To an inexperienced eye, two pieces of furniture, one handmade and one that’s manufactured en masse may look alike. However, they are really quite different. Take a closer look and you’ll realize that the quality and craftsmanship in the handmade piece is far superior to the manufactured one.

Before we get into the details of why, let’s first discover, what is handmade furniture and what steps are involved in the manufacturing process?

A Definition of Handmade Furniture

Handmade furniture is typically designed and built in a small-scale carpenter’s shop. One or more carpenters work to create the piece, hand cutting the wood, making measurements and putting it all together. The piece is checked for quality within the same shop and the same hands that cut the pieces may be the same ones that stain or varnish the piece at the end. Small-scale furniture shops pride themselves in craftsmanship and original designs. The design stage is particularly important in handmade furniture as each piece is likely to be unique and one-of-a-kind. Many also work directly with their customers to produce customized pieces or make modifications to standard designs so that the piece meets the customer’s desires exactly. Customization may range from designing a piece to requesting a replication of an older piece to choosing a piece from the showroom with a different stain color or finish.

A Definition of Mass-Produced Furniture

Mass-produced furniture is made in large factories, using economies of scale to offer very affordable furniture. One design is produced many times and is made exactly the same. Cuts and other processes may be done using machines rather than by hand. Many of these factories may be found in countries far away from the consumer.

Handmade Furniture Offers Quality

While mass-produced furniture can be sturdy and well-made, it is produced in volume, and there are some things about furniture making that some added care and attention will improve. Handmade furniture’s design and production process means that each piece is original. The care that the carpenters take while creating the piece will determine it’s worth. In the case of a highly skilled carpenter, a machine will not be able to create the same effect or durability. While there are exceptions, most handmade furniture is more durable and carefully made than mass-produced furniture.

The purpose of mass-produced furniture is to take advantage of economies of scale to produce relatively cheap, uniform and standard pieces. A smaller scale carpentry shop simply cannot compete with these economies of scale, and this is not the goal of smaller scale shops either. While furniture factories focus on producing a high number of pieces, smaller scale shops typically focus more on the quality, beauty, design and functionality of each piece.

For these reasons, in the majority of cases, handmade furniture is more valuable than mass-produced furniture. Small scale carpentry shops develop their reputation based on the quality and artistry used in their work. Handmade furniture’s quality will vary depending on the skill of the carpentry shop. A reputable carpentry shop will produce beautiful, high quality furniture that is superior to factory made furniture.

Next time you’re deciding between purchasing a mass-produced or a handmade piece of furniture, consider the quality as well as the price. Handmade pieces command a higher price with good reason. They are more valuable due to the quality, uniqueness, and care put into each piece.

(Rahn’s Furniture Restoration is a quality furniture company providing restoration services and custom furniture design. For more information, call 562-921-4922 or email

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