Tips and Advice on Buying High Quality Wood Furniture
Shopping online for high quality wood furniture requires some research. After all, fine furniture is a big investment--one you'll want to own and enjoy for a lifetime. Vermont furniture makers have a rich history of crafting quality hardwood furniture for over 200 years. They are considered America's fine furniture authority so we've rounded up a bit of their wisdom to share with you.
Understanding Pricing of Top Quality Wood Furniture
A number of factors are included in the price of fine furniture. From wood origin, color, grade & width of the boards, types of joinery, expertise & reputation of the furniture maker and overall level of craftsmanship are all part of the equation. Included also in fine furniture pricing made here in Vermont is the livable wage each craftsperson earns.
Look For Real American Made Furniture
Most "American made" furniture sold in the USA is imported from China, Vietnam, Indonesia and other developing countries. The quality is not as high as you will want to see if you are searching for genuine, handcrafted wood furniture. In an effort to cut costs, major American furniture companies have been known to move their operations overseas as global economies change. Quality has plummeted since production left the USA. To find true quality that is backed by a lifetime guarantee seek out small local American furniture companies that craft honest furniture out of responsibly harvested, local hardwoods.
Choosing a Wood Species
American Black Cherry is perhaps the most popular hardwood we sell here at Vermont Woods Studios, but there are many other beautiful, sustainable and durable furniture woods including maple, walnut & oak. These premium hardwoods typically price out at about the same with the exception of walnut which carries a premium (often 25-35%). Each hardwood varies in color, grain, hardness and durability. Some woods--for example cherry--even change color over time an exposure to light. Ask your furniture maker what types of wood he/she works with. Most will offer several choices.
Choosing Solid Wood or Veneer
Both solid wood and veneered furniture have their advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes a piece of furniture will use both solid wood and veneers to make a piece more functional. Ask your craftsperson or sales representative for more details on their practices or certain pieces. Most craftspeople will accommodate a customization.
Choosing a Design Style
Are you seeking modern wood furniture with clean, simple lines? Traditional Shaker furniture? Craftsman style furniture? Mission style furniture? Rustic distressed furniture? Or something in between? Furniture makers will typically specialize in one style or another. You will get the best quality and price if you purchase from a craftsman who specializes in the style you're looking for.
Selecting a Furniture Finish
Do you have young children or rambunctious pets? If so, consider opting for a poly or lacquer finish, especially if you're buying a kitchen or dining room table. That's because these finishes are easy to clean with a damp cloth. If you're in love with the natural feel of wood though, you'll probably want to select a linseed oil finish. With oil finishes, plan on re-oiling your furniture periodically to maintain a patina. For more information on finish and product care talk with your craftsperson or sales representative.
Understanding Joinery & Construction Methods
Look for robust construction and pay particular attention to joinery methods used to make drawers, corners and attach legs. High quality drawers normally feature dovetail joinery, while table aprons are usually attached to table legs with mortise and tenon joints.
Understanding Lead Time for Crafting, Shipping & Delivery
High quality custom handcrafted furniture takes time to design and build. Lead time for crafting is typically 6-12 weeks, depending on what's currently in the craftsman's queue. If your furniture will be shipped, you may need to allot an additional 1-6 weeks for transit and delivery.
Insist on White Glove Shipping and Delivery
Perhaps the biggest complaint from furniture buyers is about shipping and delivery. Find out before your purchase, how your furniture will be shipped. If it's traveling any distance, insist on a professionally trained furniture delivery crew that will bring your furniture into your home, set it up in your room and thoroughly inspect it for shipping damage.
Get a Lifetime Guarantee
Most quality wood furniture makers will be happy to back their work with a lifetime guarantee. If yours is uncomfortable with this ask why. You may want to move on if there is no room for negotiation on the guarantee.