Why Buy It?
A home is one of the most important and meaningful investments one can make in life. Custom furniture, personally commissioned, celebrates this investment with a gift to the home, the loved ones who occupy it and those who will inherit it. In such an intimate and cherished setting, there simply is no substitute for handmade, solid wood furniture.
To an extent, it's a matter of personal taste and opinion. Veneers, widely used in mass-produced furniture have clear advantages in being able to hide inexpensive, engineered materials like MDF and particle board, which are not subject to the same laws of physics as solid woods and therefore require less labor-intensive joinery. Admittedly, veneers also provide possibilities such as elaborate marquetry. But these are reserved for more ornate styles than mine.
In the simple and purposeful styles that I build in which have proven timeless, the practical benefits and lasting beauty of solid wood construction are simple facts and clearly justify the price that it notoriously demands.
Here are a few of the reasons why solid wood furniture, hand built domestically by one maker is without a doubt, worth the investment:
- Properly engineered, solid wood furniture will last several lifetimes if cared for. There are many examples of solid wood furniture that are hundreds of years old and still in daily use. Museums around the world house wooden furniture that is over a thousand years old, still structurally sound and beautiful.
- Veneers can peel, bubble and lift with exposure to moisture. They can wear away at edges after a few years of daily use, exposing the cheap materials they were meant to hide. Solid wood will not do any of this.
- It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to refinish or repair a damaged piece of furniture made with veneers, particle board and the like. Most often it wouldn’t be worth it anyway. Solid wood can almost always be refinished and repaired by a skilled craftsman. And it would be worth it!
- Mass-produced furniture is built quickly, with little if any personal care. Even when companies advertise that their furniture is “made from solid wood”, many of the unseen structural parts will be cut from cheaper materials like particle board and MDF. These materials do not glue well and they do not retain mechanical fasteners well. They will often fail. When I say my furniture is built from 100% solid hardwoods (with the exception of solid Douglas fir, a softwood), I mean it.
- Traditional joinery techniques found in my work, like dovetails and mortise and tenons, eliminate the need for almost all mechanical fasteners which are prone to failure. These ancient construction methods have survived to the present day for obvious reasons. When glued, they are virtually indestructible.
- Furniture built quickly and cheaply in far-off lands, retains no personal connection between the maker and the consumer. Advertising is often purposely deceptive. When the consumer has an objection to a defect or to the second-rate craftsmanship that was made invisible in the pictures, it can be difficult, time consuming and costly to remedy the situation.
- I and I alone, am responsible and accountable for every single aspect of this work. I would look forward to seeing the piece, even years after it has been delivered and addressing any issues. This is guaranteed for the lifetime of the original purchaser!
- My furniture is fully customizable; Dimensions of my standard pieces shown online can easily be adjusted for your personal space, usually at no extra cost. All you have to do is ask. Further customizations as well as completely original work, is always welcome and gladly discussed.
The internet is full of "fine handmade furniture" from big, household names. Much of it appears to be very similar to mine in pictures and can be had for much less cost. I have little interest in price-competing with them and in many cases, couldn’t even if I tried.
But when shopping for furniture like mine, look very closely at the pictures. Here are some things to consider:
- See if the joinery (such as dovetailed drawers) is visible. Is there even any mention of the construction methods used, or do they assume you don't care enough to ask?
- Is the table top and other parts properly engineered for seasonal wood movement? Is it truly solid wood or veneers?
- How are the drawers constructed? Will they fall apart after a few years of opening and closing? Will the thin bottoms begin to sag from the weight of the contents and eventually fall out of their grooves?
- How are the legs joined to the aprons on their tables? With nuts and bolts that eventually come loose, or with solid, pinned mortise and tenon joinery?
- Do you get a sense that anybody in the company is personally invested in the work they sell?
- Will they gladly adjust dimensions or otherwise customize a piece of furniture, often at no extra cost?
Now for the "personal taste and opinion" part.
Hand built furniture, made from solid hardwoods looks better than anything else. The natural grain variations and colors found in carefully selected lumber, look amazing. After a few years, they look even more amazing due to the natural darkening with exposure to light. Cherry, newly milled, is somewhat pale tan/pink in color but darkens naturally to a deep, intense red with lighter streaks of blonde, depending on how much sapwood is present. Newly built Maple furniture starts out very pale, almost silvery-white. But after a few years it turns a deep, aged yellow.
The hand-rubbed oils and urethane that I use for finish, sink into the grain to enrich the color. They also sink into the careful, hand-cut lines of the joinery, highlighting the precise but honest work of hand tools. The difference is undeniable to the discerning buyer or the connoisseur, though subtle and difficult to convey in pictures.
This furniture is built to look better and better as it ages. Even minor dents and scratches after years and years of use, serve to give this furniture life. They show that the work has been tested, moved, lived on, worked on, used and cherished. Built to become tomorrow's prized antiques.