We obtain the wood we use from several sources:
- Commercial saw mills in Oregon and Pennsylvania, including Northwest Timber.
- MacBeath Hardwood in Berkeley, California.
- Trees we harvest, mill, and dry ourselves. Drying the lumber takes up to two years. First we air dry the boards, then put them into our solar kiln to finish the process. See Woodwork Magazine, October 1998, Building a Solar Kiln – Sun-Dried Wood by Liese Greensfelder.
The following woods are currently available
California black walnut (Juglans californica)
California black walnut (Juglans californica)- a rich chocolate brown, it sometimes has reddish tones. This wood is world class, it’s local, and we cut, mill and dry it ourselves. Figured California walnut- the pattern of the grain, usually fiddleback or burl in this species, is more common in the claro walnut than in its eastern cousin.
Quilted big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum)
Quilted big leaf maple (Acer macrophyllum) is the Hollywood starlet of the wood world. This quilted pattern is only found in Western big leaf maple. The wood that we use is known as musical instrument grade, the finest and most expensive.
European elm (Ulma procera)
European elm (Ulma procera) – this wood is salvaged from dead or dying trees from Sacramento, CA. It is a rich brown, not as dark as walnut, with a strong grain pattern It is a wonderful chair wood, strong and pliable.
Red Elm (Ulma rubra)
Red Elm (Ulma rubra)- the ideal wood for the back slats that we make. It is strong, bends well, and returns to its original shape better than any other wood. It was the preferred wood for the ribs of the Henry Rushton canoes of upstate New York.
Kellogg’s Oak (Quercus kelloggii)
Kellogg’s Oak (Quercus kelloggii)- another local wood that grows in the forest around our house and shop, it is softer than eastern oaks and more easily worked. It is ideal for drawers.
Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziessii)
Pacific madrone (Arbutus menziessii)- Local, but difficult to dry. It has lots of variability in color and pattern and often has small knots. It runs in color from blood red to light maple. It has the smoothest feel of any wood.
Birdseye Maple (Acer saccharum)
Birdseye Maple (Acer saccharum.) the birdseye name refers to the dots and pattern in the wood. It is found exclusively in hard maple and the boards are rarely very wide.
Bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannia)
Bubinga (Guibourtia tessmannia)- dense, exotic and very red, it comes from equatorial west Africa. It sometimes has a pattern called pomelle.
Kwila (Intsia bijuga)
Kwila (Intsia bijuga)- from Indonesia, this wood is extremely stable, it is a rich red and very consistent in grain and pattern.
Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Cherry (Prunus serotina) the classic American furniture wood. It grows in the Eastern U.S. It darkens considerably as it ages. It is moderately hard with a specific gravity of .50.
Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)
Indian Rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia)- a beautiful, exotic and expensive wood. We sometimes use it as a detail or as back slats.
Fiddleback Maple (Acer spp.)
Fiddleback Maple Acer spp.- it can be any of the species of American maples and regionally has a variety of language to describe and distinguish each pattern from others. The big leaf maple is darker and the Eastern soft maples are usually lighter in color.
English Brown Oak (Quercus robur)
English Brown Oak (Quercus robur)- the dark brown color that makes this wood special apparently is caused by a fungus and leads to the tree’s death. Most of the wood is light, similar to American white oak. The dark wood is not common.
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) A little softer than cherry this wood has spectacular ray cells that show up when it is precisely quarter sawn.
The diverse nature of these woods demands that we thoughtfully lay out each chair so that the overall character of the piece is coherent and visually balanced.
Chair prices will vary depending on the wood selected. Figured walnut and figured maples are generally the most expensive choices, followed by narra and quartersawn sycamore, Pacific madrone and unfigured walnut. We make chairs in ash, elm, oak, cherry and hard maple all at the same base price.
We use the highest quality leather available in our upholstered pieces. It’s a full, natural, top-grain leather from southern Germany that is tanned in Sweden.
When you are ready to order a chair, we send you a set of wood and leather samples so you can find the color, figure and grain that best suit your fancy.