Shaker Furniture: What’s the Wood of Choice?

Shaker Furniture:  The wood of choice is cherry
Back in the 19 century, the original Shakers built their furniture with woods harvested from their own land, including maple, walnut, oak, cherry, beech, poplar and ash.  What’s your favorite wood species for Shaker style furniture?

We’re in the middle of a Shaker furniture sale and I can’t help but notice that almost all the pieces customers have bought have been of a single wood species.  We offer a choice of four woods on most of our furniture:  maple, cherry, oak and walnut.  Which one do you think is the favorite?

Back in the 19 century, the original Shakers built their furniture with woods harvested from their own land.  According to Nancy Fischer of BuildDirectBlog, “In the east, this included pine, maple, ash, birch, cherry, hickory and butternut. In the west, walnut, cherry, beech and poplar were used”.

Today’s most popular wood (amongst our customers, anyway) for Shaker furniture is indeed one of those nine woods used 150 years ago.  Hint:  it’s the wood shown in the photo.  OK, it’s cherry wood.  I’m not sure why cherry has stormed itself to the top of the best seller list so forcefully but it is a beautiful wood.  Woodworkers love it because it’s easy to work with, stains and finishes well with natural oil, and ages beautifully.

Customers love cherry’s  clean grain and reddish-brown color that develops a rich patina over time.  The fact that cherry wood lasts forever (as demonstrated by some of the valuable antique Shaker furniture originating in Vermont and New England) doesn’t hurt either.

Which wood do you like best for Shaker style furniture?  Let us know on our Facebook or comment below.

 

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Forests, Furniture and the Future

Forests, Furniture and The Future
Check out The Nature Conservancy’s info-graphic to see where your furniture, flooring, coffee, paper and other forest products come from and learn what you can do to help save the rainforest.

Our sustainable furniture company was founded in 2005 on a mission of forest conservation.  I had been studying rainforest conservation for years and wanted to see if I could do something to help change this startling statistic:

Every second of every minute of every day…

We lose over 1 acre of rainforest.  Permanently.

Several years prior to starting Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture I had formed a non-profit corporation with the same mission (rainforest conservation) but I was never really able to get the funding I needed to lift it off the ground.  So our wood furniture company was built as a for-profit corporation to help accomplish the same goals.

It’s not always easy to explain why a Vermont based fine furniture company is so committed to rainforest conservation.  When I saw this info-graphic, Forests and the Green Economy (courtesy of The Nature Conservancy) I thought it might help.  Here are a few rainforest facts that might surprise you:

  • More than half of the planet’s species live in the rainforest even though the rainforest only occupies about 2% of the earth’s surface
  • Many of our favorite iconic species are critically endangered due to deforestation, including all species of big cats and all species of big apes
  • An estimated 137 species of plants and animals are driven into extinction every day due to deforestation
  • Rainforest deforestation contributes as much to global warming as the sum of all the cars, trains and planes in the world
  • Rainforests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover <6%
  • If deforestation continues at this rate, the rainforests could be gone in < 40 years and once they’re gone, they are gone forever.  Rainforests do not regenerate the way our Northern temperate forests do

The Nature Conservancy summarizes this and other compelling facts about the rainforest in their info-graphic.  Along with the World Wildlife Fund they are among the world’s best hopes for saving the rainforest.  Check out their info-graphic and learn about ways you can help everyday through your choices of food, paper, furniture, flooring and other forest products.

At Vermont Woods Studios we donate $1 for every sale to the Nature Conservancy’s Plant a Billion Trees project and run occasional benefits to support non-profits that work to save the rainforest and it’s inhabitants.  Learn more about our work in the Mission section of our blog and website.

 

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Best Seller Alert: Metal and Wood Furniture

Contemporary Cable Bedroom Furniture | Wood and Metal Design
With it’s creative combination of wood and metal, the Contemporary Cable Bedroom Furniture set is a best seller among interior designers looking to furnish renovated industrial spaces that are now upscale apartments and condos.

Metal and Wood Furniture Design

We introduced our eco-friendly Contemporary Cable Collection just a couple weeks ago but this high end, modern metal and wood furniture is already becoming a best seller.  Customers shopping for a unique blend of Vermont style craftsmanship and sophisticated urban design are studying this furniture set.  They like the clean look, the inlaid aluminum accent bars and the braided stainless steel drawer pulls.

Metal and Wood Furniture | Modern Bedroom Set | American Made in Vermont
This handcrafted Contemporary Cable Bedroom Furniture Collection features real solid cherry wood construction, aluminum accent bars inlaid into drawer fronts and braided stainless steel drawer pulls.  The combination of wood and metal is a creative solution for interior designers looking to add warmth to renovated industrial spaces and loft apartments.

Warm Wooden Furniture Meets Renovated Industrial Factory Spaces

One of our designer friends found this solid wood furniture to be the perfect answer for clients who are moving into a renovated factory space in Montreal.  Their luxury apartment has concrete floors and exposed metal duct work suspended from an 18 foot tall ceiling.  The owners wanted high end, natural wood furniture to warm up their space but they also wanted to incorporate some of the post-industrial character of the room.  The combination of solid wood, aluminum inlays and stainless steel cable drawer pulls in the furniture set brings the whole design concept together.

Contemporary Cable Bed | High End Wood and Metal Furniture | Sustainable | Handmade
The combination of solid cherry wood, a natural hand-rubbed oil finish and braided stainless steel lines across the headboard and foot board of the Contemporary Cable Bed pulls together typical wood and metal design elements of renovated industrial factory spaces.

Green Design Considerations

The fact that the Contemporary Cable Collection is built with sustainably harvested wood and finished with a natural hand-rubbed oil was also important to these home owners.  They had made conscious decisions to go green in their selection of a renovated dwelling that was part of a neighborhood revitalization project.  So handmade, natural furniture fits into the green lifestyle they are embracing.

What do you think about this metal and wood furniture?  Would it fit into your bedroom design?

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Natural Cherry Wood Furniture Characteristics: Mineral Deposits

natural cherry wood
Our American Shaker Large Sideboard in natural cherry wood.

Let’s talk about natural cherry wood furniture.

Today I wanted to provide some detail about naturally occurring mineral deposits that are a characteristic of cherry.

In cherry wood small black flecks occur in the grain where tiny amounts of sap were stored in the cherry tree.

natural cherry wood
You can see on these panels the little pockets where sap once lived.

Mineral deposits (or pitch pockets) are natural and randomly occurring.  They do not diminish the strength or quality of your furniture.  As we say: they add to its uniqueness.

The frequency of mineral deposits in our furniture varies with each tree utilized but it is largely reflected in the product photos here and throughout our website.  Like any other fine furniture maker we cannot guarantee the absence of mineral deposits in our cherry wood furniture and we cannot consider the presence of mineral deposits a reason for furniture returns, per our lifetime guarantee policy.

natural cherry wood
Our Loft Bedroom Collection in natural cherry wood. Note the mineral deposits on the two bottom left drawers of the dresser.

Looking for Cherry Furniture with Virtually No Mineral Deposits?

Most of our furniture makers are reluctant to offer cherry furniture without mineral deposits for a couple reasons. First, it is against our sustainable forestry principles.  Up to five times the number of trees need to be harvested to produce furniture with virtually no mineral deposits.  Second, the presence of mineral deposits in cherry wood can be a matter of opinion.  What one customer might feel was mineral-deposit free furniture may not be the same for another customer.

If mineral deposits are an issue for you, give us a call.  We’ll work something out… although I should mention that the price of a “virtually mineral deposit-free” piece is generally about twice that of the regular piece.

natural cherry wood

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This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.