Our Custom Department
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If you have your own design or a special need, send us a fax or email us a photo. If its wood, we can probably make it for you!
In the days before the Industrial Revolution (1830’s) if you wanted a piece of furniture, you commissioned the local furniture craftsman. You gave him your size and design parameters, and he made the piece for you. We take this same approach at Designer Antiques, Ltd. We carry a large selection of furniture we have made in all three of our Atlanta stores. We can also build all of our furniture styles for you to your wood, size, and finish preferences. Everything we make is solid wood from aged and reclaimed timber and done in our warehouse locally by our craftsmen.
Solid wood means that each exposed part is made of genuine hardwood lumber. For large surfaces, boards are bonded with stronger-than-wood glue and other wood joinery techniques (biscuit joined). Using solid hardwoods in furniture is in contrast with much of the imported, mass-produced items on the market today.
Each species of wood will have characteristics unique to its species, but also each board displays its own characteristics. This is the result of the lifetime of the individual tree from which it came. Solid hardwood furniture offers the potential for many generations of hard use. While most nicks and scratches can be repaired, in many ways this only adds to the character of the furniture.
Reclaimed or recycled wood is not only environmentally friendly but also can also be more attractive and more durable than new wood. There are certain characteristics that only time and use can create in the color and texture. Because a lot of reclaimed wood comes from old-growth trees, the wood itself can be denser and more durable, rendering any furniture made with reclaimed wood likely to endure even longer.
Woods are the palette of the furniture maker. They provide color, texture, strength, and beauty to handmade furniture. Each type of wood has characteristics to be considered when building a piece of furniture. Some are very hard and durable; some are flexible and suitable for bending. "Hardwood" is a term applied to trees that lose their leaves in winter. "Softwood" describes evergreens such as fir, pine and redwood. Every wood has a distinctive grain structure.
Woods such as oak and walnut have open-pores. These woods have small holes in their surface that give the piece a textural quality. When a stain is applied to this type of surface, the stain tends to collect in these pores and appears darker than the rest of the piece. Tight grained woods such as maple and cherry are smooth to the touch and can take finish evenly.
Color and Grain Variations: Unlike man-made materials, each hardwood board has uniqueness. During the approximately 60 years it takes for a hardwood to mature, each tree develops a one-of-a-kind grain pattern and texture. Grain patterns result from the tree’s growth rings (one ring for every year in the forest). Knots are character marks that tell the story of tree limbs that grew and fell to the forest floor as the tree matured.
Even boards from the same hardwood tree will show significant variation in color. For example, the wood closer to the bark will be lighter than that which comes from the central portion. You also can see the effects of the minerals and other essential elements that the trees absorbed as they grew. No two pieces of hardwood are alike. Because of this, each piece of furniture we make is unique. None of the natural markings that characterize our furniture and cabinetry affect their durability or structural integrity.
Is Veneer less desirable than solid wood? Veneer has a different look than solid wood, but is not necessarily better or worse in quality. There are good veneers and bad veneers. Many exotic woods are used for veneers. These thin layers of wood can be cut and applied to other woods or plywood.
Originally developed to be an art form, veneer can be cut in intricate patterns for inlays. Uniform graining can be achieved, unlike the more random graining of solid wood. Other veneers can be no more than a man made photographs of wood grain applied like wallpaper to particle board.
When is plywood a good idea? When strength and stability are needed. Plywood is made of thin layers of solid wood glued over each other with grains running at 90-degree angles to produce a strong core. It is used to provide maximum stability on the sides of cabinets, drawer bottoms and where solid wood would crack and warp.
Expansion & Contraction: Expansion and contraction of wood is perfectly normal during changes in the weather. Wood is a natural material that seeks to be in balance with its surroundings. Hardwoods destined for use in home furnishings are carefully kiln-dried for that purpose, and they will take on or give off moisture with changes in humidity. When the air is warm and humid, solid hardwoods will absorb moisture and expand. Likewise, with cooler air, the wood will give off moisture and contract. This is completely natural. All wood is made up of cells that continue to shrink and swell with changes in humidity. A 12-inch wide board will move on average about 1/8 of an inch over the course of a year. Wood that properly joined the boards will crack and break apart over the years.
Time Honored Furniture Techniques: Antique furniture that has survived today was crafted with joints such as the mortise and tenon, dovetail, finger joint, floating panels. Our solid wood furniture is built using these time-honored techniques that give our furniture both beauty and durability.
Mortise and Tenon - A mortise is the opening cut in wood, a tenon is the piece that is shaped to fit in it. This joint is used to join cross members, for example, connecting a rail to the leg of a chair.
Dovetail - The traditional joint used for drawers and to join casework work in fine cabinetry. The dovetail actually locks the wood in place in one direction.
Finger Joint - A simple joint that is similar in usage to the dovetail, the finger joint is stronger than the dovetail and compliments drawers and casework with a square patterned appearance.
Floating Panels- Frame and panels doors feature solid wood panels that fit into grooves in the wood of the frame. This construction allows the wood panel to "float" with the seasonal movement of wood.