Wood is a natural material which needs care and expertise to get the best out of it. Our knowledge today is based on the successes (and failures) over the hundreds of years our craft has evolved
Selecting - Fine furniture starts with selecting my own timber at a specialist wood yard. Hardwood is sold as rough sawn boards. There is a huge variation within a species (for example oak) and I select for quality and appearance. There are dark boards and light boards, there are different grain patterns (regular straight lines to large whorls and swirls) and fine furniture means working with, not against, these natural variations.
Preparation - The boards then have to be cut to the rough size and planed flat - more complicated than it sounds because wood ‘moves’. It expands and contracts as it absorbs and releases moisture but unfortunately not uniformly, so it twists and warps. Just running it all through a machine today may give you straight boards now - but not when you come back to them in a week.
Jointing - Once all the components are stable and flat then the joints have to be cut. Choosing the right joints is the real technical skill of cabinet-making - using them to overcome the inherent problems of wood: its movement (it will get fatter then thinner but not longer), its strength (along the grain) and weakness (across the grain), and the impossibility of gluing end grain.. If this is done properly (as it was in the past) then that piece of furniture will last for hundreds of years
Assembly - the challenge of getting everything square in three dimensions. Which is nerve racking because you only get one go, and it’s against the clock as the glue dries. You can wreck a months work in twenty minutes…
Finishing, - I use natural finishes, sometimes shellac, more often oil and wax. Oil and wax gives a low sheen (which I prefer) but most importantly it is repairable. If you scrape or scratch or bang a natural finish (and someone will) then it can be fixed - so in five, or twenty, or one hundred years time it will still look good.