Guide to French Furniture

Louis XIII, 1589-1661:

This style actually began under Henry IV who patronized craftsmen. The economic situation called for rigour, which was reflected in the sobriety of the materials and the style. Geometric in appearance, and austere in conception, Louis XIII furniture featured veneer, turned wood and moldings. There was a tendency toward the architectural; its forms being restrained and often massive.

Furniture: Tall cupboards, full dressers, and tables with a varying number of legs were all extremely structured. Chairs were given arms, and stools were upholstered. Cabinets were common.


Materials and techniques: Oak, Mahogany, walnut ebony, pearwood and pine were the typical period woods. Veneers of wood, soon gave way to ivory, marble, colored stone and various metals, such as pewter and copper. Turning was used widely. Moldings were used prominently. Leather was finely worked.

Ornament: The period favored thick, heavy, massive motifs lacking the delicacy and fantasy of Renaissance ornament.

Source :

French Furniture

Although some inventories after death and other records list imported pieces brought to New France by administrators, seigneurs and ecclesiastics, most Canadian furniture of French derivation was probably made locally in small quantities as early as 1640. According to the first official census in 1666, there were 65 artisans among the some 3200 inhabitants of the colony, directly connected to either carpentry or joinery. The furniture they made was traditional in type and regional in detail, influenced indirectly by the high-style furniture of court circles (Louis XIII, XIV and XV) as filtered through provincial adaptations and vernacular influences. Most of these pieces were of solid, jointed wood and made by skilled artisans working in the traditions of their trade – mortise and tenon joints for structural elements secured with wooden pins, no use of glue, few if any nails, tongue and groove piecing of flat surfaces, spline construction to stop warping and cracking of broad surfaces, etc.

These were not cabinetmakers (ébénistes) trained in the elaborate European techniques of veneer, marquetry, lapidary incrustations and ormolu mounts, but rather joiners (menuisiers) and turners (tourneurs) familiar with the qualities of specific woods and the practical techniques of solid construction handed down through generations. Some had workshops, while others, perhaps itinerant, worked on site in churches, institutional buildings and domestic dwellings, since internal finish and furniture were frequently part of the building contract, and most worked upon demand.

The generic categories of furniture (armoire, chair, table, buffet), the stylistic forms (rectangular, curvilinear), and the motifs (diamond, lozenge, shell, flowers and vines), in addition to the overall shape and proportion, reflected a variety of provincial origins, the most common being those of Brittany, Normandy, Île de France and the southwest more generally. Folk motifs drawn from geometric and natural sources or related to symbolic systems, hearts and stars for example, were often common to several provincial traditions, although the preponderant use of solar disks, wheels and other circular forms might indicate a Breton origin, while flowers, baskets and birds suggest influences from Normandy or perhaps the south. In French Canada such distinctions have little relevance. Their meaning resides rather in traditional symbolic values or decorative intent and effect.

As in rural France, styles in French Canada evolved slowly and persisted longer than in the mother country. The motifs of the Louis XIII-Louis XIV style, such as the lozenge and diamond as well as the flowers, tendrils, vines and volutes of Louis XV, survived well into the 19th century alongside the neo-classical, Georgian and Empire forms that came to New France with the British directly, or more indirectly through Loyalists, at first after the American Revolution, and later as a consequence of increasing commercial contacts with New England.

White pine, yellow birch and butternut were the most widely used woods in French Canada between the end of the 17th century and about 1800. Pierre BOUCHER in 1664 remarked that maple was too hard to work and considered of little use except as firewood and for making handles for tools. As these three easily worked and useful woods became less available in the first quarter of the 19th century, ash for structural elements and basswood for large surfaces replaced them. This practice/necessity coincided with a change in tastes and fashions, as curly or tiger maple, bird’s eye maple and other fancy woods such as domestic cherry or imported mahogany and rosewood satisfied a demand for more formal, less rustic furniture, refined in look and construction, suitable to the requirements and social ambitions of a rising urban bourgeois class both French and English after 1760.

Along with imported mahogany came British and then American adaptations of Georgian styles and tastes. This in turn led to the mixing of French and Anglo-American elements in original and unexpected combinations that reflected both a demographic reality and the changing cycles of fashion. The architectural vocabulary of what might be taken for Louis XVI influence in the armoires of late 18th century Québec (dentil, reeded or chevron effects, architectural cornices, light fine mouldings and the like) came in fact through the Adam interpretations of neo-classicism. Leg and rung structures of chairs that were clearly French in spirit sprouted Chippendale or Hepplewhite backs, while commodes and other case pieces retained the crossbow-shaped facade of Louis XV curves in combination with claw and ball or bracket feet reminiscent of the Chippendale style. Such hybrids in both high-style and country versions are characteristic of the period 1780-1820 and constitute a distinct Canadian contribution to the historical record, alongside the survival of the traditional Louis styles of the French régime.

Much early furniture in French Canada was undoubtedly painted or stained in imitation of similar practices in France, the usual ingredients being pigment (Prussian blue, alkanet root, ochres, iron oxide, red lead, etc.), dryer (litharge), and vehicle (linseed oil in particular). The predominant colours were blue, green and red, or variants, especially in the hues between blue and green until, toward the beginning of the 19th century and after, some pieces began to be updated in the Anglo-American fashions of faux-bois or trompe-l’oeil painted finishes imitating mahogany, bird’s eye maple or rosewood, a technique intended to valorize poorer woods. When applied over the original French colours, the unintended result reflected both a cultural and a stylistic shift.
The census of 1681 records six locksmiths in the colony, and one may assume that blacksmiths, tinsmiths and others also made simple forms of hardware of forged iron in traditional categories and shapes (pick and barrel or baluster hinges, fleur de lis and stylized dragon/serpent-shaped escutcheons, scalloped and geometric back-plates for latches and drawer pulls), although the first commercial production of iron began only at the Forges du St Maurice near Trois Rivières in 1738.

Among the types of furniture produced before the industrial revolution, drove many artisans and their hand made products from the marketplace, storage chests, armoires, buffets and commodes (chests of drawers) are the most frequent survivals. Storage chests, the only free-standing furniture known to the European Middle Ages, appear to have been the prototype for other case furniture (armoires, buffets, etc.), all sharing the same basic functions of storage, protection, security and sometimes display, as with dish dressers and glazed cupboards. Armoire doors and other large surfaces, as well as the case and drawers of buffets and commodes, provide spaces and profiles that lend themselves to decorative treatment in both the rectilinear mouldings, lozenges and fielded panels of the Louis XIII – Louis XIV style so prevalent in French Canada, as well as to the later curvilinear Louis XV idiom with its asymmetrical panels, undulating profiles and its panoply of motifs drawn from the natural world: flowers, foliage, volutes, scrolls and S and C curves presented in a tangle of irregular and sinuous combinations. The shell in its many variations appears as the pre-eminent motif throughout the 18th century, often as part of a cartouche-like Louis XV ensemble. In its human proportions, curved lines and insistence upon comfort, the Louis XV, or rococo, style is the antithesis of the classical spirit of the 17th century and the architectural affinities and geometric formality of the Louis XIII and Louis XIV styles.

The commode, said to have been invented by André-Charles Boulle about 1690, became in the latter half of the 18th century one of the most decoratively imaginative of Canadian furniture types. Cabriole legs, claw and ball feet, double scroll, and in one instance boot feet (the collection of the MUSÉE DES BEAUX-ARTS DE MONTRÉAL), combine with arbalète (crossbow), serpentine or bowed drawer fronts, usually three in number, as if to compensate in sculpted form for the lack of surface decoration expressed through the complex techniques of marquetry and ormolu.

Few beds survive from the French régime. Early examples were either box-like wooden enclosures (cabanes) built into the corner of a room or four-posters, perhaps with spiral turnings as in high-style table legs also of baroque inspiration, and elaborate curtains with valance and “ceiling” above, made of heavy textiles intended to protect against drafts and enclose the body heat of the bed’s occupants. Closed beds also provided a measure of privacy in multipurpose or single-room dwellings in which parents, children and perhaps others all shared living space. With improved methods of heating these beds were replaced by low-post forms with turned or tapered uprights, and later in the 19th century by the Empire sleigh style and other Victorian forms.

Tables and chairs in the Louis styles of the ancien régime were usually made with pine tops and seats respectively while semi-hardwoods, particularly birch, were used for frame and foot. Louis XIII – Louis XIV armchairs had legs with baluster and cube turnings, shaped aprons and sloping backs, and were generally upholstered in tapestry, wool serge or other durable materials. The distinctive sheep-bone (os de mouton) arm and side chair from the early 18th century on was also upholstered but had the vigorously carved and curvilinear legs and stretchers suggested by its descriptive name.

Two common Canadian chair forms are the Île d’ Orléans type, of mortise and tenon construction, with plank seat and open back, and the more sophisticated armchair à la capucine, which has baluster, cube and ring turnings to feet, stretchers and uprights akin to the Louis XIII – Louis XIV upholstered armchair, a ladder-back of shaped horizontal cross-pieces, and a seat of rush, marsh grass or similar fibre, usually woven in a diamond pattern. Commonly believed to have its source in the straw-bottom chair found in the dwellings of both rich and poor in France as all-purpose utility seating, the Canadian capucine is a unique form in terms of its elaborate turnings, the finials on the back posts and the energetically shaped back slats. At the same time the French straw-bottom chair gave rise to a variety of simple habitant side chairs constructed with rounded stretchers inserted through the uprights and plank or open-weave leather or gut seats, a technique probably borrowed from the Aboriginal use of webbing in the making of snowshoes. The American rocking chair also inspired many folk versions of the type, among them the double rocker that makes amusingly concrete the courting rituals of the cavalier et sa blonde.

In recent years the search for authentic and unaltered pieces of the pre-industrial period has brought very high prices to the marketplace and a well-developed industry of modern reproductions (and fakes) of the classic French Canadian types: the diamond-point armoire; the os de mouton armchair; the two-door, two-drawer buffet bas; and the three-drawer commode. This recent trend is both a tribute to the past and a recognition long overdue that our material heritage is an essential aspect of any inquiry into origins and identities.


Source :

Problems of Wood

Wood is one of many types of materials used in human life. Woodworking industry wood processing industry is very large and involves a lot of people and a lot of money. Wood has long been widely used as a material for making a variety of human needs such as furniture, home, craft, flooring, fencing and various other products.

Some of the advantages of wood

  • Wood is a natural material that can be renewed.

Wood is a material derived from plants that can be grown and replanted. In fact, the tree will grow by itself as long as it is not disturbed by humans. Trees are living things that are always trying to maintain the way of life breed and adapt to its environment. With good management and management of real wood supply can be maintained forever. Trees as a source of timber also is a living plant that serves to maintain the balance of nature and the source of oxygen needed by all living things on earth. Because the wood and tree management is needed not only to benefit from the resulting wood products, but also to produce a good balance for all life on bumi.kayu is a natural substance that is safe and healthy for the environment.

Wood comes from plants that grow naturally. Woodworking industry wood processing in the physical processes are relatively simple. The process is carried out only processes of cutting, drying, annealing and machining all of which involve physical process and does not require chemical reactions and the drug complex. Woodworking industry is also relatively safe and environmentally friendly, not much waste is generated. Wood wastes in the form of pieces of wood, sawn wood powder or wood chips can be used for firewood or even could be locked up in a natural and biodegradable without harming the environment.

  • Wood has an attractive appearance.

Wood is a material that is very interesting and special because he has the money fiber and pore unique and interesting. Fiber and pore wood is one of the beauty of the wood that is not found apda other materials. Some engineering product is made to mimic the appearance of wood fibers, but of course it would not be as beautiful as the original wood.

  • Wood is relatively easy to set up and processed.

Wood processing in the woodworking industry is a relatively simple process. Trees felled, split and dried into dried boards are then put together again to form the desired product. The tools used for the process in the woodworking industry is largely mechanical device that is easy to understand and learn No chemical reactions or physical, does not require high pressure or temperature. No hazardous waste is generated. All waste and residual products can be used again either to create or share of wood products for fuel. Wood waste left behind will not damage the environment because it will soon unravel in a short time.

But behind the excess wood also has few drawbacks that must be anticipated and managed properly. The main Kelemahn wood and wood products is that wood is a product that is relatively easily damaged. Wood is a natural material that is easily degraded. There are several factors that make the wood becomes damaged, namely: physical degradation due to impact, friction, and wind, changes in weather, water, rain, sunlight and attack bacteria, insects and fungi. In order for a wood products can be durable and long lasting then the required processing and proper treatment. One is drying wood and wood treatment chemical. Regarding the drying of wood can and look at our articles about wood drying. So in this section we will discuss the processing and treatment of wood to maintain the durability of the wood.

The enemies of wood.

Degradation (loss of quality wood) actually is something that happens naturally. To be able to perform the preservation of wood with maximum results, then we have to identify the things that cause degradation of the wood. By identifying the cause of damage to the wood, then we will be able to cope with and anticipate damage to the wood properly. In the next article we will discuss the causes of wood degradation and ways to overcome them one by one.

According to the types and causes of wood degradation can be classified as follows :

  1. Insects.
  2. Fungi.
  3. Physical abused.
  4. Bacteria.

Insects are one of the main enemies of wood. Some insects are animals that eat wood to life. There are several types of insects that attack wood with each having a life cycle and a distinctive and unique properties. Some insects attacking not only dead wood and cut, but also attack trees that are still alive. But the discussion here we only discuss the insect attack on wood that has been cut is not the surviving trees.

Wood-eating insects in the woodworking industry can be classified into 3 groups of termites , wood powder (bugs, wood beetle) and marine borer.


source :

Mahogany Wood

Mahogany wood (mahogany) is one type of wood that is very popular in Indonesia. Mahogany is actually not a plant native to Indonesia, but is now very much grown mahogany trees in Indonesia, particularly in Java. Mahogany was also found in many places such as Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia, but its popularity is probably not as big as in Indonesia. The mahogany has 3 main species: Swietenia humilis, Swietenia macrophylla and Swietenia mahogany. Mahogany wood is one of the favorites for the furniture industry in Indonesia because the supply is quite a lot and its properties are very suitable for use as a raw material furniture. The mahogany has a medium hardness, easily processed, carved and shaped with woodworking machines, and has a very beautiful appearance and attractive.

The physical properties of mahogany can vary depending on the origin of wood, wood species and age of trees, but in general the physical properties mahogany can be seen in the data below :

Average dry weight : 43 lbs/ft3 (685 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basis, 12% MC) : .55, .69
Janka hardness test : 910 lbf (4,040 N)
modulus broken : 12,240 lbf/in2 (84.4 MPa)
The elastic modulus : 1,383,000 lbf/in2 (9.54 GPa)
depreciation (from wet wood to 12% mc)
Radial : 3.7%
Tangential : 6.6%
Volumetrik : 10.3%

Processing mahogany wood.
Mahogany wood will be used for the purposes of the woodworking industry should be dried until the moisture content of wood standards (approximately 10% -12%). Drying wood requires a relatively long time ranges from 3 to 4 weeks, depending on the size of the board thickness. Wood drying too quickly risks resulting damage or decay that will reduce the quality of the wood. This mahogany also have a high risk to get a wood-eating insects, because it then should he treated with insect repellent before use. Soaking wood with insecticide chemicals before the wood is dried in a wood oven is one of the most inexpensive ways to prevent insect attack on this wood.

The use of mahogany wood.
Mahogany wood is widely used as a raw material for indoor furniture. A wide variety of models and types of high-end furniture at a price that is relatively expensive made ​​with this wood. Furniture with antique or classic models or from Europe or America are made with mahogany wood. Prices are relatively expensive wood are synonymous with beauty appearance of fibers and colors that can be produced.

Mahogany wood is not much used as a frame of a house or construction purposes. Timber prices are relatively expensive and relatively low strength compared to other hardwoods make this wood is more suitable to be used as raw material products of high end furniture at a price that is relatively expensive, wood is more suitable for use on products that want beauty appearance. The use of mahogany for outdoor products not much to be found, because of the relatively low resistance to outdoor weather. For outdoor use require coating with finishing materials are “strong” to withstand outdoor weather.

Mahogany wood finishes.
Mahogany wood fiber has a very strong character, unique and beautiful. Finishing is the most suitable finishing with transparent colors because it can show the beauty of the grain pattern and the maximum pore. Mahogany has a base color ranging from light brown bervareasi or white on young wood sorrel up with the old wood. Finishing colors are reddish brown color most suitable to be applied to this wood. With the selection of materials and proper finishing techniques, it can produce a product mahogany wood with beautiful appearance and attractive. Solid colors can also be applied to this wood, but of course would eliminate the beauty of the wood fiber which is one more than the value of this timber.


This mahogany base color variations often have so far. It takes the right color application techniques for color finishing to produce a flat and uniform. Old mahogany also has large pores and in which often creates problems finishing. Mahogany wood pores may not be too large, but the relative and therefore somewhat difficult to handle. For finishing with a thin film and open-pore, the pore wood fibers and may not be an issue. But the pores close to finishing that requires a thick film layer, the presence of pores and fibers of this wood can lead to the onset of bubble and pinhole are often very difficult to overcome. Applications filler with good quality is one way to prevent problems bubble or pinhole.

Source :

Drying The Wood

Drying of wood is one of the main processes in the woodworking process. Newly felled timber has a very high water content and will not reach its maximum strength before most of the water that is issued. Water in the timber is just a load of the structure of the cellulose (wood fiber) and lignin which will produce a force on the wooden structure. Wet wood also wood becomes an ideal medium for the growth of bacteria and fungi. The use of wet wood will cause many problems such as: broken wood, fungus on wood, and finishing problems.

Wood drying is actually a naturally occurring process. Wood is a material that is hygroscopic (water absorbing material). The wood is still wet when placed in the open then he will issue contains water until the water content therein by air humidity environment. Instead of dry wood when placed in environments that have high humidity will absorb water from the air until the moisture by air humidity environment.

However, the drying of the wood must be done with good control due to changes in moisture content in the wood will always be followed by changes in the size of the timber. Wood expands when it contains water levels to rise and will shrink when the water levels go down. Wood drying too quickly will result in problems of dimensional changes of wood as wood is broken, cracked or warped. Drying is done in a way that is not right can also ruin the appearance and color of the wood.

The level of moisture content of wood is needed to produce a safe product actually depends on the environmental conditions in which the product of the wood will be used. Final moisture content of wood is the recommended moisture content of wood by moisture in the environment where the wood products will be used. If these conditions are met then the timber will be relatively stable, because the change is too drastic water level will not happen again. To see the required moisture content, it can be seen in the graph wood moisture content vs. ambient air humidity.

Wood obtained from freshly cut trees have a very high water content of about 60% or more. Meanwhile, to be used in industrial woood working should be fairly dry wood, usually with a moisture content of about 10%. To be able to lower the moisture content, the wood must be dried first. This wood drying can occur naturally by allowing the wood that has been cut out in the open until all the water in it evaporates and leaves the dry wood. This method is widely used in earlier times when the woodworking industry is still developing and developed as it is now. In earlier times when PT Perhutani cut mahogany trees from tree plantations it was turned off once and left for a few months. A few months later when the wood is dry, the new tree was cut down and the wood is taken for a variety of purposes.

Wood drying naturally will require a very long time and will be dependent on natural conditions. Some types of wood will also be at risk for damaged or attacked by insects exposed to the fungus during the drying process. Therefore, the modern woodworking industry to create a device for drying wood known as oven or kiln dry wood. With the use of these ovens then the wood drying process can take place more quickly and controlled. To see more about drying wood.

Newly felled tree was cut and split into the boards with a certain size and then put in a wood oven. The principle of the oven is to do heating and air circulation in the room where the wooden planks laid. With rising temperatures, the air humidity will drop and thus the moisture content in the wood will fall to adjust to the environments. In the oven, the regulation of the air temperature and air circulation is very important. The air temperature in the oven should be set so that the wood drying process can run faster, but without damaging the wood. Wood drying too quickly will make rapid shrinkage of wood and wood will be at risk for damage such as broken or warped wood. The air temperature in the drying oven and the length of time depends on the type of wood that is dried. Some types of wood that has a large shrinkage koefeisien must be dried slowly to reduce the risk of damaged wood. For other types of wood from America and Europe, the data is already available the data complete enough for the timber industry in this area is already very advanced. With that data, they can determine the wood drying process more easily. Unfortunately wood shrinkage coefficient data is not widely available for the types of wood in Indonesia. The shrinkage coefficient will also vary depending on the source of the wood.

Source :

Wood Drying Methodology

Wood drying technology is now well known that there are 4 types of Solar Kiln, Kiln Conventional, Vacuum Dehumidification Kiln and Kiln.

Solar Kiln
There are several types of wood dryer using solar energy but basically has the same principle that collects solar heat energy that reaches a certain temperature, and this temperature is used to remove water from the timber. The size and capacity of course different from producing energy from sunlight in our house.

The weakness of this type of dryer is the drying speed and capacity. Timber volume and drying time depends on the presence of the sun’s heat. For a country that has four seasons it will be less profitable but including the type of drying is the most expensive in terms of initial investment. Hence technically more popular in a country that has 4 seasons.

Conventional Conventional
Wood Kiln Dryer uses steam heat into the room didorongkan and circulated by the ventilation fan in it. The only type of drying steam drain and then drain out the moist air through the vents contained therein. The drying process produces results with good quality because the process be gradual and steady. However, when compared with other systems of this type require considerable energy, the flow of water vapor into the drying room should not be stopped. Technical drying is best known in Indonesia and other Asian countries. Especially in the lower-middle scale industries and even home industry.

Vacuum Kiln
Process runs quickly, much faster than conventional dryers because the water in the wood to evaporate too quickly. These are the advantages of vacuum drying system compared with another and still produce good quality dried wood.The drawback is the size of dried wood that can not be large because the vacuum kiln capacity (tube) is quite limited. Total volume in a single process is also much smaller than a conventional kiln. This system absolutely requires qualified operators because there should be no errors at all and the operational cost is quite large compared to conventional kilns. Moreover, the cost of investment is also large, can be 3 to 4 times the investment of a conventional dry kiln. So why choose a vacuum kiln? When the time and the environment is a top priority, vacuum kiln is the best choice. Using electricity does not cause air pollution as conventional kilns using wood or gas for burning.

Dehumidification kiln
As the only advantage of this system is because dehumidificaton kiln recycles hot air temperature in the drying room to rotate back through the wood pile sidelines. This means that the heat energy savings of conventional kiln system continues to flow without stopping. If the conventional system of moist air from the evaporation of water from the wood routed / discharged out through the ventilation output, then the dehumidification kiln air is passed through a cooling coil so that water vapor decomposes back.

Decomposes water flowed through special channels and exhaust hot air to flow back into the drying room. If the excess air temperature in the room, there is a special fan that will drain the exit temperature. Drying time is not different from conventional kiln types, and how to handle it-it was quite easy.

The equipment used for this type of slightly more expensive than the conventional type, but the final cost after the addition of several components of the cost when you have to build a boiler (insurance, taxes and other) this system is cheaper.

credit by

Indonesian Furniture Manufacturer