Can You Recognize Well-Built Furniture?

Not all furniture is made the same, nor is all furniture built to last. In fact, imported products are more prone to chipping and falling apart than American-made furniture built by quality craftsmen.

“Like the old saying goes, you get what you pay for,” says Bob Wozniak, owner of Strode’s Furniture, in Huntley. “That’s why we take the time to show customers the construction of our furniture, and we encourage them to go out and do their shopping. They’ll see the difference.”

Strode’s downtown location carries furniture for every room of the home. Most of it is sourced from American producers, particularly about 50 Amish wood shops in Indiana. These shops produce traditional and modern styles alike.

The difference between cheap, mass-produced furniture and quality, handcrafted work – like that made by Amish craftsmen – is easy to find if you know where to look. First, inspect the joints. Dovetail joints are one of the strongest ways to join two pieces of wood. Cheaper furniture is joined together with only glue, staples or nails, says Wozniak.

Next, check the edges where a board ends. Amish craftsmen use solid wood for their tabletops, whereas cheaper producers use particle board with a thin veneer.

“Follow the wood grain from the top to the edge,” says Wozniak. “If it’s solid wood, you’ll see the wood grain continue. On a veneer, you’ll see a strip of wood running the opposite direction to cover up the edge.”

Veneers are more likely to chip and crack, and they’re almost impossible to fix, says Wozniak. Solid wood, on the other hand, can be sanded and refinished.

Of course, the finishing coat is one more way quality-made furniture distinguishes itself. Amish craftsmen apply stain and lacquer in multiple steps, ensuring a smooth coat and a durable finish. Cheaper products are sprayed one time with a combination of stain and lacquer.

Given supply issues abroad, Amish furniture is increasingly affordable compared with imported brands – and it typically ships quicker.

“I drive out to Indiana about twice a month, get a full load of furniture and bring it back,” says Wozniak.

Strode’s Furniture is located at 11707 Main St., Huntley, (847) 669-3500.