Recently Carl and Chris Geeseman returned to our showroom after three decades of enjoying the furniture built by George. Like so many of our customers, they wanted to share the memories of George. The memories started back in the 1970’s. Carl worked for Highspire lumber yard. Lumber yard typically cut the trees in the forest and transport them to a sawmill. They are looking for straight long trees. A good veneer log needs to be clear of bark, metal, knots, and blemishes.
Metal is a big concern for logs that come from a residential area where metal hardware, bullets or even a forgotten metal screwdriver, hammer or animal trap discarded in the fork of a tree. Each year the tree grows a metal object will become embedded into the wood and unable to be withdrawn. The metal object will leave a scar and their minerals will seep into the wood. Not only does metal scar the wood it destroys.
Scars and destroys
Along comes a saw blade, cuts through the metal, or goes around the hook and the expensive blade loses its teeth or even destroyed. Metal can shut down a sawmill resulting a loss of time and money. Bandsaw blades are 12 feet long and 1 ft wide. They are razor thin and thousands of dollars. Lumber jacks look at the outside bark for marks or scars that shows healing from metal objects or use metal detectors to find metal. Think twice before hooking a wash line, swing, or sign to a tree. They are alive and growing.
George’s treasure pile
Highspire lumber piled their cut offs like bark, knots, rotten wood etc. aside and sold the straight boards to their customers. George loved to come and rummage through the cut off pile looking for unique knots, grain twists, chain saw wedges, rotten tree butts and odd shaped pieces of wood for his next project. Walnut and cherry were his favorite. Some cross cuts turned into coffee tables, end tables, Lamp bases, or even crosscut critters (a crosscut with a hole in the middle from where the hollow tree healed itself.)
Filling the House
Carl and Chris Geeseman started their furniture collection in 1980’s with a table set, dry sink and hutch. Next a bedroom set. Later as the family grew it was time for the kids’ room, a single bed, dresser and child’s play table and chairs. Then another bed, chest of drawers and nightstands. Next it was dad’s turn with a nice rolltop desk with finished back and swivel desk chair. As the family grew so did the table. Time to order more table leaves.
During family get togethers Carl and his brother would haul their table leaves to the other’s house. Since both brothers had tables from George’s, the table leaves fit together nicely. A curious situation happened. I discovered a leaf storage box with two different colored table leaves in our shop. The two brothers completed their 8-leaf table set by ordering 4 leaves each. Now the hassle of loading up the table leaves in the car was no longer needed. All 29 people crowd around the table and enjoy the comfort of family. A fun game the Geeseman children play is lining up the little child’s chairs and playing school bus.
Sharing the quality
That is not all the furniture in the Geeseman household. 2 high chairs served the growing family. Chris said that their kids sat in the high chairs so long until they no longer fit in between the arms. Chris stopped using the high chairs when she got tired explaining to the kid’s friends why the kids still sat in high chairs. The high chairs have endured 3 kids, and 5 grandchildren. Other items like rocking chairs (child and adult), quilt rack, cradle, Jewelry box, benches and round end table found their way into the home. There is room for more. Maybe a new bed.
Explore, Watch and Design
Join the Geeseman family and many customers over the 50+ years in their experience with Georges fine craftsmen and quality handcrafted furniture. Everyone worked with our designers to create the perfect piece that meets every need and endures hard use of family and friends. Begin creating your unique living space, designed, and built right in Lancaster County, PA. Explore ideas on our website, watch the wood shop in action (YouTube) and see what possibilities await discovery.
In the mean time, we have created this handy checklist on how to spot high-quality furniture. Down the checklist here so you know what to avoid in your furniture shopping. An informed mind will bring great results.
Download your Guide to High-Quality Furniture
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.
Birth of quality furniture
George first began his business in 1972. He made furniture in an old dairy barn wood shop and marketed it at a small stand in Lancaster County. The Gurnsey Barn, was a local venue for country music and local theater nestled along the tourist stretch of Route 30. It was there that George met many tourists and his customer based expanded throughout the east coast.
Wood Shop Tour began
While the customers loved the quality they also wanted to watch the furniture building process. So, in the late 1980’s, George transformed on old 5 car garage, on the farm, into a showroom. The wood shop and showroom together invites the public to watch the craftsman building wooden heirlooms. Tour the wood shop and discover the thought and the skilled design each piece of furniture receives. The craftsman signs and dates his carefully created heirlooms.
Bus, motorcycle, airplane
Many people visiting Lancaster County enjoy the excursion through the rolling farmland of western Lancaster County. They tour the wood shop and purchase solid wood furniture created to their specifications. Although customers often come by car, motorcycle or tour bus, some more adventuresome ones have arrived by bike. They follow the many historical bike routes throughout the county. One couple even landed their small plane at a local airport 5 minutes from George’s Furniture to place their order for furniture.
So with access to the internet, Georgesfurniturepa.com contains videos about how our furniture is made. Explore the many samples of quality furniture, to inspire new furniture design. Although the website contains a lot of pictures to view, it is only a small sampling of the furniture we make. Each piece of furniture is carefully designed, allowing for the natural wood to adjust to moisture changes. Then it is assigned a skilled craftsman to build. The final step is the application of the craftsman’s signature and dated. Bring in your own ideas and George’s craftsmen will bring those dreams to a reality.
What do you love about your antique furniture? Sentimentality & nostalgia. Those nostalgic feelings probably trigger wonderful memories with your family. Maybe it reminds you of visiting for Christmas as a child or bringing your children over to play baseball in the yard with their grandparents. That is why it is so important to craft furniture that can withstand the years, the memories, the horseplay so you & your families can have visible mementos of those experiences. (Plus, it helps that our furniture is also super comfortable & durable!)
Even though antique furniture lasts longer than low quality furniture it also deteriorates. Some of the biggest causes of weakness in antique furniture include poor adjustability to extremes in humidity, weak joints or low-quality workmanship. In fact, today I want to share with you 3 of the biggest issues we see in antique furniture & how we design our furniture differently to avoid those problems.
Challenge 1: Humidity
One of the most common issues you may see in wood antique furniture is wear & tear due to changing humidity. Dry Forced Air heat will dry out furniture in the winter while damp summer weather provides extra moisture. Considering these two extremes, we specifically craft our wood furniture to handle changing humidity levels.
Because solid wood furniture is always expanding and contracting to adjust to the humidity levels of the environment, all joints are constructed with movement in mind. Wood is dried in George’s kilns and furniture is constructed in a humidity-controlled environment similar to most homes. This helps the furniture expand and contract as one unit with the seasonal changes of the environment. When the furniture can respond to humidity as one unit, it is more protected from warping or weakness.
Challenge 2: Weak joints
Let’s talk about rung joints. Maybe not a typical topic of conversation unless you have ever tried to pick up a chair where the back comes off in your hand or sat in a chair and the rung pops out leaving your chair in pieces. Aside from the frustration & inconvenience, this can become an expensive situation when your only solution is gluing the rungs for the rest of its life or replacing the chair. We avoid this situation from the beginning with our method of attaching rung joints.
On chairs where it is necessary to use glue rather than screws to keep joints together, each rung is hand-sanded to fit tightly in its hole. The joints are so tight that the chair can hold the weight of an adult even before any glue is applied to the joints. The glue is applied to the hole with a small paintbrush and the chair is clamped tightly together, forcing the glue throughout the pores of the wood.
George’s chairs do not need to be treated with special care to maintain their strength. They have held up over years of workmen leaning back on them during break time and children using the back of them for makeshift sliding boards. On the few occasions over the years when chairs have needed repair, it typically is due to a damaged rung rather than a loose joint.
Challenge 3: Warped wood
One final way we see weakness in antique furniture is simply due to thickness and the support of the wood. We have broken down our process of selecting & preparing the wood in this blog about our complete handcrafted method. The thicker the board the better however anything over 12 inches in width needs to be supported by a table skirt, wooden batten or toeboard. Learn about solid wood bottoms of the dresser drawers, the strength of a dining room table, & even in the durability of our non-tip rockers.
George’s commitment to solid wood construction has always included solid wood drawer bottoms. As a result, you don’t have to worry about drawer bottoms coming apart due to the weight of the contents in the drawers. In fact, George’s creative grandchildren have even used drawers as hiding places without harming the furniture!
Strong construction extends into the tables – even when fully extended to 21 feet. The strength of George’s extension tables was tested. The first idea of placing a small vehicle on top of the extension table was considered. The logistics of how to get a vehicle on the table was abandoned for a new idea of standing people on the table. The final result of the strength test placed 14 people (1887 lbs.) on top of the table and the table stood strong. The center leg supports the center of the table without interfering with your guest’s legs. The Pentagon even commissioned one of our extension tables for their conference room!
You can especially see the strength of high-quality wood in our non-tip rockers. When George was small, he was having so much fun rocking in his rocking chair that he tipped it right over. After recovering from the fall, he promised his mother that he would build a rocker that would not tip over. George built that rocker and now there are 7 different sizes from a child’s rocker to a rocker for the large people (300-400 lbs.) Large or small, tall or short, there is a rocker designed for you that does not tip over.
Ready for strong, heirloom furniture that does not wear with age or bad construction?
George’s unwavering commitment to building strong, hardwood, heirloom furniture continues with each new design. Each piece is signed and dated by its maker and finished with a water-resistant finish. Bring your ideas and desires for functional furniture and George’s craftsmen will make those dreams come true. And the best place to start when you are dreaming up your perfect dining set is knowing what to look out for. Start with our “Guide on How To Spot Quality Furniture” & give us a call as soon as you are ready to jump in to designing your own high-quality furniture.
Your living space will be inviting for guests and family with our variety of quality Entertainment Centers and TV Stands. Each style boasts elegance and longevity as a perfect addition to your living room for family movie nights or watching games with friends.
These buffets are adjustable and provide shelving for easy storage boasting charm and relaxation to your living space for your next family evening together.
Entertainment Buffets With Hutch Top
These Entertainment Centers provide storage space for all of your gadgets and entertainment accessories without the fear of looking cluttered. Your accessories will be protected from dust and damage with our multiple shelving design.
These stands are simplistic for easy use in any room. Each piece is handcrafted for optimal quality and can be customized to fit your exact specifications.
These unique entertainment centers exhibit clean lines and will be the hub of your family living space. Customize your dream entertainment center and watch your craftsmen bring your vision to life