Defining "Bench Quality"

From the hands of one craftsman... May 10, 2005

I have been conducting some research into the furniture industry, and I have come across the term "bench quality" several times. What is the definition of bench quality, and how did this term develop?

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor D:
Good question. In our shop and marketing, it means that one person produces the product from start to finish - single craftsperson, single product. In practice, larger projects are planned and executed by one person, with the help of one or two or three more.

In general, the term is used to convey two things: that the furniture is produced one piece at a time, and that one person is involved and therefore responsible for the piece. This comes from the days when furniture production was decentralized and localized. Today the term may be used more as a marketing phrase to try to convey quality rather than a way of production. As in "old fashioned," meaning that old is good, or "Amish Made," in that unusual religious beliefs mean craftsmanship, as confused with the Shakers of a century ago. There is no regulation of the language or its usage.