The Logging Process
The logs for Montana Woodworks furniture are harvested in the Kootenai National Forest via a very selective process. Lodge pole pine is chosen due to its superior strength versus weight ratio and because it is generally straighter, thus easier to work with. Skilled woodmen select each tree with an attentive eye toward the quality, straightness and size of each specimen. After felling, each piece is hand carried to the road to ensure that it remains undamaged and that its removal does not scar the landscape. As a measure of their commitment to the environment, Montana Woodworks prohibits the use of heavy equipment in the harvesting as the equipment and machinery would damage the surface texture and most importantly, harm the surrounding environment.
Only trees that are "standing dead", that is, they have died but not fallen, are chosen for their furniture. Conversely, trees that have died and fallen to the ground are not used as they are subject to moisture absorption. Some discoloration is likely even in logs prepared from standing dead timber. The most prolific form of this discoloration is varying shades of blue. Sometimes referred to as 'blue pine' these pieces exhibit unique characteristics often sought by customers. Montana Woodworks prohibits the harvest and use of live trees in their operations as trees that are alive or "green" are subject to future warping. Removing standing dead timber from the forests greatly reduces the danger of catastrophic firestorms such as those recently witnessed throughout the West. No wildlife habitat is harmed in their operations, as trees large enough to be inhabited are generally too large to be used in their furniture. .
The Preparatory Process
After harvest, the logs are stored until sufficiently dry for use in the building of their furniture. During this drying period, some checking or cracking is likely and expected to occur. This is a natural process; it does not in any way affect the structural integrity or the finished product. The Montana Collection pieces are peeled in a process that removes the outer bark using a very sharp, hand-drawn knife known as a "drawknife". They choose this method because it gives the finished product an excellent texture and color contrast, whereas mechanical peelers produce a generic texture and little color contrast. During the hand-peeling process, the craftsman also removes some of the inner bark creating a "skip-peeled" texture. The Glacier Country Collection pieces are finished in the unique, one-of-a-kind look reminiscent of the Grand Lodged of the Rockies, circa 1900. First the craftsman removes all of the outer bark while leaving the inner “cambium” layer behind for texture and contrast. Then the finish is applied in an intensive, eight step professional spraying process that applies stain and lacquer for a beautiful, long lasting finish.
Mortise and Tenon Joinery
Montana Woodwork’s furniture is assembled using round mortise and tenon joinery. Simple and strong, the mortise and tenon style joint has been used for millennia by woodworkers around the world to join two pieces of wood into a rigid and strong assembly. For the mortise, or the hole, the craftsman uses a variety of different drill presses and drill bit sizes. For the tenon, or the peg, they use a machine called a "Log Woofer". This machine works much like a very large pencil sharpener leaving a tapered end or tenon. Carefully sanding each piece of furniture before, during, and after the assembly process to smooth the furniture's surface and to reduce the risk of gaining splinters is a standard Montana Woodworks procedure ensuring the highest quality product possible. During the assembly process, applying a powerful adhesive into the mortise, or the hole, is done before joining the two pieces. After joining the two pieces, they use wood screws or staples to hold the two pieces firmly together until the adhesive dries and sets. This drying period takes approximately twenty-four hours. .
After assembly, the items are again sanded and carefully re-inspected. Following the comprehensive inspection, the items are packaged to prevent dust collection and moved into inventory. If ordered by the customer, they varnish the item with a clear lacquer finish or stain and lacquer if ordered in the Glacier Country style. For those who purchase ready to finish items, they recommend protecting the original color and texture of your rustic log furniture with a lacquer or water based varnish finish. If left unfinished, the wood will yellow over time. Most hardware stores and do-it-yourself warehouses sell small amounts of lacquer or water-based varnish and the tools necessary to complete the task. It is highly recommended applying two coats of clear lacquer or water based varnish finishes to each piece of new Montana Woodworks furniture; doing so will protect the color and the beauty of the wood for many years.
Moon Valley Rustic prides itself in handcrafting their indoor and outdoor furniture pieces from carefully logged timbers from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and parts of the western United States. .
They are the only rustic furniture manufacturer who utilizes hand-cut contoured seating. This 80-year-old secret technique, known as the "Butt Cut", allows for greater comfort and support while sitting in their classic furniture. .
Their picnic tables and lawn furniture are all handcrafted with the finest quality cedar logs and Ponderosa Pine lumber. It is bolted together with heavy-duty hardware and heavily braced using truss-type leg assemblies for greater strength and stability. All edges are rounded and sanded for the ultimate safety and comfort.
Wood Country’s craftsmen construct all of their outdoor Cedar furniture using carefully honed furniture building skills. All of their components are joined with heavy duty stainless hardware ensuring durability and stability. Every furniture piece is sanded several times to ensure a smooth, comfortable finished product. Great care is taken to ensure every customer receives an heirloom quality outdoor furniture piece that will last for years to come.
Around The Bend spends a great deal of time harvesting the willow for their one of a kind willow chairs, swings, rockers, loveseats and benches. All pieces are custom built using black willow saplings cut from the northern Ohio marshlands. They meticulously weave each furniture piece to provide the utmost comfort and aesthetically pleasing furniture for your outdoor living spaces. Each piece is bent freehand and is one of a kind. Expertly woven to provide comfortable seating without the use of cushions. Every piece is coated with a boiled linseed oil to preserve its beauty. The entire process; from gathering the willow to the end product is not only eco-friendly, it supports all facets of sustainability for generations to come! .
Groovystuff utilizes reclaimed materials in the design and production of their rustic and eco-friendly residential furniture. Offering several collections, each group features pieces designed with the foundation of style, value, longevity, and preservation of natural resources. Every piece is constructed with unique materials and craftsmanship and many can be passed from generation to generation
What is Checking?
You will notice cracks, some small and some larger, in your rustic log furniture. This occurs naturally in the drying process and adds to the character and rustic look of the furniture pieces that we carry. These cracks, which are known as checking, do not diminish the function or design of the rustic log furniture. All rustic log furniture is subject to the natural process of "checking". Checking, or cracking, happens as wood releases moisture, and normally occurs across or through the annual growth rings. It is the usual result of wood seasoning. All logs are stress tested before they enter production to ensure that they will hold up to the test of weight and time. You will not have to worry about the durability of the rustic log furniture. Your safety and satisfaction is very important to us. Checking occurs mainly on the surface of the wood and does not affect the structural performance or integrity of the wood. This natural process adds to the uniqueness of the pieces and lends it that certain rustic appeal that has become so popular in home and garden decor. The degree of checking will vary from product to product and from log to log. This is rustic log furniture and imperfections in the wood such as checking and knots are expected. Checking can range from very slight slivers to cracks running the full length of the log to the heart (middle of the log) of the wood. In either case this checking is completely normal and in no way affects the integrity of the wood or the strength of the furniture. All of our rustic furniture companies stress test their collections to ensure that they will hold up to the test of weight and time. On top of that all our rustic log furniture is of course warranted from the manufacturer. As always, if you have questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.