How to tell the difference between solid and veneer:
A solid table top will be made in one of three ways. 1: all the boards running in the same direction (usually down the length on a fixed top, and across the width on an extender), or 2: a frame and panel design, or 3: straight boards with a cleated end.
In the case of example 1, look at the grain on the top and follow it along its length to the edge. You should see end grain, characterised by the growth rings of the tree. You should also see that the joins between the boards on the edge, are in perfect alignment with the joins in the boards on the top. If you see both of these things, you can be confident you are looking at solid.
In the case of example 2, because you can't see the edges of the boards which display the end grain, you have to look for other clues. Look at the panels - if they have expansion grooves around the edges, the table is probably solid. If you see repeating grain structure the panel is probably veneered. If the product is imported from the far east and has panels, it is likely to be veneered.
In the case of example 3, you need to look underneath the table, and see if the board joins are in alignment with the board joins in the top. If they are, its likely solid.
What to expect from solid wood:
The one thing you can predict about solid wood is that it's not predictable. It's an imperfect material in the sense that it is dimensionally unstable, has variable colour, variable grain structure, and has a tendency to spilt, crack, bow, and twist as it reacts to ambient humidity. It even, very occasionally, comes with unwelcome inhabitants. For all that, it will last a lifetime, is fantastically tactile, and, if like us you appreciate nature, it has an enduring and fascinating beauty.
What is veneer?
Wood veneer is essentially a thin slice of solid. It has advantages over solid in that it is dimensionally stable, it offers consistent and predictable grain structure and colour, is a much more efficient and economical way to convert a tree, and allows greater freedom of design. Veneer gets bad press, but used correctly can offer very high quality.
Measuring up for a dining set:
Where space is restricted: to rise from a chair, you need to push the chair back about 90cm from the table edge, so its necessary to allow for this when measuring. So, measure the space you have available, taking account of any other existing, or planned furniture. Subtract 180cm from the width and length, and that is your maximum comfortable table size.
Where space is plentiful, think first about chairs. Remember that the chairs will always occupy more space than a table - which sits in the space between them - so you need to allow for this. Think about how many you want to seat, rather than dimensions. Then arrange chairs as you would want them to be when dining, and the ideal table shape, and size, will become obvious.
Dining tables: round, oval, rectangular or square?
Circular tables are very sociable, and don't have sharp corners, but are relatively expensive to produce, require a square space, and are usually less stable than four leg designs. You'll need about 110cm diameter to seat four comfortably, 130 to seat 6, 160 to seat 8, and 180 or more to seat 10.
Rectangular tables are very space efficient, and are the most popular option. To seat four comfortably, you'll need at least 120 x 80cm. To seat 6 you'll need 150 x 90, to seat 8 a minimum of 180 x 90cm, and to seat 10, 220 x 90cm would be required. These sizes assume a four legged design, and the legs positioned close to the corners. For a pedestal design, you need to add 30-40cm to each of the lengths above.
Oval tables follow the same rules as rectangular, but seat two people less for the same length, assuming 90cm wide. To seat two people on the oval, you really need at least 100cm width.
Why does furniture take so long to arrive?
A simple question but one which has a complicated answer. Its a constant source of frustration for the furniture buying public, and does nothing to endear people to the process of acquiring furniture. There are many factors which affect lead times, but the most obvious are as follows. Batch rather than mass production - its often necessary to wait for a production run rather than the item being available from stock. Finishing - is the slowest part of the process, and the finishing line tends to be a bottleneck in most factories. Transport - most furniture is imported these days, and the truck bringing it to the retailer has to be filled to make it economical to ship. That means collating orders together, which inevitably slows things down. Choice - if everyone wanted the same finish, the same size, the same style, and the same quality, you could probably have it tomorrow.
What is a Martindale rub test?
This is a universally accepted test to define the wear characteristics of fabrics. The test consists of a small metal disc (about the size of a 2p piece) which is rubbed backwards and forwards across the surface of a sample of fabric, at an angle of about 45 degrees. The figure given is the number of cycles (forward and back being 1 cycle) achieved without significant fibre loss. Anything in excess of 20,000 cycles is good quality, though some fabrics can achieve upwards of 60,000.
How do I remove clothes dye stains on leather?
This is a common problem - dye from clothes (jeans for example) transferring onto leather and staining it. We don't know why, or how this works, but we know it often does: simply rub the affected area with some white bread. A soft pencil rubber is also very useful for removing scuffs from leather, and it also works on hard surfaces such as wood.