Bradford Woodworking is the culmination of a life's worth of passion for furniture making by craftsman Brad Smith.
I was born in 1954 and raised on a farm in Worcester, Pennsylvania, in the southeastern part of the state.
As a farm boy I was always working to fix and build things around the farm. This led to my interest in woodworking that I developed in high school. For four years after graduation, I worked in several different woodworking shops in the area. Although I learned the basics of woodworking and developed a strong work ethic, I wanted a more formal education would be helpful. In 1976 I attended the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen and graduated with a BFA in woodworking and furniture design in 1980.
Later that year, I started Bradford Woodworking with my wife Sandy, who also graduated from R.I.T. The business began with a line of kitchen tools and accessories, which we designed, crafted and marketed together. In 1986, I expanded the business by developing a line of distinctive furniture. The first piece in the line was the Ax Handle Stool™, which continues to be the workhorse of the line.
I strive for steady growth and improvement of that original line. I’ve been represented in many of the finest stores and galleries around the country. I also build ten to fifteen one-of-a-kind pieces a year on speculation or commission.
Furniture makers frequently ride the coattails of easily recognized styles such as Shaker, Country or Arts and Crafts. In my work, I intentionally try not to be pigeonholed into an existing furniture design category. What I try to do is make furniture that has not been seen before, but still retains some familiarity. That familiarity is gained through the use of good proportions, honest construction and old-fashioned usefulness. My basic concept is to use “off the shelf” parts in ways that were never intended—as elements in the furniture. Because the shop is located on a farm, I decided to develop that as a “theme,” which is why the parts are farm related. The idea is to make something special out of something ordinary. Ax handles seemed to be the perfect chair leg with their gentle S-curve and knobby foot. Pitchforks make ideal supports for chair backs and they even have some spring when you lean back. Disc blades, used on farm equipment, are equally good as bases for my coatrees, lamps, and music stands. These “parts” have become significant elements in my design vocabulary and give the furniture its distinctive Bradford “look.”