The philosophy I build things under is that they should last at least 200 years - if properly cared for. That sounds hard (and sometimes it is) but most often the way to achieve it is to think about two things:
1. The type of joints used. That is, where two boards come together to form a 90 deg. (or other) angle needs to be done in a certain way to allow for maximum strength. The two most bullet proof joints are:
Mortise and Tenon - an example of this joint is where the horizontal and vertical pieces of a door meet. This is an exceptionally strong joint.
Dovetail - this is a mechanical joint used to join the ends of boards. Think of the four corners of a drawer. Because of the wedge shape, the joint resists pulling apart if oriented correctly.
For me, these two joints (or a variation) should be used at all times - no exceptions. Anything else is lazy and doesn’t provide the strength needed for 200 years…
2. The way the wood is sawn from the log greatly impacts how stable it is. Wood is an organic material that is constantly changing and moving. This must be taken into account or a piece could warp or even pull itself apart after time.
The most stable cuts of wood are what we call quartersawn or riftsawn lumber. They have very straight grain and if you look at the end of the board the growth rings are either 90deg (quartersawn) or 45deg (riftsawn) to the face. Watch the short video below for a great explanation of the three most common cuts of lumber:
More to come!