Times Past: History of Our Materials

Timber has been one of the most important natural resources since the beginning of the United States.

Ancient trees were ax-felled to make simple log structures such as cabins and forts during the 1700s. Rugged men used double-handled crosscut saws to send trees as much as ten-feet across crashing to the ground in the 1800s. By the 1920s, chainsaws replaced the ax and crosscut saws, making it much faster and easier to send trees to the sawmill.

 

Just as the tools and techniques used to harvest trees evolved over time, the quality of lumber was forever changed since old growth timber became less available.

Back in the days of horse and buggy, a 2x4 actually measured two-inches thick. The “green logs”, which were still wet and unseasoned, were cut on a sawmill at a full 2 and 1/2 inches thick before they were stacked to dry. Once they air-dried and were ready to use, the boards measured two inches in thickness.

From the early 1800s to the middle of the century, lumber for railroads, houses, buildings, and barns grew into high demand. Tight-grained wood from ancient trees once cut using a circle sawmill leaving the tell-tale half-circle kerf marks were now being replaced by the bandsaw mill.

Instead of a circular shaped disk with teeth, the band mill used a long metal tooth-filled band rotating on two large wheels leaving a straight saw kerf on rough-cut lumber. This new technology produced less waste than older circle mills to help reduce pressure on American wood resources.

Vast tracts of old-growth forest were being pressured by the late 1800s and standards for dimensional lumber waned in both quality of the wood and the thicknesses and widths of the boards. Standard two-inch thicknesses were revised to inch-and-three-quarters, and eventually down to inch-and-five-eighths

Now and Then

History of Green Gables

Founded more than 25 years ago by Bill Rouse, his wife Marlene, their two sons Bill junior, and young Bob, Green Gables began in the family’s small garage. With no space to spare, they churned out thousands of small decorative items as well as accent tables and chests. Big Bill (as he was affectionately called), was known for hard work and blossomed the company into a large building and a few employees. Big Bill opened some local mall stores and began the company toward building furniture such as country-style hutches and farmhouse tables.

 

By then, Green Gables was bustling with business. Seven stores bearing the Green Gables name were selling thousands of its unique crafts and country furniture to many satisfied customers. An addition was built to the company building to make more furniture and house many more hard-working employees.

 

By the early 2000s, Big Bill had developed a heart condition and the country’s recession had taken a toll on Green Gables. They closed the mall stores, laid off employees, and young Bob kept the company running.

 

Bob learned a ton about running a company during tough economic times. His unique perspective and hard working leadership skills as well as a few loyal employees kept the company afloat through many tough times.

 

In 2003 Bob hired local furniture designer Tim Scott to help revitalize the company’s furniture line. Tim had worked for Green Gables during the days of the mall stores and was looking to design furniture again. He worked diligently to come up with a whole new concept using large beams and recycled wood from buildings and barns that he called “Timber Frame Furniture”.

Scott’s timber frame style was an almost instant success. Coupled with long-time employees, Bob at the helm, and a burgeoning economy, Green Gables is more successful than ever.

Timber Frame Furniture

Bold, sturdy, unique, and built to last, Green Gables makes thousands of different pieces graced with a natural patina that only Father Time and Mother Nature can provide. Support beams that once sustained the weight of the seasons’ hay are transformed into massive table legs, bedposts and stretcher beams. Antiquated roof trusses and siding boards are reillustrated into an impressive array of doors, drawers and table tops.

Design

Designed and engineered to last several lifetimes, their collections are individually unique. Materials with the right look, quality, and feel are handpicked then transformed into refined rustic items that capture the imagination. Each piece tells a story of an honored past. Timeworn grey and brown tones, saw marks, nail holes, exposed joinery, metal work, and tight wood grain all lend to the harmonious look and feel of Green Gables original designs.

Materials

Green Gables uses a myriad of materials to sculpt works of furniture art. Old growth white, red, and yellow pine, a bit of butternut, oak, ash, and maple as accents here and there, hand forged iron, re-claimed roof steel, premium leathers, tree bark, and moldings are assembled to create functional artworks that are brimming with character.

The Details

Hand-forged iron stools, industrial style footrest, premium leather work, poplar bark panels, oak plugs, and real antlers come together in Green Gables’ Whiskey River Bar. (right)

 

The Heritage line utilizes weathered grey siding, handmade hinges, brown board, and custom drawbar latches. (below)

Finish

The warm glow from aged timbers comes out once the finish coats are applied. Moisture resistant and durable, the finish protects the furniture for a lifetime.

Reclaiming American History

Making timber frame furniture out of salvaged materials is hard work plain and simple. From selecting the wood to cutting stock, and sanding it to just the right smoothness takes lots of effort. Assembling 12-foot-long dining tables isn’t a job for lazy workers and the finish process is at the very least tedious. People working at Green Gables might tool, sand, and assemble table and dresser tops all day long while others build dressers and case goods. Between the heavy lifting, dusty sanding, and endless assembly there’s a sense of pride among Green Gables workers.

 

Made in America means something and reclaiming history into a beautiful work of masterful furniture to enjoy for generations is something to be proud of.