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American Made Wood Furniture, Top Posts

The Legacy of the Adirondack Chair and the Rebirth in Local Family Business

April 26, 2017

The Adirondack region is a vast unique wilderness that people visit to experience the centuries-old tradition of outdoor exploration and adventure. Whether you come to hike and breathe the clean mountain air, explore the lakes region or take in the many small villages each with their own unique flare you may notice a common distinctly identifiable item… Distinct Adirondack Furniture.

The story of how this iconic centuries old design came about is true Americana.

The first Adirondack chair was designed by Thomas Lee in 1903 at the large summer retreat he and his family frequented each summer, a large camp located in Westport, New York, on the banks of Lake Champlain. Lee was a tinkerer. He sought to create outdoor furniture for him and his family for their retreat that was rugged yet comfortable.

All summer long he worked on the design, adjusting the angles, using his family members as his test until he was satisfied. Lee arrived at a design known as the “Westport plank chair”. It doesn’t appear that he had any intention to manufacture the design. At this point they were nothing more than homemade family chairs.

Enter Harry Bunnell a carpenter friend and hunting companion to Lee. As the legend goes, while hunting together in the Autumn of 1903 Bunnell mention that he was in need of winter income. Lee’s (condensed) reply – “Why don’t you make and sell some of those big chairs?” So Lee offered up his design to Bunnell probably thinking he had helped solve his friends’ winter income dilemma. Bunnell began building his version of Lee’s chairs out of hemlock or basswood and staining them in green or medium dark brown. The residents and visitors of Westport fell in love with the design so much that Bunnell was challenged to keep pace with the demand.  In early 1904 (minus Lee’s permission) Bunnell filed for a patent (No. 794,777) on “his” chair design naming it the Westport Plank Chair.

Cliff Pierce - Manchester Wood

Cliff Pierce poses at his wrought iron factory in the 80’s in Upstate New York.

Flash forward sixty years to another tinkerer, a fast-rising businessman Cliff Pierce from Walden, New York.

Pierce had made his way into the Lake George area, through a unique opportunity to purchase a portion of an unkempt lakefront neighborhood for a bargain price. Continue Reading…

American Made Wood Furniture, Solid Wood, Top Posts

Why Choose Solid Wood Furniture?

April 25, 2017

Solid Wood FurnitureSolid Wood Furniture: What does that mean? How do I know it’s solid wood? Why should I pay extra for it?

There’s a lot of unknowns for most shoppers around solid wood furniture. Why should I buy it? What exactly is it? And what are its benefits… At Manchester Wood, we make and sell exclusively solid wood furniture. And here’s why:

  • It brings a feel of quality décor to your home.
  • If it’s well built, solid wood furniture is incredibly durable and can last for generations.
  • There is a sustainability and ethical factor. We believe in Eco-friendly sourcing practices.
  • A common cheaper alternative is “veneer furniture,” and this is what works and what doesn’t:
    • It’s a lower investment, and an easier expense on a tighter budget
    • It gives the appearance of a larger selection of wood finishes and designs
    • It can be easier to match sometimes with a uniformed finish, because of its manufactured “fake” look
    • Commonly used with MDF, particleboard and other materials… BIG problem:
      • These materials are mixed with chemicals and glues to provide “strength”
      • They are lighter, makes it easier to manage, but doesn’t last long with major susceptibilities to damage that cannot be repaired

A lot of furniture retailers want you to buy without really looking at the materials. Be sure to check what the material is, and Google the name if you’re confused by it. As sometimes they put “dressed up” names on furniture materials to make it sound like solid wood. We truly love solid wood furniture at Manchester Wood, and not only do we enjoy making it and selling it to our customers for the last 40 years, but we love it in our own homes too.

Featured Furniture, Top Posts

“From the forest and the forge”

February 15, 2017

"From the forest and the forge"Cliff Pierce - Founder of Manchester Wood and Pierce Industries

It wasn’t long ago when Cliff Pierce set out on a mission. To bring design, product distinction, and “the dream” in its simplest yet golden form.

Pierce Industries was started in the most positive of ways. Cliff always seemed to see life that way, and my grandmother would attest to the early days of the punch press hammering away in the basement. They were simpler times, I’ve been told, and the “Parisian Flower Cart” became his Model T.

“We’d make 1,200 a day on a 6-day work week at the height of it,” those who still remain state with a sense of pride. After all, it wasn’t just Cliff at his punch press anymore.

As Manchester Wood got started up in 1976, in many ways it was a reprise, back in a small shop… this time with wood.

“All we had back then was a rotary shaper, 8″ table saws, an overarm pin router, and 4′ x 4′ spray booths” Cliff’s son-in-law and now Company President Ed Eriksen proclaims. “As we got more business, the building grew and so did our machines and operating systems.” It was becoming a more complex time, China was really entering the market in a bigger way, the “TV Tray Table” became the new Model T.

“We used to manufacture 60,000 sets a year back in the day,” Ed informs, “we were selling a ton of items, the #602, #250, #100…” he rattles off the SKU numbers.

Since then the business model has evolved; the days of manufacturing at such a high volume shifted into now finding ourselves making less quantity, but at a wider variety with even higher quality and customer care. We’ve become more of a retailer, as well as the maker, of some of the finest solid wood furniture made in the USA on the market today.

Cliff’s ultimate culmination in the reprise was merging the two companies together: “from the forest and the forge” he would market the line of both metal and wood products. This past year, in our 40th year of business, we decided to re-introduce metal and wood products with the items below.

Metal & Wood Shaker Furniture - Manchester Wood