Monday, June 18, 2007

The truth about solid wood furniture

There seems to be a complete misunderstanding of what real wood is capable of and what it tends to do.
People seem to think that because something is made out of solid wood, especially hardwoods that it will always and forever remain perfect no matter how you treat it or neglect it. Let me state right now solid wood furniture is not for everyone. If you dont have the time or desire to take care of it, please save yourself and the store you may by it from alot of headache and stick to particle board & formica.
The biggest problem I see with people is that they dont understand that you MUST take care of the furniture. Solid wood is not particle board & formica. It reacts to the enviroment it's in... like a plant! Water, Water, Water!!!
One of the best things you can do is to keep the humidity in the room at 45% or HIGHER. I see tables and other pieces of furniture all the time that split because there is no humidifier around. I cant stress this enough, humidity is one of the, if not the key to keeping wood furniture in good condition.
Last winter my big humidifier in the store, which is 2800 sq ft, broke. I tried to make due with 4 small ones but they just couldnt keep up. I had to get 1 desk (sides split where the base molding is pocket screwed to it) , 2 chairs (joints loosened on one and the seat split on another), & 2 tables (gap opened up between the 2 halves of the table and never closed and the edge of another table split), repaired. Not to mention all the door panels that I had to touch up with stain because they shrunk in thier frames. I knew this was going to happen and I knew what the repair bill was going to be too! Yes, I admit it, I was being cheap betting on the predictions of a mild winter (which results in more humidity by the way). OOPPSS, lesson we should have all learned by now- Never trust the weatherman!!!! Anyway.
Education is key when it comes to solid wood furniture lasting generations like it can and should. That's why I am eager to answer any and all questions that my customer have. The more informed they are the better decisions they can make when it come to choosing what type of furniture is right for them.
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind if you have solid wood furniture:
Treat the furniture with something like lemon oil. Especially if it's directly exposed to sunlight. Direct sunlight heats up the wood and causes the water within it to evaporate. Very dry wood doesn't take movements very well. Not only that but, as we were taught in science class as a kid when something heats up it expands. If something expands on one side but doesn't expand on the other what happens? Yup, it warps. Whether this warping is temporary or permanent will only be known after it has had a chance to cool down. Direct sunlight gives you the double whammy in this department so be mindful of how much direct sunlight your furniture gets. The lemon oil will actually soak into the wood allowing it to handle movements better. Lemon oil is NOT nor can it ever be a substitute for proper humidity.
In the winter increase the humidity of your home. Cold air doesn't hold moisture like warm air. An added benefit of increased humidity during the winter is that heating your home will take less energy too!
Do not place solid wood furniture where it will have hot air from the furnace blowing directly on it. I have seen a 1 1/2 inch thick oak headboard with 1 inch stringers screwed into the back for added support warp(cup) about an inch because it was placed directly over a heat vent. The customer actually had the audacity to say it was the Amish craftsmanship that was at fault not thier decision to place it over the heat vent. Like I said education & knowledge is key when it comes to solid wood furniture.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Trestle style tables

Mission style trestle tables are a great option when style is more of a concern than functionality. The high points of this style table are as follows:
  1. It can be opened by 1 person.
  2. It can self store up to 4 leaves depending on the base size.
  3. It is available in 2 widths- 42 or 48 inches; and 3 lengths- 60, 66 and 72 inches.
  4. Up to 4 leaves can be added giving you the ability to seat 4 more people when needed.
Now I will discuss the things to think about when considering this style table.

The first area I would like to talk about is seating at the ends of the table.
When you place a chair at the end of the table you cannot slide it all the way in, the trestle stops it. The table top only extends out about 13" beyond the trestle. As you can guess when you are sitting at the end of the table your feet and knees will hit the trestle. This is only alleviated when you add leaves. Most trestle tables can accept up to 4 twelve inch leaves.

The next area I would like to discuss is the span between the trestles.
At a base length of 72 inches there is 41 1/2 inches between the trestles. This is just barely enough room to push in 2 side chairs. Each person generally requires 24" of table space to be comfortable. which means that the people on the sides of the table will have to straddle the trestle. Straddling the trestle isn't that uncomfortable but it can get painful should you forget about the post between your legs.

The trestle tables can self store between 2 and 4 leaves. The 42 inch wide table can self store 4 leaves- 2 with skirts or aprons and 2 without. The 48 wide models can only self store 2 leaves- 1 with skirts and 1 without. Yes you read that correctly the narrower table can store more leaves. According to the builders it's a structural thing that prevents the 48" from storing 4 leaves.
When you add 4 leaves to these tables it can get a bit springy on the ends. This generally doesn't pose a problem unless someone that is very heavy gets up using the very end of the table to support their weight. Then you run the risk of breaking the slides.
If you purchase one of these tables with the self storing option make sure you DO NOT get the locking mechanism. The locking mechanism is located under the table top and you will scratch and gouge your leaves if it is present.

Geared Slides
The geared slides are the only ones available on trestle style tables. There are a couple of reasons for this. The first is that it allows for the table to be easily opened by one person. The second reason is that the geared slides are stiffer on the ends giving the table top more support when you have leaves in it, especially 4 leaves.
The trestle tables are not designed to have leaves in all the time. The geared slides are well designed and strong but 100lbs on the ends of them all the time will take its toll.

If you take all these things into consideration before you buy a trestle style table you will be immensely happy with it, and, if you give it some TLC every once in a while it will out live you.
If you would like to see the variations of the trestle style tables available click this link: Dining room tables

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Purpose of this Blog

The purpose of this blog is to provide good information on the various furniture produced by the Amish. Things like the strengths and weaknesses of certain designs and other useful information that should be know about the furniture before it is purchased.
Let me say up front that I own and operate an Amish furniture retail store and several websites that sell Amish furniture. My staff and I have many years of first hand experience with the furniture produced by hundreds of Amish builders from Ohio and Indiana. Because of this experience I believe I can provide a good service to those seeking advice on a piece of furniture that they may be looking at.
I want it to be know that I will be providing links, in my posts, to my sites for illustration purposes. I will not physically list any stores or websites in my posts. Nor will I try to sway anyone toward or away from a website or a store. Those decisions are up to the consumer. My concern is to make sure that anyone who reads this blog leaves with good and complete information about a piece of furniture.