Go to Home Page
Custom Furniture
Refinish, Restoration, and Repair
Cane and Rush Weaving
Special Services
Client Comments
Caring for your Wood Furniture
Frequently Asked Questions
Solid Wood


'In fifty or a hundred years good oak furniture will be worth many times its first cost...for the time is coming when it will be valuable on account of its permanent worth, solid construction, and scarcity.'
- Gustav Stickley.

The durability of solid wood is one that has proven itself through the ages. Many treasured antiques were crafted of solid wood. Enduring designs and quality construction allow solid wood furniture to hold its value decade after decade.

If solid wood furniture is accidentally damaged, its original beauty usually can be restored by gently sanding and then refinishing. A dent or scratch in solid wood simply exposes more of the same genuine wood.

Solid wood furniture is authentic, versatile, and as durable as it is unique and can last a lifetime and beyond. An investment in solid wood furniture today is destined to become an heirloom tomorrow.

Each of my pieces is crafted of solid wood from top to bottom - no particle boards or veneers unless requested by the customer. This method of construction provides a lifetime of stability and beauty to each product.

Quality & Craftsmanship

Each piece of furniture I create is as perfectly finished on the inside as it is on the outside, no corners are cut where quality is concerned. Only solid boards are used in the creation of my furniture.

I believe my customers deserve this type of attention to detail and will appreciate the quality and craftsmanship of my fine furniture. All furniture is finished using professional products and traditional methods which produce a finish that highlights the natural beauty of the wood and results in a very durable piece of furniture. Traditional techniques are employed in the construction of our furniture, such as true dovetail joints, mortise & tenon, and peg joinery. These traditional techniques are an integral design element to my pieces and demand a high degree of craftsmanship. Such craftsmanship and attention to detail is rarely seen in today’s mass produced products.



Wood has always been a favorite material for making furniture, and for good reasons:

  • Wood is available in various colors, grains and hardness. It can be cut and shaped into a large variety of attractive designs.
  • Wood is shock-resistant and very durable, generally outlasting synthetic materials. Scratches and nicks are easy to touch up.
  • Wood has lasting value. Genuine wood furniture may cost more in the beginning, but often grows in value as it is handed down from one generation to another.

Choosing the type of wood for your piece depends on several factors including:

  • What the function of the piece will be (and the strenghth required)
  • What look you find pleasing
  • How much you are willing to spend as some exotic woods can be expensive
  • Are you interested in utilizing reclaimed or recycled materials and green finishes?

Below are a few samples of different species of woods I generally use to build. Of course, if you have a specific wood in mind, I'll do my best to select the finest stock available for you.


Ash is a long-fibered, light-colored hardwood with a tight grain much like birch or maple. It can be used for chairs, stools, and and cabinets. In many ways, it resembles oak when finished. It is a strong, solid wood that finishes beautifully.



Birch is fine-grained hardwood that grows primarily in the Northeast and Canada. White in color, it takes any color of stain well.



Cherry wood offers a fine grain and smooth texture. There are a number of interesting grain variations and colors. It is not uncommon to have some minor gum deposits throughout. Cherry wood will have many color variations ranging from red to yellow and green all on the same piece. This color discrepancy offers the challenge in natural and light staining because it can be pronounced. It accepts stain and finish well.


Southern Cypress

Southern Cypress is a versatile softwood that is ideal for outdoor use. It has a natural preservative oil which gives the wood resistance to insects and decay. Cypress has little tendancy to warp or twist which makes it more durable and stable. In its natural state, the wood is a pale honey color and unsealed, weathers to an even gray on the surface.


Honduran Mahogany

Honduran Mahogany is often considered by cabinetmakers to be one of the finest woods in which to create fine furniture. It offers a straight to interlocked grain with a medium coarse texture. Its consistent grain throughout offers an elegance, which really shows through. It accepts stains and finishing well.



Maple is especially abundant in the eastern U.S. It is a very light-colored hardwood with a very even grain texture. It is close-grained, hard, strong, and tough, and takes a beautiful satiny polish. Eastern maples are generally harder than western maples because of the colder winters and shorter growing seasons. Both are very durable and take any color of stain well.



Oak is very commonly used for furniture. It is a very hard, open-grain wood that comes in red or white varieties. Red oak, which has a pinkish cast, is the more popular of the two. White Oak is the most prized. Its special virtues are that it is hard, strong, durable, seasons well, and takes a beautiful polish. It is the favored choice for Arts & Crafts furniture where it is traditionally "fumed" with ammonia to achieve a rich brown color.

Red Oak

White Oak



Pine is a softwood that comes in many varieties from various parts of the world. In the U.S., Eastern white pine, ponderosa pine and sugar pine are some of the varieties used to make furniture. All have yellow coloring with brown knots and are excellent for staining. Many looks can be achived by dying or staining pine.



American black walnut is used extensively in furniture. The wood has a gray to chocolate-brown color, sometimes with purple streaks or light-colored sapwood on the edges of its boards. Walnut works well in furniture building and can be finished in warm wood tones. Walnut usually has interesting and beautiful grain patterns ranging from straight grain to swirl patters to distinctive burl grains, depending on the cut of the wood. It's rich, dark color makes it a great choice for inlay work.


Unlike a lot of shops, I don't make a practice of using the same finish on everything. I'm not as concerned with the speed of getting the finishing done as I am the quality and beauty of the finished product. I often see finish work that is amateur at best. Finishing is more than slopping on a coat of stain and drowning the piece in polyurethane. Fine finishing often involves the use of dyes to even the color, stains to deepen the color, and a series of sealers, glazes, and topcoats to give the finish depth and protection.

Stains and Dyes

You can alter the appearance and color of any wood by varying the finish applied to it. While many prefer to see the natural characteristics of each variety of wood, sometimes a particular shade is desired. When you order your custom piece, we will discuss finish options in detail.

I mix many of my dyes and stains right here in the shop. We can custom finish your new or refinished piece to match other items or decor in your home.

Top Coats

There are so many ways to finish wood, that it really boils down to what appeals to you, and what function the piece will serve. A tabletop is usually well suited to a more durable finish because it will need to be resistant to water and considerable wear. A table or chair, however, can be finished differently because they will not encounter the same sort of wear.

I offer a variety of finish options ranging from hand rubbed oil and wax finishes, french polish, urethanes, varnishes, and lacquer (to name a few). Once you have decided on a piece, we can discuss different finish options. I use traditional finishes on antiques, not modern lacquers, etc. For most other items, I generally use water based finishes as much as possible for both quality and environmental considerations.

A few things to consider...

Oil Finishes

Oil finishes leave the wood looking natural, with a matte finish—wonderful on “art” pieces. But they aren’t protective enough for most furniture, and can really collect dirt and grime on regularly handled items. The traditional boiled linseed finish does produce beautiful results in some woods, but the maintenance required to keep the finish looking great is considerable. Oil/Varnish blends, however, (such as Danish Oil) offer the beauty of an oil finish with the protective properties of varnish. This sort of finish is suitable for occasional tables or low wear items.

Polyurethane Finishes

Polyurethane finishes give superior protection to high wear surfaces. They resist water, alcohol, and are easily cleaned. However, the appearance can sometimes be unappealing. Polyurethanes can have a 'plastic' look to them if not applied carefully, and the feel of the final finish is not (to me) very inviting. Nonetheless, polyurethane does provide a great protective surface for areas subjected to scratching and denting. The consumer market has been flooded with different types of polyurethane finishes over the past few years, and for good reasons. They are easy apply and get great results with very little effort or equipment. I do not often use polyurethane unless requested because there are many superior professional finishes.


Shellac is an ancient finish that can yield beautiful results despite its reputation as having poor water and heat resistance, being difficult to apply, poor drying and low durability. To experienced finishers and restorers of fine furniture the world over, shellac remains the finish of choice. One of the most elegant finishes for furniture, French Polish, is done with shellac. Conservators and restorers of antiques use shellac for re-finishing antiques. And most importantly, its low toxicity makes it a perfect choice for items that come into contact with food or children's toys. Shellac is not appropriate for high wear areas, however, and it also will suffer if it comes in contact with alcohol. For a great looking antique look, shellac is a good choice.

Lacquer, CV, etc.

Clear lacquer and some conversion varnishes are the mainstay finishes of commercial furniture factories, and can produce beautiful finishes that invite one to touch it. Lacquer produces a high gloss or satin finish that is easy to maintain and will last for years but is not as durable as CV, varnish or urethane finishes.

There are many other choices as well, please e-mail me if you have any questions about finishing options.


©2003-2016 Dan Alleger
No images or text on this site may be copied
without written consent from Dan Alleger