FAQ

t blair in his furniture shop

Why do you build fine furniture?

I love working with my hands and enjoy building something that will last for several life times. Building items by hand is very relaxing and I love the feel and smell of wood.

Why do you feel hand tools are so important in constructing fine
furniture?

I am not a purist that believes only hand tools should be used in furniture construction. In fact, I have a complete woodworking shop, full of power tools, like wood lathes, miter saws and other types of cutting devices, and so on. However, when building fine furniture, I use only hand tools during construction. I believe using hand tools enables me to understand about particular pieces of wood and how they should be crafted into a specific piece of furniture. To me, building a piece of fine furniture by hand is like painting a beautiful picture or composing wonderful sonata.

How do you select your wood?

After determining from the client the specific
piece of furniture wanted, we discuss what woods would
best satisfy the demands of the furniture piece as
well as match the looks and feel the client desires. I
next contact my various wood sources to determine who
can provide the specific type, quantity and color of
wood I want. Once I have the wood, I examine each
piece to determine how (and if) it will be used in the
piece of furniture.

I understand you use “hide glue” in constructing your furniture. Why?

Traditional “hide” glue (principally made from
cattle hides) has been used as a wood glue for
hundreds (if not thousands) of years. It provides a
good, strong bond but is somewhat difficult to work
with since it has a tendency to dry very rapidly. In
the early 20th century, several “modern” glues (such
as white glue, carpenter’s glue and various epoxies)
emerged. These glues tended to have better
“workability” and have virtually replaced the use of
hide glue.

Recently however, wood workers and restorers have
discovered that furniture glued with “modern” glues
are extremely difficult to repair, often causing
significant damage to the wood when repairs are
necessary. On the contrary, hide glue is easy to
“loosen”, allowing the dismantling and re-gluing
without wood damage.

We have also discovered that any piece of furniture
(no matter how well made and glued) has a tendency for
its joints to loosen over time (60 to 100 years.).
This being the case, it is vital that heirloom
furniture be constructed such that not only is it well
made for the present generation, it is also
constructed so that future generations can easily and
effectively repair it without damaging the wood. Among
all the glues available, only hide glues hold this
distinction. This is the reason I use hide glue.

wood kitchen by t blair
Wood kitchen by T Blair

What types of finish do you use?

To me, there is nothing like the look and feel of
naturally finished wood. “Natural finishes” include
certain types of oil (such as tung — made from the
Chinese tung-oil tree [Aleurites fordii] and linseed
— made from the seeds of flax) and various waxes such
as bees and carnauba waxes. These type of
products (properly applied) provide effective
protection while preserving the look and feel of the
natural wood. When desirable, I will cover the natural
oils with shellac, providing further protection.

I use these finishes because they are effective,
beautiful and easy to maintain. Additionally, in the
event of accidental damage to the surface of the wood,
restoration to original condition is easily effected.
This is not the case with some of the more “modern”
finishes.

How can I view and/or purchase your furniture?

Call me at 903-742-9353, email me at tblair@omnitarian.me or visit me in historic Jefferson, TX.

Why do some woods cost more?

There are several reasons for the differences in
pricing. Firstly, some woods are considerable more
expensive than others. For instance, mesquite is more
than twice the cost of cherry or walnut. Secondly,
particular types of woods are much more difficult to
work. This difficulty results from characteristics of
the wood such as hardness, brittleness and grain.

What is your warrantee policy?

I guarantee the workmanship of my furniture for
life.