Chair Making Process
Woody’s hand-made chairs are crafted in the same shop the Woody Brothers built back in 1946. They designed the layout for increased productivity, and what worked then still works today. It’s easy to believe you’ve stepped into a museum when you first see the tools and equipment because many have been in use since the 1800’s.
Each piece of equipment plays an important role in the chair making process. There’s a lathe, manufactured in the late 1800’s, that is still used for chair post designs. A mortis machine, equally as old, that still cuts out the rectangular slots in the chair posts. It’s critical for our business to keep these tools operational. Since many manufacturers have long since gone out of business, replacement parts must often times be made from scratch.
So what makes a Woody’s chair so special? …It’s the care and pride that goes into each chair and the 200+ years of dedication to crafting the finest hand-made chairs possible.
It all begins with using only choice indigenous Appalachian hardwoods. Cherry, black walnut, maple, oak and ash logs are responsibly harvested from local green sources and then milled into chair stock at our shop.
Aging the Wood
Woody’s Chair Shop acquires wood “on the stump” and then mills the logs to appropriate specifications. These boards will stay outside and dry naturally, for up to two years. This allows the wood to age over time which is what gives our chairs their strength and rich color.
Bending the Wood
At the heart of our process is the method that has been handed down for generations for the bending of the back slats. The wood stock is put into a huge drum of water and brought to a boil. Adding moisture and heat to the wood allows us to bend the slats and place them into frames. The slats take weeks to dry naturally before we cut out the precise size of the back piece of the chair.
No Glue. No Nails.
Our chairs are considered greenwood. This means that no glue or nails are used in the weight-bearing parts of the chair. The chair is held together entirely by the shrinking and expanding of the wood. This is how you can tell you have an authentic Woody’s chair.
Before assembly, each piece is given a hand-rubbed oil finish while spinning in a lathe. This is the equivalent of several years of ordinary waxing and polishing and brings out the natural beauty of the wood. The finish is almost indestructible and will withstand years of normal wear and tear without chipping or scratching. Any scuff marks can be removed with a good paste wax and the finish will become deeper and even more beautiful with time.
The chair seats are a woven textile fiber sealed with a coat of clear shellac. We also offer, as an option, seats woven of Shaker tape, that can be made to your specifications, both in design and color. The seats are comfortable and, at the same time, very long-lasting. Should the seat ever be damaged, they are easily replaced.
For over 200 years, this is how we have created the Woody’s handmade chairs that have become an American tradition.