How to judge the quality of Wooden Furniture

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It is not all that difficult for one to judge the quality of wooden furniture, and you need not have to be an expert to do so. All that is required essentially is that you give a good look at the material, construction and finish. Take your time in doing so. Lets dive into the aspects you should take a closer look at the next time you decide to go spend your hard earned money on a piece of wooden furniture.

Source of the Wood :
All furniture is made of different types of wood that may be classified as hard, soft or engineered. The kind of wood that is used is one of the factors that determine how long your furniture will last, and how it will fare as time goes by and it ages.
In general, quality furniture is made out of hard wood which comes from deciduous trees such as oak, maple, mahogany, teak, walnut, cherry and birch. The wood is air dried to remove all the moisture content in it before any work is carried out.
Coniferous trees such as pine, fir, redwood and cedar produce what is known as softwood. It is possible to find good quality furniture made from these kinds also, but since they are more prone to scratches and dents in comparison to hardwood they require more care.
This day, solid wood furniture has become something of the past. You may still be able to find it, purchase it, but it is more common to find furniture made of plywood or engineered wood. Engineered wood is not necessarily second rate, it provides strength while helping to prevent splitting or warping. It can make for sturdy, long lasting and highly attractive furniture when in the hands of a skilled craftsman.

CONSTRUCTION :
The way a piece is constructed can contribute to it’s beauty, functionality and how long the piece is to last. The joinery and sturdiness of a piece will tell you loads about it’s quality.
Mortise and tenon and dovetails are the two oldest ways of piecing furniture together, and also make for the strongest joints while being neat. Good joints may have dowels or screws, but will never be stapled. Any glue used will never show.
So what is it you should be looking for precisely?
Look for corner blocks that add strength and stability to the piece. They may not necessarily be visible from the outside, but bolt to both sides of interior corners.
A good quality desk or chest of drawers may have dust panels or thin sheets of wood between drawers in the body of a chest or desk. This not only makes them stronger structurally, but keep dust away from clothing or papers.
Back panels that face the wall are generally attached with screws to help ensure lateral stability. Backs and unexposed parts should be sanded smooth and well fitted.
Drawers should fit well and have glides to allow you to effortlessly move a drawer in and out of its station. They will also have stops to prevent a drawer from being pulled out or falling. Glides in office furniture such as desks, file cabinets and computer armories are important to the functionality of the piece. Doors should close neatly and be flush with the cabinet front, and the hardware should be of good quality.
Always test a piece of furniture for sturdiness by trying to rock or jostle the piece. It should not squeak, twist or wobble. Check if it is in level with the floor and if any angles are off.

FINISH :
Quality wood furniture will always have a good finish.. Sanding, staining and finishing are part of the process and neglect at any stage will affect the overall quality of the piece. Sanding is the first step in the finishing process, and a good piece will be smooth so that when you run your hand over it there will be no rough patches. Sanding across the wood grain will also produce unattractive results such as dark lines or scratches across the surface. Improperly sanded wood will not take the stain evenly. Inspect the finish from various angles to check for blotchiness or scratches.
A good stain enhances the natural beauty of wood while adding both colour and character to it. It can make one wood type look like another one, or make different woods look similar. High quality staining will be even, without any dark spots. All sides and ends should have the same tone.
Finish range from high-gloss to matte. A high quality finish is satiny smooth and free of rough spots, dust specks, or bubbles. Look for dept and richness in the finish, which comes from several light coats of finish with sanding in between coats. A high quality piece is finished on the back and on the underside as well to reduce the chances of swelling or shrinking.
So the next time your out to buy a piece of furniture, you should be well aware of what to look for in a piece of wooden furniture.

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How to take care of your Wooden Furniture

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Many owners of wooden furnishings these days have very little or no knowledge as per the correct means to caring for their pieces of furniture. The dilemma is all pervasive : should you dust, clean or wax….? While all the experts around will have varying opinions on how to tend to you wooden furniture, it basically depends on the finish of the piece of furniture. One way to clarify how to go about the care of your product is to ask for specific care and cleaning guidelines when you purchase a piece of furniture.
The general methods to cleaning and caring for your pieces of wooden furniture, both old and new and how as to effectively go about them are all discussed in detail below.

1. DUSTING :
Do not ever avoid dusting a piece of wooden furniture. Frequent dusting helps eliminate airborne deposits that may build up a filmy layer and scratch the surface of your furniture.
Use clean, dry, soft cloths or feather dusters to effectively remove dust; however, to avoid scattering the dust into the air, which results in it floating back down onto the surface of the furniture, dampen the cloth very slightly.
For dusting purposes you may use tools such a classic feather duster for delicate objects such as silk lampshades and pieces of art. The use of treated clothes is advised rather than silicon based sprays, which can be very damaging over time to finer pieces of furniture. Use cloth pieces containing lanolin as they attract dust and dust clings on well to them.

2. CLEANING :
Never use all-purpose sprays unless your furniture has a plastic or protective coating, such as the kind on children’s furniture and kitchen tables.
Always avoid cleaning wooden furniture pieces with water. Sticky spots may need to be treated with soap and water. In such cases dip the cloth in a mild soap or detergent dissolved in water. Make sure the cloth is nearly dry by wringing it dry before wiping the affected area. Once done, immediately wipe the area affected on the furniture dry with a soft, clean, dry cloth.
You may carry out cleaning of your wooden furniture with the use of oil polishes, cleaner and furniture oils, which protect the wood by making the surface slippery. Most sprays and polishes available commercially contain silicone oil, which offer some protection, as far as possible avoid using them, especially on fine pieces of woodwork. While many experts will advise you to use home made recipes, avoid making them yourselves unless you are well versed in the art.

3. DEEP CLEANING :
From time to time deep cleaning of your furniture will be required to remove layers of grime. In such an instance use an oil based soap and water. Rinse and dry well. Products with a milky appearance are formulated and available commercially. They dissolve both solvent-based and oil-based residues. Do not ever use mixtures that contain boiled linseed oil, turpentine or white vinegars. They darken the wood and attract dust and lint. Instead apply paste wax.

4. SCRATCHING THE SURFACE :
Scratches are something everyone experiences with wooden furniture. It annoys most wooden furniture owners. If it is the top of the furniture that is slightly scratched you may apply paste wax or use a felt-tip touch-up pen.
For the treatment of deeper scratches that gouge into the wood, use wood filler or a coloured filler wax stick available at hardware stores or home improvement stores. Sadly difficult to get in India one may try ordering them online. Match them as closely as possible to the colour of your furniture piece, applying several thin layers rather than one thick layer.

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