Solid wood is the gold standard of quality furniture. Woods come in a myriad of beautiful colors that will deepen over the years creating patina, and solid wood has structural strength.
So how do you know if what you are looking at is solid wood? Let’s say you’re in a furniture store checking out a beautiful table. Here’s what to do.
If you see continuation of the grain pattern from the top of the table to the edge then the piece is most likely made from solid wood. But be careful, sometimes a thick piece of solid wood is glued onto the edge of manufactured wood. Look for seams.
Do you see a strip of wood on the edge? It can be thick or thin- look for a seam or glue line where the grain pattern changes. If it is white melamine material, you will see a thin strip of plasticized material covering the side edge. That is a give away that the piece is not solid wood. Run your hand under the table. Do you feel a lip, like a piece of wood has been glued to the edge? Another give away.
Most manufacturers do not bother to cover the back side of a cabinet or chest of drawers. If you see bare wood, and it looks like chips or sawdust glued together, it’s a type of MDF. MDF is a sheet material that is stable, but has no strength in terms of screws holding in it ( problematic especially when doors are hung on a cabinet made from
MDF). If you see thin strips of woods glued together, it’s made from plywood. Plywood can hold screws, but can also bend and warp. If you see a continuation of the grain from top to side, then it’s solid wood. Solid wood is the best kind of wood to make furniture with.