This is the question I get very often, so I decided to write this post to answer it in greater detail.
It seems that we in North America think that high quality furniture is necessarily made of solid wood. And it is a common knowledge that Danish Mid Century Modern furniture is high quality. If you like me enjoy checking 1stdibs.com from time to time, you probably know that some items fetch over 100,000 USD. That surely must mean they are solid wood?
This is a common misconception, fueled even more with sellers on popular classifieds as Kijiji or Craiglist claiming their MCM furniture is made of solid teak (or rosewood or walnut). In fact, however, almost all high-end Danish furniture (not including chairs, legs, handles and frames) is made with teak or rosewood veneer placed over less expensive wood like pine or plywood or particle board.
Even such famous designer as Hans J. Wegner made only a few solid teak top dining tables (mostly with oak frames and legs), whilst the rest is made of beautifully grained teak veneer. Photo on top of this article is Teak Dining Table by Hans Wegner with a price tag of $8,331 CAD.
It means that if Kijiji sellers say their furniture is made of solid teak, it just does not make it true… Buyer beware.
When I am talking about veneer here, I mean thinly sliced layer of real wood. It should not be confused with laminate or paper veneer that is being used on some cheap furniture today. Paper veneer is not repairable. Lots of cheap furniture is also made of MDF with wood grain or solid colour painted on top . Medium-density fiberboard (MDF) is an engineered wood product made by breaking down wood residuals into wood fibers, combining it with wax and resin binders, and forming panels by applying high temperature and pressure. I noticed that some furniture stores say 100% wood content when they write about mdf furniture. Is it still real wood?.. Probably not.
If care is being taken , furniture made with high quality real wood veneer on plywood will last longer than solid wood which will crack or warp in time. Using veneers also made it possible to create stunning designs by playing with the patterns in the wood grain. Most mid-century Danish teak furniture which still exists today is made with veneer surfaces on plywood, secured with solid wood edges and frames. A true testament to the quality of well-made veneered furniture.
If you still want only solid wood MCM furniture, look for 1950s American modern furniture, such as that produced by Heywood Wakefield and designed by Paul McCobb and Russell Wright. These will not be teak however, but lower cost woods such as maple and birch.
Small collection of new Danish teak furniture that we just brought to Toronto has been hand made by professional craftsmen following the best traditions of 1960s.