Part 1: Grades, Price Points, Wood Types
在這個實木傢俱行業資歷尚淺，但接觸得多再加上過去廿年在品質管理的經驗，用不著看出廠報告，每樣產品摸上手的觸感大概可見真章。累積了少許心得和經驗，希望跟有意投資實木傢俱的朋友分享。作為消費者的我們絕對需要 get informed。要知道付了錢買到的是什麼，但更重要的是需要培養獨立思考能力，事情背後總有無數因素互相牽引互相影響，內地產不一定會爆炸，日本和歐洲製的不一定鑲金。透過一連五節的 WOOD FURNUITURE 101，涵蓋由木材種類和價格、出產地和品質驗證、實木及非實木的利弊、傢俱護理以至改變我們的消費觀念，讓各位深入淺出地了解有關實木傢俱的知識。第一節先來談談木材的級別，種類及價格。
鑽石有 4C 級別，而木材同樣有分級別。你可能會見過大小品牌都會標明自己的木傢俱是 FAS 級，FAS 是由美國硬木板材協會 (NHLA) 製定對木材級數指標，FAS 級為最高，其次就是普1級，普2A級。
如果在商品簡介上沒有寫明是 FAS 級，那有機會該木傢俱是普1普2級，或者不是實木。LITOOC 的實木傢俱都是使用北美進口 FAS 級別木材而製，我們在產品說上有清楚列明。但老實說用 FAS 級木材是很基本，也不是需要打鑼打鼓的事。選擇 FAS 級的木傢俱會有保證，但不代表 FAS 級或者更高級的木材就不會裂。世事無絕對，即使動輒數十萬元起跳的酸枝花梨木同樣也會有裂的可能。
木製傢俱是需要心機和時間做好最基本保養，以減低爆裂的機會。實木傢具是耐用，用上十年八載不成問題，前題是你懂得好好保養的話。要買實木傢俱就要買 FAS 級，但不代表可以一勞永逸，這是需要時間和心機保養的投資。
價格較低：松木，樺木，橡膠木，水曲柳 (多數出產自東南亞或中國東北) 價格較高：胡桃木，橡木，櫻桃木, 櫸木, 柚木, 白蠟木 (多數出產自俄羅斯，北美及歐洲) 產量少而又是天價，矜貴得要進博物館：紅木類：花梨木，黃花梨，酸枝木，烏木，紫檀木，雞翅木。(這又是另一個層次的話題。留待我們訪問世叔伯再跟大家分享。)
Although we haven’t been in the solid wood furniture industry for long, but with two decades of experience in quality management, we can tell the quality of a product by our touch. With the accumulated experience we have learnt through this journey, we would like to share our tips with people who loves wood like us but don’t know where to start. As a consumer, not only we have to get informed of what we’re paying for, we should also educate ourselves to have independent and critical thinking as the outcome is affected by many factors. Made in Europe or Japan products may not be as high-quality as you think, in the same way, Made in China may not as bad as we all think. We’re excited to publish 5 mini chapters of Wood Furniture 101, covering topics from wood type and price points, origins and quality control, the debate between solid and wood veneer, and change of consumer perception with wood furniture care. We wish everyone can gain a better understanding about solid wood furniture and get something out of it. In Part 1, we will start with different wood types, grades and price points.
About Wood Standard Grade
Like diamond, wood also has it’s own grading system. You may have seen brands that states their wood furniture as FAS grade, but what is it? National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) created a grading system to classify the quality of wood, FAS is the highest grade, followed by Number 1 Common and Number 2A Common.
If a wood furniture hasn’t listed the FAS grade in the product description, then it may be made of Number 1 Common, Number 2A Common, or it’s not even solid wood. LITOOC furnitures are made of North American FAS grade wood which we clearly stated in our product descriptions. But using FAS grade wood shouldn’t be bragged about as it’s a standard if you’re a wood furniture manufacturer. All in all, look for furniture made from FAS grade wood if you’re keen to invest a piece. But there’s no guarantee that the most expensive FAS grade wood will not break.
To minimise breakage of your furniture, taking time out to care and maintain the wood is necessary. Solid wood furniture can last more than 10 years or even a lifetime, but that being said, it all depends on how well and how often you take care of them.
Wood type and price point for reference
Lower price point: Pine, Rubber wood, Ash wood (grown in South East Asia and Northeast China) High price point: Walnut, Oak, Cherry, Beech, Teak (grown in Russia, North America and Europe) Rare and exotic, extremely pricey: Rosewood, Chicken-wingwood (We will bring in our wood master to discuss this subject)
Now that we all have a rough idea of the price point of different wood types, but please don’t equate low price point with low quality. Low price point reflects a lower density of wood, but because of this characteristic, it can be used in making smooth and curvy furniture piece. Relatively speaking, high density wood like walnut and oak are often used to create furniture with straight and sharp lines. Designer will determine what wood to use based on their designs. Hence, an ash wood chair may be more expensive than a walnut wood dining table. It’s all affected by the brand, designer, origins…
Whether something is “valuable” is a subjective issue, it all depends on how we appreciate a wooden piece.
We always hear people buy solid wood furniture instead of wood veneer (veneer refers to thin slices of wood). But why is this the case? Stay tuned for the next chapter, where we’re going to discuss the pros and cons between solid wood and wood veneer.
Written by: Trazi Chui Copy-edited by: Mia Shu