quality of chair joints?

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Forum topic by bsllas posted 03-18-2014 07:03 PM 15052 views 1 time favorited 36 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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11 posts in 1495 days

03-18-2014 07:03 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question cherry maple joining

Hello there,

I’m not a woodworker and am not going to pretend to be any kind of expert, but I need some advice and I’m hoping someone here can grant me some. If this isn’t the right category to post in, I’ll be happy to move.

My husband and I recently took delivery of a new kitchen table, Amish made, made per our dimensions. This is our first really nice quality piece of furniture we’ve ever bought/ordered and we paid a good chunk of money for it. But I’m having a lot of heartburn over the fact that there are some rather noticeable gaps in the chairs where the seat meets the frame. Also, the paint finish is kind of splattered and smudged around the joint. I’m thinking this is poor workmanship, and for a high priced, Amish made table I should expect tight joints and no paint smudges or splatters. Or am I just being unreasonable?

FYI, the chair seat is natural cherry, and the painted chair body is maple.

36 replies so far

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28919 posts in 2303 days

#1 posted 03-18-2014 07:17 PM

From the information given, it wouldn’t fly leaving my shop.

Welcome to Lumberjocks

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View mahdee's profile


3870 posts in 1732 days

#2 posted 03-18-2014 07:20 PM

That is a big gap… Something wrong there.


View Loren's profile


10260 posts in 3612 days

#3 posted 03-18-2014 08:40 PM

It could be a seasonal wood movement thing but it does
look like a defect.

How is the leg attached? Is there a screw?

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#4 posted 03-18-2014 09:04 PM

There should be a gap for seasonal wood movement but not that large. It looks like the corner cut might be made by dado blade because there appears to be tear out on the front of the area in front of the back support.Many pieces of furniture Amish are made on some high end machinery .Many folks think because Amish made their furniture it is al hand made with out power tools,but that’s not the case with many of the Amish furniture peices sold on line. Most groups of Amish allow the use of power tools just not the ownership of such tools,so the rent the equipment or just rent the whole shop As for the seat ,I would request a replacement,seats are usually just screwed on and should be easy to replace yourself.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View Tony_S's profile


857 posts in 3048 days

#5 posted 03-18-2014 11:01 PM

The joint is crap.
The round corner on the leg vs. the square corner on the seat is crap.
The finish looks like crap.

I’d call them and tell them ever so eloquently….it’s crap.

Amish furniture….it really doesn’t mean anything anymore. Ive seen some well crafted Amish made furniture and some total garbage. Just another factory in some instances.

If you don’t mind me asking, what did you pay for a chair?

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View bsllas's profile


11 posts in 1495 days

#6 posted 03-19-2014 08:21 PM

Thanks everyone for the responses! Here are some answers to the questions posed:

We ordered from a local, family-owned, high-end custom furniture store, which has been in business in our area for several decades. They had three lines of custom order dining table options, and this was one. They said it was a new offering, but they were impressed with the quality and price point they had seen thus far, especially compared to their other two lines (which were Bermex and another whose name I don’t remember).

The chairs we ordered were on display in their showroom, so we were able to sit in them. They were/are by far the most comfortable wooden chairs we have sat in, and we shopped around a LOT before we decided on this purchase. The angle of the seat and the lumbar support are really nice. I never would have believed wooden chairs could feel this good, but they really do. There were other stores in our area that carried “Amish” furniture, orderable in a gazillion different styles, but we did not want to order chairs that we couldn’t try sitting in first, and no one else had anything like it.

The showroom chairs were rustic cherry wood, stained. I haven’t had a chance to go back to the store and see if they had the same kind of defect. Given that they were all stained in one color, I would imagine any flaws like this would be less noticeable. We even went to another one of their stores to look at another table and chairs by this company (different table style, wood, stain color), but I don’t recall this kind of defect. It, too, was a nice looking set. Neither store had anything in the painted finish, other than the sample boards.

We paid about $600 per chair. The seat is natural cherry, sealed but not stained. The frame is maple painted black with “rub through distressing”. These are “counter height” chairs (so is the table).

There is a screw-in bracket connecting the seat to the frame, so I’ve included some pictures of that. I also just realized that there is potentially a flaw in the front legs, as well. The part of the leg that gets trimmed away to fit into the seat (sorry I don’t know the technical term for this) is longer than necessary, so it also looks sloppy. However, it’s not as noticeable since it’s under the seat. I’ve included a picture of this, and of the chair in its entirety, as well.

I called the store and they’re going to come take a look. Until we’ve had a chance to try and work through it with them, I don’t want to mention any names, because as you know, everything on the internet is pretty much here forever, and I don’t want to unfairly ruin anyone’s reputation. I do feel better knowing that I’m justified in my concerns and not being overly critical!

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#7 posted 03-19-2014 08:34 PM

The more you show the sloppier they look. Are you sure there are not folks in Chinna that are Amish,because these chairs look like the kind of workmanship that comes out of foreign countries that are low quality . For $600 each that’s more in the custom furniture makers price range . If they will take them back look for a local artisan in your area who will make you some good quality chairs that will last for years to come.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View bsllas's profile


11 posts in 1495 days

#8 posted 03-19-2014 08:41 PM

Other than the issues I’ve pointed out with the joints, are there other things that look “sloppy” that I haven’t picked up on? I just want to have my ducks in a row when I talk to the store rep.

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#9 posted 03-19-2014 10:28 PM

I really think what has been pointed out by you and my earlier post is enough,if you paid $79 at Walmart that would be one thing but you paid for what should be quality.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View AandCstyle's profile


3027 posts in 2222 days

#10 posted 03-20-2014 12:51 AM

I agree with Monte; those chairs would not have left my shop. Jim’s suggestion to find a local custom woodworker is the best advice. If you let us know your general location, there may be a LJ that is in your area and might be willing to assist.

-- Art

View woodchuckerNJ's profile


1269 posts in 1599 days

#11 posted 03-20-2014 03:24 AM

I have chairs, there are no brackets, no screws. just tight joints.
Those chairs don’t look like $600 chairs with those defects.

I would bring one of the chairs to the dealer and explain that this is not the quality you expected, nor is it acceptable.

-- Jeff NJ

View bsllas's profile


11 posts in 1495 days

#12 posted 03-20-2014 02:34 PM

OK, hopefully this will be my last question. This one is regarding the table. There are some color variances in the wood where it is pieced together. I did a little online reading regarding cherry woodworking, and supposedly this is not uncommon—that cherry can be hard to match up, especially when it’s not stained to even out the differences. So here are some more pictures of what I’m talking about. Is this OK or not? A couple of table legs show noticable differences. The table top has a section that is slightly different than its adjoining sections, but not as markedly noticeable. It is intentionally distressed, so that is the reason for the waviness and roughness.

Sorry for asking so many questions, but I just can’t say to the dealer “this is poor quality!” without being able to articulate the specifics of WHY. As I said earlier, I’m not a woodworker, so I don’t know all the technical details of what defines “good” quality. Just a vague notion that “things should fit together nearly perfectly” and “there shouldn’t be visible screws or glue” and “finish should be free from defects”. So being able to sort out the details here is immensely helpful to me. Thank you!!!

I’m in southeast Wisconsin, if there is anyone in the area I could consult.

View a1Jim's profile


117062 posts in 3542 days

#13 posted 03-20-2014 02:50 PM

Once again this is not quality work. Most professional woodworkers either select wood so there are not extream differences in the woods color or know how to finish it so that you can not see the difference.The photos you show it appears there are defects in the wood also ,the photo of the leg appears to be a patch and the top looks like it has plane marks on it. I’m sorry I don’t know anyone in your area to help.You might investigate and see if there’s woodworking guild in your area,they should have a list of professional woodworkers in your area .

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View MBD's profile


72 posts in 1850 days

#14 posted 03-20-2014 03:06 PM

The table top defects remind me of voids in the core of plywoods. I would like to see the edge of the table top as well. A lot of table tops get sold as solid wood, but are nothing more than plywood with a plain sawn or flat cut veneer and hardwood edging. I’m not saying that, that is what you have, but it occurs a lot in furniture making.

-- Matt, Mississippi

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28919 posts in 2303 days

#15 posted 03-20-2014 03:20 PM

I really hope you didn’t pay a lot for these. Regardless, I would try to get a refund. I agree, if this is Walmart furniture, then shame on you. If this is supposed to be custom (professional) work, then you should refuse it. At a glance, I would guess that the table is veneer and not solid wood (by our standards).

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

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