back: Bert Early, Shay Williams, Alder Burnett-Holliday, Maebel Johnson, Caleb Johnson, Abe Goorskey (shop foreman)
front: Corinne Graefe, Bill Graefe, Jason Banks, Josiah Banks
Phoenix Hardwoods is a family owned and operated business that remains intentionally small so we can ensure the quality of each piece we handcraft. We make one-of-a-kind furniture from local Virginia hardwoods, such as walnut, cherry, figured maple, ash, oak, sassafras, sycamore, and locust. We mill most of our lumber ourselves, often using trees that would end up as firewood. Our designs are simple, to keep the essence of the tree, and our pieces are finely finished, so they can fit in any decor, from rustic log cabins to contemporary homes.
We have been greatly inspired by George Nakashima, an artist from the 50’s who made furniture using slabs of wood with the natural edges left intact. Inspiration also comes from each tree, and each piece of wood; what others may see as flaws (such as knots), we see as character. We also use the natural coloring of the wood, each tree being different due to the minerals in the soil, its growing conditions, and the differences beween heartwood and sapwood, we don’t use stains to make pieces “match”.
Our process starts with the felling of the tree, then milling on our own sawmill that has a five foot ripping chain. We air dry the lumber, usually a year for each inch of thickness, then dry in our wood-fired kiln. Lumber is cut to dimension using power tools, but some of our joinery is hand done, such as wedged tenons on stools and chairs and the “butterflies” used to hold cracks. Our designs take into consideration that wood is a living/moving medium, it will shrink and expand with the seasons, due to moisture content in the air. We use special joinery techniques such as sliding dovetails to keep some tabletops flat. Finishing is an extremely time-consuming process, with seemingly endless sanding and hand rubbing for oil finishes.
We are very lucky that we love what we do and we are able to support our family with our craft. We spend so much time with each piece of wood, that our pieces are almost like our children, and it is very gratifying to have our pieces find good homes with customers who love and appreciate our work.