We all know we could go to the local department store today, get a some assembly required mishmash of wood and particle board, and have ourselves a fairly serviceable piece of furniture within the hour (longer if we’re missing pieces). We also know that desk or entertainment center will probably be broken within the year. You would do better on your investment if you were to find a more expensive, but better made piece that will last you for years to come.
Oak is a good middle of the road wood to go with if you’re looking for something that will last but don’t want to break the budget. There are antique oak pieces dating back hundreds of years ago, so this is a material that’s can easily hold out for a lifetime.
Now there are plenty of oak furniture pieces up for sale and it can be hard to know what to look for. One of the easiest ways to ensure that you’re getting good quality workmanship is to go with an unfinished piece. This will represent a bit more work from you, but it may also mean your furniture will last for many years longer.
Stains, while increasing the attractiveness of the wood, also conceal flaws. Finishing the furniture yourself is not terribly complicated, allows you to give it the exact look you want, and prevents the builder from hiding anything from you while you are considering buying.
Joints are especially important in the construction of furniture. More complex joints, such as dovetail joints, can be a good mark of solid craftsmanship. Be sure that nothing looks loose or poorly connected.
Take a look at the grain of the wood as well. Staining will change the look, but the grain will remain the same, so make sure it appeals to you. Look out for knots, as these may detract from the final look, depending on what you are going for.
Be sure to ask any questions you may have. If the staff in the store is knowledgeable they should be able to help you. If the store is small, you may even be speaking to the craftsman himself.
A few extra hours spend in finding quality pieces will pay off in years of good use.