Character Wood - The story of a tree
The use of character wood dovetails beautifully with our design instincts, our love of the outdoors and our environmental sensibilities. Character wood tells the story of a tree, of dry summers, wet springs, storms, fires, wildlife activity, rich soils, or difficult growing sites. Grain textures reveal a history of growing conditions. Knots found near the center of the tree are the beginnings of branches formed when the tree was a sapling. Mineral streaks spring from injuries, insect or animal activity.
Occasionally, we find spile holes in maple boards, an indication that the tree was tapped for sap to make maple syrup. Wood changes color around those holes. Knots and their surrounding grain have a deep, soft radiance when sanded and finished properly. Character wood has a remarkable range of color, from cream and salmon to auburn and chocolate. The beauty of nature is found, not in its regularity, but in its rich variety of shapes, textures and colors. This array of character lends a richness and vitality to the simple forms found in our furniture.
Those things that make character wood interesting and unique also make it challenging to use. It requires careful selection, particular attention to drying and shaping and precise sanding. It’s worth the extra care.
Character wood is also an important piece of sustainable forest management. In the Northeast, character wood is a significant part of sustainable harvests. Its uses have included firewood, paper pulp, railroad ties, and pallets. As the Northeast’s paper mills relocate, and pallets are increasingly recycled or made of plastic, markets for character wood weaken. Making furniture with character wood increases the value of the trees this wood comes from, which gives foresters and landowners more choices in their management strategies.
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