Honoring the legacy of a family farm through handcrafted heirloom furniture. In early 2018, John and his father, Don, stopped by my studio at the Littlebranch Farm Gallery. In a spring storm, a large white oak had toppled under the storm. They were searching for a furniture maker to craft furniture from the tree.
Don, a 5th generation farmer, passionate about the land and family business, passed in 2019. Before passing away in 2019, Don assigned the task of constructing the furniture to his sons, Sam and John, who possess his energy and passion for the land and family.
In late 2022, Sam and John Halcomb stopped at the Gallery at Littlebranch Farm to meet with Kelly Maxwell Designs to discuss a project. Back in 2018, Kelly suggested having the tree milled into three-inch thick wood slabs. These slabs were subsequently stacked and left to dry naturally. After following my advice, they expressed their interest in building the furniture and asked for guidance on the necessary steps. Recently, Kelly had the opportunity to visit Walnut Grove Farms in Adairville, Kentucky, and personally viewed their collection of air-dried live edge wood slabs.
Handcrafted natural wood furniture
Designing and handcrafting natural wood furniture for clients is an absolute privilege, regardless of the project’s scope. As a self-taught furniture maker, Kelly takes pride in his craft and prioritizes using high-quality air-dried wood to create enduring heirloom pieces. Crafting natural wood furniture is a time-consuming process akin to the art of producing top-notch whiskey.
Kelly has found that using air-dried wood in his projects produces the best results, even though he has previously used kiln-dried wood. However, he has realized that this method requires much time and patience. It can take up to three to five years for most wood species, milled at three inches thick, to dry and stabilize naturally. Additionally, not all wood species are suitable for making furniture slabs, and some may come with their own unique challenges. Crafting natural wood furniture is like making a cherished family whiskey – it’s a process that demands patience and attention to detail.
The Halcombs wood slabs are a beautiful species of white oak. Kelly decided to book-match two of the slabs together, which was a perfect fit for the tabletop. He also built a custom table base with a shelf for eye appeal and functionality. Discovering the owl’s eyes in the woods was a pleasant surprise. They complement each other perfectly on both the bottom shelf and tabletop. To protect the wood and keep it looking beautiful, He added a natural premium hardwax finish.