Blog

Side Board Delivered To It's New Home

This piece was commissioned by Tom and Judy. It has a slate top with a frieze of spalted elm burl. The doors of hickory came from a large tree that came down that happened to be in the yard of the 200 year old church where my wife and I got married.


How We Make It: Bed Feet

A new video from our series How We Make It.
In this video see how we use our century old lathe to turn our bed feet used on our High Post Bed.


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Gratitude

We are not always comfortable receiving awards. We work hard at what we do, constantly trying to improve. We were honored and humbled this weekend at The Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen Fine Craft Fair in Wilmington, Delaware to receive a Benchmark Award for Craft Excellence. 

Award

We were recognized in the Resolved Design category.

''...the design is resolved and individual to the craftsman. Good composition is expected. The use of tension and space enhance overall design. Choice of materials and methods show innovation and mastery with all elements working together. Reproduction of traditional work is acceptable. It must be authentic, able to be documented, and built to the criteria of the medium’s standards. Resolved design shows artistic excellence.''

We do not work to get awards, but they are a nice reminder of the hard work we put into each piece of furniture and everything we do at Bradford Woodworking. 

 Many thanks to everybody involved!


A Little Help From Friends

You can't have every tool or machine that you might need. Sometimes it helps to have some friends to help you out now and then. As Bradford Woodworking grew throughout the years, the need for a wide belt sander became greater. The machine allows wide boards to be sanding to a specific thickness and remain very flat. For us, it is essential for table tops and headboards. 

Alvin Rothenberger Inc. has been a local custom cabinetry and mill work shop for over fifty years. Their woodworking shop is located on the same property it was started. Alvin started the business in a small building on his father's farm. In 1970 he moved to another part of the farm and built our present building. In 1971 and 1972 Alvin's sons, Alan and Kim joined the business. In the mid 1970's Brad was employed there just after graduating high school.  The relationship he built then continues today. Every few weeks we will take a small group of parts down to Kim or Alan at Rothenberg's for sanding.

If you need custom cabinetry down in the Philadelphia region, we highly recommend Alvin Rothenberger Inc. You can visit them at http://www.arwoodworking.com

On a recent trip we snapped a few photos to share.

sanding4
The Time Saver logo is just fantastic.

sanding2
A large belt draws the wood through the machine. To the right, you can see the large belts of sandpaper.

sanding
Out comes a smoother, flatter squiggle headboard.

sanding3
Alvin Rothenberger Inc., located along Skippack Pike in Worcester, PA.


Sawdust in the Morning Air

This morning we had a portable sawmill at the farm. In about three years, the boards will be ready to use!

 


Our PECO Inspired End Table


We've been making use of some discarded pieces of wood and steel.


Recycle + Reuse

photo

We collect old wood knobs and pulls. Each one gets a light sanding and cleaning before being finished and added into our inventory. Most often the pulls are used on our one-of-a-kind pieces and commissions. Each pulls has it's unique character that can really add a special touch to a cabinet or drawer.


Collected Drawings

Every commission that we do begins with a drawing. We've been collecting these drawings in a set our our flickr page. As more drawings are scanned, with will be adding to the set.


Jose, Watch Cabinet

Turning on a Friday Morning

  

A short look at Brad turning the bead on the top of the posts used in the High Post Bed.


Shop Shots - 3/31

  

We've been taking more photographs around the shop lately. This shot shows the main workbench. To the left is the bench that we do most of our gluing on. You can see the black wood stove in the middle of the image. We use that all winter to supply the shop with additional heat.


Custom Cabinet

hofman_Cabinet

Just completed this custom cabinet today.

Shop Shots 3/16/11

Shop Shot 3/16/11

We're planing the back side of some recycled barn siding. These boards will be used on a new tv cabinet.


Shop Shots 3/14/11

Spalted sycamore

Spalted sycamore desktop in the finishing room.
This top is for a commissioned desk with two drawers.

Drawing 3/10/11

  

We're working on a new desk commission. Every custom piece begins with a scale drawing that details size and design options.


Shop Shots 3/10/11

Brad's working on a commissioned cabinet. He really got into this piece while sizing the door.


Studio Open House

Plans are set! It may be summertime but fall is knocking on our barn doors and the annual Studio Open House is right around the corner. 

For more than fifteen years, Brad Smith and Royce Yoder have brought together a variety of artists and craftspeople for a fun filled weekend of art and craft. Held each year over Thanksgiving weekend, the Studio Open House has become a tradition among families and friends alike. In 2010, Brad and Royce will be joined by Sandra Miller, and Jas Szygiel.

For more information about the open house, click on over to the Studio Open House page.



Woodshop News - July 2010

Here's an article that mentions us and our participation in the Fine Furnishings Show in Baltimore. 

Baltimore show see sales on the upswing

Fine Furnishings & Fine Crafts Show's attendance was flat, but those there were buyers

By Jennifer Hicks

STAFF WRITER

The Baltimore Fine Furnishings & Fine Crafts Show had its second appearance at the France-Merrick Performing Art Center/Hippodrome Theater on the weekend of May 1-2. Exhibitors say their success had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with strategic marketing.

There were 48 exhibitors, of which 80 percent were furniture makers primarily working with wood. In this category, show producers describe the breakdown as 25 percent traditional, 25 percent studio and 50 percent contemporary with a mix of Arts and Crafts, Asian and Shaker inspiration.

Justin Kauffman, of Kauffman Fine Furniture in Pendleton, Ind., who won this year's Best in Show award for a traditional piece of furniture, says clever marketing led to the sale of a table and provided him a promising lead for a chair commission. Having no client base in the area to work from, he decided the best thing he could do was have the best booth possible to make a great first impression.

"My marketing strategy was to create the most impressive booth and have it positioned close to the entrance. I built a tall chest on chest made of very curly cherry and put it at the entrance. I believe this strategy worked since so many people stopped to look at this piece and then came into the booth to look closer. I think it is also one reason I won the award for best traditional body of work," says Kauffman.

Show director Karla Little rated the show as an overall success. She was disappointed in the attendance, but says the quality of work made up for it. "The attendance was the same as last year, but when all is said and done the show produced two to three times the sales and orders that it did last year. This year they were there to buy and last year they were there to think and look," says Little.

Brad Smith from Bradford Woodworking in Worcester, Pa., won the Marc Harrison Award for Marketing Excellence. Little says his booth was fun, fresh and inviting.

"He put his seating out where somebody could try it," she says. "He had a table with four chairs so he could sit down and talk with customers. The booth was very engaging, the signage was there, there was a theme to the furniture, it was well laid out... it was great."

Arnold d'Epagnier of Mission Evolution in Coleville, Md., exhibited at the show because it was close to home and indoors. His marketing strategy involved sending complimentary and discounted tickets to customers and friends. He made a discounted sale off the show floor, contracted a commission and received two more commissions in the weeks following the show. Sales or no sales, shows are all about networking, he says.

"It is a great way for past and current customers to stop by and visualize and communicate about their furniture needs and desires. They also find that seeing and touching gives a perspective that is missing when depending on Web site information," says d'Epagnier.

"I will return to Baltimore. Quality furniture shows with many talented makers are few and far between, so I can plan on doing one of Karla's shows with confidence."

The Fine Furnishings & Fine Crafts Show, produced by KL Communications, moves Oct.2-3 to Milwaukee's Harley-Davidson Museum and Oct. 22-24 at the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence.



Hard Working, Even in the Summer

With Memorial Day Weekend fast approaching, the unofficial start of summer is here. On the farm it sure feels like it with two days of temperatures hovering around 90 degrees. If you grew up around Philadelphia, you know that this the weekend everybody heads "down the shore." I thought I would share a news story from a summer 44 years ago that I recently came across while cleaning out some files.

Ocean City Sentinel,  August 16, 1966

Boys find big money in empty Pop bottles


Ocean City – Two young entrepreneurs rocked the Ocean City Returnable Pop Bottle market yesterday by delivering over $80.00 in 2¢ bottle returns to the 9th St. Acme. Brad Smith, 12, and James Carroll, 14, attempted unsuccessfully to redeem their booty at several sites before Smith's mother, Rosalie, was able to negotiate a redemption with Lou Albertson, the manager of the 9th St. Acme.

"I told them this was a one shot deal. I don't know how I am going to get all this glass back to Cliquiot, but she is a good customer and she was pretty intent on making the exchange." said Albertson.

The boys, along with Smith's younger brother, "Corky", and numerous cousins ran an operation that collected empty bottles from beach goers over the summer." We would just walk up and down the beach and pick up the empties. Sometimes we would have to wait for people to finish their sodas, but most of the time they were already done." Smith explained.

"Sometimes we would find those holders at Richard's [a Snack Shop on the beach] and then we could carry more." Carroll added.

Each day Smith and Carroll would haul their daily collection back to the Ocean Roadhouse they shared with their families, aunts, uncles and cousins. The house is owned by Mrs. E. L. Brendlinger. They would store the bottles under the back steps.

"We had to rinse the bottles out back before we put them under the stairs. If we didn't the flies would come around. The frog in the outdoor shower liked that but my mom sure didn't." Smith said.

It seems the boys had tried to redeem the bottles unsuccessfully at several locations.

"The guy at Snip 'n Snack used to take them, but he wouldn't take our big haul. There were too many." Carroll lamented.

"And the guys at the Comic Book Store or the Drug Store didn't ever take them." added Smith "My Mom finally told us to put them in her car and she took us way up to the big Acme and told the guy there to take them."

"Mr. Albertson was nice. I think he understood and appreciated the hard work and dedication the boys put into this. He was a bit overwhelmed by the amount of bottles and the payout, but he was very accommodating." Mrs. Smith said when interviewed on the 2nd floor porch of the Ocean Road house.

"I think this was a great learning experience for the boys. It showed them that hard work and perseverance can really payoff." Oliver Smith, Brad's father said. He was asked for his thoughts after successfully scaling the second floor verandah of the Ocean Road house, a ritual made famous by the uncles who also summered there. "Who knows, this may lead to one of them starting their own business someday."


Always Nice

Many times when we ship an order off to a gallery or client, we will only hear from them if something was damaged in shipping or some other problem occurs. It is always nice when we get to hear how the arrival of our package really excites the person on the other end. We love getting to hear about how happy the new owner is. It reminds us of why we take the time and care in each step of making furniture.

We recently received an email from such a client after their Pitchfork Bench arrived.

Dear Bradford Woodworking,

Our bench arrived a couple of days ago and the best one word to sum it up is Wow! In this throw away world of ours it was such a pleasure to receive something as special as our bench. Obviously made by people who not only know what they are doing but take great pride and I hope enjoyment out of doing it. I am, by nature, a detail guy, and just continue to marvel at the wonderful details that go into the bench. From the overall design, choice of wood, shaping, joinery, hardware and last but certainly not least, finish. I was also very impressed by the packaging and the crate it is shipped in. After all, as you obviously realize, what good is building a great piece if you don’t ship in a manner for it to arrive as such. The piece is truly superb and we could not be happier with it. Know that it will be cherished and enjoyed for many many years and most probably beyond our own lifetimes by our children.

Thanks again and kind regards,

Steve

Steve, you are welcome and we thank you for your email. It is always nice to get emails like this.


The Ax Handle Lathe

We’re researching more history about our ax handle lathe for a more lengthy post, but in the meantime I thought we would share some images and video of the lathe in action. The lathe dates back to approximately 1905 and was made by the Klotz Machine Company from Ohio. So far, that’s about all we know but we are excited to learn more through our research.

Ax Handle Lathe

Ax Handle Lathe

Ax Handle Lathe


30 Years and Counting

This year Sandy and I are celebrating thirty years of
marriage as well as thirty years of making a living together as
Bradford Woodworking. We’ve come a long way since starting
in six hundred unheated square feet above the cows in my dad’s
barn. In those early days, we made a line of kitchen utensils.
We’re still making some of those items thirty years later.

Our growth into furniture has been challenging and
exciting. What started out as a design for a single stool grew into an
entire line of chairs, stools, benches, beds and more. During the years
of working to grow the business, we also were able to watch the growth
of our two children, both of which have chosen careers in the arts. Our
son Adam is a sculptor and painter, and our daughter Lydia is a textile
artist. We’ve been blessed in life to be able to make a living doing what
we love.

We are grateful to all of our many friends and clients who
have supported us through our first thirty years. We’re looking forward
to our future and many more years of being able to design and build
furniture on our farm home.


Hand Drawn

I often work with client to design a piece of furniture specific to their needs. It usually begins with a piece from my portfolio that catches their eye. The next step is to determine what dimensions they need and what functionality they require. Once those specifics are figured out, we will discuss the types of “Bradford” details that they like. When I have all of that information I can work up a drawing. Below is an example of a recent drawing for an armoire. Once approved by the client, the fun part begins!


Honored

Much to my surprise, I turned around in my booth at the American Craft Council Show in Baltimore on Friday afternoon to find a large group of people listening to Josephine Shea and Jane Milosch speaking about my furniture and presenting me with an Award of Excellence.

Six recipients receive the award based on the overall quality of their work and two for “Best Booth Design.” The Jurors of the 2010 American Craft Council Show in Baltimore were Josephine Shea, curator of the Edsle and Eleanor Ford House, a historic museum outside of Detroit, and Jane Milosch, curator of contemporary craft and decorative arts at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (Renwick Gallery).


The Standard Stool

The Standard Stool is my new stool design. I’ve been wanting to make a stool that has simple, clean lines with the same quality and craftsmanship as my Ax Handle Stools.

My Standard Stool has tapered ash legs with a subtle texture. The texture is from being made on one of my century-old lathes as the lathe cuts a continuous spiral down the length of the wood blank. These legs are then sanded by hand and cut to length. They are then attached to the solid cherry seat by a through tenon fastened with a solid walnut wedge. The seat is sanded to a smooth contour that everybody would find comfortable. Your feet can find a home on the solid steel footrest.

Available in kitchen counter and bar heights. Custom heights are available.

Congratulations to Stella Singleton of Chandler, Arizona! She won the Name The Stool contest. She will be receiving the very first Standard Stool.