September 2011

Solid Wood Furniture Vs.Veneered – Is one better than the other?

People are always asking if solid wood furniture is better than veneered.

I always respond the same way each time.

Neither is better than the other.

In fact ‘veneering’ can be an indication of a very fine antique, depending on whether it’s veneered on a ‘solid core’ or ‘composite’ carcass.  ( The latter usually found on mainly modern furniture )

There are so many other factors in determining a piece of furniture’s level of quality. Detailing, carving, type of wood used, joinery, age and condition should be considerations any time your purchase an antique or piece of furniture.

Did you know that veneering has been a common practice among fine cabinet makers for centuries dating as far back as the Egyptians?

At first antique furniture was made from solid wood, but as cabinet making improved, the technique of decorating furniture by applying veneers (thin sheets of wood which can be cut from the tree in several ways) developed. This was an economical way of using expensive woods, and allowed the maker to create decorative effects from the different grains and patterns (called figuring) of the wood.

French Transitional Style 'Veneered' Commode from Paris

French Transitional Style ‘Veneered’ Commode from Paris

Veneered furniture has a carcass (solid body) made from a different (usually less expensive) wood. This secondary wood, as it’s known, is most commonly pine or oak. I’ve seen mahogany used as the core wood on French antiques.

The first real vogue for veneered furniture came in the walnut period, 1680-1740, when the decorative effects of cutting veneers from walnut, laburnum, olive, tulipwood and so on, was appreciated. Originally these veneers were hand cut with a saw and were fairly thick – up to an eighth of an inch. They could be cut along the grain of the wood to give a straight, plain effect without much figure, or across the branches to form oysters.

Burr veneers were obtained by malformations of the grain due to injury, such as lopping. Mahogany veneers of great decorative effect were also much used from about 1745. From the Victorian period, paper thin veneers came into use and were obviously attractive because of the saving in wood. These days all modern veneered furniture is covered in these thin knife-cut sheets.

Veneering was used for the same reason then it is used today. Decoration. To decorate a piece of furniture to give it life and charm.  Some of the most highest prized Antiques and Decorative furniture are intricately veneered to achieve the look and feel that the cabinetmaker desired.

Here’s a fact that might surprise you.  ‘Solid Wood’  does not always guarantee a superior piece of cabinet making either.

Why?  Because a solid piece of wood that isn’t ‘cured’ properly will have a markedly shortened lifespan. I’ve seen solid wood furniture ( usually manufactured off shore in dry, arid climates ) deteriorate within a very short period of time after purchase. Far Eastern factories produce furniture in bulk to keep the prices low.  They simply don’t have the time needed to let wood cure properly.

So what is ‘curing’ you ask?

Curing means the wood has been dried slowly in a controlled drying environment until the moisture is depleted to a certain level.  Around 6%. In some cases this process can take several years.  In fact, some old cabinet makers that produced some the finest Antiques ever made left the wood to cure for an entire generation ( 50 years ) before ever touching it!

I hope this post has made you a little more aware of the differences between veneered furniture and solid wood furniture. Feel confident that most antiques are done with solid core, but not always.  Always ask if a piece is ‘solid core’ rather than veneered or solid wood.  A respectable dealer will be impressed by your knowledge.

For more information click on the links below for additional information on the craft of veneering.

Best Regards,

Mark LaFleur

http://www.rockler.com/articles/how-to-veneer.cfm

Want to sell your Antiques but aren’t sure how?

With the advent of the internet, buying and selling Antiques has changed dramatically.  For those who aren’t sure how to sell their pieces there are many options and factors to consider.

My name is Mark LaFleur and I’ve been dealing with Antiques almost all my life. From my early days of collecting with my Mom, to where I am now.  The owner of a wonderful store.

Selling your Antiques can be a daunting and emotional process.   After all, these things may have great sentimental and intrinsic value.  Day after day, I have calls from frustrated people who have no idea where to start.  Some have even made some serious errors and come to me when it’s already too late.

Here’s some tips to consider before doing anything!

1.  LISTING ON A FREE WEBSITE

Listing on a free website has become popular at the moment. At first this sounds like a great idea.  You can do it yourself and not pay any commission to anyone.  But hold on!  Not so fast!  It can be not only unproductive but potentially dangerous.

I’ve heard stories of people being ‘scoped out’  after a supposed ‘buyer’ came to the house just to be broken into later.  When you open up your home to a complete stranger you’re putting yourself at all sorts of risks.

I’ve heard of people selling ‘stolen’ goods or goods without people’s permission.  Like children selling Mom or Dad’s favorite antique while they’re out of town!  Don’t laugh, that actually happened.

But enough of the potentially serious pitfalls.  Hopefully they won’t happen to you!

The biggest drawback is simple.  People just don’t know what they’re doing.

Most people have no idea what they have or how to evaluate it.

In most cases the average person thinks they have something highly valuable.  These people price their items far too high, and what’s worse, misrepresent what they have.  It’s not their fault, they aren’t professionals!  Their product sits and sits and never gets sold and frustration sets in.   I am constantly shaking my head by what people think is an antique but is actually a worthless item. ( Believe me, there’s lot of that out going on out there!)

The last problem is an important one to remember.  People always turn to a dealer once they’ve had no success with a free marketplace. Why is this a mistake?  Because it’s too late!   Once your valuable piece has been laundered on a low-end public venue most reputable dealers will not touch it.  Too many people nowadays shop via the internet and will compare all stores and free marketplaces.  No dealer wants to represent a former ‘loser’ on a Craig’s List or Kijiji.

AUCTION HOUSE

Auction Houses make their money on high volume and sell things quickly.  You may not always realize the total value for your piece depending on what it is, and whose in the auction room that day!  You will also have to wait six weeks to get paid after the auction.  An auction is a better venue however, then a free listing on a low end website.  At least their no risk of undesirables and time wasting triflers.

CONSIGNMENT

A reputable dealer usually has a large clientele that trust and know him.  A dealer knows the actual value of your Antique. He sells Antiques every day, and knows what people want and what they are prepared to pay.  Your piece is exhibited in a professional surrounding and sold by an expert who can properly assess and represent your piece.

There’s also no danger for an undesirable showing up to your personal space, and you don’t have to have it sold right away either.  A dealer will usually give you 3 months before any reductions or decisions need to be made.  Sure some dealers command 50% or more as a commission but you can be sure they’re going to get the best dollar they can.  It’s a win-win situation for both parties.

No dealer will want to represent a low end piece of worthless furniture.  It’s a waste of his time and effort.  If a dealer will accept your piece consider yourself fortunate.  It can be very profitable for both you and him!

I hope this article has taken some of the confusion about selling your Antiques or Vintage Furniture.  Remember, you wouldn’t call a Doctor about a tooth ache, or worse try to deal with it yourself.   Always consult a professional especially when dealing with something of value like an Antique!  Call up any antique store and see if they take consignments.  Shop and compare!

Do you have something you think is consignment worthy?  If so, e-mail us a photo and we’ll tell you right away! ( during regular business hours ) .  Send your photo in small format please ( 100K or less)  to: antiquewarehouse@telus.net

If we’re not interested we can direct you to the appropriate dealer than can help!

This is an example of what we sell.  Although we focus on antiques, we can help you sell anything of excellent quality as long as it works with our store!

French Louis XV Washstand with Marble Top

French Louis XV Washstand with Marble Top