Mahogany is a durable and expensive hardwood used to make fine furniture. This rare wood, known for its beautiful grain and deep, reddish-brown color, endows furniture with a timeless, traditional quality. Chairs, tables and other home furnishings crafted with mahogany will last a lifetime and should be considered an investment. The following hints will make buying mahogany furniture easier.
What is Mahogany?
Most mahogany furniture today is made from two varieties, African and South American. South American mahogany is used for fine furniture. Caribbean or West Indian mahogany, another variety, is rarer, because it has been overharvested. Mahogany is an excellent wood for carving and finishes beautifully. Cabinetmakers such as Chippendale and Sheraton have replaced walnut with mahogany for many of their furniture pieces.
Why Buy Mahogany Furniture?
Mahogany furniture is most often made in the traditional style, but these pieces can complement almost any decorating style. Its timeless beauty appeals to most consumers and furniture pieces lend an air of elegance and sophistication. Consider adding a few mahogany accent pieces, such as a sofa table or nightstands in mahogany if you have a limited budget or the rooms of your home are decorated with a different style.
Mahogany furniture also is very durable. Dining room tables and armoires made of mahogany are excellent investments. These large pieces draw immediate attention. Ornate carvings in mahogany furniture add instant interest and drama.
What to Look For There is controversy surrounding the harvesting of mahogany for purposes of crafting furniture. Overharvesting and illegal logging in parts of the Peruvian Amazon and elsewhere plague the industry.
Some furniture manufacturers, such as IKEA, have chosen not to sell furniture made from mahogany for this very reason.
Some furniture is made with mahogany veneers rather than solid mahogany. When in doubt, ask the salesperson. If you are buying antique furniture, look for a decal that denotes "genuine mahogany" issued by the Mahogany Association. The association, which operated in the early to mid 20th century, was created to help buyers distinguish between solid mahogany pieces and other woods stained to look like mahogany.
Mahogany furniture marketed as Philippine mahogany is not true mahogany. It is actually luaun. The material comes from a family of plants, not mahogany trees.
Getting a Good Price Mahogany furniture is very expensive. Consider purchasing it second-hand from an estate sale. Large estates will often auction off the furniture and will advertise the auction in the classified advertisement section of the newspaper or online. If you cannot find furniture at the auction, pay attention to whether there are businesses buying whole estates, and you may be able to strike a side deal with them on the mahogany furniture you like.
Search for smaller furniture stores that specialize in fine furniture rather than large chains. Don't be afraid to negotiate on price. Privately owned furniture stores are one place where you don't always have to pay sticker price. Buying a floor sample will cost less than having the item made and delivered to your home.
If you're new to purchasing wood furniture, deciding what to buy can be a daunting challenge. There are so many types of woods and finishes that it may not be clear what type of wood you're buying. Pine is often used to make furniture, including dining room tables and bedroom sets. It can be finished or covered with a wood veneer. Here are a few tips to think about before buying pine furniture.
What is Pine?
Solid woods are classified as either hardwoods or softwoods, but the description is based on the tree's foliage rather than the strength of the wood. Hardwood trees lose their leaves seasonally. Softwood trees maintain their leaves year-round.
Pine is a softwood that's grown and used worldwide. It is light in color with a prominent grain and has knots that are usually much darker than the rest of the wood. Many woodworkers favor pine because it is easier to work with than hardwoods.
Why Consider Pine?
Pine furniture is less expensive than many other wood pieces, especially if you buy it unfinished, which makes it a very popular choice. It can be painted, stained or covered in a clear coat of varnish. The wood's noticeable grain and knots give each piece a unique look. Pine furniture blends well with other woods, allowing the buyer to mix and match pieces.
Pine furniture adds coziness to a room, and the wood is ideal for rustic or English Country decor. Pine's coloring keeps bookshelves, armoires, dressers and beds from appearing heavy and stuffy. Unfinished pine furniture, which can be personalized by painting or stenciling, allows great flexibility in a child's room. The furniture can be refinished and repainted as the child's tastes changes.
What to Look For
The quality of pine furniture can vary widely. Although pine is more pliable than most hardwoods, pieces can last for decades if it is constructed well. Knots should be expected and can be attractive in a piece of furniture, but watch out for knots that create a hole in the furniture. Too many knots can weaken the piece. Although pine is a sturdy wood, it can easily be dented and scratched.
Like all woods, pine will warp when exposed to constant humidity or moisture. Well-crafted pine will be smooth and the walls plumb. The fasteners on the drawer should create a snug fit between the front and rest of the drawer. Drawers should pull out smoothly and maintain their shape when twisted.
Getting a Good Price
Custom-built pine furniture can be surprisingly affordable. Local Amish and Mennonite communities may have woodworkers who can craft a custom piece for about the same cost or even less than a retailer would charge for a mass-produced work. Reasonably priced pine furniture also is sold at many big-box retail stores. IKEA carries a full range of mass-produced, unfinished pine furniture pieces.
The furniture will have to be put together, which can require some patience but isn't overly difficult. Also check yard sales and resale shops. If the furniture piece is in good condition it can be stripped and refinished to suit the new owner's taste.