Judging the Case
Furniture designed to provide storage space, or for display, is
called case goods. Usually made of wood or metal, case goods comprise
bedroom and dining room furniture – excluding upholstered
pieces – as well as desks, bookcases and chests.
There are several factors that determine the overall quality of
- Wood pieces should usually be joined in either a mortise and
tenon (one piece fits into a pocket on the other) or a dovetail
(the pieces fit together like meshing gears). The best joinery
is also glued, locking the pieces together. Blocks glued and screwed
into corners create extra stability.
- Drawers should fit well, glide easily on heavy-duty glide rails;
they shouldn’t creak or wobble excessively from side to
- The insides of drawers should be smoothly sanded with panels
between drawers blocking dust and other material.
The Natural Wonders of Maple
Finely textured with a natural luster, maple is a favorite furniture
hardwood. This creamy white to light reddish brown wood has been
used since the first furniture was constructed in the U.S. during
Colonial times. Moreover, early settlers used maple for crafting
personal items like hatboxes and sewing kits. Maple is also a preferred
wood for flooring, wooden kitchenware (such as bowls and cutting
boards) and many musical instruments.
Solid woods, including maple, cherry, mahogany and oak, offer stability
to furniture and can be easily refinished. A manufacturer’s
hang tag indicating solid wood construction means that only 100
percent solid wood was used.
By definition, a veneer is a thin layer of wood, chosen for beauty
and character, then glued or bonded to another wood surface. It’s
not a substitute for solid wood; instead, veneers add to the beauty
of the finished piece. Veneering makes it possible to match fine
grain patterns and insert beautiful inlay designs that are not available
in solid wood. Veneering is a fine craft that has been practiced
for centuries, and can be seen on intricately designed antique pieces.
Better-quality furniture often combines solid wood, veneers and
other materials. Solid wood gives frames, legs and other supporting
components durability. The veneer adds not only beauty but strength:
it helps prevent warping and splitting that sometimes occurs when
solid wood expands and contracts with changes in humidity.
Case Good Terms
Learn the language of home furnishings by reviewing the phrases
- Bachelor chest: A small, low chest that originated
in the 18th century
- Buffet: A sideboard with no hutch or storage
cabinet on top
- Commode: A small, low chest with door or drawers
- Console: A small table, often with curved legs,
designed to set against a wall
- Hutch: An enclosed cupboard with shelves resting
on a solid base
- Pedestal table: A table supported by a single,