Mennonite Furniture Gallery, Aylmer Ontario
solid wood furniture hand-crafted
by the Amish and Mennonite of Southwestern Ontario

Woods & Finishes

Stains | Oak | Maple | Pine | Wood Care

At Mennonite Furniture Gallery we sell only solid wood products. All exposed parts of the furniture are made of either softwood or hardwood lumber— no veneers or particle boards are used. diagram of wood grains To make tabletops and other wide surfaces, boards are glued together side by side along the edges. Often, a number of boards are used to make the wood more stable and reduce the chance of warping. To distinguish solid board from other construction methods, follow a seam to the end, where the "end" grain will be visible.

Most of our furniture is made from oak (mostly red oak), maple (white, brown, "wormy") or pine, but our builders do custom work with other species, including walnut and cherry. Please inquire.

Individual distinctions are part of the beauty of any wood product. These naturally occurring variations are intrinsic to natural materials, especially wood. Much like fine leather, glazed tile or wine grapes, each piece of wood comes from a tree that grew in a distinct environment, affected by the type of soil, the weather, moisture and sunlight. These factors affect the graining and induce delicate colour variations. No two pieces of furniture, even identical designs, will have exactly the same grain pattern, flecks, stain penetration, and surface quality. Your solid wood, hand-crafted furniture is truly unique. Minor variances including knots, variations of grain and surface checks are not considered flaws but attributes that attest to the uniqueness and hand-crafted nature of your individual pieces.

Wood furniture will gradually darken or mellow in response to aging, light and UV exposure. You will probably not notice this subtle aging process unless, in a few years time, you compare your furniture pieces to brand new ones in the same wood and stain colour.

As your new furniture adjusts to its new home, you may notice some shifting of doors or boards that may make them appear to be warped or bowed. This is a normal occurrence as the wood expands and contracts in response to the humidity and temperature fluctuations of its new environment.

During the acclimatization period, usually the first few months, do not try to fix furniture if it appears warped or bowed. It may take this time period for your piece to settle into its natural form and shape.

If for some reason your new furniture does not properly settle, please contact us and we will resolve the issue. Our motto: "If you are happy, tell a friend; if you're not, tell us". We are committed to making things right for you. .
photo of stain colour selector
Photo of in-store
colour center for stains
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Stains & Finishes

Nearly all our staining and finishing is done by one local specialist at a workshop just north of town. Centralizing these operations allows us to combine pieces from different builders into sets and ensembles that are very consistent in stain colour and finishing quality. It also means your furniture spends less time in a "finished" state, minimizing the chances of damage in transit.

Choose from a wide variety of stain colours using samples from our colour center in the store. If you are trying to match an existing piece, please bring in a sample (table leaf, chair) and we will first try to match it from our in-stock stain options. If you prefer, our finisher can mix a custom stain. You may also request a particular brand and colour of stain.

After staining, three coats of a pre-catalyzed lacquer are applied. Once finished the furniture will last you a lifetime, but remember that the wood was alive and thus has a nature of its own.

Care Of Wood

Do not use furniture polish as it eats away at the urethane and finish and penetrates into the wood. If ever you want to refinish the piece, furniture polish will cause the stain and urethane to bubble.

Recommended care of wood furniture
photo of Oak tree by James Phelps
The oak has a distinctive silouette, shown in this photo of a majestic tree in Northern Michigan. Photo by James Phelps.
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Oak is the most common hardwood tree in North America. Our builders generally use red oak (Quercus rubra).

photo of oak tabletop
Quarter sawn oak tabletop.
Click for larger image.
Oak is relatively rot resistant. Its distinctive medium-fine, uniform grain can appear in a variety of patterns, depending on how the log was sawn. Oak wood is heavy, very strong and very hard, stiff, and durable under exposure to water and wind. It undergoes a great deal of shrinkage during the seasoning process. Read more about oak wood on WikiPedia (opens new browser window)

drawing of plain sawn board
drawing of quarter sawn board
Much of our oak furniture is made from quarter-sawn lumber. These display a "ray fleck" pattern that is beautiful and typical of only a few tree species, and only when quarter sawn. As well, since the cuts are close to perpendicular to the tree rings, the resulting grain lines are narrowly spaced, and often very regular, lending a refined beauty to the wood. On the practical side, quarter-sawn boards are generally less prone to warping and, upon drying, they shrink slightly less than regular saw patterns. Furniture made from quarter sawn lumber is generally more expensive because of the large amount of wood waste the technique generates.

With a typical colour range from tan to medium reddish hues to dark brown, oak is the wood usually chosen for furniture in Craftman or Mission styles. It readily accepts stain and is wonderfully versatile for builders and homeowners alike.
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All maple wood, whether hard (sugar, black) or soft (silver, red) is strong, heavy and relatively stiff, although soft maples are somewhat less so, being similar to oak in these qualities. All maple has a fine, uniform, subdued grain (often finished to a perfectly smooth sheen) but it can also occur as "curly," "fiddleback," and "birds-eye" figures, although these are generally only available as veneers. Maple has particularly good abrasion and wear resistance. Its excellent steam-bending properties make it the choice wood for "bent" slats and hoop backs on chair frames. Hard maple undergoes a lot of shrinkage as it cures. The colour of maple wood ranges from nearly white to a light tan, reddish tan, or light grey. maple wood on WikiPedia (opens new browser window)

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photo of knotty pine planks
pine planks showing knots
Our builders usually reserve pine for rustic-style pieces and items where the species' relative softness will not compromise either the strength or aesthetics.

With its (usually) numerous knots and yellow hue, pine is easy to recognize. Soft and light, pine is not highly resistant to decay or shock. Pine is often used with country or casual decor, its casual and often time-worn qualities create an atmosphere of relaxing charm. It accepts stain readily and mixes well with other woods in eclectic settings.

Learn more about pine on Wikipedia.
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A bit of tree-related eye candy...

photo by Chris Darling (Flickr)
Beautiful collage of trees at night
Photo by Chris Darling.
Click for larger image
photo by Chris Luczkow (Flickr)
Photo by Chris Luczkow.
Click for larger image

photo by Chris Darling (Flickr)
photo by Chris Darling
click for larger image
photo by Sean Hurley)
photo by Sean Hurley
Click for larger image

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