The pieces are made in a small workshop in Burlington, VT by a team of about 10 craftsmen.
Each piece is made to order with sustainably harvested solid wood and finished with a hand-rubbed natural oil finish. The TV-Media center shown is made of American Black Walnut wood, which is the only North American wood with a dark chocolate brown color. Two other American woods are also available: Black Cherry and Sugar Maple. The furniture can be customized online in your choice of wood or in 2-tone combinations of available woods. We can also customize the size so the furniture fits exactly into your space.
Many times customers come to us because they are looking for a natural organic, oil and wax finish like the one that's hand-rubbed into these pieces. It's a traditional finish that requires a lot of sanding, but the process really brings out the natural beauty of the wood. Craftsmen take special care in selecting and matching wood color and grain for these pieces, so what you get is truly an heirloom that will remain beautiful and useful for generations.
If you are thinking about this kind of organic, solid wood furniture, be sure to check out our furniture care instructions for natural oil finishes. An oil finish doesn't take a lot of time to maintain, but if you do oil it several times during the first year or so, you'll get a great return on your investment of time as it ages. There is nothing quite like natural wood furniture with an oil finish.
So far, in an effort to define "fine furniture" we've discussed craftsmanship and the type of wood used, so now let's talk about finish. One thing most people are surprised to learn is that even though a piece of fine furniture is crafted and assembled it's a long way from being finished.
I like the way Vermont furniture maker, Bob Gasperetti of Mount Tabor puts it: "The saying that it takes 90% of the time to accomplish the last 10% of the work couldn't be more true than in handmade furniture."
He is right! I wish you could run your hand across one of Bob's table tops right now. After a piece is built, Bob sands the surface to 320 grit (this requires multiple sandings with increasingly fine sandpaper). That takes forever but there is no substitute if you're looking for the kind of smooth, supple feeling you get when touching Bob's furniture.
After sanding, Bob applies multiple coats of a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly oil until the surface of his furniture feels as smooth and soft as a baby's skin.
Some people would opine that an oil finish is the only option for "fine furniture" but as someone who doesn't like to take the time to maintain (aka re-oil and it's really no big deal, but I'm lazy) an oil finish I'll say oil is not the only option. Vermont furniture makers offer dozens of other choices, including a blend of oil and beeswax, non-toxic lacquers and even an eco-friendly clear finish made out of whey (a byproduct of our Vermont dairy industry). Copeland Furniture is once again leading the green furniture industry in the research and application of eco-friendly water=based lacquer finishes. I'll write about them next time when we wrap up this disucssion of fine furniture definitions with the topic of sustainability and karma.
Anyway, no study of fine furniture finishes would be complete without a visit to the workshops of a few fine furniture makers where you can run your hands over the furniture and compare the sensations from different finishes. Information and driving directions to the shops I've talked about (and many more) are available in the Vermont Forest Heritage brochure. If you're coming in from Boston or New York to go skiing, you'll pass by a number of them. So if there's no snow, or it's too cold to ski or if you're just too tired… take a day off and treat yourself to a tour of some of the world's best fine furniture workshops.