Fine wood furniture is a joy to put in one's home. Traditional joinery, the highest wood grades and exquisite finishes are the mark of true craftsmanship. While mass produced furniture dominates the market, more artisans are re-emerging and rekindling the market for fine crafted wood furniture. Here is a guide to help one discern the key details that are the mark of handcrafted pieces.

Design is key element of fine woodworking. Handmade furniture has a special look all to itself. Symmetry, balance and lightness – even on large pieces and casework - are hallmarks of fine design. Table tops can include live edges, which incorporates the natural edge of the wood into its design. Wood species choice can be customized and the size of a piece can be customized for one's home or flat. One can even commission a piece to satisfy a specific need. The finished furniture is a usable work of art.

When regarding a piece, take notice of the wood itself. Fine wood has a luminosity that cannot be duplicated by machine finishes. A true craftsman takes time in picking the material for a piece. If the piece features doors, such as on a cabinet, look at the grain figures. Often the doors will feature book matched grain. One may also see interesting wood features, as seen in species like curly or tiger maple. Of course table tops will be free of knots and the coloring and grain pattern will also be consistent from board to board with nary a hint of glue line.

Handcrafted furniture also uses less common wood species. One can make a truly unique piece using exotics like zebrawood, leopard wood, macacauba, shedua and many others. This makes a well-constructed piece a true work of art as the craftsman uses the innate beauty of the wood to its fullest, exposing grain and figure to complement the piece itself.

Joinery is the other mark of fine craftsmanship. Mass produced furniture is constructed using mechanical fasteners to hold various components of the piece together. Woodworking is a unique skill that features a number of tried and true methods for joining pieces together. These techniques have been used for scores of centuries and work as well today as they ever have.

For drawers and joining cases, look for dovetail joinery. This is an interlocking joint with fingers that provide a sure hold and prevents the drawer or carcass from racking. One will see these exquisite joints on the drawer sides and at the top of cabinets and sideboards. For tables, look for mortise and tenon joinery. This joint secures a leg to a rail. Factory produced tables use screws and metal brackets which overtime become loose and require repair. Furniture from centuries ago with mortise and tenon joinery are still in good repair today a true testament to its strength.

Finish is another sign of fine furniture and craftsmanship. Commercially produced furniture has inexpensive spray on finishes that simply lay on the surface of the wood. Hand finished pieces go through many phases of planning, sanding, staining, and polish to achieve a depth of finish that is unmatched. The finish is designed to bring out the grain and figure of the wood and the color variations of different species.

Acquiring fine hand-crafted furniture is a wonderful experience. Whether purchasing a piece that is already constructed or looking for something uniquely designed to one's own specification, it will be cherished for many years to come.

Author's Bio: 

If you’re looking for handmade furniture makers in the UK, take a look at Makers' Eye furniture for quality and inspiration.