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 Each year the tree grows a metal object will become embedded into the wood and unable to be withdrawn.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
Our customers discover Georges Furniture by many different ways. Whether they find a brochure In Lancaster County, searched for quality furniture maker online, see the handmade furniture in a friend’s home or listened to the excited story of a satisfied customer, the furniture amazes them each time they enter the showrooms. What beautiful furniture, wonderful craftsmanship!
Explore handmade furniture
The Amsterdam family was no different. They came to see the wood shop tour and discovered the unique features of handcrafted, custom, and signed by one craftsman furniture all in one place. At the end of the tour they responded,
“Our house is full of furniture, however if we ever need furniture we know where we will come.”
Two years after their visit, Hurricane Sandy hit the Eastern seaboard of the United. The family watched in terror as the water arose, filling the first floor and proceeded up the stairs to the next floor. Their furniture did not survive the flooding. Once the hurricane moved northward, the cleanup began.
Return to George’s
Once the clean up finished and their house ordered, it was time to look for furniture. As promised, the Amsterdam family came to the showroom with a unique request. “Will you help us fill our house with furniture?” I never thought I would be an interior designer, but they spread out the floor plan on our dining table and we proceeded through each room. First was the dining room then the master bedroom. I worked with each family member deciding the perfect design and options.
Which furniture to make first
Several hours later came the challenging part. Which room to make first. Dinning, master bedroom, teens bedroom, living room or den. Out of necessary, the dining table and chairs won along with the bedroom furniture. We updated each other as the house neared completion and ready for delivery.
Over the next couple of years, we filled their house with custom handmade furniture designed to their desires. The furniture will serve the family for decades to come. Want to join in the discovery of quality craftsmanship, visit Georgesfurniturepa.com or visit our showroom and wood shop.
How to detect Quality
To help you start the process to high-quality, handcrafted furniture, we created this handy checklist to spot high-quality furniture. Download the checklist here so you know what to avoid in your furniture shopping. Then call us when you are ready to design your own customer, handcrafted piece.
Download you Guide to High-quality Furniture
“I love that this table belonged to my grandparents!” Can you believe this solid wood kitchen table was actually created for her grandparents?! Now Karly gets to gather her family around this same table! And it is in amazing condition!
A Custom Kitchen Table Just for Them
In 1978, Cyrus and Florence Keefer were designing their new house in Middletown, PA. They dreamed of a joyful home making memories with their children. That’s when they realized they really wanted a solid wood kitchen table as the centerpiece for family meals, homework, board games & late-night chats. Their next obstacle? Finding a table that could meet their needs.
As Cyrus & Florence considered their needs, they knew they could not just pick up a kitchen table from a furniture outlet store. They really needed a customized solid wood kitchen table just for them & their family.
Enter George’s Furniture, Lancaster, PA. When Cyrus & Florence reached out to George, they knew they definitely wanted a kitchen table made from black walnut wood. Lucky for them, George’s Furniture specializes in black walnut wood. When they visited George, they shared their vision for the kitchen & even saw George’s woodshop in action. That is when they decided on a trestle table & chairs to fit their eat-in kitchen space.
1st thing to know about this solid wood kitchen table: It is completely custom designed for Cyrus & Florence’s kitchen & made out of beautiful black walnut wood.
Black Walnut Wood: Perfect for this Kitchen Table
Once the gorgeous solid wood kitchen table was installed in their home, it quickly became the gathering point for their family. In fact, Cyrus started a Sunday night tradition of preparing sandwiches, his specialty, for the whole family & any of their guests who visited too.
Sadly, Cyrus passed in 1980. But in their loss, his family appreciated the memories they had with their father gathered around that beautiful kitchen table. In time, Cyrus’s daughter Lori & son-in-law Kurt Siffin inherited the solid wood trestle table & chairs set.
“The table was a sentimental piece of furniture… a pleasant reminder of our father and family home,” recalls Lori. “The table has aged well. The memory marks have added character to the table. It is a piece worthy to be passed on.”
In the Siffin home, the kitchen table again brought the family together for meals, games, & memories. Even through several moves, this family heirloom witnessed birthday parties & celebrations, soup nights in the winter, & lunches in the summer.
When Lori & Kurt Siffin finally downsized to their current home in Long Neck, Delaware, the solid wood trestle table & chairs went into storage, but not for long.
2nd thing to know about this solid wood kitchen table: Using the black walnut wood for this kitchen table meant it kept its beauty & strength through the 2nd generation of the family.
Solid Wood Kitchen Table Lasts Generations
Because of the sentimental value of the table as well as the high quality of the black walnut wood, the Siffins thoughtfully stored the table properly to preserve its quality.
After 2 years in storage, Karly Siffin, granddaughter of Cyrus & daughter of Lori, gave the trestle table new life in her home. From Philadelphia, PA, Karly moved from her small apartment into a townhome in Manayunk, PA. Now this family heirloom can again serve family & friends in Karly’s kitchen. “I love that this table belonged to my grandparents. It is very special to me,” says Karly.
3rd thing to know about this solid wood kitchen table: When you work with George’s Furniture to custom build your dream furniture, you can trust that the quality will truly last your family for generations. It is well worth the investment.
Each customer of George’s Furniture enjoys the ability to pass their heirlooms from one generation to another. The exceptional, high-quality construction and strong, protective finishes allow George’s furniture to survive decades. Join the many satisfied customers and begin your family traditions of gathering around a table and enjoy the beauty of handcrafted solid wood furniture.
A Calamitous Night
George’s Woodcrafts had just turned 20 years old. George Martin’s efforts had grown a custom, solid wood furniture-making business that employed about 8 full-time craftsman. George and his family had retired for the night on April 28, 1989. Suddenly, the dog started barking and someone began pounding on the door, frantically ringing the doorbell. George bolted for the window and then yelled, “The woodshop is on fire!” “Call the fire department!” “Get the vehicles out!”
Many fire departments responded to the fire. The firemen called it an “all-nighter”. Obviously, the wood shop contained a lot of fuel for the fire. The firemen were able to save some wood stored in the lower level of the barn as well as the wood piles stored outside but the rest was a total loss—machinery, patterns, lumber in the barn, and finished furniture in the storage area waiting to be delivered to customers.
During the fire, I (Ava Lee) went to find George. He was sitting on an upside down bucket between the lumber yard and the burning barn. He looked at me and said, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord”, a quote from Job in the Bible.
Over the next two days, neighborhood farmers and men from churches in the area came with machines and chain saws to help clean up the ruins. Women brought food to feed the hungry workers. The Brotherly Aid Insurance Company came immediately to assess the damage and quickly gave approval to release funds allowing the rebuilding process to begin within days of the fire.
A Craftsman Turns General Contractor
Following the lead of one of our craftsman, an experienced builder, our entire team of craftsmen became carpenters as they helped to build a new woodshop where the old woodshop once stood. No one was injured in the fire or during reconstruction process. The new roof rafters were set on a drizzly day in May,1989, a month that held a record-breaking 10 inches of rain. Within 3 months of the fire, one wing of the woodshop was built and we were back to crafting solid wood furniture! Our craftsman rebuilt the furniture that was lost in the fire, while work continued on the rebuilding the rest of the shop.
A New Shop Brings Efficiency, a New Kiln, a Showroom, and More!
George often said, “I was happy with the shop in the dairy barn. When God took away that one, He must have wanted me to have a new one.” The new one is more efficient, and more conducive to giving shop tours. The new shop includes room for a showroom and a wood-drying kiln on the first level.
We’d love for you to stop in! Come by and check out our shop and view our gorgeous solid wood, handcrafted furniture!
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.