Top-quality kits come to you with all pieces carefully cut, and all joints made to fit precisely. Less expensive unfinished hardwood furniture already assembled may or may not have had careful attention during assembly. As a rule, the cheaper the piece, the more likely you are to find such problems as poor joinery or ill-fitting drawers.
You can do an excellent job of upgrading the least expensive furniture if you want to take a little time. Here are some list to check our website and some of the work you might do.
Joints may not fit tightly. You can use wood filler for a quick upgrade, or you may be able to take the piece apart and sand the components of the joint until they fit correctly.
Check tops of chests, tables, or other pieces that have shaped edges carved with a router. These edges usually have not been sanded at all, while flat surfaces probably have had at least minimal sanding. Spend some time sanding these shaped places so that they take the finish material nicely. Pay particular attention to those edges across the grain. They will absorb much more stain than the other parts and turn out darker.
The best way to handle staining of endgrain wood is to seal the wood either before or during staining. Before staining, a coat of thin shellac will work. During staining, lightly touch your stain pad to the top surface of the varnish, so that you get a mixture of stain and varnish on the pad. Apply this mixture to the endgrain.
Few inexpensive pieces have drawer guides. This isn’t much of a problem with small drawers, but on big ones, which will hold a heavy load, the drawers may not work well for long without guides. You can buy ready-made metal guides or put in your own made from hardwood strips.
The look of most furniture depends in part on the appearance of its hardware ‘” drawer pulls, knobs, or hinges. Inexpensive, unfinished furniture usually has minimal hardware. You can replace wooden drawer pulls with brass or ceramic ones. Replace flat steel door hinges with more ornate brass models. Install casters in place of the steel glides many makers use.
Better Looking, More Serviceable Top Surfaces
When you buy a piece of furniture that is expected to do yeoman service ‘” a table for children’s use, for example ‘” you can add years to its life by applying a plastic laminate to the top. Your home center has plastic laminates in stock or can order one for you. This material is applied like a veneer, with contact cement. Plastic laminates resist damage from just about everything and look good as well.
If the unfinished furniture you buy is of a hardwood that has no grain, color, or character, you might consider applying a veneer of mahogany, cherry, walnut, or other fine wood to the large, flat areas such as the top, sides, or drawer fronts. This can turn good but nondescript furniture into something worth having for a long time. Today, unfinished furniture is available in a range of prices, designs, and materials, and if you are in the market for furniture, a shopping trip to discover what’s out there is worthwhile. You’ll see inexpensive bookcases and other simple pieces in particle board and softwoods; you’ll also see well-made breakfast and dining sets in hardwood. The selection will range all the way up to museum reproductions in magnificent hardwoods.