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The Art of Custom Furniture & Reproductions

Custom Furniture and Reproductions

Over the years I have built everything from kitchen cabinets & library bookshelves to all manner of chairs & tables, including conference tables and custom redesigns or remodeling.

Sensitive Antique Furniture Restoration

My knowledge and respect for 18c. antique furniture came from working for a master french restorer in n.y.c. We restored and sometimes modified antique furniture period pieces from the major auction houses week after week. ‘Do no harm’, reversibility & removal of the least necessary original fabric to correct defects became second nature. This intimacy and sensitivity to period styles and construction is vital to successful furniture restoration & reproduction work.

The Transition From Handmade to Machine Manufactured

Original custom made period furniture was bench made with sharp hand tools. Templates defined measurements, pattern books defined slowly the changing styles for well off patrons. By early to mid 20th century, new materials, techniques, tools & attitudes, industrialized the designs and fabrications for both architecture & furniture.

Furniture styles were reduced to simple geometric shapes, rectangles, circles, and arcs. The finishing was often with heavy veneered tops and a look of weightless, cantilevered over partially concealed legs.

Design Materials Change

The core material for everything is MDF (medium density fiberboard) cheap, flat & easily painted or veneered. The chemists are only now getting rid of the formaldehyde from MDF in response to cancer worries.  Veneer thickness has been reduced to 1/40 inch which is too thin to sand or scrape which complicates the process of restoration or refinishing should it be requested.   While the customary finish of thick plastic coatings provide some protection, the furniture is all too soon reduced to landfill.  This type of glare on furniture is a far cry from the sensitive look and feel that a  proper French polish and other refinishing provide.  Even the sleek, metallic offerings from designers showrooms end up in landfills after 10 or 12 years.

Furniture Making In The Digital Age

Most furniture shops rely on computer aided design & tooling for all processes – hand work is almost nonexistent. Furniture makers rarely use hand tools and may never need to send their single chisel out to be sharpened. Everything is automated, including dust collection, color mixing and spray finishing. Tolerances of less than 1 milliliter are fairly standard.  Overall, contemporary furniture design and furniture making hold no surprises!  There is relatively no charm, no life, no inspiration.  When you consider this mass mechanization, mostly governed by the computer and this digital age, you can see why furniture making has sorely reduced the consumers choice while padding the bank accounts of those who originated this concept and control it.  No sour grapes here, but I wanted to point out that there are a few of us who produce original works of  both utilitarian art and art that is both useful and soulfully satisfying.

The Pleasure Of Designing & Crafting Fine Furniture

I enjoy cutting dovetails for drawers by hand. Preparing veneers-flattening, taping into skins, clamping & smoothing a new door or tabletop gives me pleasure. My hand made bench, with traditional vices and stops, is the center of my shop. I do use jointers, planers & band saw to rough mill parts but final shaping & smoothing happens on the bench with sharp and tuned up hand planes, scrapers & a 60 year old 1/2 sheet inline sander that never dies.

Visit My One Man Shop On A Dirt Road

I look forward to discussing any of your designs you’d like to see out of your head and into your home!  I also welcome any of your remodeling or furniture refinishing projects.  All my work is guaranteed, my quotes are free and I have referrals who’d be happy to give you a review of my work.