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Thread: Pottery Barn Dining Table - Quality-Made in the USA?

  1. #1
    habs88 Guest

    Default Pottery Barn Dining Table - Quality-Made in the USA?

    My wife is considering the pottery barn Benchwright Dining table.

    http://www.potterybarn.com/products/...gular%2Dtables

    The price doesn't look that bad. I am concerned about quality. Does pottery barn mfg in the usa? Has anyone had any experience with pottery barn furiture? I am hesitant to purchase from very large companies because it seems they all have moved to china for manufacturing and quality has dropped off.

  2. #2
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    Pottery Barn can be a lot of things. Trendy, Well-marketed, Stylish, but Quality is not in their portfolio. Realize that to get the kind of margins they need to make and support that nice catalog as well as pay Mall rates for real estate, they have to buy cheaply. And they do. Smart Money Magazine did an article in October 2006 titled "Pottery Barn, Unstuffed" (sorry, cant' find it online) where they purchased several thousand dollars work of Pottery Barn pieces (and other trendy makers like Restoration Hardware & Crate and Barrel) and then took them apart. What they found was amazing. There is no substance to their pieces. For example, a 'mahogany' coffee table that was nothing more then thin wood veneer over cardboard. Basically their furniture is little more than future landfill material. I have the article at my store, I'll see if I can locate and scan it to the forum.

    Here's a reference to the article, best I could find online.

    http://www.newsnet5.com/money/11126712/detail.html

    I would avoid Pottery Barn pieces and anyone who markets in the same manner. You're paying a lot of money for that Point of Sale material and mall locations that does not manifest itself in the quality of the goods. That table you are looking at would use a considerable amount of lumber to do it right. Built properly of solid wood, by a real cabinentmaker, it would cost you about $ 3,300. Seeing that Pottery Barn sells it for half that price AND is making mall-location margins, there can be no quality in the goods themselves. One of the very reasons I started this forum was to help out on questions such as this, where getting an education on what makes furniture worthwhile can prevent you from spending money on junk furniture. A properly made table like the one you are looking at, done in solids, will last several hundred years. But they have to be done correctly and use quality raw components or they simply won't stand up.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  3. #3
    habs88 Guest

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    Thanks Duane. Your points are sort of what i was expecting but needed to hear.

    Also, we are near Binghamton, NY near the PA border. I am not sure if we should consider Amish furniture?

    I looked at the vendors you carry and didn't see the style of table my wife is looking for. Any suggestions for similar style to the pottery barn table we are looking at?

  4. #4
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    Ahhh...another myth to dispel. Amish furniture. I have to say that I have never come across a single piece of Amish made furniture that I thought was finely crafted. Typically its solid (they do use solids woods) but its largely machine-made. While the Amish like to do the 'quaint' marketing of their products (and they are shrewd in business), in reality they run production wood furniture shops using the latest high speed tools. It true, they are not hooked into the electrical grid but if you ever go to an Amish Workshop you'll see one or two big diesel engines out back pushing the juice for all their power for the tools inside.

    You'll have to get that table custom-built. its looks to have a thick, 8/4 top on it which means its going to use wood that's going to be expensive and heavy. The base will be of 12 or 16 quarter and the joinery of the table is such that those metal stays are more than decorative, they're going to be required to keep the weight of the top from collapsing the base. That table needs to have someone make it that understand the 'rough hewn' look and do it right. Many wood shops can't create the right look to something like that.

    I have a cabinentmaker in Ohio (John Buchanan) who could do a marvelous job on that table - he's a 1-man operation - but I don't know of anyone offhand in your area that does that kind of work.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  5. #5
    habs88 Guest

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    How about this company? http://www.greatwindsorchairs.com/hi..._sideboard.htm

    Any idea on quality? certainly expensive. My wife also likes the recomended table appalachian.

  6. #6
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    Ah yes, old Red (he's the owner of Great Windsor Chairs). I love to hear the stories of Red. He has a very nice shop, I'll give him that. He got into reproductions after having a good run in period antiques. He and I cross over on some lines (such as JL Treharn) and then he has a number of local chair and cabinentmakers that build for him. Some of his product is good, some not so good. A few years ago he used to have Lawrence Crouse build his Windsors, but has since moved to a cheaper product and they're not very well done.

    Be sure what you buy is exactly what you want at GWC because they do not take returns. I had one customer of mine just spitting mad at them that told me they bought a set of chairs off the floor, took them out to their van and loaded them, and then decided they really wanted another set in the store instead. They would not let them swap out, once they go out the front door - they're yours. That customer was so angry, that he put those chairs on EBAY and then came and bought a set from me that was what he wanted in the first place (or so he told me).

    Custom work is a bit tricky. You want to have a good working relationship with your store or cabinentmaker and get all the details worked out ahead of time. No one wants the custom piece to go bad and you as the customer unhappy. The store doesn't want it back, the cabinentmaker doesn't want it back and you don't want to be stuck with something that didn't turn out like you planned. So while there are a number of shops that can build that table from Pottery Barn, you want the shop that builds it like it is in your mind. Communication is the key, and having an artisan build it rather than just a woodworker is also one of the prime requirements. I only use two of my many sources for custom work, because they are artisans. Many of my regular shops don't have 'the eye' for doing one-offs.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  7. #7
    habs88 Guest

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    Sounds like the quality in your opinion is hit or miss with GWC. Interesting to hear because his prices are high (trestle table over 3k.)

    I am not interested in cabinet maker trying to copy the pottery barn table. The main reason is because i envision that costing way too much.

    After i realized we keep getting drawn back to the trestle style i went back to Treharn website. I noticed they have a trestle style. What is the price on that? Model number TT215.

    Thanks for the help. Depending on where my cost comes in for a house renovation project we may be looking to purchase a dining table this summer.

  8. #8
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    Actually GWC is fairly aggressive in price, moreso than many other stores in the same category. However their customer service post-sale is virtually non-exisitant, and their 'no return' policy doesn't work in today's business climate.

    I sell the Treharn trestle table in cherry or tiger maple for $ 2.269. A pair of optional company boards (14" each) adds $ 360 if desired. That's a tough, solid table, with a 5/4" top. Made in Youngstown, OH.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

  9. #9
    habs88 Guest

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    How does shipping work on tables? Does it come fully intact? Is there assembly required? If so is that done by the delvery company?

    Are company boards the same as leafs? (sorry have to plead ingonrance here)

  10. #10
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    Yes, all the JL Treharn tables have mortise and tenon construction so they can't be taken apart. That's what makes them strong. We use either blanket wrap carriers or sometimes the Treharn truck can deliver it (depends on how close to the routes they run you are, and if you can help unload).

    Company boards are simple leaves that attach to the end of the table, and store off the table when not in use. They come as a pair, and are 14" x the width of the table.
    Duane Collie
    Straight answers from thirty-six years in the business.
    My Private Messages are Disabled - Please ask questions here in the forum.

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