In Lancaster, PA furniture building techniques have been passed down for generations. As imports and cheaper wood alternatives have flooded the market, local manufacturers have continued the tradition of heirloom quality furniture. “Heirloom Quality” is a word that gets tossed around a lot in the furniture industry, but what does it actually mean?
What is Heirloom Quality Furniture?
When we think of heirloom quality furniture we think of quality materials and craftsmanship that allows our customers to pass down their favorite pieces for generations. It really comes down to the quality of materials used, and how the manufacturer uses the materials to create the end product. Today we will take a look at some construction techniques and materials that make a piece of furniture, “Heirloom Quality.”
Heirloom Quality Materials
If the correct materials aren’t used a piece of furniture won’t stand the test of time, no matter how skilled the craftsman. In our opinion, a piece of heirloom quality furniture should be made with all solid wood. Wood species like oak, cherry, mahogany, and maple are all considered to be beautiful and durable hardwoods. Most of the mass produced furniture on the market uses particle wood or plywood to cut down costs, which have a tendency to warp and chip under stress.
The hardware used is a little more forgiving, but we suggest staying away from furniture with hardware that is primarily plastic. Plastic has a tendency to break and become loose over time. Brass, cast iron, pewter, and glass are all beautiful and durable options.
Heirloom Quality Construction
Once you have identified that top quality materials were used, the construction techniques used for the furniture should be examined. These techniques can sometimes take an experienced eye to pick out, but are a great indicator of the longevity and quality of a piece of furniture.
Dovetail joints create a stronger drawer, and look absolutely beautiful. Dovetail joints are created by making intricate cuts on the drawer and its face, and fastening them with pins and glue. The absence of screws creates a seamless finish, and creates a strong hold that won’t pull apart with heavy use.
Quality Stains and Finishes
Another key component of heirloom furniture is the stain and finish used and how it’s applied. Oil based stains are a great option for fine furniture because of their long dry time, which allows the stain to penetrate deep into the wood.
Drawers aren’t the only place you should be inspecting the joints of a piece of furniture. Quality furniture manufacturers will often use dowels instead of screws for a cleaner, stronger finish. Screws have a tendency to loosen or break down, while dowels, wood glue, and proper technique will last for generations.
At Kings Acres we believe that heirloom furniture is worth the investment, and work with craftsmen who understand the importance of quality materials and construction. If you are interested in learning more, browse our furniture lines or contact us to discuss a custom furniture project.