• Norrgavel's Wood Guide



    At Norrgavel, we love to use solid wood for our furniture – This lively, durable, and uniquely beautiful natural material. No piece of furniture is like another, precisely because each individual tree leaves its own mark on every piece of furniture. Solid wood is the complete opposite of industrially produced materials that are standard among most furniture manufacturers. And even after the tree has been felled and sawn into lumber, the natural material continues to be influenced by the surrounding environment. That's why we choose to call wood a living material. Because wood reacts to moisture and temperature, it lives in harmony with the seasons. Independent and expressive!

    Wood at Norrgavel - a lifelong love affair

    Since our inception in 1993, we have chosen to use solid wood for our furniture - a passionate and sustainable choice. And we would like to share more knowledge about wood, focusing on our Scandinavian wood species. Partly to make it easier and more enjoyable to furnish with the lifecycle in mind. But also to draw attention to all the advantages of wood, so that Norrgavel's furniture has the best conditions to become a lifelong love in your home. But what is the difference between solid wood and veneer? And how should one best approach furniture made of solid wood? We take a closer look at this in this wood guide, as well as offer plenty of inspiration, facts, and good advice.

    “Each tree is completely unique, and therefore the surface of a piece of solid wood furniture becomes more lively - it never attains the same uniform appearance as veneer.”

    The difference between solid wood and veneer 

    The process of manufacturing furniture in solid wood and veneer furniture is completely different. Even the properties of each material differ. Veneer consists of chipboard, laminated wood, or board that is surface-coated with a thin layer of wood veneer. When we talk about solid wood, it refers to glued laminated wood – that is, glued wood strips, known as lamellas. Each tree is completely unique, so the surface of furniture in solid wood becomes more lively; it never achieves the same uniform appearance as veneer. The downside of veneer is that each layer is rarely more than a few millimeters thick, making the material much more susceptible to marks and scratches that cannot be repaired. In contrast to veneer furniture, solid wood furniture can be easily maintained and almost restored to its original condition through sanding and surface treatment. Year after year. Norrgavel's solid wood furniture is made to last for generations.

    Did you know:
    Veneer consists of sliced sheets from trees, ranging in thickness from 0.4 to 5 mm. Veneer sheets are produced through sawing, cutting, or turning. The material consists of a thin layer of wood veneer used as a surface covering on chipboard, laminated wood, or board.

    “Till skillnad från en fanérmöbel så kan en möbel i massivt trä enkelt underhållas och i det närmaste återfå sitt nyskick genom slipning samt ytbehandling.”



    Yellowish-white, hard, and fine-pored. Can be plain or flame-patterned. Origin Scandinavia.


    Grayish, hard, and coarse-pored. Origin Europe.


    Light, somewhat reddish, fine-pored, and hard. Origin Northern Europe.

    Did you know:
    By examining the cross-section of the tree trunk, one gains insight into the tree's life, year by year. The growth rings, for example, tell us if the tree has been damaged or if a summer has been exceptionally dry.

    “ The timber used by Norrgavel in the production of solid wood furniture is primarily of grade A quality, which means that the wood has few knots and no cracks.”

    Wood selection

    A tree is always sawn lengthwise, and then the wood is cut into different dimensions. Depending on the dimension, the wood gets different names – timber, planks, decking, or boards are some common terms. The wood that Norrgavel uses in the production of solid wood furniture is primarily of quality A, which means that the wood has few knots and no cracks. It is considered the highest quality and is perfect for fine furniture making. This type usually comes from the heartwood (the innermost part of the tree trunk), which is extra dense. However, knots are welcome to appear under a tabletop or inside a cabinet. Wood from the same species can have completely different conditions depending on where and how the tree has grown. Daylight also affects the wood, and it darkens over time – this is also called wood maturation.

    Did you know:
    If you saw a board straight across the growth rings, it's called "crosscutting," whereas it's called "ripping" when you saw along the growth rings.


    “Finger-jointed is dimensionally stable and very strong, making it perfect for furniture manufacturing.”

    When we talk about solid wood, it's another term for finger-jointed wood. Finger-jointed wood consists of glued-together wooden bars, called lamellas. For this reason, finger-jointed wood is often referred to as laminated wood. Before gluing the finger-jointed pieces, the lamellas must be planed. It should not be more than 2-3 hours between planing and gluing for optimal strength. Finger-jointed wood is dimensionally stable and very strong, making it perfect for furniture manufacturing. Finger-jointed wood also lends itself well to various surface treatments – such as oil or soap - alternatively painting with lacquer or tempera paint. This way, the material becomes more resistant to moisture and dirt.

    Did you know:
    It is only when the surface treatment has been applied to a glued laminate that you see the final result. Different trees produce different shades of color, after, for example, white oil has been applied.

    “In the tabletop of one of our dining tables, the glued laminate panel may consist of wooden slats from ten different trees.”



    Norrgavel's furniture is made of solid timber, which is exceptionally exclusive - our finger joints are made of whole timber sticks/lamellas. Compare, for example, to regular parquet floors, where short lamellas are used, and you will easily see the difference. It is much more difficult and expensive to obtain whole sticks, as only a relatively small part of each tree is finely enough to be used for that. In the tabletop of one of our dining tables, the finger-jointed panel can consist of timber sticks from ten different trees. Specifically for our tabletops, we choose wide lamellas with lively patterns and occasional knots.

    Norrgavel's furniture is crafted using exclusive solid timber sticks, while, for instance, parquet flooring typically features short lamellae.

    The drying process of wood, i.e., the time it spends in the dryer, affects the final color of the material. A thick piece of wood that dries slowly acquires a certain hue, while a thinner plank that dries quickly takes on a completely different color. This becomes especially apparent in Norrgavel's Multi-table where the shade often appears slightly different on the leg compared to the table's frame. In the frame, a 1-inch plank is used as a starting point, whereas a 2-inch plank is used for the table legs. The shape of different parts of the furniture can also affect the color. For example, the back spindles and legs of the Pinn Chair are turned and acquire a different texture (stripes), which sometimes results in a slightly uneven color during surface treatment (especially pigmented oil can get trapped in the sanding marks) compared to the seat and the backrest's top rail.

    “The oak for our tabletops is allowed to dry for 2.5 years before we use it.”

    Did you know:
    The oak for our tabletops is allowed to dry for 2.5 years before we use it, and the construction of our furniture allows the wood to move thereafter.

    It is an important task within the woodworking industry to be the person who selects slats that match in color and pattern in a harmonious way. And when you sit there having breakfast at the dining table from Norrgavel or reach for the coffee canister on your Shelf, you can take a moment to consider that each slat is actually manually and carefully chosen - thus giving each piece of furniture its very unique appearance.

    “Each slat is manually and carefully selected – thus giving each piece of furniture its very unique appearance.”

    Fun to know:
    It is said that women generally have better color vision than men, and perhaps this fact explains why almost all of those who work on color matching wood slats are women.

    On the pine board that Norrgavel's founder and designer, Nirvan Richter, has created, you can clearly see how different a piece of pine can look - color tone, structure, texture, and pattern vary. Take a look at one end of Norrgavel's Shelf or a tabletop to see how the growth rings are oriented in different directions.

    "A tabletop made of beech can change as much as a whole centimeter over the course of a year. Wood is alive."

    A hygroscopic material – movements in wood

    Solid wood is a so-called hygroscopic material that can adapt to the surrounding humidity. Norrgavel primarily works with open surface treatments – soap, oil, pigmented oil and egg oil tempera - allowing the wood to stay alive and move with the seasons. Wood absorbs water when the air is humid and releases water when the air is dry. This is why it moves. The movement slows down over time, but it never stops completely. But movement varies between different types of wood. Aluminium moves relatively little, while a beech table top can change a whole centimetre over the year. Drawers slide best in winter, doorways are narrowest in summer. Wide boards usually warp slightly and small cracks can always occur. The wood is alive.

    Did you know:
    The short sides of our dining tables are graded so that the table top can swell and shrink in width without cracking. Wood moves 20-35 times more in width than in length. It moves with changes in humidity and ages as a personalised expression of your way of life

    “On a Pinn chair painted with lacquer paint, the movement of the wood can be particularly evident, as lacquer is not an open surface treatment.”

    In winter, the humidity is low, which causes the wood to shrink. In the summer months, the humidity is high, which causes the wood to swell. Each lamella of a glue joint moves differently depending on the position of the annual rings or which part of the tree it comes from. The lamellae move very little lengthwise, but more so widthwise (between the joints). On a Pinn Chair painted with lacquer paint, the movement of the wood can be particularly evident, as lacquer is not an open finish. And on a Extendable Table these natural movements of the wood can show up in the joint where the filler board is to be placed. As the air becomes drier, the gap may become slightly larger at the outer edges of the table, compared to the centre. This is because the wood dries or swells faster at the ends of a solid wood board.

    Furniture that is frequently wet-dried, such as dining tables, needs more frequent maintenance by sanding and oiling as the moisture causes wood corrosion and dries out the wood.

    Take the best care of your Norrgavel furniture – read our Maintenance guide.