The new Kenebec Floating Back Rocker in Claro walnut and Spinneybeck leather We wanted to make a new rocking chair, re-thinking all aspects of the process from our perspective as designers and makers of handmade furniture. Tor wanted something radically new, a mutation, Bob wanted classic Darwinian evolution. Bob was leading the charge on this one. We settled on transformation from the past. The signature joinery and flexible back slats of the Kenebec Rocking Chair We love Scandinavian Design: Hans Wegner, Finn Juhl and Peder Moos. We studied their work in preparation for this project. Juhl’s Chieftain Chair particularly caught […]

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The new Wapiti Table in black walnut harvested from Grinnell College campus Designing wooden furniture requires that you think like the tree. Trees constantly absorb and release water, expanding and contracting while they do so, and harvested wood will do the same. And the trunk of a tree is strong as it grows up and towards the sun because the tree needed to grow tall, but if you slice across the grain you lose all that strength. This means that when you design with wood there are limits that you have to keep your eyes on at all times. Forget […]

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Sandhill Writing Desk

13 May 2019

The Sandhill Writing Desk in steel and California walnut A writing desk should be compact, elegant, and austerely beautiful. And then when you sit down it should get out of the way and let you write. In our new collaboration with Mike Route at Red Iron Studio we try to accomplish all of that. The trestles of the Sandhill Desk are hand-forged from steel The Sandhill Writing Desk is based on an old table design called a trestle table. These tables consist of two or three trestles (the legs of the piece), a top, and a horizontal brace. For the […]

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Wapiti Chair

14 March 2019

A chair inspired by a discovery in the woods.

Walking in the woods near our shop in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada we sometimes find discarded antlers, shed by our local black-tailed deer. We keep these antlers around as beautiful decorations and their shape eventually led to the inspiration for a chair design. Chairs have three fundamental engineering concepts that drive their design: they must be strong, they must be light-weight, and they must be comfortable. The forking curves of antlers suggested solutions for all three. Each individual member of the Wapiti Chair is relatively light and delicate, but tied together as they are by a series of […]

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Holland Writing Desk

22 January 2019

A sculptural exploration of a functional piece of furniture.

A writing desk is a work space for one person. It should be compact, light, and not too deep. There should be a drawer for pencils and paper. The top should be smooth, and left clear of distracting clutter. Beyond that? We have a lot of freedom to play. The wood for this desk was harvested along the Sacramento River levee north of the farm town of Grimes. The tree was a hybrid of the native California walnut, claro, with the English walnut. The hybrid is known as paradox in the walnut grower community and Bastogne in the gunstock/woodworking network. […]

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The Sumi Settee

24 May 2018

Sculptural seating for two.

    What is the correct distance to sit from someone while you converse? Should you face your fellow conversationalist directly or turn slightly away? How upright should your posture be to facilitate the most interesting conversation possible? The Sumi Settee is our attempt to answer those questions.     The Sumi Settee is the third design in our Sumi furniture line. We built the seat from a slab of wood we purchased from Dr. Gary Goby – founder of Goby Walnut – over fifteen years ago. The slab was thick, almost three inches, and so covered in dirt and […]

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The Sumi Chair

18 October 2017

A new, sculptural chair design.

A new, sculptural chair design.

Some designs start from the ground up. Others provide a variation on a theme. The Sumi Chair is one of the latter, taking our award-winning floating back design and reimagining it with a solid back and an updated arm. Available now as a dining and occasional chair, in both armed and side chair variations.

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A Recent Acquisition: Pacific Madrone

8 March 2017

A unique wood to the Pacific west.

Image of Pacific Madrone, which we recently acquired for our handmade furniture

Madrone is a native West Coast tree. It has a scaling bark that is red, green and shades of beige. Its leaves are bright forest green. Its berries are enjoyed by band-tailed pigeons. Last year we had some madrone trees begin to die on our land and we asked Homestead Milling and Logging to log and mill the large diameter trunks. At the sawmill we evaluated each log and discussed how to cut it to provide the best boards for furniture. It is a wood that is not considered to be a commercial species and hence is “rare”. This wood […]

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A Collaboration in Wood

8 February 2017

One of the joys of creative work, of any kind, is the chance to collaborate.

Handmade coffee table in collaboration w/ Holly Tornheim

One of the joys of creative work, of any kind, is the chance to collaborate. A good collaboration leads to startling results as you are forced to modify and improve your own ideas through the creative filters and work processes of someone else. And on a personal level, a good collaboration is an opportunity to deepen and strengthen a relationship. Last November I was lucky enough to accomplish both of these things when we completed a table with our neighbor, land-partner, friend, award winning wood sculptor, and my godmother, Holly Tornheim. Holly and her husband Bruce Boyd were two members […]

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Red Elm: A Perfect Wood

7 November 2016

For over four decades red elm has been our first choice for back slats. Robert Erickson explains why.

Red elm handcrafted into a live edge handmade rocking chair by Tor Erickson

Words by Robert Erickson. After 45 years of experimentation we have settled on a few select woods for our unique back support design, which we affectionately call “The Floating Back.” The flexibility and durability needs of this design have required us to delve deeply into the inherent qualities of various woods, and one thing is certain: all woods are not created equal. Some have gorgeous figure, some gorgeous color, some gorgeous grain. These aesthetic qualities are what we look for when choosing the wood for our chair seats, arms and headboards. Other woods have less figure, but have knot free, […]

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