Exploring the Beauty of Grain in Painting

We do our best to design furniture that inspires our clients as they rethink their vision for their home’s interiors. Every detail provides an opportunity to take the piece to the next level. Wood selection is as important as any other decision we make. Since starting in 1982, Brian has personally selected every log we work with. Buying and managing wood is a lot like running a fish market. We don’t always catch the same thing when we look for logs; sometimes, we get lucky and land exceptionally delicious material. This spring is just such a time.

High-grade Ambrosia maple has proven to be a really tough wood to find. While the Ambrosia beetle (the insect responsible for the figure in Ambrosia Maple) chews holes in thousands of trees all over the Appalachian region, they usually kill the tree before it is figured enough to work for our furniture. That makes the maple trees that we look for a rare find. Even when we find workable logs in this maple variant, the yield of matching boards is meager. Usually, we can use 20% or less of even the best trees for our furniture. Well, it’s been a good spring, and we have a nice collection of Ambrosia maple drying in the shop now, waiting to become Sonus guitar chairs, Lily barstools, or accents in larger case goods.

ambrosia maple chair - Brian Boggs Chairmakers

Sometimes we find spectacular woods we weren’t looking for but can’t resist. We put these in our “catch of the day” category. We have some amazingly figured “Bee’s Wing Cherry” we brought in from northern PA a couple of months ago. Brian just happened to catch this log in the corner of his eye while we were walking by looking for walnut. We knew this one belonged in our shop, so we purchased the whole log. The figure is amazingly chatoyant and consistent throughout the log. This is not something we would easily find if looking for it. This one found us as most extraordinary logs do.

bees wing cherry wood - Brian Boggs Chairmakers

Some woods just can’t be found in a typical search. Those just show up once in a long while, sometimes once in a lifetime. One particular boxelder log did just that last fall and is now sawn and dry and waiting to show off its figure. Boxelder does not usually get all that big, or form a good log, and usually has just a few streaks of red near its heart. But this tree measured 24” at the small end of a reasonably straight 10’ log with few defects. What’s more impressive about this individual tree is the amount of red throughout the lumber. Boxelder is a fairly soft and light wood (slightly harder than poplar) which makes for a great seat and back material for our Sonus guitar chairs. Boxelder can also be used as accent wood in case pieces. We’ll undoubtedly hold this material for special projects. I have never seen Boxelder like this in my 41 years as a chairmaker.

boxelder wood chair - Brian Boggs Chairmakers

In addition to some spectacularly figured catches, we also need some wood with very straight grain and specific grain orientations to support much of our work. Sometimes a calm aesthetic is needed to complete a room. Buying whole logs and custom-sawing them allows us to control the quality of the trees we work with and the exact orientation of the boards they yield. Large trees allow us to make two-board table tops, and younger trees with long grain and faster growth give us the strength and elasticity we need for steam-bending chair parts. We feel honored to have such access to this full spectrum our forests offer. We also feel obligated to return this honor by making every piece worthy of the magnificent trees that were felled for our artistry.

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