Solid Hardwood Furniture
Running a business which
relied heavily on its cabinet making factory (and actually building cabinets myself) taught
me a number of things about furniture construction.
Principal among these is that the word "solid", when used
in common terms in furniture, does not actually mean one
piece blocks of hardwood.
by Terry Canup
Furniture manufacturers are not trying to deceive you in
this regard. They have simply loosened the definition. Huge
blocks of wood are rare. Except when producing smaller
furniture pieces, like dining chairs, it is impossible to
fulfill the exact original definition. Therefor they use
techniques like butcher blocking the wood, or grain matching
("stitching") planks of wood. Additional techniques are also
used. One of these is putting a top layer of solid (or
'stitched') wood in a veneer over a wood base.
Previously, we discussed the types of woods used
in furniture manufacturing. Wood by its nature has a
grain. Grains are susceptible to splitting along their
length. The last thing you want is your furniture to split
apart. To solve this structural problem, craftsmen developed
the technique of placing thinner layers (or plys) of wood in
90 degree rotations to form the base over which the cosmetic
veneers are laid. This is sometimes referred to as "cabinet
grade". This cabinet grade plywood is the structural base
for the majority of the hardwood solid wood furniture
Matching and Butcher Block technique
softwoods, like pines and cedars, which are plentiful and
fast growing, are more frequently produced in large piece
construction without veneering. Much of this construction is
done for the "Rustic" furniture market. Veneering
is an art form, when done by hand. Recently it has been
perfected in machine production. There are many types of
veneers and many types of bases over which they are applied.
These other types do not qualify as solid wood construction.
Rotated Grain Plywood Technique