When shopping online for furniture, it can be hard for many buyers to tell the difference between superb craftsmanship and well-photographed pieces of lower quality furniture; between furniture built to be thrown out and replaced every couple of years and furniture built to last for generations. Here are a few tips and a few questions to ask of any maker when seeking out high quality, handcrafted furniture online:
When it comes to furniture claiming to be built from wood, there’s really only two types of materials: solid wood and everything else. Often sellers will label their furniture as “Walnut” and “Cherry” etc. when they’re actually referring to things built in plywood and MDF with only a few small elements made from actual wood. While furniture built from lesser materials can look nice enough, it doesn’t usually have the wow factor that solid wood brings, nor the durability. Solid wood lasts forever and never goes out of style.
All of Stor Furniture’s pieces are built using only select solid wood boards. These boards are locally sourced, color-matched to ensure we’re using mostly heartwood, and hand-picked to avoid major knots and defects.
Another area that really separates great craftsmanship from everything else is the finish and how it is applied. There’s a big difference between just slapping a store bought color onto a wood and really taking the time to finish and stain a wood properly. The latter is a multistep process that takes patience and knowhow. When shopping around it can be helpful to ask a seller to describe their finishing process, something which should include several steps and multiple coats. Also, ask what chemicals are in the products they’re using. Are they mostly water based finishes or are they oil-based products that are high in VOCs? While easier to use, these products are often bad both for people and the environment.
Stor’s finishing technique utilizes a four step process for natural colored pieces (a sealer, and three topcoats) and a five step process for stained pieces (a base, a dye, a sealer, and two topcoats). All of our stains are custom in-house mixes designed to work best against the natural color of each wood. All of our dyes and finishes are water-based and low VOC.
Then there are the things you can barely see (or don’t see at all) but are very important to the construction of a piece. Things like the type of joinery being used, the drawer slides, the hinges, drawer boxes, what the legs are made from, etc. These small little details are often a great way to see the level of care a maker is putting into their work. Never hesitate to ask what type of joinery they’re using or what hardware brands they use. There’s only a few truly high-end producers in the US when it comes to these small elements (i.e. Blum for hinges) and a maker using these top-quality products even in areas you don’t see shows a real commitment to quality across the board.
Depending on the project, Stor uses two types of joints: biscuit joints for most of our work and domino joints for our wood bases and whenever thicker joinery is needed. All joinery is done by hand. We use Blum hardware for almost all of our drawer glides and hinges, with Hafele hinges and Grass drawer glides being used in some select applications.
Both our drawer boxes and furniture legs are made from solid wood, just like the pieces themselves. Much of our metal hardware such as custom legs, bases, and knobs were designed specifically for us by local metal workers and are unique to our company.
We hope this was helpful both in explaining things to look for when shopping for furniture, as well as explaining how we do things at Stor Furniture. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.