No one expects an Ikea bookcase to last for generations. But walk into a vintage furniture store and you’ll find all types of old pieces that mass-produced in their day, yet have still managed to achieve heirloom status. Furniture isn’t what it used to be. …To understand the decline in quality, first consider what most furniture is actually made of. In the mid-20th century, the more affordable stuff was typically made of American plywood, while fancier pieces might be solid cherry or oak. Today, most of what’s on the market consists of Chinese-made press board and plywood, while pieces marketed as “solid wood” might be rubber wood with glued-on veneer. …Labor is cheapest in China and Southeast Asia, so those are the places mega furniture companies tend to make their products. …Cheap manufacturing practices have conditioned consumers to expect that furniture should be inexpensive and fall apart in a few years.