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.
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.
Wedding season of 2018 has begun! If you’re looking for a locally handcrafted gift for the new couple, George’s Furniture has several options in various price ranges. From buffets and servers, to keepsake boxes and hand turned wooden bowls, we invite you to take a look around our showroom at the many choices we provide for gift giving.
Not only can you customize any piece of our furniture to your exact specifications, you can also take a tour of our woodshop to see our skilled craftsmen in action. We believe in connecting our customers to witnessing the crafting of our unique hardwood pieces.
Buffets and Servers
When it comes to gatherings and entertaining, every new couple appreciates a handcrafted buffet or server. The precision of designing each piece of George’s Furniture shines through our time tested joinery methods. These gifts will serve many happy guests in the couple’s home for years to come.
Our keepsake boxes can be utilized in several creative ways. They are large enough to keep your favorite recipe cards or wedding keepsakes safe, and small enough to tuck away. These boxes are the perfect gift for a new couple to keep their special items within.
Hand Turned Wooden Bowls
The initial rough turning of our bowls is done while the wood is still wet, and is then placed in a stable environment where they dry for one year. The finished product is completed in a variety of shapes and sizes. These bowls are the perfect gift for a special occasion, and since they are hand rubbed with a food-safe finish, the new couple can serve a heaping bowl salad to their family and guests!
Did you know that you can put George’s Furniture on your gift registry list and collect contributions towards a selected piece of furniture? Imagine your first specially design piece of furniture for your new home. Your guests can call or mail their gift amount which will then be placed on the bride’s account. Later, the bride will have her own unique piece of furniture made her way! We also offer cutting boards treated with mineral oil, bedside tables, walnut and maple pen holders, vanity benches, strong foot stools, drop leaf tables, multi grain coaster, lazy susans, and so much more!
Give the gift of George’s Furniture this wedding season! Stop into our showroom to see these products in person.