Defining ‘quality’ in synagogue furniture

One of the principal questions posed by potential clients is: “What are the main factors influencing product quality?” Our answer is the quality of the raw materials and how production technology is used to assure consistently high value when building the shul furniture.

, Defining ‘quality’ in synagogue furniture, Lavi Furniture, Lavi Furniture

The quality of the product is determined mainly by two parameters

  • Quality of the raw materials and their suitability for the use to which they are to be put
  • Production technology and its mode of implementation in the manufacturing process

In order to manufacture furniture, the manufacturer needs a number of different raw materials – some of them visible, the majority of them hidden from view – which does not mean that they are any less important for the quality of the product. A metal hinge installed in a bench may look new and shiny when installing the furniture – but could become rusty within a short period of time, if you don`t make your purchase from a reliable manufacturer. Every component – from the wood to the screws, form the upholstery fabric to the sponge padding on the seats – Lavi furniture is carefully selected and tested before being brought into the production process.

In a similar manner, you could find yourselves unpleasantly surprised by the lacquer coating peeling away, as a result of using inferior materials or as a result of unprofessional painting. Many examples can be brought – the factor common to all of them being the quality of raw materials and the way they are used.

Purchasing good quality raw materials from reliable vendors of course increases the price of the finished product, but is of vital importance for the quality of the product over time, but at Lavi, quality is what we aim at and value is what we deliver.

In this section, we will go into greater detail about raw materials quality.Padding set Since upholstery is the point of contact between the user and the furniture, whilst it is not perhaps the most dramatic part of the furniture, it needs to be executed correctly, to ensure comfort and long-term wear. Of course, the seating does not necessarily need to be upholstered, but if you have chosen to upholster the seats you are planning on purchasing, this can be done in a variety of ways.

At Lavi, we will guide you through the upholstering of the seats to ensure that you get what you are looking for, and we at Lavi use only the best quality fabrics that will ensure long wear and our upholsterers are known as the most professional in the industry.

There are those who tend to look at the upholstery only from the point of view of the thickness of the seat – “the thicker, the better”. However, it turns out that the subject is somewhat more complicated and requires somewhat more knowhow, which we bring you briefly.

The quality of the upholstery system is a function of a number of components – in the main ones being – sponge, acrylic strips, upholstery material and the professionalism of the upholsterer. These are ideas which appear to be obvious and simple, but in practice, these are professional and quality considerations of supreme importance, vitally affecting comfort and durability of the system over may years. By the way, the upholstery system is a classic example of examining the vendor`s attitude to the subject of quality, since most of its components are hidden from view and are subject to the manufacturers discretion and decision., as we will try to explain further

Upholstery sponge

Usually, upholstery is made from foamed polyurethane sponge mixed with a few other materials, moulded using a professional and controlled process in specialist factories

Sponges are differentiated from each other by their specific weight, their degree of flexibility and their special characteristics (and accordingly by price). Each use requires choosing the appropriate sponge, for example, sponge designated for a seat is different from sponge used for back cushions, or sleeping mattresses or bed pillows The manufacturers usually add a distinguishing color for each type of sponge, with a resulting market “language” being created, referring sponges as white, yellow, blue etc. sponge.

The specific weight of furniture sponge ranges between 20-40 kg /cubic meter, with the level of firmness ranging between 20-50 pounds, which is the weight needed to be applied to the sponge in order to compress 25% of its volume.

For the back cushions, we prefer soft or even very soft sponge with weights of around 20 kg/cubic meter and firmness level of 20-30.

For the seat, we prefer sponge with a relatively high specific weight, of around 35 kg/cubic meter, but at the same time the lowest possible level of firmness, 35-45.

The sponge which is regarded as the best for upholstering quality furniture is known as “flexi-sponge” (high resilience). This type of sponge which, in addition to its high degree of comfort, also includes a feature which enables it to return again and again to its normal volume, preventing the common effect of “sinking” of the sponge after repeated long-term use. Since this sponge, which is also known as H.R is intended for use only in quality furniture, an added feature has been added to it to give it the fire resistance standard required in quality furniture.
You should demand of the manufacturer exact details of the type of sponges used in upholstering the furniture you intend purchasing.

Acrylan

Quality and professional upholstering laws require the use of acrylic sheets separating the fabric from the sponge.
Upholstery material does not have the same flexibility features as sponge, and thus after prolonged use, creases and folds could start appearing in the material. It has already been noted that sponge tends to lose its volume over time (some more than others) and thus cushion material which is sewn according to the original dimensions of the sponge becomes slightly too large on the shrunken sponge, resulting in the creases and folds.
This is exactly where the acrylic layer comes in, its purpose being to stretch and “expand” the upholstery fabric back to its original dimensions, thereby maintaining a fresh look to the upholstery over many years.
The acrylic sheets also have varying levels of quality, including fire resistance characteristics.

The upholstery fabric
There is not enough space to describe all the differences between the various types of upholstery fabric. The fabric is the material most exposed to wear and tear as a result of using the furniture, and tends to wear out earlier than the wood and metal elements of the furniture.
There are fabrics that are designated for domestic use only, with others manufactured specifically for public use.

Each type of fabric has a list of features characterizing it, including thread strength, resistance to wear, resistance to tearing and threads coming out, resistance to exposure to light, color durability, cleanability, fire resistance etc.

You should enquire closely of your manufacturer the types of fabric being offered: who in the manufacturer of the fabric,? What are its characteristics? What is the cumulative experience of using them, and where can these fabrics be found in use by customers using the furniture for a number of years?

Upholstery fabric can look really good when new, but after a short time can become something entirely different, affecting the whole look of the furniture.

Upholsterer professionalism
In order to get a good upholstery system out of the best materials, the upholsterer`s work needs to be professional. The issues of the cutting, sewing, type of stitch, type of thread, correct folding of the edges, use of acrylan, correct upholstery pins, correct stretching and such like professional knowledge makes the difference between cheap, standard and quality upholstery

Finish – material and technology

We at Lavi Furniture Industries have made a specialty of selecting and using the finest finishing materials, to ensure long years of beauty and comfort.
“Finishing” includes all the various types of lacquers and paints used in the furniture industry, together with a growing range of technologies. The function of the finishing materials is to give the wood the color and the shine defined during the design process and also protection against weather and wear and tear. The preliminary definitions relating to the intended use of the furniture determine the choice of finishing materials, with different finishing materials for furniture which is exposed to strong sunlight or is located in a shady environment. Some furniture uses necessitate elastic lacquer coatings, whilst other types require hard lacquer surfacing, and so on.

To give you a better idea of what is involved, and to ensure that you are able to make an informed decision, let`s look now at the types of finishing materials and technologies used in painting furniture for interior use, such as synagogue furniture.

Furniture needs to be protected against exposure to the sun and to water. We cannot live without sunlight and water, but their effect on interior furniture can be devastating and its exposure to them needs to be prevented as far as possible.

If your building contains large windows, giving your synagogue an atmosphere that is full of light, and the windows face the sun, consideration needs to be given to the large quantities of UV radiation, causing fading of furniture color. Whilst there are paints which contain UV filtering components, they merely slow the process down, without preventing it. Where large windows are an existing fact of life, consideration needs to be given to installing blinds or shades, in order to protect the furniture at least during the long hours when the furniture is not in use.

Regarding water, care needs to be taken to avoid prolonged exposure to water which could result in a breaking down of the defenses provided by the finishing materials and penetration of water into the wood. Washing floors with excessive quantities of water should be avoided, and in any case the quantities of water left after cleaning should be removed, and the furniture should not be left “soaking” in puddles of water. Needless to say, the furniture itself should not be washed with water, and where it is necessary to remove dirt using a damp cloth, the moisture needs to be wiped off as quickly as possible using a dry cloth.

The finishing materials include blocking paints, egg paints and transparent lacquers. The blocking paints come in variety of colors, and when applied to the wood, completely conceal the wood design and produce a uniform coating of paint, similar to painting metal (for example, motor cars).

The transparent materials create a protective coating for the wood, but as their name suggests, they are “transparent”, the wood design remaining as is and showing through the layers of lacquer. The natural coloring of the wood can be preserved, and it also possible to color the wood by burning in egg paints that add the coloring of choice, without blocking out the wood and leaving the wood`s characteristic “markings”.

The transparent wood paints are divided into a number of different families, the main ones being nitrocellulose, polyurethane resins, acrylic resins and polyester paints. Each type of paint has its own characteristics, and its own advantages and disadvantages.

In principle, the paints consist of solid materials mixed with base materials, and during application, they are mixed with hardening and thinning materials enabling them to be sprayed or painted onto the wood sections in a number of coats, with the wood undergoing drying processes, leaving the wood with a hard layer (film) of solid dry material. The materials are applied to the wood in a number of layers, the wood undergoing suitable drying and rubbing processes between the application of each layer.

The application is carried out using a variety of different methods, starting with simple traditional hand brush painting, through sponging, dipping in baths, spreading using mechanical or automatic rollers, spraying using robots and electrostatic painting.

The finishing industry has rapidly developed in recent years, and modern industry has at its disposal sophisticated, controlled painting processes that ensure precise application of the paint layers, without the “misses” and lack of uniformity, that characterize hand painting.

Using advanced painting systems enables the collection and recycling of paint surpluses and filtering of the air issuing from the painting process, in accordance with generally accepted environmental quality standards.

A manufacturer with a large scale operation carries current inventories of all the materials required for the painting process and is committed to holding a “poisons permit”, granted by the Environmental Quality Ministry. The permit shows that the manufacturer is subject to ongoing supervision by Ministry inspectors and that its operation is in order and in compliance with the law. The subject as a whole is one which is interesting, complex and fascinating, and it is recommended that you ask the furniture manufacturer to enable you to take a guided tour of the factory`s painting and finishing department.

Industrial Wood Boards 

An important element in modern furniture manufacture is the use of industrial wood boards made out of wood chip or MDF. The huge improvement is the quality of these materials has allowed Lavi to start using them in its furniture. We waited a long time before considering using them, and only when we were convinced that they would fulfill our quality expectations, were we prepared to use them in some parts where they comply with the technical and aesthetical requirements of a high quality product.
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We have chosen to bring you the main points of an article from the “Wood and Furniture” monthly magazine (edition 137) By: Haim Goldman, CEO of H.G. International Commerce Ltd.

Anyone visiting the exclusive kitchen showrooms in Europe will find that almost 80% of the kitchens are made from chip products and from MDF, of various types. In Europe, which is home to the most prestigious manufacturers of kitchens and box furniture, these are the main materials used. The reasons for this are many, the main one being the change that has occurred in the image of industrial boards in the past 20 years, since the health laws and safety standards forced the board producers to use materials that are friendly to man and to the environment. In addition, the German DIN quality standards, which were adopted by the European Common Market, were so thorough and so strict that they forced the board producers to provide high standards of quality.

These standards define what the chips are to be made of and their source, the compaction of the material, the composition of the glues to be used, as so on. More than anything else, they dictate standard methods for testing the quality of the boards as a finished product, in order to ensure that the result will meet requirements.

The European manufacturers of these boards have taken these requirements very seriously, and even imposed on themselves additional requirements: strict adhesion of coatings, polishing of the basic surface, leveled production of the board and other strictures, which have made the industrial boards into Europe`s number one production board.

Before deciding to use industrial wood boards, we had independent tests carried out by the Israell Standards Institute, to ensure that the claims made by the manufacturer`s of these boards would stand up to scientific testing.

We sent a V-100 “Green Board” (made by Egger) covered with melamine together with a Formica covered sandwich board, both of then 16mm thickness, for testing at the Israel Standards Institute, and these are the results that were obtained:

After two hours in water, the “sandwich” swelled by 1.8%, the “Green Board” swelling by 0.85%
After four hours in water, the “sandwich” swelled by 2.3%, whilst the “Gren Board”, which it will be recalled is chipboard, swelled by only 1.4% – in other words the “sandwich” swelled by nearly twice as much!
Testing for resistance to drawing out a screw out of the surface of the boards, once again the “Green Board” surprised. In order to draw a screw out of the surface of formica-covered “sandwich”, a force of 70.1 newtons per mm depth was required, whereas the :”Green Board” required 77.1 newtons per mm depth. Once again, the “Greem Board was 10% stronger than the sandwich on this measure.

In conclusion, we once again state – You can rest assured when using our products that we at Lavi have made very effort to ensure that we use the most advanced and tested technologies in manufacturing the furniture, and our extensive knowledge and profound experience ensure that we know how to exploit the different characteristics of the different raw materials to the best possible advantage. Some parts of the benches need to be made from “full” wood, whereas for other parts, it is preferable to use industrialized products in order to ensure long years of service. No material is used that has not been tested rigorously by independent testing organizations. At Lavi, we leave nothing to chance.

The various types of wood can be purchased at different levels of quality. The professional standard, the engineering capabilities, and the technology available, enable the manufacturer to select and combine in the furniture raw materials with the best possible characteristics for the purpose they are trying to achieve. At lavi, we are happy to share these considerations with you and to explain why it is correct to prefer a particular material, instead of any other

Drying wood

In order to produce quality furniture, the raw wood has to undergo a controlled drying process, using specially designed ovens. At Lavi Furniture Industries, we carry out this drying process ourselves, in order to ensure that we use the highest quality raw materials after undergoing proper preparation. To give you a glimpse of what is involved and why we at Lavi regard the drying processes being of such importance that we have invested considerable resources in controlling the process ourselves, let`s look at what is involved.

When cutting down trees, the level of moisture in the boards exceeds 75%. Raw wood needs to be undergo a gradual and controlled drying process in order to convert it into a raw material suitable for use in the furniture industries. The wood drying process is carried out partly in the open air and partly in special ovens.

These ovens reduce the level of moisture in a gradual and controlled manner to around 7%. We have already mentioned that carrying out this process in a manner which is imperfect or uncontrolled can result in climatic conditions affecting the wood, leading to distortion, splitting or cracking.

Companies that aim to produce quality furniture, that do not possess a drying oven, purchase “dried” wood (the price of which is significantly higher than undried wood), relying on the process carried out in the country of origin of the wood prior to it being loaded onto the ship, or at the importers storage sites. At Lavi, by doing the drying ourselves, we are able to control the processes going on inside the wood and on the level of moisture absorbed by the wood during transportation and storage prior to going into production.

As a result , the furniture produced by Lavi is highly resistant to climatic changes. The wood used by Lavi has reached its optimum level of dryness, before it reaches you in the form of furniture. This means that Lavi furniture is stable and does not continue “working”. If wood continues to “work” it could start to crack and split over the years following the purchase of the furniture. (It should be emphasized that these phenomena will appear only some months or years after purchase, and cannot be discerned when making the purchase).

One example, out of many, is the change in climate occurring as a result of routine daily actions – such as switching the heating or air-conditioning system off and on in the synagogue.

This action results in significant differences in temperatures and in the level of humidity in the prayer hall, between the time the heating/air-conditioning is in operation and when it is off. These changes cause harmful stresses (the wood “works”) in whole wood. These stresses could result in cracks and splits appearing in the wood, and as a result of general usage. The solution to this problem is to dry the wood properly, in a controlled, scientific manner, and/or using industrial boards (sandwich, MDF etc.). At Lavi, we believe in controlling every stage of the production process, which is why we dry the raw wood ourselves.

Whole wood 

Wood is a natural material, and of itself presents professional challenges to furniture manufacturers. If the benches were to be made from metal or concrete, many of these challenges would simply fall away.
There is wide variety of types of “whole” wood. (The term “whole wood” means a wood board that has not undergone any industrial processing apart from cutting, planing and painting). The various types of “whole wood” are differentiated from each other by a variety of parameters – the natural color of the wood, degree of hardness of the wood, the amount of “designs” of the wood boards, the reaction of the wood to moisture and light, etc., and of course the basic price of the wood.

It is usual nowadays that the highest quality logs in a forest are bought by factories designating them for use in coated sheets used later in furniture with a high level of finishing. Logs of the next quality are bought by Asian companies (mainly Chinese). Wood of the third level of quality goes into the manufacture of standard quality furniture. As a result, there are significant differences in the level of quality of the logs used be each company. The way in which the logs are treated and the way they are used determines to a great extent how the product you are purchasing will look, and its durability over time.

It is recommended to check that the wood used by the manufacturer comes from properly managed forests and not sold by “pirate” foresters. It is recommended and desirable to obtain certification form the qualified authorities in the country of origin that the lumber yard – the wood vendor- complies with the guidelines and meets are the required standards. Properly organized countries and reputable wood vendors implement “green” policies aimed at maintaining the forests by controlled felling of trees in the forests vis-à-vis planting of replacements forests

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