Great American Furniture

As woodworkers, we can build whatever type of furniture we’d like. Some styles require more complicated skills and time (early American pieces, a la Duncan Phyfe), while others are deceptively simple, but require time-intensive hand work and a sense of sculpture (such as a Sam Maloof rocker). Two styles that have enduring popularity are Shaker and Arts & Crafts. Both forms offer simple lines, solid construction and an accessibility that appeals to us as woodworkers. And why not? Both are great American furniture forms.

I like to refer to our books on these topics as the Great American Furniture series. “Pleasant Hill Shaker Furniture” was the first title in the series we published. Author Kerry Pierce took his depth of knowledge about the Shakers and focused on the Pleasant Hill, Ky., community. Shaker furniture was born from the need to have sturdy, functional furniture that could be created by a competent woodworker and that didn’t require the adornment of earlier furniture styles. This book includes photos of the entire community (which now exists as a living museum), its dwellings and most importantly, its furniture. Kerry took measurements of many of these unique furniture pieces, and the illustrations are offered in the book for any who wish to build the pieces.

Arts & Crafts is a simple step from Shaker, but with a different look, and a different history. Arts & Crafts was born from a rejection of the Industrial Age philosophy. Its was a “back to basics” movement that raised hand-crafted, honest furniture to a “common man” ideal. While much of the furniture was priced somewhat out-of-reach of the common man of that time, the philosophy and the woodworking has found a new audience today. The author of “Grove Park Inn Arts & Crafts Furniture,” Bruce Johnson, takes the reader on a tour of the largest public display of Arts & Crafts furniture in the country. Nestled in the hills of Asheville, N.C., the Grove Park Inn was built as a luxurious retreat from the busy world, and continues today in the same manner. The book is full of photos of this amazing resort and the many furniture treasures spread throughout its hallways.

By taking a good idea and adding to it, brothers Charles and Henry Greene created a new furniture style that evokes passion among many woodworkers. By infusing an Asian aesthetic to the Arts & Crafts form, the two architect brothers brought a new look to American furniture, and to Southern California specifically. Author David Mathias spent years gaining access to many of the homes and public spaces that showcase the Greene & Greene style. “Greene & Greene Furniture, Poems of Wood & Light” is the first book to focus on the furniture from a woodworker’s perspective, looking beneath the form to study the mechanics and design philosophies that make these furniture pieces great American furniture.

We want to share these three impressive books with you by making a special offer. Buy both “Greene & Greene Furniture” and “Grove Park Inn” at 20 percent off ($28 each, for a total of $56), and “Get Pleasant Hill Shaker Furniture” free. When you add all three products to your shopping cart, use offer code WBS117 to get the third book free.

, David Thiel

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