1. Feel the weight of drawers and doors. High quality furniture has a sense of weight, scale and solidity to it.
2. For true quality, look for solid hardwood furniture. Solid wood means that all exposed parts of the furniture are constructed from solid boards. No veneers or particle boards are used. An easy way to identify solid wood is to look for the end grain. Remember, “all wood” does not necessarily mean solid wood. Particle board is all wood, too.
3. When you buy wood furniture, drawers should work smoothly and should not bind when extended.
4. Drawer interiors should be smooth to the touch, sanded and sealed.
5. All doors should line up, opening and closing properly. If recessed, they should be flush with the frame. If doors are surface mounted, there should be no gaps.
6. Back panels should be wood, not cardboard or fiberboard, and should be recessed from the back, not applied to the perimeter of the frame. Backs should be fastened with screws not staples.
7. Hardware should be solid, secure and strong. Hinges should be large enough to support the weight of the door. Knobs and pulls should feel substantial.
8. Examine joints closely. Early wood furniture relied solely on mechanical joinery, where elements were cut to interlock, often without the benefit of nails or glues. These traditional joints, such as dovetail and mortise and tenon, allow for grain expansion and contraction and are more solid than “stick and staple” style joints.
9. The best furniture has legs that are a continuation of the frame, not a screw-on addition.
10. There are four basic wood furniture finishes: oil, lacquer, high gloss and engraved. Whichever type you select, look for one that has a smooth finish, with no streaks and no excess finish in the corners. Make sure that “matching” pieces really match and that the finish is the same on all pieces.
Source: Brown, J. (1973). Buy it right. Mundelein, IL: Career Institute, Consumer Service
Furniture can be one of the largest investments a homeowner can make. Thus, when buying furniture, it’s important to choose wisely. At Taunton River Furniture Co., we think it’s important that our customers be educated about the various furniture choices on the market today.