Having an Ear for the Right Chesterfield Sofa

At Fleming & Howland, creating a piece of furniture is much more than simply passing materials through a production line, assembling the finished product and moving swiftly on to the next one. Our Chesterfield sofas are expected to last for generations, so we take our time to manufacture them properly using only the best materials and tools; namely, the hands of our skilled craftsmen. The human input is largely what makes our Chesterfield sofas unique, and so this is what we value most highly.

The Anatomy Of A Stuffed and Stitched Chair

The right materials

The vast majority of modern furniture is manufactured using engineered woods, which have the appearance of solid wood, and in some cases can be relatively durable, but simply do not compare to the timeless nature of solid hardwood. Our craftsmen are trained to work solely with natural woods, choosing the strength and stability that these offer over the low costs associated with engineered woods. Modern alternatives for solid woods are also often easier to work with than genuine wood, but again this does not compensate for the level of quality that is compromised when using them. At Fleming & Howland no corners are cut, ensuring excellence in every aspect of production guaranteeing a worthwhile investment for each and every customer.

The right skills

Of course, doing so requires that a craftsman to be fully qualified to work with these materials and produce the best possible results from them. Ensuring what they are using is genuine solid wood is the first procedure to undertake before commencing any work. One unique way to determine the quality of the wood is to do what’s called a ‘knock test’. When knocking on a piece of wood, manufactured woods will produce a quieter, more muffled sound, since there is space within the wood for some of the noise to be absorbed into. Meanwhile, harder, denser wood will produce a louder sound, instead allowing the sound to vibrate over the surface. Qualified manufacturers will have well trained ears for this simple test,  and can therefore promise to only ever use the highest quality hard woods. Self-evidently, such wood is more difficult to carve and detail than manufactured woods, which is further testament to the skill and experience of the Fleming & Howland craft.

Why we do it

This is a challenging but rewarding career which seems outdated to some. But aside from the quality of products produced, there are many good reasons for working within this trade. True artisans enjoy working in a traditional trade in which they truly have a part to play in the creation of a valued product; rather than simply operating machinery, they are using their own skills and passion to create something unique. At Fleming & Howland, the craft of upholstery and the creation of furniture is a form of art, and so our makers are able to channel their artistic drive into the formation of truly esteemed products.


Behind any Chesterfield sofa purchased from Fleming & Howland is great human input from skilled tradesmen who are invested in the products they are creating. It is this human element which adds the cutting-edge difference to our brand.

“Knowing I wanted to go into a traditional trade where I could produce a product and be part of its creation, I knew an apprenticeship or higher education was going to be an intrinsic part of my career. Over other trades, the craft of upholstery stood out as some pieces of furniture could be seen as forms of art. With traditional pieces of furniture you can always add a new perspective by approaching it from a modern point of view. This is the reason I chose to specialise in the craft of making Chesterfields.”


F&H Chesterfield Apprentice