Buying Best Quality Antique Reproduction Furniture
Many people ask about the best way to judge the quality of reproduction furniture. Firstly, there is a lot of antique reproduction furniture in the market and not all of it is necessarily best quality. So where do we start?
It does not matter if it is Victorian reproduction furniture, Louis XV reproduction furniture or whatever type of antique reproduction furniture, any good quality piece of furniture should be made from full growth, kiln dried timber. The kilning process causes all it internal capillaries, the sap veins in other words, to collapse. The result of this is a very stable timber that does not crack, warp or twist, given normal conditions. If timber is not kiln dried it will still have a lot of air inside those internal capillaries. That air will expand on a hot day and contract on a cold day. Therefore putting internal stresses on the timber which may cause it to crack or shrink at best.
The second thing to be aware of is the construction of the furniture. Any good quality handmade furniture will have dovetail joints in the drawers. The drawers will have solid timber bottoms, not plywood or similar. There will be no nails or screws used, except to screw back panels onto cabinets. All jointing should be proper mortice and tenon joints, not dowels. Is the back of cabinets made of ply, MDF or is the back made from solid timber like the rest of the piece? Are those panels free floating fielded panels that can shrink without cracking or are they just planks of timber nailed on?
Look inside the piece, behind drawers, in cupboards. Does the timber appear to be of the same variety and quality? One can quite often tell a lot by looking at the internals and how the piece is put together. Custom built furniture is more often than not, far better quality inside than production line furniture.
Antique Reproduction Furniture
More often than not, mahogany is the first choice for antique reproduction furniture. The reason being that it mahogany has a tight dense grain, a rich colour and beautiful grain patterns. It also carves very crisply without splintering like many other timbers do. That is why it is known as “the King of cabinet timbers”. Any quality piece of antique reproduction furniture that is handmade, will also be hand carved.
Hand carving is quite different to machine carving. Machine carving is two dimensional whereas hand carving is three dimensional and because chisels are used, the carving is very crisp and much finer. Machine carving is done with overhead routers and tends to be flat and shallow. This becomes quite obvious if the two are compared side by side. Look for fine detail and undercuts in the carving and you will be certain it is hand carved.
The final thing to look for is a good quality full grain finish on reproduction furniture. Any quality piece will have a sealer coat to begin with and then fully sanded to a glass like finish with no open grain showing, hence “full grain”. This is the base for the finishing coats of lacquer. Usually there would be at least two to three finish coats that result in a smooth glass like finish regardless of the gloss level used. Look out for orange peel effects in the finish. Feel it. Does it feel extremely smooth? Or does it feel like fine sand when you run your hand over it? This could be overspray that has settled on the piece while it is drying. Are the joints filled properly or are they still showing gaps?
Ask questions about the finishing products. Are they heatproof? Waterproof? Alcohol proof? They should be, especially on dining tables, wine table, bedside tables and so on. Ask what sort of guarantee is offered. Anybody selling good quality will be prepared to offer a guarantee because they are confident in the product they sell. The longer the guarantee is, the better the product probably is. No guarantee? Then think twice before proceeding. If the seller has no confidence in the product, then how can you!
The above points are things that any potential buyer should be aware of so that you have confidence in the furniture you buy.
What then does Mahogany by Hand offer, you may ask. We take great pride in what we do and the fine quality antique reproduction furniture we make. We love what we do, we are very proud of the handmade furniture we produce. And, we have confidence in the fact that you will not find better quality reproduction furniture anywhere else in the market. Below are some of the reasons why.
We only use full growth (50 years) kiln dried mahogany timber for our antique reproduction furniture. This timber is all legally sourced and certified re-forested timber. It is “AAA” grade Honduras Mahogany. All components are cut from solid block. There is no laminated, joined timber used.
All of our handmade furniture is solid mahogany. It is used internally for the carcass, drawer linings, back panels, and externally.
All jointing is either hand cut dovetail joints or mortice and tenon joints. These joints are all assembled with a two pack epoxy, marine grade glue.
Handmade and Hand Carved
Every piece we make is totally handmade furniture. Our reproduction furniture is all assembled by hand and carved by hand.
Once again, this part of the process is totally done by hand. There is great attention paid to detail during the sanding and filling process to ensure a fault free basis for the finishing. We use a hard two pack sanding sealer to ensure a full grain before finishing coats. The finish coats are applied using a pre catalysed single pack lacquer that is heat proof, waterproof and alcohol proof (with limitations).
The above is applicable to stained timber finishes as well as painted finishes. It is all the same product regardless of colour.
All “gold” finishes are proper gold leaf gilding or silver leaf gilding. These are not painted. They are literally metal sheets of of gold and silver.
Our antique reproduction furniture is top quality handmade furniture that will last you a lifetime. We are so confident in that statement and the quality of our reproduction furniture that we offer a full “Lifetime Guarantee” with every piece.
Mahogany by Hand is very passionate when it come to making the finest quality antique reproduction furniture. Our craftsmen have great skill and knowledge with making handmade furniture. We are happy to share this knowledge with our clients and help educate you about the processes and how this reproduction furniture is made. It cost nothing to share knowledge and we would like you to take advantage of that.
If you are looking to buy antique reproduction furniture we have a lot of unique furniture for sale. Or even if you simply want advice about handmade furniture, we are more than happy to share our knowledge with you. We are here to help. Please call us on 03 9555 1210 and let us help you.