Oak is a very hard, strong wood and is best used for heavy, strong pieces of furniture. It is finished in varying colors, one of these being a light yellowish brown known as golden oak. Many people think this is disagreeable because of the rather bright and glaring color. The soft, dark brown color given to oak is perhaps the most beautiful and agreeable to most people. Another finish sometimes used has a greenish, gray tone which is very beautiful. Do you know the names used by furniture dealers for different finishes in oak? The furniture manufacturer sometimes imitates oak by printing the grain on other woods. When the real oak and the imitation are compared it is easy to see the difference.
In order to be a good judge of furniture, it is necessary to understand a process used in the making of furniture called veneering. This process consists of gluing a thin layer of wood onto the surface of another piece of wood. If the veneering is not well done and becomes unglued at the edges, it seriously mars the piece of furniture. Sometimes an expensive wood is glued onto cheap wood, thus giving the appearance of a solid piece of wood. Furniture made with this process may be attractive and serviceable. But when expensive mahogany is veneered onto a cheap, soft wood it should not be sold at the same price as solid mahogany. Some of the finest furniture is also made by the process of veneering, for example, a thin strip of mahogany may be glued to another piece of mahogany. This is done to prevent the warping which may occur with a single solid piece of wood. Thus it may be seen that veneering is used in making fine furniture and also to imitate fine furniture.
Things to Observe. - 1. Can you find out what woods are used in the furniture and woodwork of your classroom?
2. Make a list of the kinds of wood used in the furniture and woodwork of your home. If you can not name them all ask your mother and father to help you.
3. Study newspaper advertisements to see how many you can find that advertise furniture with a walnut or mahogany finish and how many advertise genuine walnut or mahogany. Compare the prices.
4. How many kinds of wood can you recognize? Ask the manual training teacher if he has any samples of wood which you can study.
Finish Affects the Attractiveness of Furniture. - Two oak chairs which are made in exactly the same way may be made to look very different by the finish. One chair might be stained a bright, yellowish color and varnished so that it is very shiny. The other chair might be stained a soft, rich brown and then rubbed until it has a lustrous, glossy polish. Do you not think that the second chair would be far more beautiful?
Furniture Suited to Its Purpose. - If you make a wise selection in your choice of furniture you will be sure that each piece is thoroughly suited to its use. A dresser generally serves two purposes, first to provide drawer space in which to keep clothing and, second, to provide a mirror. If you wished to have a dressing table instead of a dresser, but had no other place in which to keep your underclothes, the dressing table would not be a wise choice. Some people prefer to have a chest of drawers rather than the dresser because of the additional drawer space. The chest of drawers often has several shallow drawers instead of two deep ones as in the dresser. The shallow drawers are more convenient to use and make it easier to keep things in order. However, the chest of drawers has no mirror and even though a mirror is hung above, it is so high that it is not of much use. This objection is overcome if a long mirror is hung elsewhere in the room. Each girl must decide what is best suited to her particular needs.
Sometimes a housewife selects a large, handsome piece of furniture to put in a small room. The piece of furniture in itself may be very fine and beautiful but when it is placed in a small room the effect is not good. The room appears crowded and the furniture seems out of place, because it is not well suited to its use. In buying furniture for your room it will be helpful to ask yourself these questions:
1. Is a dressing table, a dresser or a chest of drawers most suited to my needs?
2. Is the bed comfortable to sleep in?
3. Is the furniture too large to look well and to be convenient to use in a small room?
4. Does the desk or table have sufficient room for the knees?
5. Is the chair at the desk the right height?
6. What other questions will you add to this list when you select furniture for your room? It Is Worth While to Buy Good Furniture. - The intelligent buyer knows that it is wise to buy the best furniture that one can afford. Furniture lasts a very long time after it is purchased, often being handed down from generation to generation. A coat and a table may cost about the same amount of money but there is great difference in the amount of service to be expected from each. The coat will be worn two or three years, but the table may last a lifetime. Does it not seem reasonable to spend more money for a table which lasts such a long time than for a coat? Good furniture is strong and durable, made out of good wood, and well put together. If the class can plan a visit to a furniture store or factory it will prove interesting to ask the salesman to show you how different pieces of furniture are constructed so that they are strong and durable.
A good plan which many housewives follow in furnishing their homes is to add one or two fine pieces of furniture each year until the whole house is well furnished. They consider this better than buying several cheap pieces of furniture that will have to be discarded. Perhaps you could make your "make believe" project of furnishing your room come true if you adopted such a plan as this.
To Test Yourself - 1. Can you name the three most important qualities in good furniture? If necessary, review pages 270 to 275. 2. Plan the furniture which you would like to have for your room. Make a list showing the name of each piece, kind of wood and finish, and the cost. This list will show what you have learned about furniture.