Teak furniture is made from teak wood, and is manufactured by several methods. It is important to understand the grades of wood, the process for the wood, and the manufacturing process.
Teak Wood is graded by appearance, knots (and their location) and by the kind of wood. There are three main grades in teak wood.
Teak wood is produced from the center of the tree (commonly known as the ‘heart’ wood). A grade A piece of teak will be produced from a tree from 30-50 years of age.
characteristics: close grain, warm/honey color, oil rich and knot free. No streaks of white, no knots on top side, very few (live knots only – where there is discoloration but no fill – on the underside) knots, and these knots have to be less than 0.5 inch in diameter, and present only once in every 3-4 linear feet. This kind of wood is used in machine made teak furniture, since it is risky for the manufacturer to allow a cottage industry person to play with expensive, high quality wood and expect mediocre to bad results.
Teak wood has a warm color with occasional streaks of black and some splotches and discoloration. Grade B teak wood has more allowance for knots per linear feet. Grade B teak wood is sometimes used in “œsemi machine made” product. Semi Machine Made implies that personnel use electric saws to cut the wood, but there is no concept of a jig and fixture to make all the slats the same size or make the process repeatable. Semi Machine made product does not allow the end consumer the luxury of finding a replacement part, since all parts are unique and made to fit a specific piece. Semi machine made also means that the tenons “float” in the mortices (the joint is not exact, and there are gaps). This is usually filled with epoxy, and generally the furniture comes completely assembled, because the end customer would not tolerate the sloppiness.
Teak Wood has a dark color in places, mixed with a very white color in places. The white is the young sapwood. There is an allowance for dead knots (where the knot was weak, has been gouged out and filled with epoxy or putty) These knots may be on the top side or the bottom side. Grade C teak wood is most often used in “hand crafted” outdoor teak furniture. This is completely outsourced to the village industry and follows no process for drying and manufacture. Hand crafted also means that the tenons “float” in the mortices (the joint is not exact, and there are gaps). This is usually filled with epoxy, and generally the furniture comes completely assembled.
In summary – Grade A teak wood will most likely be machine made. Grade B and C will most likely be “semi machine made” or “hand crafted”.
Machine made makes the parts precise and interoperable. This implies that if a part on your chair or table breaks, you can get a like replacement.
Semi Machine made furniture is a cheaper method of manufacture, more prone to error, and every piece is unique, with little possibility of replacing parts exactly
“Hand Made“ – means everything in that piece of furniture was made without jigs and fixtures, and that there is a wide variation between items, plus the incidence and danger of warping (mainly in the legs).
So, in conclusion – Grade A teak combined with Machine made production and kiln drying (not air drying) offers the best furniture.