Age is the key to quality wood; the more mature the tree, the stronger it is. Wood furniture should be made from heartwood-grade lumber, which is cut from the dense, hard, and durable sections in the tree’s center. Check for the following signs of quality craftsmanship, and always try to buy the best made piece in your price range.
Examine construction: The grain, slats, joints, and knots tell a lot about a wood piece’s craftsmanship. If the grain runs in an eye-pleasing manner from chair leg to seat back, the cost is usually higher. Less expensive pieces may feature thinner and narrower slats or planks, riveted joints, and knothole-marred grains, and may be crafted from less mature trees.
Check joints: Choose screwed and glued joints over rivets or stapled joints; screws can be tightened if they loosen. The screws should be zinc-plated steel or stainless steel.
Compare frames: Select chairs or benches made from an array of wood types and manufacturers. Sit down in each one to test its comfort, then turn each one over to check its construction and weight.
Feel the finish: It should be relatively smooth with few cracks, splits, splinters, or knots.
Look for craftsmanship: Are corners and joints square? Does it feel sturdy when you sit in it or move the piece around?
Scrutinize color: A piece that is entirely stained or painted should be uniformly covered with color.