Gardening Articles: Landscaping :: Lawns, Ground Cover, & Wildflowers

What About Teak? (page 7 of 7)

by Yuri Bihun

Quality and Design: Hallmarks of Craftsmanship and Conservation


Quality and Design: Hallmarks of Craftsmanship and Conservation
A worker marks patterns for furniture pieces onto blanks.

The design of the classic English garden furniture and contemporary transitional styles incorporate the talents of skilled wood carvers and craftsmen. Teak furniture ranges from faithful reproductions of traditional designs featuring "heirloom construction" to affordable mass-produced reproductions. People are becoming more attuned to bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out, so there's more of a flow towards practical designs, furniture that is versatile enough to use in any room in the house. A roster of world-class designers has elevated some of these innovative, limited-edition or one-of-a kind pieces to works of art. A modern interpretation of traditional styling in teak is fashioned in combination with the flowing lines of cast or extruded aluminum-a celebration of the simplicity of wood and metal.

The quality of teak furniture varies dramatically. Although lumber and furniture components are imported for construction in the United States, most of the manufacturing has shifted to the Pacific, that is Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Handmade furniture, made piecemeal buy semi-skilled laborers and family shops, is lower quality and lacks the refinement of precision machine-made furniture. Generally, better garden furniture is machine-made and manufactured with interlocking mortise and tenon joinery. Engineered to tight tolerances, the pieces are supported with solid, moisture-sealed joints and solid brass hardware. Some furniture is fully assembled but most teak furniture is sold as ready-to-assemble, and most pieces are shipped partially assembled. Some manufacturers such as California-based, Smith & Hawken, a distributor of teak furniture since the early 1980s, guarantee their teak products for 75 years.

Yuri Bihun is a forest resources specialist and the Director of Shelterwood Systems, a Vermont-based consulting firm.

Photography by Brooks Elder/National Gardening Association and Smartwood.

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