Most of the furniture we work with here at the shop are antiques or good quality newer furniture, but from time to time we get a piece in which makes us sad for our client, and mad at the maker. You see, so often when modern furniture is made, there are shortcuts taken in the building process which the buyer is oblivious to. We have had coffee tables come in that are completely made out of cardboard! We often have pieces arrive that are pressboard or 'particle board' covered in veneer, it is like a wolf in sheep's clothing.
This time we had a bed frame come to us for stripping. It was a sturdy looking bed frame with a dark finish. We put it through the stripping chemicals with no problems and all the finish came off just as it should have. But then, when it was put in our 'neutralizing bath', we discovered something very sad. The curved 'sleigh' top of the footboard began to bubble up and stretch as you can see in the top photo. It was only then that we discovered, that the curved section had been made out of particle board and then covered in paper that was printed with a wood grain on it. The glue holding the paper on failed and the paper could easily be pulled away from the particle board.
This means that in the building process, the makers decided to have a curved particle board section pressed into the shape they wanted, instead of having actual wood carved into that same shape. They chose to do an inexpensive short cut. Unfortunately it is not inexpensive to fix the mess that has now been made because of that short cut. The hard thing here, is that so often, there is no way to easily determine whether short cuts were made, before buying a piece of modern furniture.
The best way to ensure that the piece of furniture you are purchasing is going to me made out of wood, not wood dust, paper or cardboard, is to buy older furniture. The older it in the safer you are, but just as a point of reference, Particle Board was introduced in the 1950s, became widespread in the 1960s, and since the 1970s it's use has been refined, but is still commonly found in furniture of all levels of 'quality'. If you are planning on purchasing modern made furniture, make sure you do your research. If you went out to purchase a car, or a home, I am sure you would ask all kinds of questions to make sure that you were getting the best item for your money. Do the same thing when you go out to purchase your bed frame, dinning table, hutch, etc and you will at least have smaller odds of getting a piece of junk.