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Wood That Works


Maybe you can always get what you want—at least when it comes to home furnishings. Skilled woodworkers are able to tailor unique pieces to your style and space. Working with someone who loves and understands wood makes the process as much a joy as the results. 

You can meet many of the artisans and see their work at the Philadelphia Invitational Furniture Show, held annually in early April, or contact them directly. If Mick Jagger ordered some custom furniture, he might be singing a different tune. 

Inspiration Starts Here {1}

captainschairWharton Esherick (1887-1970), known as “the dean of American craftsmen,” worked primarily in wood. His sculptural approach to furniture, furnishings, interiors, even buildings, has inspired generations of artisans. There’s no better place to begin your exploration of hand-made furniture than at his studio/residence, a National Historic Landmark for Architecture with more than 200 of his works on exhibition. The Captain’s Chair is a 1951 walnut and cherry piece with a laced leather seat.

Wharton Esherick Museum – Paoli, Pa.
Tours by reservation only.

Living On The Edge {2}

woodtableJohn Rush masters both wood and metal in this live-edge cherry dining table with metal base. A single slab from a Kennett Square cherry tree was selected by Studio 882 owners Chad and Katie Groves for this stunning statement piece. Rush’s sculptural approach allows him to highlight the beauty inherent in the wood he uses, coaxing the best out of the materials rather than imposing any preconceived notions on them. The results are a testament to this respect and patience.

Live-edge cherry dining table with metal base: $14,000.
12’3″ long x 30″ high x 2″ thick. Width varies from 33″ to 45″. 

John Rush, craftsman;
Chad and Katie Groves, owners, Studio 882 – Chadds Ford, Pa.

The Barn Reborn {3}

headboardAnne Joyce’s affinity for old materials is evident in the furnishings she fashions from reclaimed 18th- and 19th-century wood. This rustic headboard began its life in a barn built by John Hill in 1810 for Dr. Kemble, whose family settled in southern Chester County in colonial times. (Kemblesville in Franklin Township bears their name.) Thanks to SpringHouse Furnishings, the character-laden wood has been beautifully repurposed and now has pride of place in a 21st-century bedroom.

Headboard, reclaimed wood: $1,400-$2,100.
Available in all bed sizes

Anne Joyce, SpringHouse Furnishings – Chadds Ford, Pa.

The Clock That Time Remembered {4}

clockWho says they don’t make ’em like they used to? Leonard Marschark has recreated a popular 1800s clock in solid tiger maple. Like the older versions that inspired it, the clock features a hand-painted reverse glass tablet. Nineteenth-century models had scenes of iconic estates such as Mt. Vernon or Monticello; this one shows a Bucks County setting done in period style with etched gold borders. An eight-day brass German movement keeps more accurate and reliable time than the wooden geared-originals. 

Eli Terry Pillar and Scroll Clock; $2,995.
32″ high x 17.5″ wide x 6″ deep.

Leonard Marschark, 18th-Century Clocks – Bedminster, Pa.

Stick A Fork In It {5}

bench5coattreeJazz up your entryway with the Pitchfork Bench and Coat Tree from Brad Smith at Bradford Woodworking. Metal tines go directly into the solid cherry back of the bench; the contoured seat is also cherry. Legs are made of ash turned on a century-old lathe that leaves a rippled effect. The five-sided cherry post of the charming coat tree is whitewashed and lightly sanded. A used plow disc cut into a star provides a sturdy base. Up top, the double pitchfork head is tipped with maple balls so hats and coats sit smoothly.

Pitchfork Bench: 3-forker with arms (42″ seat length), $1,160; 4-forker with arms (53” seat length), $1,260; 5-forker with arms (64’ seat length), $1,360; 6-forker with arms (75″ seat length), $1,460. Available without arms for $160 less. 

Pitchfork Coat Tree: $550.
Height 65″, base 18″ diameter.

Brad Smith, Bradford Woodworking – Lansdale, Pa.

Circular Reasoning {6}

cabinetThis fanciful wall-hung cabinet, “When I Get Around To It,” was Ken Burton’s entry in the Wharton Esherick Museum’s annual woodworking competition. Three small but functional drawers, a shelf, and a hand-blown glass vase (from Tayler Backes in Boyertown) merge into a playful piece that is sure to put a smile on your face. Burton worked by hand and with a computer-controlled router to fashion cherry, Baltic birch, maple, and wenge into this unique conversation piece.

“When I Get Around To It” cabinet: $1,200. Approximately 30″ tall, 14″ wide, 8″ deep,

Ken Burton, Windy Ridge Woodworks – New Tripoli, Pa.

Log-A-Rhythm {7}

coffeetableFallen logs from the Brandywine River Valley are transformed into artistic kitchens, bars, built-ins, and furniture by Seth Cavallari and Ben Feathers of Brandywine Woodworks. The ash tops and oak legs in this pair of coffee tables were milled, crafted, and finished in the pair’s creekside shop. Custom-cut butterfly joinery stabilizes the boards in a perfect marriage of form and function. The tables are hand-rubbed with tung oil for a luxuriously smooth feel.

Live-edge ash coffee table with oak legs: $2,000 (each).
60″ long x 20″ high x 2″ thick. Width varies from 16″ to 22″.

Brandywine Woodworks –
West Chester, Pa.

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