What is Quarter Sawn Oak?

Oak first became the wood of choice during the Middle Ages when Gothic furniture was first produced, and then continued to be popular throughout the 17th century. Quarter cut oak boards known as wainscot were brought to Northern Europe as early as the 14th century. While there are so many different types of oak including Red Oak, White Oak and Live Oak, White Oak is usually used for quarter sawing. During the early 20th Century, quarter sawn oak become one of the hallmarks of the Arts & Crafts style. While other materials became incorporated into the style like mahogany and ebony, quarter sawn oak remains the wood of choice.

Since then, quarter sawn lumber has fallen out of favor during the first half of this century because it yields less lumber per tree and takes more labor than plain sawing. With most furniture being plain sawn today, quarter sawn oak furniture have become prized period pieces and are therefore an important key to accurately recreating the true look of Arts & Crafts furniture.

Quarter sawing means cutting at a 90-degree angle from the growth rings on a log to produce a vertical and uniform pattern grain. The grain on the face of a quarter-sawn board will be parallel lines that are straight, tight and run the length of the board. The closer the growth rings are to being 90-degrees from the face of the board, the greater the chance to getting the famous medullary ray flecks. Additional aesthetics include wavy and interlocked grains. Structural benefits to quarter sawn oak include that it reduces twisting, warping and cupping, holds finishes better, and does not allow liquids to readily pass through it.

Quarter sawn lumber is valued more than plain sawn lumber because of the greater time it takes to produce. The production of plain sawn lumber is much more efficient as it allows woodworkers to cut lumber quicker and produces less waste. Quarter sawn lumber on the other hand, takes longer. To quarter saw a log, first a log has to be cut into quarters. A board will then be cut off one face, and then the next board will be cut from the opposite face. The faces will be alternated until the quarter is completely cut.

A quarter sawn piece radiates elegance and traditional beauty. The extra work put into it is admirable and the results truly stand out. When you own a traditionally- built Arts & Crafts piece, your unit will only get better with age, making it a heirloom that will proudly remain part of your family for years.

Why Barn Furniture is better than IKEA

With very humble beginnings, the Barn Furniture Mart and IKEA were founded around the same time. In the mid-1940’s, while 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad ran his mail-order company from his home in Sweden, selling pens, wallets, and eventually furniture at reduced prices; Phil Tuberman, a WWII veteran, took over the “Whitler’s Barn” in California’s then desolate San Fernando Valley where he sold unfinished furniture and bicycles. Basing his company on affordability, Kamprad’s company, now recognized as the over-bearing IKEA chain of outlets, generates products whose quality is reflected by the lowness of prices. The Barn Furniture Mart has remained a family-owned business that remains true to both great quality and affordable prices.

Many people buy furniture to match their personality and make a statement about whom they are. What will the mass-produced styles available at IKEA say about you? IKEA’s generic styles are de-personalizing and reduce their customers down to anonymity. How often do you enter a home and recognize the IKEA furniture? The Barn Furniture Mart offers various timeless styles with a modern approach whose heirloom-quality will stand out in any room.

Quality should be the main reason for purchasing a piece of furniture. It must be sturdy and possess a timeless appeal that can be valued throughout the years. Besides their material use, furniture is often cherished because it is passed down from generation to generation. A heirloom-quality piece can be valued because of its lasting craftsmanship or more sentimentally, because of the tradition it represents. IKEA produces disposable furniture that often must be replaced within a year. Nicked veneers and wobbly joints are common results of owning an IKEA piece. Composites, particleboard and even formaldehyde are all materials used in IKEA’s furnishings. In the past, IKEA has come under attack a couple times for their use of hazardous materials. Before being reprimanded in the late 1980’s, many IKEA products tested positive for illegally high levels of formaldehyde.

After being sued and slapped with a fine, IKEA remedied the situation; until 1992, when IKEA’s popular bookcase, Billy was found to have higher than legal formaldehyde emissions from the veneer used. IKEA was forced to stop the production of this popular item worldwide and cost IKEA and its suppliers millions of dollars to correct. IKEA was also criticized for using Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), which poses unique and major hazards in its manufacture, product life and disposal. However, since then they have phased out of the use of this material, with the exception of electrical cables. All the while IKEA had been dealing with lawsuits and the altering of their methods of production; the Barn Furniture Mart has been dealing with solid wood furniture, many of which are produced here in the United States, following traditional guidelines set by skilled craftsmen.

Most IKEA products are ideal for transporting. Unassembled products are set in flat boxes that can easily be brought home from the store. The assembling of the product is what becomes problematic and often frustrating. Leaving out necessary tools like reliable screwdrivers but including cheap plastic screws to keep costs low makes assembly more difficult and only leads to a poorly assembled product that is already made of faulty material. In addition, to save money, IKEA does not include words in their assembly instructions. With stores in 35 countries, translation of instructions would be too costly! At no extra charge, the Barn Furniture Mart offers all pieces fully-assembled. To ensure that they will not be damaged during transport, friendly employees wrap all items in plastic or blankets and carefully load items into customers’ cars. At an additional charge, customers can have items delivered to their home where they will carefully be placed in their chosen location.

The shopping experience at IKEA also differs greatly from The Barn. While IKEA has carefully laid out their stores so that you need to pass through most of their merchandise to get to where you need to be, the Barn Furniture Mart has areas clearly labeled so you can find what you need with ease. Self-service is necessary through the entire shopping process at IKEA, while at the Barn, there’s helpful salespeople and other staff to help with the loading of your furniture.

IKEA offers trendy home furnishings that keep up with the time, however their customers are forced to shop there often not because of ever-changing styles but to replace their broken units. Their mass-produced inventory leaves very little individuality and even less reliability. With self-service comes inconvenience and at IKEA, self-service is one of their principles. Low prices shouldn’t be an excuse to lack in other very important areas such as customer service. For fully assembled, heirloom-quality furniture at low prices without the expense of good customer service, The Barn Furniture Mart is a trusted company known to uphold these values for over 70 years.