Around the House – Purchasing Furniture

Advice for purchasing new furniture, from The Workwoman’s Guide:

A misfortune of not very rare occurrence, is the splitting of valuable tables that are veneered. We have known the infliction, and we guard others from a similar annoyance.

One of the causes may be traced to the cabinet makers; it is not unusual for them to make use of wood for the foundation, that has not been sufficiently seasoned, and is besides of an open porous texture, so different from the close hard grained wood, which is to form the veneer, that a very long time is requisite before they can manufacture their goods without risk of shrinking.

In order to ensure this certainty of seasoning, a larger stock of wood is required than is always convenient to be on hand by a cabinet maker, either from want of capital or accommodation; hence, the purchase of new furniture requires circumspection.

In this, as well as every other requisite, we would enforce the oft repeated advice, that a preference is always given to the trader of know probity.

Chance bargains, cheap to the eye, almost always become dear and unsatisfactory in the end.

Veneered furniture which is purchased from a damp warehouse, and brought suddenly into a well aired warm room will almost infallibly fly.

Chests of drawers, particularly if they be made of coarse Honduras mahogany, scarcely fail to crack, and throw up from their edges slips of veneer, which snap off, and are swept away, leaving unsightly white gaps; these have to be replaced, and look shabby and patched.

Spanish mahogany, though much more expensive in the first purchase, is far more certain, hard, rich-coloured, and durable.

It is essential that new furniture should be insured by degrees to change temperature, in order to prevent this hazardous warping, and unequal contracting of the wood. Tables in particular, if intended to occupy a station opposite a fire, should be kept with the grain of the wood laying longways; not the ends of the grain and the joint pointing into the fire; for want of this simple precaution, we have known a beautiful rosewood table entirely spoiled.

Spanish mahogany was the beautiful wood which was first known in England, and which was said to be of so hard and close grain as to turn the edges of our workmen’s tools’ but since our possessions and commerce have been extended to the North of America, we have been stocked with vast quantities of that open grained inferior kind, that is made into almost all our household goods, and which, from it facility of working, is so cheap, that purchasers are continually deceived by unprincipled tradesmen, by the substitution of on for the other.

No person can well be deceived, however, to whom the two sorts of wood have been explained; the one (Spanish) being rich coloured, of an even texture, like satin, when polished, with not grain visible; the other plate, rough, and uneven when highly polished, shewing the coarse grain like threads; the latter too is so soft, that it is dented with the slightest touch, a pencil-case falling upon it, six inches from its surface, will leave a dent that never can be removed, unless the whole is plained over.

Published in: on June 15, 2013 at 8:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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