There comes a time in one's life when appreciating true craftsmanship matters. Taste in food, entertainment and possessions become more refined. Thus begins the phase of life when acquiring truly fine things becomes important. Purchasing fine, hand-crafted furniture is a true delight and provides one with a possession that can be enjoyed and handed down generation after generation.

There was a time of course when all furniture was handmade. Even so-called mass produced furniture had the marks and design of solid craftsmanship. This is no longer true as tables, chairs, cupboards, sideboards and the like purchased at most all shops these days are put together by mechanical means or designed to be put together on one's own. While there is certainly nothing inherently wrong with this type of construction, it is made with affordability, not long-term use and admiration, in mind.

The techniques of master joiners have not been lost, and in fact the art is seeing a resurgence as more and more people rediscover the value of quality. The Internet has also facilitated this re-emergence as artisans and designers are able to showcase their wares online to a broad and diverse audience. The cost of acquiring finer things has also been reduced relative to the cost of similar quality furnishings even a few decades ago. This is in large part because the materials, while still rare and sought after, have come down in price as the global market increases supply. Make no mistake though, purchasing or commissioning handmade furniture is not inexpensive, but it is a worthy investment in beauty, quality and longevity.

If one is considering acquiring a piece, it is important to know how to recognize the fine details of quality craftsmanship. Here is a brief overview that will help guide one's quest for top notch furnishings.

Wood
Clear and well figured wood has always been a hallmark of fine cabinetry. The maker chooses each piece of lumber carefully to ensure the finished case, cabinet, table top or chair shows off the wood to its best ability. Carefully regard things like drawer fronts and side panels; one should see that the grain or figure is similar in form and structure. Cabinet doors often have book matched grain, which involves matching two surfaces to expose a mirror of each pattern, as if the wood was opened like a book.

One also sees the use of more exotic species in custom cabinetry. While cherry, mahogany, oak and maple are popular and traditional, African and South American wood such as bobinga, cocobolo, Purple Heart and wedge are more widely incorporated. These are used for the overall piece or for accents. One can find a unique look to fit any décor.

Figured wood is also a hallmark of fine furniture. Burl, tiger, and birdseye grain add an unforgettable look to a piece. Veneers and marquetry can also be incorporated which pushes cabinetmaking well into the realm of art. Species like zebrawood, jobillo and ambrosia maple have distinctive grain and color patterns that make a piece built with these species truly unique.

Joinery
The vast bulk of furniture today is held together with mechanical fasteners. This means a joint relies on a screw, bracket or other device to join it together. Cabinet makers employ joints that have been used since before recorded history to construct their furniture. These joints – dovetails, mortise and tenon, housing – not only provide strength to the piece, but add to the beauty as the exposed joinery is often incorporated into the very design.

Finish
To show off grain and joinery to its best advantage, the finish is an important aspect of any custom furniture. The process can take weeks of planning and sanding to properly prepare for final finish. Once the wood is ready, staining and finishing occurs. A hand rubbed finish provides a depth and luminous look to the wood that cannot be matched by a one-step spray on finish.

When one has come to a point where standards have matured to appreciate quality, purchasing a custom piece of furniture is a wonderful experience. It is art that not only provides beauty to one's home, but utility and usefulness for oneself and future generations.

Author's Bio: 

For all you need to know about bespoke furniture in th UK, Makers' Eye are the bespoke furniture makers to check out.