There are two basic materials used in upholstered furniture frames used in making living room furniture. They are solid wood and plywood. It is true that metal is used in some frame parts. Fiberboard and flakeboard are also used in some promotional frames, but most manufacturers use lumber frames, plywood frames or some combination of the two materials.

Solid lumber is the traditional upholstered furniture frame material—used because it is easily worked, relatively inexpensive, readily available, and is durable and long lasting in use. The complex shapes found in traditional upholstered furniture lend themselves to the use of the easily shaped wood and the traditional joinery techniques used in the furniture industry and well known to generations of wood workers.

Plywood has become a substitute for lumber, especially in less expensive upholstery, it comes in standard sheets so multiple pattern cuts can be engineered to reduce waste and maximize the amount of usable parts from each sheet. It is strong and can be made in a number of standard thicknesses so the parts can be engineered for maximum efficiency based on calculated strengths necessary. The primary drawback to plywood in this use is that while it is extremely strong across the face of the board, and has excellent twist and sag resistance, the edges of the plywood, which will inevitably be connected in joints, and have screws, nails, or staples installed, is the weak point of the plywood panel. The fastening materials are going into the end grain and edges of the veneer sheets that make up the plywood panel where there is no engineered strength. Additionally, the strongest, most rapid setting glues contain volatile chemicals to create the strong bonds necessary between the veneer sheets. These non-eco-friendly adhesives contribute to indoor air pollution and have been restricted in many locales—and more to come.

There are a number of traditional furniture joinery methods used in making upholstery frames. The two that require the most precision and are the strongest are dowel joints and mortise and tenon joints. Both were developed ages ago to join wooden parts together when glues were suspect, and nails and screws were both expensive and rare. For dowel joints—the two mating parts are aligned and then a hole drilled in to each part so a round dowel or multiple dowels can be inserted. The dowels are then glued in place to hold the parts in perfect alignment even when treated roughly. Mortise and tenon joints are similar in that the rectangular tenon is typically shaped on to the end of one of the mating pieces and a rectangular slot (mortise) is cut in to the other piece. The tenon slips in to the mortise and glued in place so that the joint is strong and secure. Both these techniques require some skill and precision in the furniture manufacturing process.

In lower priced upholstery there are some frame construction techniques that are much faster for production and take less skill to make—though they do not provide the durability of the traditional woodworking joints. Upholstery manufacturers who make “production line” pieces often use long staples to join frame parts together—glue is used on the joints as well on the plain ends of the joined parts and the staples hold the joint until the glue sets. The joint depends completely on the glue strength for its security. The joint may have “lap joint” construction—where the end of each piece is cut away by 50% and then “lapped’ over the adjacent piece to provide more gluing surface (look at your kitchen or bathroom drawer sides-to see a common use of this joint technique). The advantage of this joint for furniture production is that the parts to not have to be as accurately machined and aligned.

Classic traditional joint construction is one of the ways to judge high quality upholstery, and solid hardwood frame components is another. The frame is the foundation of the piece and must not only provide the base to which all the upholstered components are applied, but it must stand up to many years of use in your home,--- the rough-housing teens, the Saturday afternoon naps as well as the ladies tea parties—so having a living room furniture frame that will “support’ your family for many years is the reason to ask how the frame is made.

You are invited to visit the website to see a selection of eco-friendly living room furniture which are all made with classic traditional construction methods for maximum durability as well as long term comfort.

Author's Bio: 

Ken Fonville is the president of EcoSelect Furniture, which sells eco-friendly custom leather furniture , made with eco-friendly leather and hemp fabrics. Our green living room furniture collections are made of quality leather.