maple, oak, ash and birch.  Although hardwood is more expensive than softwood, it has a higher density and is therefore usually harder and heavier.  Hardwood grain is closed, tight and non-resinous as opposed to softwood grain that’s loose and resinous, thus it splits easy.

Is the Craftsmanship Top Quality?

You can buy plenty of solid wood furniture that’s of poor quality.  For example, I just searched for “solid hardwood furniture high quality” and Google shopper’s first result was a solid wood bed for $68.98.  What good does it do to have solid wood construction when poor workmanship is going to limit the life of a piece to a couple years?  Check for solid craftsmanship, top quality joinery and meticulous finishes in your furniture.  A salesperson should be able to show and tell you about construction details such as mortise and tenon joints, dovetails, miter joints, finger joints, splines, biscuits, dowels, butts, dados, rabbets, tongue and groove and more. Durable, robust joinery is critical to the life and usefulness of a piece.

Finish is important too.  Most imported furniture is finished with cheap coatings that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde and benzene) which can cause asthma and allergies especially in young children.  Ask your salesperson to explain what’s in the finish and how many coats have been applied to protect the furniture over time.

Is This American Made or Imported Furniture?

Are you wondering why imported furniture is so much cheaper than American made furniture?  It’s not just that Chinese wages are about 1/10 of American wages.  It’s about where the raw materials come from.  In the USA, wood furniture is made from sustainably harvested wood that comes from well managed American forests.  With imported furniture, the wood is typically clear cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests.   Although imported furniture often carries labels that it’s made of American cherry, walnut, oak or maple woods, that is rarely the case.  These labels are trade names used to describe woods of suspicious origin that are stained to look like familiar American woods such as cherry and walnut.

Am I Getting The Best Value & Price?

Top quality solid wood furniture is inherently expensive, so you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the best value and price.  Find a local craftsman or retailer you can trust. Try to purchase your furniture as a set, rather than piece by piece.  Purchasing furniture sets not only creates efficiency in the craftsman’s workshop, it also saves money in shipping and delivery.

For more tips on purchasing top quality solid wood furniture with the best value and price, visit our Facebook and join the conversation.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

All Weather Adirondack Chairs

All Weather Adirondack Chairs from Vermont Woods Studios
The backyard of Stonehurst.  These wooden Adirondack chairs are longtime residents and have actually weathered quite gracefully.  But today’s POLYWOOD recycled plastic outdoor furniture lasts a lifetime…

We’re in the middle of winter here in Vermont but elsewhere in America people must be preparing for Spring.  We’re getting lots of inquiries about our POLYWOOD all weather Adirondack chairs.  It seems we’re not the only ones unwilling to haul outdoor furniture back and forth from the basement every year.

Polywood all weather Adirondack chairs | Recycled plastic milk jugs
Which Adirondack chairs do you prefer?  Wood or recycled plastic?  And which setting do you prefer?  Winter in the backyard of Stonehurst or summer on the banks of Lake Champlain?

Unlike the wooden chairs above, today’s all weather Adirondack chairs are made of recycled plastic milk jugs or POLYWOOD.  They offer the traditional design that’s proved itself comfy for generations along with new state of the art plastics technology that makes these chairs super durable. POLYWOOD holds up against harsh weather such as rain, snow, ice, and salt water.  It’s insect, mold and mildew resistant, requires no maintenance and even comes with a  lifetime guarantee.  Best of all, there are over a dozen colors to choose from and you’ll never have to touch up or paint (POLYWOOD’s color runs all the way through each recycled plastic board).

So, let us know which Adirondack chair (wood or POLYWOOD) and which seasonal setting (winter in the mountains or summer on the lake) you prefer on Facebook.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

VWS Donates Christmas Gifts to Local Girls Home

Last updated on August 3rd, 2018 at 11:45 am

The Vermont Woods Studios team donated Christmas gifts to a local NFI home for disadvantaged girls. The gifts included movies, video games, journals, markers, and board games. NFI Vermont works to create safe and supportive treatment programs for children, who struggle with severe emotional problems.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Floor Cloths, Made in Vermont by Cameron Howard

Last updated on October 23rd, 2018 at 02:37 pm

Floor Cloths | American Made | Cameron Howard
Artist Cameron Howard is passionate about the history and beauty of American floor cloths.  Here she’s showing us samples, photos and floor cloths that she’s made for customers all over New England and beyond.  We love passionate people!

Dunberry Hill Designs

Vermont’s premier custom floor cloth maker, Cameron Howard of Dunberry Hill Designs visited Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture store yesterday.  Wow!  We learned a lot about the history of this unique piece of Americana and the processes by which these top quality floor cloths are made.  Plus we got to see, feel and walk on some extraordinary works of art.  Did you know that floor cloths first became popular during the Industrial Revolution when sailing ships were coming into New England’s harbors to be re-fitted?  Torn sails would be salvaged by sailors’ wives and re-purposed in the home to keep drafts from blowing through floors and walls.  Soon artists began to see the cloths as a canvas and began applying classic American and European designs to them.

Top Quality Custom Floor Cloths

Today’s floor cloths adorn all types of homes, businesses and museums throughout America.  The floor coverings are made of heavy weight cotton covered with 5 coats of a special varnish which makes them extremely durable.  Artistic designs include historical early American motifs, geometric patterns, French Country style, arts and crafts,  mission style and modern designs. Custom designs are a favorite among Cameron’s customers.  The artist works with homeowners to make sure floor cloth colors match or accentuate existing decor (such as wall colors, counter tops, fabrics and art work).

Custom Floor Cloths | American Made in VT
Cameron’s paint samples are sent back and forth to customers to ensure that just the right colors are achieved.

How To Commission Your Own Unique Floor Cloth

Cameron Howard’s Dunberry Hill Design studio is in Townshend, Vermont.  Customers are encouraged to call or email Cameron prior to stopping by.  We hope to be getting some floor cloth samples at our furniture and home decor store soon and will keep you posted here on our blog.

About the Artist, Cameron Howard

Cameron Howard is a professional chef who served up her talents to upscale restaurants in New York,  Boston,  Maine and the Windham Hill Inn in Vermont.  Ten years ago she put the culinary pot on the back burner and turned her passion towards weaving. From there, she segued into decorative painting and the world of traditionally handcrafted floorcloths.  We look forward to sharing our enthusiasm for Cameron’s work with you at Stonehurst, our home design gallery in Southeastern Vermont.

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Quality Hardwood Furniture Buyers Guide, Part II

Last updated on August 20th, 2018 at 02:49 pm

Today’s post is Part II of our Hardwood Furniture Buyers Guide.

Hardwood Furniture Finishes

Hardwood furniture finishes: oil, wax, lacquer or poly?
Which fine hardwood furniture finish is right for you: oil, wax, lacquer or poly (hint: got kids? Go for the lacquer or poly)? This cherry wood dining table is finished with a blend of hand rubbed linseed oil and Poly gel.

Waxes and oils, such as beeswax or mineral oil are often used as hardwood furniture finishes because they sink into the fibers and condition the wood. These finishes bring out the grain of the wood and create a soft, supple surface but they need to be reapplied periodically. Alternatively, lacquer, shellac, varnish, poly and other non-porous coatings may be applied just once, creating a water proof coating that is almost maintenance free.

Which is best for you? Well if you have young children you many not have time to be oiling furniture, so lacquer may be your best bet. On the other hand, if you adore the feel of a well-oiled natural wood surface and you don’t mind taking the time to re-oil periodically, go for the oil and wax.

Care of Fine Hardwood Furniture Finishes

Fine hardwood furniture is an investment that should increase in value over time, however that depends on how well you care for it (particularly for furniture with an oil or wax finish). If you follow the furniture maker’s instructions your wood furniture should last a lifetime and more!

Oil Finish on Quality Hardwood Furniture
This Cherry Moon Nightstand is made with cherry hardwood and finished with natural linseed oil. To keep the wood soft and supple, it is smart to re-oil it 1/month during the first year.

Protect Against Water and Humidity

Wood is very sensitive to changes in relative humidity. As the weather changes, so does the relative humidity in your home and in the moisture content of the wood in your furniture. Fine hardwood furniture that’s coated with lacquer or poly is sealed and protected from the occasional water spill.

Replenish Oil and Wax Finishes Periodically

Oil and wax finishes must be replenished frequently during the first year. A rule of thumb is: clean and oil your wood furniture immediately upon delivery into you home. After that oil it once/week for the first month. Then oil 1/month for the first year. After that oil your furniture 1/year. This will result in a soft supple patina that will not only protect your furniture but add to it’s beauty and value over time.

Construction Details in Fine Hardwood Furniture

Joinery

Mortise and tenon joinery illustration
Mortise and tenon joinery is often used to attach side pieces to corner pieces and legs.

Joinery speaks clearly about the craftsmanship of a piece. Be sure to inspect corners and drawers to see how they’re crafted and look for these robust and durable joints:

Mortise-and-Tenon Joint

Mortise-and-tenon joint are often used in armoires, dressers, chests, cabinets, tables, chairs, desks and bookcases. The tenon (projecting piece) on a board is inserted into the mortise (cavity) on another board, then glued. An M-T joint may be further secured with a peg inserted through both pieces.

Dovetail Joint

The dovetail joint is typically used in drawer construction. Wedge-shaped projections on one piece interlock with corresponding slots on another.

Hardwood furniture construction details
Dovetail joints are shown attaching drawer fronts to the sides of the drawers (middle photos). Quality hardwood furniture also employs sturdy hinges and finished backs on case goods.

Use of Veneers

Veneers have taken a bad rap over the past several decades because much of the cheap, imported furniture sold in big box stores is made with low quality plywood or fiber board, then covered with a thin wooden veneer. Although solid wood construction is often preferred by those seeking high quality hardwood furniture, there are certain furniture designs that require veneers, for example sleigh beds that have curved wooden panels.

Why Hardwood versus Softwood Furniture?

In the world of trees and lumber, hardwood is relatively rare. About 80% of all timber comes from softwoods like pine, hemlock, cedar, and spruce. Only 20% of our timber is from hardwood trees like cherry, maple, oak, walnut, mahogany, teak and beech. As such, hardwood is relatively rare and expensive so why choose it over softwood? Generally speaking hardwood is more dense than softwood and has a tighter grain making it more resistant to decay. The density also makes hardwood more difficult for craftspeople to work with, but the beauty of the grain and the patina that develops over time makes solid hardwood furniture a prized possession.

If you’re in the market for high quality furniture, what’s your favorite wood? Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

 

 

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Hardwood Furniture Buyers Guide, Part I

Last updated on August 20th, 2018 at 02:49 pm

Hardwood Dining Table and Chairs | Cherry
This hardwood dining table, buffet and chair set is made of American black cherry wood.  Mortise and tenon joints are used as well as dovetails in the drawers of the buffet.

Shopping for top quality hardwood furniture? We encourage customers to take their time and learn to enjoy the details that make fine wood furniture an heirloom you family will cherish for generations. This short guide tells you what to look for in your fine wood furniture, including types of hardwoods, joinery and finishes.

America’s Top Hardwood Choices for Fine Furniture

The American Hardwood Information Center lists 23 different species of American hardwoods including alder, ash, aspen, basswood, beech, cottonwood, hickory, sassafras and elm.  The following are time tested favorites for American made hardwood furniture.

American Black Cherry

Cherry wood is a reddish brown hardwood with a smooth, fine grain.  It’s perhaps the most prized furniture hardwood in America. People are often surprised to learn that natural cherry wood furniture changes colors over time– quite a bit actually. It starts out as a light-toned wood and darkens as it is exposed to light.

Top Quality Hardwoods include American Cherry, Maple, Walnut, Oak
These top quality hardwoods are favorites in the world of American made furniture: Cherry, Maple, Walnut and Oak.

Sugar or Hard Maple

Sugar Maple Wood (aka: hard maple) is usually light reddish brown in the center or heartwood but sometimes considerably darker (dark maple is often mistaken for cherry wood). Maple sapwood is typically white with a slight reddish-brown tinge. Maple is heavy, strong, stiff, hard, and resistant to shock.  It has a fine, uniform texture with generally straight grain, but variations such as curly, wavy, rippled, birdseye, tiger, flame or fiddleback grain occur and are often selected for specialty custom artisan furniture.

Oak

Oak has been the wood of choice for many of America’s most beloved mission and craftsman-style furniture makers, like Gustav Stickley, Greene and Greene and Frank Lloyd Wright.  Oak is a solid, sturdy and very durable hardwood with generally uniform coarse texture and prominent rays in the grain.  Oak wood may darken slightly over time, taking on more amber tones however the change is very subtle, unlike the significant color change with cherry wood.

Black walnut is North America's only chocolate brown hardwood
This hardwood bed, night stand and chest set is made of black walnut wood.  Black walnut is North America’s only chocolate brown hardwood.  It’s relatively rare and typically carries a 20-40% price premium.

American Black Walnut

Black walnut wood is the only dark North American wood. It’s prized by woodworkers for it’s strength, grain and color which is a rich chocolate brown– with occasional purple tones. There are over 20 species of walnut trees but it is the Eastern Black Walnut tree (aka: American Walnut) that is native to North America and is used for our American made walnut furniture.

If real top quality American hardwoods are important to you, be aware that imposters are everywhere.  Much of the “maple”, “walnut”, “oak” and “real cherry furniture” on the market today is actually made from cheaper woods like rubberwood, poplar, alder or other fast-growing wood alternatives.  They are often illegally clear-cut from the world’s rapidly disappearing rainforests, then bleached, texturized and stained to look like American hardwoods. When considering a purchase of wood furniture from large  “American furniture companies” like Bassett, Broyhill, Lane, Lazy Boy, Kincaid, Ethan Allan, Thomasville, Pennsylvania House, Drexel, Heritage, American Drew and Pottery Barn– be sure to ask what the wood species is and where it was grown.  You may be surprised by the response.

If you’re in the market for solid hardwood furniture, what’s your favorite wood?  Let us know on Facebook or in the comments section below.

Next up: Quality Hardwood Furniture Buyers Guide, Part II: all about fine furniture finishes, joinery & solid wood vs veneers.

 

 

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Hardwood Flooring Bargains: The Real Cost

Last updated on October 3rd, 2022 at 03:19 pm

Buying new hardwood flooring? Tips for buying sustainably harvested wood.
Buying new hardwood flooring?  Ask if it’s made from legal sustainably harvested wood.  

As a sustainable wood furniture company, we don’t usually have much to say about hardwood flooring.  But recent news & events in this area are so compelling I thought our readers would be interested to hear a few details.

Hardwood Flooring, Lumber Liquidators and the Forest
A report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) reveals that Lumber Liquidators (America’s largest retailer of hardwood flooring) is under investigation by federal authorities for possible violations of the Lacey Act – a law banning the illegal harvest and trade of wood and timber products.

Hardwood Flooring and the Future of the Forest

Every year about 7.5 billion square feet of flooring is purchased in the USA (Freedonia).  If it takes roughly 1 acre of forest to produce 500 sq ft of flooring (UN Report by TimberGreen) then by my calculations it would take about 15 million acres to produce 7.5 billion sq ft of flooring (the amount sold annually in the USA).  By comparison, the state of Vermont is 5.9 million acres so each year an area of forest about 2.5 times the size of Vermont is logged to supply the American wood flooring industry.  Granted, my calculation is mushy and imprecise but even so, it begs the question: where is all that hardwood flooring come from?

Where Does Your Hardwood Flooring Come From?

We always encourage people to buy American made wood furniture because we know that environmental, health, safety and quality standards are high here in The States.  The same is true for American made wood flooring, but that integrity built into American made wood products makes them more expensive than imports.  So, not surprisingly about half of the hardwood flooring in America is imported.

The Siberian Tiger's Fate Rests with Lumber Liquidators?
The Siberian Tiger’s Fate Rests with you, the consumer and global timber companies like Lumber Liquidators.

The Trouble with Imported Wood

The imported wood products industry is now controlled to a large extent by organized crime.  A recent report Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers reveals that “demand for hardwood flooring and furniture in the United States, European Union, Japan, and China is fueling corruption and making the world’s last temperate hardwood forests into a major epicenter for illegal logging… Organized criminal groups send out logging brigades to steal valuable hardwoods from protected areas” thus decimating the last remaining habitats for iconic species like the Siberian tiger (in fact all species of big cats are now critically endangered as are all species of big apes, such as gorillas, chimps and orangutans).

Consumers Will Ultimately Decide the Fate of the Forest

As consumers we need to ask ourselves whether we want to buy the cheapest wood products we can without regard to the legality or sustainability of their origins.  Think about it. How could it be that hardwood flooring from the rainforest of South America or the Russian Far East is half the price of local hardwood flooring?

What You Can Do To Help

Maybe you’re not in the market for hardwood furniture or flooring but you still want to help protect the forest and it’s inhabitants.  Help support the folks at Sierra Club as they support the Lacey Act which seeks to eliminate trafficking in illegal wood products and penalize those who import illegally harvested wood products and wildlife.  Sign it today!

References

  1. EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency), Liquidating the Forests: Hardwood Furniture & Flooring, Organized Crime, and the World’s Last Siberian Tigers
  2. Timber, a book by Peter Dauvergne and Jane Lister
  3. Global Tiger Day, Organized Crime and Timber (the New Heroin)
  4. IKEA Cuts Down 600 Year Old Trees, Suspended From FSC
  5. American Wood Furniture Is Linked To Global Forest Conservation
  6. Where Does Your Furniture Come From?
  7. Is Your Wood Furniture Brought to You by Organized Crime?
  8. Organized Crime Is Getting Rich By Cutting Down The Rainforest

Already following our Blog? For more info sign up for our e-newsletter

Sign up now

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.