Category Archives: Materials

Caring for Rustic and Reclaimed Furniture

We are often asked the best way to care for rustic and reclaimed furniture as well as stick work and driftwood furnishings.  LittleBranch Farms in Tennessee has put together a little primer published by mountainiving.com with great tips to help you keep your treasures looking their best for many years to come!

Caring for Rustic and Reclaimed Furniture

Outdoor Fall Project: Pathways

Pathways are a great way to lead people into your garden area.  There are a lot of great ideas and materials available to designing and creating unique pathways that will fit your style as well as your budget!

Fall is a great time of year to get the ball rolling on this kind of project.  Often the weather is cooler, and there are fewer yard work demands on our time.  Another benefit: we have just spent the summer thinking of changes we would like to make, so the thoughts are fresh.

This is a great article from Houzz.com that can ‘walk’ you through some new ideas: Designing Garden Paths

Going Rustic

I was recently reading a blog article at www.lpostrustics.com, where the statement was made, “As our world gets more and more complex, many look to a quiet retreat reminiscent of a simpler time.” I think that is very true.  What we are seeing is people finding their way back to rustic decor, some of whom are using it in new ways.

Whether it is live edge slabs of wood being combined with more modern elements such as ironwork structures or a marriage of rustic natural wood married to painted surfaces, rustic accents are finding their way into homes where they’ve never been used before.

Live Edge Table with Aluminum Frame
Live Edge Table with Aluminum Frame

What is behind the shift?  One reason, I believe, is that there are more and more people interested in living simply. For many, that means a reconnection with nature, and bringing more nature into their everyday lives.  What better way to bring more nature into your everyday life than to incorporate all varieties of rustic furnishings into your home?

Stickwork furniture fits into this growing niche market.  The natural materials, and the very organic design of our artisan furniture brings the essence of nature into a room.  This can be accomplished through decorating an entire room with rustic furniture, or by bringing in elements to a room such as with a console table, a coffee table or a whimsical piece of home decor.

Birdhouse Plant Stand
Birdhouse Plant Stand

What are your favorite rustic elements to add to a room’s decor?

How Do I Protect My Stickwork Furniture?

There are certainly a wide array of products available on the market these days for giving your handcrafted stickwork furniture a protective coating.  Today I want to share with you the product we favor: Helmsman Spar Urethane by Minwax.  We love this product as it gives an excellent protection and it is readily available to most people.  It also comes in Gloss, Semi-Gloss and Satin finishes giving us a wide range of sheens for our artisan furniture.  Of course our focus for the product started with outdoor funiture, but I have to share that we have used it multiple times on furniture intended for indoor use, and I love the finish inside as well!

Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane
Minwax Helmsman
Spar Urethane

We often give the horizontal surfaces of our handcrafted furniture several coats of Helmsman before making them available for sale. These surfaces are the most vulnerable to standing water and UV damage which can lead to issues.  We then instruct our customers that the pieces will benefit from additional applications in the following years as a matter of maintenance.  Obviously, outdoor furniture will require more maintenance than indoor pieces.

Jeff applying Helmsman to a      Stick-a-rondack chair
Jeff applying Helmsman to a
Stick-a-rondack chair

Taking a look at the Helmsman website (http://bit.ly/1oXXAzS), it is really easy to see why we favor this product so much:

Minwax® Helmsman® Spar Urethane is specially formulated as a protective clear finish for exterior or interior wood exposed to sunlight, water, or temperature changes.

  • Contains UV blockers to reduce the sun’s graying and fading effects.
  • Forms a protective barrier against rain and moisture.
  • Special oils allow the finish to expand and contract with the wood as seasons and temperatures change.
  • Ideal for use on doors, windows, trim, bathroom cabinets, bar tops, kitchen countertops, outdoor furniture.

Here’s a sample of our Stickwork furniture to which we have given several coats of Helmsman Spar Urethane…

rack3 LIChairs2.5

Inspiring!

After spending time with my family this past weekend doing chores together and then enjoying a hike together in the woods, I started thinking about what inspires me.

Nature is certainly inspiring to me! During freeform3.1our hike, I spotted an interesting display of wild grapevines. The way the vines come out of the ground and reach for the sunlight is exactly the kind of scene that prompted several pieces I have made.

The Garden Art Chair has some wild grapevines on it. These elements take stickwork in an interesting direction as the vines have so much more curvature to them than typically found in sticks from trees. I like it!

Wooing Bench
Wooing Bench

The Wooing Bench was probably the first piece of stickwork furniture that I made that really incorporated the natural materials with very little alteration. The arched pieces used in the back of this bench were roots that had worked their way to the surface of the ground as the tree above had fallen.

The Hobbit Chair was a small-ish whimsical chair that sprouted from a collectionHobbit-chair of branches standing together.

The need for relaxation is also inspiring for me. I love making furniture that people use while relaxing: by the firepit, in the garden, next to a lake, or enjoying the company of others.

The Fire Pit Sit series of chairs has been a blast to make! From those with horse’s heads to the very rustic and redneck version, people have loved these little chairs specifically for the fact that they sit low to the ground – the best position by the fire!

Fire Pit Sit Chairs
Fire Pit Sit Chairs

Our Stick-a-rondack chairs are based on the well-loved LIchair2.2design on the Adirondack chair. Whether enjoying a relaxing moment in the summer breeze, or watching over the lake, or sitting around a fire, these chairs are a perpetual favorite.

We’d love to hear what inspires you!

Favorite Tools – Hewing Hatchet

I have several favorite tools – all of which have very specific jobs to do in the making of my handcrafted Stickwork furniture.  Today I want to show off my hewing hatchet.

Hewing Hatchet
Hewing Hatchet

I use this tool for many jobs.  The job it has been doing most recently has been to “shave” the bark off branches that I am going to be using on some Stick-a-rondack chairs.  It does a fabulous job separating the bark from the branch wood.  So what makes this tool special?  What makes it different than a regular hatchet?

If you look closely, you will see that this hewing hatchet has one side (the left side) that has a flat

Flat side of hewing hatchet
Flat side of hewing hatchet

surface.  Sometimes this is called a flat hatchet, this flat side helps ensure that the natural materials retain their rustic look.

Here’s a little video of this tool in action:

The Stick-a-rondack: Our Version of the Adirondack

Stick-a-rondack Chair
Stick-a-rondack Chair

Did you know that the Adirondack chair used to have a different name and was first created in 1903?

These chairs were originally called Westport chairs as they were created for a vacation home in Westport, New York by Thomas Lee.  He wanted to create a chair that would work well on the hillsides of the Adirondack region and that was comfortable, durable and stable.

Our handcrafted Stickwork version of the Adirondack style chair carries on the characteristics of being comfortable, durable and stable.

Stickarondack Chair, Walnut sticks
Stickarondack Chair, Walnut sticks

We have maintained the classic angled seat for comfort, we utilize great materials such as Locust and Walnut to provide the durability.  The stability of the chairs comes from both the overall brilliant original design and is enhanced by the strength of the screws we use to assemble the chairs.

The Stick-a-rondack is our creative interpretation of the Adirondack chair.  Because of the natural materials we use, each chair is a one-of-a-kind item.  The branches used for the framework of our chairs are evaluated for the most desirable placement to provide the strongest support for the rest of the chair.

Walnut Slab Stick-a-rondack Chair
Walnut Slab Stick-a-rondack Chair

In addition, the branches are fitted together to create unique and pleasing designs whenever and where ever possible.

The seats and backs of our Stick-a-rondacks have been crafted with a variety of designs.  We have used slabs hand cut from trees, hand-hewn materials, as well as all sticks.

Stick-a-rondack made from hand-hewn materials
Stick-a-rondack made from hand-hewn materials

Perhaps one of the often overlooked parts of a typical chair, the backs of our Stick-a-rondacks are given specific artistic detail.  Every chair has a unique application of branches, creating one-of-a-kind Stickwork furniture art.

View of back,  Stick-a-rondack
View of back,
Stick-a-rondack

After 110 years, this style of chair is still one of the most popular.  The ability to utilize the basic design coupled with unique interpretations certainly makes it one of our most popular items and one of our personal favorites!

Springing Ahead

This term, “Springing Ahead” is usually used to refer to the upcoming time change for most parts of the country.  In our shop, it has a different meaning (but don’t forget to change your clocks this weekend anyway!)

We are looking forward to spring just like (most) everyone else.  Our Spring brings a change in activity.  All winter Jeff has been making slabs – those long rustic boards – in preparation for making items that have horizontal surfaces, such as desks and baker’s racks, side tables and sometimes he uses these slabs for the seats and backs of chairs.

Hand Made Boards Drying
Hand Made Boards Drying

Once they are cut, he then places them in stacks, “stickering” them, so that they can dry evenly with optimum air flow all around them.

Many of our slabs have been cut from Black Locust and Honey Locust.  Slabs really show off the beautiful grain within the wood.

Honey Locust Slabs Cut and Ready to Dry
Honey Locust Slabs
Cut and Ready to Dry

So, in Spring, we change gears from the cutting and drying of the slabs to the planning of our event calendar as well as getting into the shop to start creating more stickwork furniture.  It has been a while since he made a rocker, so Jeff says that is one item on his to-do list.

Spring also brings invitations and applications for events to our mailbox.  We are sorting through the invitations for 2014.  We are excited to see the variety of events to consider. Now we have to make the decisions!

What is that Wood? Black Walnut

One of the first woods we had available to us when we relocated to North Central Ohio was Black Walnut.  As it turned out, the property where we live has several Black Walnut trees and there were literally dozens of branches on the ground as the result of high winds.  As we collected the branches, we decided what to keep to try using in our stickwork furniture.

“Black walnut is highly prized for its dark-colored, true heartwood. It is heavy and strong, yet easily split and worked. Walnut wood has historically been used for gunstocks, furniture, flooring, paddles”, states Wikipedia.org.  We love the rich color the wood develops as it is exposed to the air and elements.

Stickarondack Chair, Walnut sticks
Stickarondack Chair, Walnut sticks

One of our first pieces was what we like to call a Stickarondack – essentially it is an Adirondack style chair made using all smaller sticks and branches for the seat and back of the chair.  The chair has a very rustic look and feel to it, making it fit quite well into any rustic decor, whether it be cabin, mountain, or primitive.  Because it is based on the Adirondack style chair, it also works quite well in a cottage or beach setting.

Walnut Adirondack Chair
Walnut Adirondack Chair

We also wanted to use some of the Black Walnut to make slabs and see what the same style chair would look like using those slabs in place of the sticks.  As it turns out, slabs work quite well!  They give the chair a “beefier” presence.  Somehow, it just seemed right to add some antlers to this chair!

Another of our first pieces was a side table which used narrow slabs cut from some of those branches.  The slabs provided both a smooth, level surface for the table, as well as some unique character because of the way the slabs fit together.

Black Walnut Side Table
Black Walnut Side Table

Black Walnut is a great wood for our handcrafted, artisan Stickwork Furniture!