Let’s challenge a few myths ‘They don’t make it like they used to’ Well they do and better! In fact since the 1970’s British Craft Furniture Revival there has been a revolution in craftsmanship and design. See Jeremy Broun’s Furniture Today lectures and DVDs. ‘Solid wood is superior to veneer’ Throughout history and surviving to this present day are many examples of superbly crafted veneered furniture. The use of veneer allows exotic and rare timbers to be used and the base material (chipboard or MDF) allows for greater dimensional stability, for instance in large table tops. The important thing is to have solid wood edges (called lippings) that take dents without the veneer exposing the core. 
The importance of finish A wood finish both protects and visually enhances the piece and should be appropriate to the timber and the use of the piece. Some woods take an oil well. Jeremy Broun tends to avoid using waxes which although adding a romantic smell to the piece, can attract dirt in open grained timbers (such as ash) and make future repairs difficult.
What to look for in a quality piece of furniture
Plywood is a good quality stable material
Look for tight joints
solid wood lippings protect veneered work
solid wood is better for wear
slightly rounded edges are easier to handle and avoid dents better than sharp edges.