A Furniture Ethic

Hand-crafted furniture, built by your local artisan from local hardwoods, is a sound investment. It provides you with the opportunity to get just the look you want for an heirloom piece that will last for generations. It supports artisans who keep traditional craft alive. It supports sound environmental practices. And in the end, you get something unique that your neighbors cannot buy.

As an individual craftsman, I use as much urban lumber as I can. Urban lumber involves trees that fall naturally or are cut down for purposes other than harvesting; harvesting this wood for lumber prevents it from taking up landfill space, and helps conserve our natural resources. Urban lumber is harvested using environmentally sound practices. The wood spends less time in transit (creating a much lower carbon footprint), and the sawmills used tend to be more fuel-efficient and create less waste than industrial practices.

There are variations in grain with this wood that most people like. I am selective in the materials I use, matching up grain in individual boards for best effect. There are also some knots, which I stabilize with a tinted epoxy. Many people find that knots filled in this way have a decorative effect and lend visual interest to the piece. All of this leads to greater character, giving each piece a unique quality that a factory cannot and will not reproduce.

Factories take shortcuts in methods and materials when they make furniture. While manufactured materials are easier to work within a factory setting, they often do not wear as well, and are seldom as attractive as solid wood. Plus, manufactured materials require energy to produce and transportation to distribute. Solid urban lumber, purchased locally, is a better alternative.

As a craftsman I spend the time to make sure the joinery of my furniture is sound and attractive, and I use a minimal amount of manufactured materials. This conscientious effort helps ensure an heirloom-quality piece. I also use hand tools quite a bit in my work. Working with hand tools is more environmentally friendly, and it yields a more beautiful surface. Hand-tooled surfaces further contribute to the character of the piece, leaving subtle nuances that a machine cannot imitate.

Hand-crafted furniture from your local artisan is an investment. Buy quality and beauty and hand it down to future generations. Don’t buy cheap but environmentally costly furniture that future generations will inherit in a landfill.

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