You’re at a yard sale or flea market, and you’ve found the perfect piece of solid wood furniture to finish off your living room or bedroom. The finish is beautiful, the design is flawless, but is it real or fake? Before you go shopping for your next dresser or sideboard, here are some ways how to tell if the furniture is real wood or not.

Solid Wood Furniture Is Heavy

One of the easiest ways to tell if wood furniture is real or fake is by its weight. Real wood furniture is extremely heavy.

Dovetail Construction

The construction of the wood furniture piece provides much information about its authenticity. One of the hallmarks of real wood furniture is the dovetail joint.

Dovetail construction fits together like a puzzle, forming a joint so tight that even old pieces of furniture still maintain their strength and stability centuries later, and all without glue, screws, or nails. Even if the drawer’s face is covered with wood veneer, the interior construction, including dovetail joints, indicates a piece built from solid wood.

Wood Grain

It can be challenging for an untrained eye to see the difference between natural wood grain and veneer or laminate. Feeling the difference is one way. If it isn’t sealed, run your fingertips over the surface, and you will feel the grain of the wood, almost like the ridges of fingerprints.

If sealed, you can still look closely and note differences. Real wood grain has a pattern from nature, so it will vary significantly over the whole piece. If you can see the grain, but it repeats and lacks texture, it is most likely a veneer. If it has no grain at all, it’s laminate.

Be sure to look along the sides and under the piece, too. The veneer edges will be visible where the sheet attaches to the front of the furniture piece, and the horizontal grain pattern of the veneer will go onto the edges of the piece. That will not happen if it is real wood.

Laminate tends to cover every exposed part of the piece, so it is most likely real wood if you find unfinished wood on the bottom.

It’s In the Details

Decorative details also tell you whether it is fake wood furniture or real. Fake wood furniture will not feature any ornate details or carving because you cannot carve veneer or laminate. If there is any carved ornamentation on the piece, it is most definitely real wood.


Finally, there is the price. Real wood furniture costs more than fake, whether the piece is custom furniture or an antique.

Next time you go shopping for real wood furniture, follow these simple tips, and you’ll know how to tell if the furniture is real wood or fake.

Eastern Atlantic Carpentry of Emerald Ilse, NC is the premier coastal carpenter in the region. From outdoor furniture to kitchen countertops and more, we are committed to delivering superior craftsmanship to our customers along the Crystal Coast. Call us today at (252) 262-6600 to discuss your next project.