Lumber meets finished furniture
Chris Bingaman first met George by working for his father’s lumber business, Bingaman & Sons Lumber. For many years, George would purchase raw lumber used to make the high-quality solid hardwood furniture at George’s Woodcrafts. George worked with Max, Chris’ father, to identify the group of logs that were cut to George’s particular order. Black walnut was a favor of George and is still in high demand, especially as a recently developed technique, using both the natural heartwood and sapwood of black walnut wood called Walnut Blend was made available.
Walnut Blend on Table with clear water resistant finish repelling water.
The coveted Pennsylvania cherry and red oak are in high demand, harvested by Bingaman & Sons from the ever-expanding forests of Pennsylvania. Over the years, Chris enjoyed sharing his love for natural wood and the harvest of timber. He also appreciates the quality of craftsmanship exhibited by George’s craftsmen.
Gifts for employees
As a special gift to their retiring employees, the company purchases George’s famous non- tip rocking chair. Several times, George’s employees have toured the lumber saw mill and wood drying kilns. A great way to integrate of raw lumber and finished product.
Designed to space requirements
Chris upgraded his sales office by specially ordering a large executive desk. He worked with our designers to bring his ideas and unique space needs to reality. Delivering the desk presented another challenge. The hallways were narrow with tight corners. Up the stairs and around a hairpin curve. We designed the desk with the office layout in mind. Now Chris enjoys helping customers surrounded with natural cherry grain of his executive desk.
George’s designer came and measured the space I had to use and worked with me to create a design that served all the functions I hoped for. When the desk arrived, it exceeded my expectations! It is a beautiful piece that brings a “wow” response to everyone who visits my office and it is the most enjoyable work station I have ever experienced. I am an extremely satisfied customer!!! – Chris Bingaman
Stackable Chair design
When Chris and his wife redecorated their home, they came with a unique style of dining chair. They worked with our designers to develop a new style of chair that continued the strength and comfort of George’s chairs. Another challenge of long tables is where to store all the chairs between dinner parties. A design for sturdy, stackable chairs emerged and now stands in their closet awaiting the next large gathering. The stackable chairs are stacked in groups of 5 chairs taking the space of 32x21x42h. They are available in black walnut (pictured), cherry, red oak or maple hardwood. A number of different stain colors are available.
Can’t keep it quiet
The quality and natural grain of solid wood is hard to keep quiet. Customers like Chris are sharing their love for wood and superb craftsmanship with the guest at home and the customers they meet. Come see our two showrooms and woodworking shop to see what the talk is all about. You will be amazed and see firsthand why quality speaks for itself.
George’s legacy began in 1970, in a 8×12 ft shed in the back yard. A small collection of hand and powered tools along with raw lumber started the foundation that turned a hobby into a thriving business. While he worked at a local sawmill, he collected his own raw lumber by cutting some trees at a neighbor’s property, taking the logs to a sawmill, and drying the wood in a neighbor’s barn. Once the wood was dried properly, George took his natural talent and blessed his wife with handmade furniture.
First legacy furniture style
The first style of furniture George made depended on the small number of tools that were in his tool collection. The louvered doors and live edge shelves permeated the first furniture crafted. George used a 2×2 ft table saw to cut the slats for the louvered door panels and fit them into the door frame. A hand-held drill served as a hole maker for the 8 sized rungs. The table saw helped him made the 8-sided rungs. By turning his hand held belt sander upside down and wedging it into a vice grip he created a way to sand a taper into each rung end.
First woods used
Walnut and butternut wood were the first species of wood that George used for his furniture. Walnut wood contains a natural dark and light sections to the wood grain. The first 15 years of new growth is blond in color before it turns into a dark brown color. This is known as the sapwood and heart wood of a tree. Since Butternut wood naturally looks blond like walnut sapwood, George chose to use butternut wood for the shelves and the live edge of walnut for the rest of the furniture.
First piece created
In 1970, George designed and built a live edge bookcase with open shelves and storage below. Without the equipment to make raised panel doors, he utilized the antique louvered construction for doors and the back. Two thin rungs behind the doors provided a place to store vinyl records. On the bottom of the bookcase, we noticed that George used a yellow lumber crayon (tough, non-fade, water resistant crayon used in the forestry industry.) for signing his signature along with the date and place of construction. His typical signature included his first two initials and ended with his last name. The place was Lancaster county, PA. The written year finished the personal identification of authenticity.
After a fruitless search for a high-chair, George shocked Ava Lee by announcing his plan to make a high-chair for his young daughter. Chairs are one of the most difficult pieces of furniture to design and create for durability and longevity. Making the rungs, contouring the seat, designing the tray, drilling the precise angles, and assembling all the parts is quite an engineering feat. Georges presented the new highchair to their first daughter upon its completion. Later each child did their best to escape the grips of the highchair tray. Some even fell asleep.
Additional items in legacy collection
For Christmas of 1972, George designed a stereo cabinet to house the record player and stereo unit that he gifted to his wife, Ava Lee as a wedding present. The cabinet held the record player, two large speakers, and media storage. On the record player lid, it is inscribed, “To My Beloved Family for Christmas of 1972.” GBMartin, Lancaster County, PA, in lead pencil, protected by a water-resistant finish. Several other items in the original collection are live edge end tables, coffee table, and a small bench.
Next came tables and chairs
Once a highchair design was complete, the next step was dining chairs. Continuing the 8-sided rungs and contours seat, George built his first dining chair for Ava Lee, Christmas of 1971. He enlisted the services of Ebersole’s chair shop for steam bending of the chair backs. As a result of one completed chair the rest of the chair set arrived for Ava Lee’s birthday in January 1972. While their first daughter enjoyed the handmade highchair, she was pushed out by a second child. However, this created a problem because she could not comfortably sit on a regular chair and eat at the table. No problem, dad to the rescue. Soon a child’s chair arrived that was an intermediate height between a highchair and regular chair.
The second child also brought another want; a rocking chair. Good to his promise of providing for his family, George met another engineering challenge head on. He created not only a comfortable rocking chair with all its unique angles but also a rocker that does not tip over. The first rocker showed up on Valentines day for Ava Lee, 1972. The second rocking chair with arms was signed “To my beloved family 1972, GBMartin, Lancaster County, PA.” 1974 brought the creation of the first table, a 42 inch square walnut 4 legged table. However when the family needed a larger table, George converted the table into an extension table and donated it to Heartsease Home, a girls home in New York City.
Explore the museum
Our second showroom displays many of the original furniture designed and created by George Martin. Meet our Founder, George Martin as he talks (videos) about the different processes of making furniture. Visit our furniture store and wood shop soon for a personal look at the quality and craftsmanship that George passed onto his craftsmen.
High Chair Designed
There is a saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”. George and I spent our first year of marriage in the mountains of West Virginia. While there, I became pregnant with our first child. After spending a year there, we moved back to Elizabethtown in November 1969. George got a job at a saw mill where he learned about grades of hardwood lumber. In April our daughter, Juanita, was born. When she learned to sit up, George and I went shopping for a high chair. After a discouraging time of searching and not finding one that we liked, George said, “I think I will make one.” I looked at him in disbelief.
“I think I will make one.”
“Oh yes, George”, I said, “I know that you can make things with wood, but a high chair with a tray? That seems quite complicated.” Well, I have learned not to question my husband when he says he will do something, because there isn’t much that he won’t try and with success. The high chair that he built has survived 4 children and is now in the historical section of the showroom. When we have family dinners that require 2 high chairs, it comes into my house to be used for one of my grandchildren.
Child’s High Chair legacy
After making the high chair, George made chairs for our table, replacing the folding chairs that we had received as a wedding gift. Soon after that, he designed the rocking chair that will not tip over. Then he went on to design chairs of all sizes to go with the tables he was making, arm chairs and an intermediate chair for children ages 3-8. There were swivel chairs for the bar and later, when they began making desks, swivel desk chairs. All chairs are made with a 2 inch plank bottom seat shaped for comfort, designed for strength.
It all began because our daughter needed a high chair.