What Makes This Furniture So Good?
- The age-old technique of dovetailing is used on selected drawers and cases
- Half-blind dovetails are used on all drawers
- Mortise and tenon joints are used extensively for strength and durability
- Splines are used to ensure stability on end-grain joints
- Our designs accommodate the expansion and contraction of solid wood
- Multiple boards are carefully selected for consistency of color and grain
- Boards are split in two and "book-matched" for visual symmetry
- One board is used continuously, whenever possible, on rails and stiles
Most fine furniture is made from hardwoods although a few softwoods such as pine are used for Early American style furniture. There are over 200 different hardwoods but only a few are used here for furniture. The following are some that are traditionally used by MFW.
Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Walnut is recognized as the premier cabinet wood. It is classified as a heavy wood, averaging 38 pounds a cubic foot. The wood is hard and has a specific gravity of .51. The heartwood is chocolate brown and occasionally has darker, sometimes purplish streaks. Although not as hard as oak, it is harder than mahogany and is very popular for use as a carving wood. Walnut accepts almost all finishes. No other wood so readily accepts oiled finishes.
Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Cherry in recent years has become very popular and that has affected its price. Cherry has a weigh similar to walnut of 35 pounds a cubic foot. The wood is also moderately hard with a specific gravity of .47. Cherry has traditionally been used in the Chippendale and Queen Ann styles. Today master craftsmen like Sam Maloof use it in their furniture. The wood has a dark to reddish brown heartwood. The heartwood as it ages will show alternate light and dark streaks. Sapwood is even lighter, varying from white to yellow-brown. Cherry will accept almost all finishes. While many craftsmen use a lacquer finish, we prefer an oil based product followed by a tinted wax.
Mahogany (Swietenia macrophylla)
Once consider the king of the furniture trade in the mid 1700’s through the 1800’s mahogany is now difficult to obtain in the grand boards that ruled the industry at that time. Mahogany is now raised on tree plantations. It is of moderate density and hardness. It weighs 36 pounds per cubic foot and has a specific gravity of about .46. The wood has excellent working and finishing characteristics. The heartwood for mahogany varies in color from a pale to a deep reddish brown, becoming darker on exposure to light. Since mahogany usually has interlocked grain, quarter-sawn, will have a ribbon effect that is very beautiful. There are some woods on the market today that are represented as mahogany and they are not. This wood accepts all finishes very well.
White Oak (Quercus alba)
The oak families are the oldest furniture woods in the world. Oak furniture has been found in Greek and Roman excavations. The English ruled from oaken thrones and built their ships of oak. More recently white oak set the revival of the Mission Style at the turn of the century. Today it is used in almost all phases of cabinet and furniture making. The wood is very hard with a weight of 47 pounds a cubic foot and a specific gravity of .58. The wood is porous and when quarter sawn achieves a striking grain pattern. Because of its open grain, many unique finish effects can be achieved by varying the material used to fill the pores before applying a lacquer or other finish.
Red Oak (Quercus borealis)
Red oak is very similar in many ways to white oak. A major difference is the red is very porous. It is a heavy wood and averages 44 pounds a cubic foot. It has a specific gravity ranging from .52 to .60. Red oak is considered by many to be the most beautiful of the oak families. The wood has an attractive amber color with a reddish tinge. It requires the same finishing techniques as white oak.
Maple (Acer saccharum)
Hard maple or sugar maple is a hard as oak. The wood is heavy at 44 pounds a cubic foot and it has a specific gravity of .56. Maple is generally straight grained but is famous for curly or wavy figure. It is best known for its bird’s-eye grain pattern. Maple sapwood is white to pinkish-white in color. There is an abrupt change from sapwood to the pinkish-brown heartwood. It accepts all finishes very well.
Our commitment to handcrafted quality culminates in the finishing process. You will notice that our finishes are distinctly different from most mainstream manufactured pieces. Most furniture today has a multi-layered polyurethane or lacquered finish, giving the furniture a pre-fabricated, mass produced look. Because of our devotion to traditional age-old methods and heirloom quality, we continue to use oil base stains, along with a satin or gloss finish with waxes oils as topcoats. These unique formulas, combined with the highly selected woods that we use, result in an exceptional beauty and timelessness.