• About Our Solid Wood Products

  • Solid Wood Furniture
  • Why Choose Solid Wood & Built to Order?
  • Notes on Solid Wood
  • Materials

Solid Wood Furniture

When you buy a piece of solid wood furniture, you are getting a beautiful natural product, with all of its inherent features. One of these features is that solid wood will expand and contract or “Move”, or at least try to move as its environment changes. Generally you let the wood move. You don’t want these forces building up, as you may get undesirable outcomes, like cracking or warping. This is something that our builders take into account when constructing the furniture. It is not something you are going to encounter with furniture using man-made materials like veneers since they are so thin and generally have a lot of glue to ‘set’ it. Particle boards are also resistant to movement as they are essentially small particles mixed with glue and formed into a sheet.

Solid wood tries to move in 2 ways. a) To bend and twist (see “But I asked for solid wood furniture, why isn’t the top made of one big piece of wood?”) and b) to expand and contract. We’re only talking small changes here, maybe 1/16” – 1/8”. Just by looking at a solid wood counter top on its own, this isn’t something you would notice. However if you were to glue this top to a cabinet, as a result of this small movement one or more of 3 things may happen: 1. the counter top may buckle or warp; 2. The cabinet itself may be pushed out of shape; 3. the glue bond may be broken and the counter top come off in parts.

When our builder makes a solid wood panel for any piece of solid wood furniture, they want to let the panel “Float”. This allows the wood to expand and contract without being constrained by the rest of the piece of furniture. In practice, this usually means the panels need to be screwed (or hinged) rather than glued to the rest of the frame. How the screws are placed needs to take into consideration both the way in which the panels will expand or contract, and the way to provide the best structural rigidity for the furniture. This craftsmanship is all part of the skill and knowledge that has been gained by our builders, and why handmade furniture is so special.

For example, consider our Boxwood dining room server, though this is equally true for many smaller pieces of furniture. When the server is built, the cabinet and counter top are built separately. Screws from the cabinet into the underside of the counter top are used to secure the two parts together. This is sufficiently secure so that you could lift the whole unit by the top alone, yet it allows the top to expand over the edge of the cabinet below.

However if you put the server on an uneven surface the floating top counter cannot be relied on to keep the whole piece 100% square. As a result the cabinet below may ever so slightly twist on the uneven floor. This can be seen by the top appearing mildly warped and/or the server doors not lining up: to remedy this, put a shim under the low leg to level the unit and the doors miraculously become level again and the top returns to a true flat surface.

This movement is exacerbated by changes in temperature and more importantly humidity. The humidity needs to be approximately the same throughout the wood as its surrounding environment. As a result it is very important that the wood used for making the furniture in the first place is properly kiln dried to a specific moisture content of between 6% to 8%. (See: “But I asked for solid wood furniture, why isn’t the top made of one big piece of wood?”).

For example when you get wood floors installed in your home, the flooring is usually left in your home for a couple of days before installing, so it can acclimatize to the humidity and temperature of your home.

When we build furniture for clients in drier parts of North America (we’re in southern BC, so that’s most areas), we ensure the wood is further dried before starting to work with it.

A clear example where not allowing the wood to adjust in humidity before building furniture can be seen with many solid wood tables imported from Asia. Once the wood arrives in Canada, with its much drier climate, the wood shrinks. Then you get cracks forming in the table tops.

In short, the wood is going to try and expand and contract, thus ‘move’ due to the difference in temperature and moisture content of the furniture and its surroundings. In the winter if you keep your heat turned up, the wood will contract, during the rainy season, the wood will expand. To ensure these substantial forces do not affect the appearance and structural integrity of your furniture, furniture needs to be built to allow this movement.

Why Solid Wood & built to Order?

Our solid wood furniture is built from North American tree varietals, which are a renewable resource. The advantage of solid wood is that it is lower in VOCs, it is more durable than veneered MDF and can be repaired and refinished if marred or damaged. Our furniture is built to last, and will not need to be replaced after a couple of years, it can be passed on and cherished unlike ‘disposable furniture’ which will end up in a landfill.

There have also been a number of studies in Canada and Europe which reveal that people relax when they are surrounded by natural material such as real wood, and that there is a distinct calming of the nervous system. The result of which is lowered blood pressure and stress levels. Having these natural elements incorporated into your surroundings can also result in greater focus and creativity. In a purely physical sense, the structure of wood can also help to absorb sound, thus reducing ambient noise.

Our furniture is exclusively built to order this allows the pieces to be personalized in a stain colour that will best fit your style and space. Additionally it means that we are not holding container loads of inventory that may never be sold and which end up as waste in a retail cycle. The pieces are made by Canadian craftsmen, which not only benefits employment in Canada, but it also means that the furniture has a smaller environmental footprint. We are not bringing 100 dressers, from thousands of kilometers away. We are having 1 dresser made just for you.

But I asked for solid wood furniture, why isn’t the top made of one big piece of wood?

When you look at the top of your beautiful solid wood table, or dresser, or coffee table . . . you’ll notice strips of wood running the length of your table top. The grain is not continuous over the whole width of your table top, it changes at the edges of these strips. This is more noticeable the lighter the finish of your table. In fact if you don’t see these strips, or change in grain pattern, it’s usually a tell tale sign your table is made from a veneer.

In virtually all cases, a solid wood top, whether it’s for a dining table, or a cabinet, or a coffee table, is made from strips of wood laminated together, rather than one solid piece. Just because “It’s Solid Wood” furniture does not mean it’s made from one piece of solid wood. In fact, you rarely want it to be made from a single piece as this has undesirable results . . .

When trees are milled into planks of wood, there is an inherent tension within these planks to bend one way or another. The amount of tension will vary by species of tree. For instance Western Maple wants to bend and twist more than Eastern Maple. Likewise, just as the grain will vary from tree to tree of a given species, so will the inherent amount of tension vary – for example how quickly the tree grew as a result of its environment. Additionally, the top of a tree is going to vary in grain and tension from the lower part of a tree, and if you change the humidity or temperature, this tension will again change. In short, each piece of lumber is unique.

There are two important factors for a furniture builder when he is making your counter top or dining table. Firstly, he needs to get the right wood – the wood needs to be dried to ensure it has the correct moisture content and will not substantially change once it has been made into your furniture. This is why proper care of your wood furniture requires keeping it away from dramatic changes in heat and humidity (like baseboard heaters, direct sunlight, left outside in the rain). See Solid Wood Furniture Care Instructions for more information. Our builders only use the highest grade of lumber on the market, which has been properly kiln dried.

Secondly, the builder needs to ensure this natural tension in the wood does not result in your table top bending, or warping. This is where the strips of wood come in. So when your solid wood top is being built, whether it’s for a dining table, or a dresser, or a coffee table, the builder will cut these strips of wood usually 2″ – 8″ wide (all the thickness of your top). As mentioned above, each strip will have a natural tendency to bend (and possibly twist) in one direction, depending on the growth rings of the tree that the wood came from. So when these pieces of wood are laid out in preparation for making your top, the builder will alternate them so that adjacent strips will want to move in opposite directions. In this way, the tendency of one strip of wood to bend in one direction will be counteracted by the pieces next to it.

Different sizes of strips have different tendencies to bend and this will affect the size strips the builder uses – thin strips generally tend to bend more than thicker pieces. As a result, thinner tops generally have more (narrower) strips to control the tension in the strips of wood. And the corollary is true, big thick tops can have wider strips without affecting the integrity of the top.


Our solid wood furniture is Canadian made, predominantly in B.C. we also have builders in Ontario and Quebec. Each builder utilizes their own selection of woods ranging from Maple, Oak, Rift cut white Oak, Pine, Cherry and Birch. Below are some characteristics of each wood.

Keep in mind that no matter what material your furniture has been built from, it is important to properly care for and maintain your pieces. For information on keeping your furniture beautiful: Looking after solid wood furniture.

  • Maple

    The East Coast Maple comes in two types. One is softer, the other harder than West coast Maple. Maple is generally harder for manufacturers to work with, doing the reverse of Oak. It is a fast growing wood, and the tension in the wood is often released upon cutting in the form of twisting or splitting. However it gives a beautiful finished look. Unlike Oak which has a marked variation of grain patterns, Maple is generally more homogeneous, with large swirls and less tightly knit grain. It lends itself to contemporary designs with darker stains providing clean looking furniture, particularly condo style furniture.

  • Poplar

    Considered a hardwood, Poplar is softer than Maple and is more akin to Pine. It has a distinctive open grain which gives it a uniquely striking characteristic. The grain pattern is similar to Pine but without the large number of knots thus Poplar provides can provide a very organic appearance within a contemporary context.

  • Quarter Sawn.

    " aria-modal="true" class="material-popup-modal__content" tabindex="-1" >


    Often thought to be the hardest of the woods, it is in fact softer than the denser Maple varietal. Oak is predictable to work with. When it’s cut, it doesn’t twist or split, and there is less wastage. Oak is slower growing, so there is less tension in the wood. Oak furniture is often known for it`s very traditional furniture, such as Mission or Shaker styles, and Quarter Sawn.

  • Rift Cut White Oak

    Rift cut White Oak has a darker and browner undertone than the Red Oak, it is also a harder wood with a finer grain. Rift cut means that the lumber was cut from the centre part of the tree where the grain is the straightest and finest. This means a lower yield which in turn makes this a more expensive wood. Most often seen with a lighter stain or white wash, this wood is a designer favourite.

  • Pine

    The softest of the wood types that we supply, it is also the least expensive. However there are many types of pine, each with varying degrees of hardness. For instance Alpine uses Lodgepole Pine exclusively, which is the hardest of pines and is used for making telegraph poles. Pine is usually associated with a country or rustic feel as the surfaces are easily marked due to the softness of the wood. This marking is not necessarily undesirable, as it adds to the patina over time. The knots are quite prominent which results in more variation in the look of the furniture’s surface. As a result this furniture is most often styled in a casual or farmhouse design.

  • Cherry

    The colour of this wood will naturally deepen with age and exposure. A fine uniform grain with a smooth texture are its characteristics. Often the lumber will have small flecks and gum pockets which add to the visual interest of this hardwood.

  • Birch

    This is another hardwood which comes from the East Coast, hence it is often the preferred wood of many Quebec and Ontario manufacturers. It’s finished look is similar to Alder and Maple.


Over time wood furniture will change in colour. For instance Oak usually gets progressively darker in the first 2-3 years and then stops; Fir will just continue to get richer and richer in colour. The finished look of a piece of furniture will not only vary depending on the choice of stain; Different types of wood, even different batches of the same type of wood will take stains differently and even a single piece of wood will not absorb stain uniformly; Different manufacturers may use a stain with the same name, but they are not necessarily identical. In addition, each manufacturer has their own way of applying stain. We are able in many cases, to get unstained furniture and then have it stain matched to your needs. For more information look at our solid wood care instructions and staining process.