What Do I Ask To Determine Quality?

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I want to buy a dresser and have found one I like. This one
http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product.do?method=get&id 1299&coll77444&cat8
but I don't know anything about construction and wood quality. So I'm worried I might be paying 1500 for something that is IKEA quality. What questions do I ask to determine if it's "worth it" for the price?
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http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product.do?method=get&id 1299&coll77444&cat8
Unfortunately, the person/salesman you are asking probably does not know either.
A few thinks I look for are,
Dovetail on the drawers AND ARE THEY SANDED SMOOTH? Did the manufacturer care enough to smooth the joints.
Can you really put something in the drawer or is the drawer simply a pretty part on a closed dresser? A drawer should be deep, front to back. Do the drawers pull out over 12"?
Do the drawers slide smoothly WITH OUT mechanical slides?
To tell you the truth, $1500 is probably not going to get a dresser that answer my questions favorably.
A dresser should be well built, nice to look at, and have "lots" of storage.
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At most retailers, you're probably right. You could look into Stickley, especially if you live near central NY and can make it to one of their factory sales. Even modern Stickley is clearly mass- produced with the associated shortcuts once you start looking, though. The first thing I would check is whether it's solid wood - I haven't shopped for dressers so I don't know what you'll find at any given price point, but particleboard, plywood, etc. seem almost ubiquitous. I would argue that plywood may have a place in "real" furniture, but if the piece is made of real wood, that SHOULD imply that some more time and possibly care went into making it, and it won't become a sponge (like particleboard) if it somehow gets wet. Also, if/when it needs to be repaired or refinished, real wood gives you something with which to work. To check for real wood, I'd look inside the case, and at the ends and sides of boards - does the grain match around corners? Is there end grain visible anywhere? Are there several matching panels, as would occur if adjacent layers of veneer were bookmatched or used for drawer fronts? Dovetails should make a solid joint, even if they're made by machine (and I can't imagine you'd find handcut dovetails on anything except a 100% custom piece for which you've talked to the maker). How are the backs and bottoms of the drawers attached, and can the bottoms be replaced? How thick are the drawer bottoms (if they're thin hardboard, they'll sag)? How are the handles attached to the drawers, and will you be able to tighten them if they loosen over time? How much play is there in the drawer when you wiggle it side to side? I can't add much about drawer slides, but I'd definitely stay away from anything that looks thin or feels cheap. Hope this helps - but remember that most free advice is worth approximately what you paid for it. Good luck, Andy
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Keep in mind that he has a $1500 limit. That eleminates Stickley. The last new Stickley dresser I saw was about 3 times more expensive.
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A very interesting question. First of all, asking is no substitute for looking. The salesman has one objective and that is to make the sale. Yesterday my wife and I were in a furniture store, high end, with the most unbelievable junk on display. Opening drawers revealed warped drawer bottoms. Doors did not fit openings, knobs were not symmetrical etc. It can be really hard to tell if real wood was used or not. We got fooled on a set of kitchen cabinets. Looked great, when installed we discovered they were VERY thin veneer over flakeboard. If there are adjustable shelves looking inside the holes can reveal the truth. It is totally a matter of buyer beware! Dave

http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product.do?method=get&id 1299&coll77444&cat8
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I agree, expensive stores are selling junk made in China with rough splintery warped cheap woods. We were looking for bedroom furniture and found nothing that I would buy. Even the drawers were assembled with knock-down fittings not dovetail joints.
Finally found a local store that sold locally made solid hardwood furniture with good designs. While it was far from cheap it wasn't totally out of the world in price. The only man-made material was plywood backs. We bought this during an annual sale.

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On May 17, 11:08 pm, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

The drawer fronts are likely solid maple. (No big deal, not that it's birds-eye or anything) The case-work, veneered something.
Sooo.. let's see here. $ 1500.00 retail. He needs to make 50 points (minimum 35) margin, which means he bought it for $ 750.00. The guy that made it, wants 50 points as well. That means it shouldn't cost him more than $375.00. That includes his labour and packaging. That leaves us a couple of hundred in materials. (I am being very generous here.) It also leaves no room for skilled labour.
I can assure you of one thing though. There is far worse crap out there than IKEA. It is what it is, and not what it is trying to be like the piece you linked us to. That piece, would likely sell at IKEA for less than half that price..in fact wayyyy less... and the quality wouldn't be that different. Just a hunch.
Take this picture and walk it around a local wood show. Chat with the tool stores. Ask around. You could find somebody who would make you that same piece, better quality, for about the same price. Either an eager young up-start or a retired gentleman who has to justify a new tool to his sweetie. Are there any vocational schools around you?
Option # 2: buy 750 dollars worth of tools and 750 dollars worth of materials and do it yourself. Build 2. Sell one... etc.
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If you pick up a book about how to build some product, you should notice whats up when checking one out. And if it gives you options, you can form your own impressions about you would really like , or your preferences wrt construction. -but if you do it tghis way, it can .....Things just fall into place. e.g "Making Cabinets[Dressers/High Boys/Armoires]"; try the library. Its a good question, but the fact is, its just the best way to answer the question. You can only get a better approach by asking specifixcs after you know the basics

http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product.do?method=get&id 1299&coll77444&cat8
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On 17 May 2007 20:08:32 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com"

Q = D + C + M.
Roughly translated this means that Quality equals Design plus Craftsmanship plus Materials.
In a previous age we lived close enough to the makers to be able to judge the elements of the equation for ourselves.
We have become less competent through disassociation and the dismemberment of the organic units of a working society.
We have become consumers, rather than participants in a working society that is based on an interchange of the goods among various makers.
The result is that we do not know shit from shinola.
If you happen to be a "knowledge worker" who produces code for a living, you may be about as incompetent to judge the merits of a piece of furniture as the furniture maker is to judge the merits of your code.
How then do we make our selections, from either perspective?
We need an honest broker.
That is why god created Ebay.
(just kidding)
You will need to educate yourself, as you have attempted to do by asking your question - but you must go to a further level of effort and visit those repositories of Q=D+C+M, which may be, in your case, the higher end furniture houses. In another case, it may be a museum.
Furniture is tactile, perspectival, visual, olfactory, auditory, fiduciary, historical, cultural, emotional, psychological, sociological, and on the level that you aspire to it is not a commodity. It must be experienced in the flesh.
Pinch the flesh. Ask the questions of the joinery. View the visible and try to intuit what is not.
Will your great-great grandchildren love it? Will they ever get the chance to decide?
Regards,
Tom Watson
tjwatson1ATcomcastDOTnet (real email)
http://home.comcast.net/~tjwatson1 /
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http://www.roomandboard.com/rnb/product.do?method=get&id 1299&coll77444&cat8
Go to IKEA. No, really, go there. Others gave you some ideas on what to look for. If you go to a cheap furniture store and look at the construction, it will give you a good idea of what you don't want to see. Feel how the drawers slide, look at how joints are made, what material is used, etc.
As for the "worth it" question, that is very difficult to answer. I find that in most goods, as the price doubles, the value goes up about half of that. OTOH, good furniture can last a couple of generations. Last summer I refinished two pieces that were used and abused for over 50 years and they look fantastic and will last at least that much longer.
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********************* Ok, forget all the mumbo-jumbo, here are the things you look for...
1. Ask what wood species the piece is made of. For example, is it 'cherry' finish or 'cherry' wood. Sometimes they will say a piece is cherry or ash or maple, but really they mean that it is finished in that color, and the actual wood is rubberwood or something. 2. IF the piece is solid wood, make sure they aren't using 'secondary' wood species on the side gables (for example) to lower the quality. 3. Ask for typical signs of quality such as - english dovetail drawers on the front and the back of the drawer (pull the drawer out). Is the joinery rough and slapped together, or finely crafted just so. - look at the bottom of the drawer....is it ravaged with glue blocks or is it solidly made- DO NOT let the salesperson trick you into believing that glued blocks under a drawer is a 'sign of quality.' Rather, it just means that they've cheaped out on the construction 4. Look at the finish. Catalyzed lacquer is the most superior finish available today. What kind of lacquer is being used to insure that the finish will not pose a problem in the near future. 5. Quality pieces are well sanded in unusual places that you don't normally reach for. feel inside drawers, along bottom mouldings, turn chairs upside down. 6. Are tall pieces finished on top? 7. Are there adjustable levelers on the feet of heavy pieces? 8. How is the bed constructed. Most people tug on the footboard, but not the headboard. Does the bed wobble or squeak?
If you need more information, check out these guys in Canada who do it right.... www.westbrosfurniture.com. There is a section call signs of quality, and the West Bros. difference that you will find interesting.
Good luck.
Steve
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You might enjoy this Texas guy.
http://www.michaelcolca.com/bedroom/medinadresser.asp
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Thanks Leon, This guy is great.
steve
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Hmmm, wonder what the spot at the top of that syle covers and looks very much like the piece has no back.
Peter
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"Secondary" wood is common on hidden and internal parts on the finest antiques. No responsible craftsperson would dispute this.
In some places, high quality plywood and composites are not only acceptable, but preferred, such as veneer substrates or drawer bottoms.

As a CNC dovetail machine does, even on cheap bathroom vanity drawers? <G>
Sliding dovetails are very common at the back of drawers, and some very high-end stuff can have joinery designed to show no dovetail at all.

You can tell catalyzed lacquer from other finishes by looking at it? <G>

Bull.
Expecting an identical finish to the visible parts, in non-visible places is pretty ridiculous.
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What BARRY said.
r
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they actually mean another. So many times people are mislead by thinking they are gettting a solid cherry dresser for example, and really they're getting solid cherry fronts and maple gables.> >3. Ask for typical signs of quality such as

front as a 'vanity' feature, where front and back dovetails are used because it makes a stronger, longer-lasting drawer. There is no doubt that there are other types of joinery, however, I think that overall it is believed that the english dovetail technique is the most superior out there. Do you agree? <S>> >4. Look at the finish. Catalyzed lacquer is the most superior finish

smallest things...like simple sanding, it's a good tipoff that the craftsman has spent the proper amount of time and care on the big things. There's no arguing that. <S>> >6. Are tall pieces finished on top?

and looking down onto the top of a tall entertainment console only to see bare wood, or finish overspray. Again, just because a piece of furniture doesn't have this doesn't mean it's not good, but these are signs of quality which differentiate one piece from another. <S>
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"Steve" wrote in message

Ahh, yes ... the much maligned hevea brasiliensis, which simply resists being used in quality construction regardless of the craftsman's attempts.

Where's the "side gable" in piece of furniture?

Won't half-blind "american dovetails" do on a drawer?

Yeah, watch out for those ravaging glue blocks ... they have to be registered in most places.

Hmmm ... pre or post? Anyone want to buy some shellac?

Just ask the salesman, he'll tell you ... for sure!

That depends entirely upon what the saleslady looks like.

... and be sure to stay away from 150 year old antiques still going strong.

Too short? Don't ask, don't look.

Yep, real sign of quality ... never see these on cheap furniture!

Tug? There is only one, manly, way to find out whether a bed wobbles or squeaks. Maybe that saleslady can help?

LOL ... sure thing, brought to you by the folks who claim that:
"The term "solid wood" may be confusing to some consumers, since both solid and veneered woods are of solid wood construction. In fact, veneers are made from many pieces of plywood material which remain after a tree is milled."
> Good luck.

Yes sir ... with that kind of "mumbo jumbo", he'll certainly need all he can get.
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Wowsers... you can do serious time for concealed glue-blocks.

They only screw you at the cash register.

Pleeeeese leave me out of this???

HEY! All the wood in particle board is solid wood!!!
Thanks for the chuckles, Swing...
r
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You know, there are ignorant people like you out there that don't really have anything else to do but cut others down. Then there are people that do actually want to help. And, ah, by the way, the information was provided by a happy customer to this manufacturer, not the manufacturer selling his goods. The question was originally asked because they were looking for some answers- if you don't agree than just give your opinion and not just run at the mouth like an idiot making yourself look retarded. Jerk,
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