You are at your local furniture store and see a coffee table or end table that is advertised as ‘solid wood’. How do you know for sure that you are looking at a solid oak coffee table set? How do you know that it is made with real wood? Today I would like to address that question by exploring what is NOT real wood. If someone takes a bunch of sawdust, mixes it with glue and wraps it in a layer of vinyl, that IS NOT real wood! In the past it was very easy to see fake wood, if there was no ‘end grain’ then it was not wood. However, we now have technology and machinery that is capable of vinyl wrapping a panel with simulated ‘end grain’, profiled edges and even grain definition. I have been amazed at how difficult it is, just by looking at a piece of furniture, to tell if it is really wood.
Now, I know there is a market for this lower priced ‘throwaway ‘ furniture, but for those who desire to invest in a piece of furniture that will be handed down as a future antique, it just does not cut it!
So, how do we know for sure? Unfortunately, my rule is this. If you are looking in any retail furniture store, you have to start by assuming that what you are looking at is NOT real wood. I know there are exceptions, I know there are still many stores that specialize in ‘solid oak furniture’ and many stores may have a line ( or two) of quality built solid wood furniture, but they have become the exception, not the rule. DO not assume that just because the tag says ‘solid wood’, that it is actually REAL wood.
You have to find someone that you trust, either a retail store or a small manufacturer ( like myself ) that is willing to promise (and stand behind that promise) that what you receive is solid wood. Ask them questions, “What grade of lumber do they use?” , “What moisture content do you require in your lumber?” , “What type of wood finish is applied?” , “Do you use all solids or do you use plywood in some areas of construction?”
You are going to spend good money on that piece of furniture, knowledge is key!
Be prepared to ask the questions, let them prove to you that you will receive what you are paying for!
Once you confirm that your oak tv stand or oak coffee table is actually solid oak, your next step would be to explore where that oak comes from. More about that next time.