WOOD MAKES THE COLLEGE CHAIR
IT ALL STARTS WITH GREAT, LOCAL WOODS
Alumni Chairs offers 25 models of Alumni Chairs. You may choose our available college chairs or design your own wooden college chair.
Whereas our Classic College Chairs can be made from several species of wood, our Traditional College Chairs are made of Maple, exclusively, and stained to different wood colors. Most Traditional College Chairs are painted in Black Lacquer. Traditional Chairs can be customized by selecting Arms and/or Crown (headrest) in any of three stains: Cherry, Maple, and Walnut. Also, entire Traditional College Chairs can be made in any of these three stains.
Building a Classic College Chair at Alumni Chairs begins with solid American hardwoods including cherry, hickory, walnut, maple, white oak, and beautiful quarter-sawn oak (white oak). Our woods are kiln-dried to 6% moisture to ensure durability and resist cracking and shrinkage in extreme climates. We use no endangered woods and materials. Our primary sources of woods are the Amish sawmills of northeastern Ohio.and local sawmills in western North Carolina.
Although Alumni Chairs makes several wood species available, our most popular specie is Maple. The vast majority of college chairs in the U.S. are constructed from maple. Maple trees are abundant throughout the Eastern and Midwestern States and, therefore, more affordable than the other woods which we offer,..and, yet, maple is an attractive and excellent hardwood with which to work. Unless a specific wood is requested, we will normally build our university chairs from Brown Maple, because it is a hard wood, it displays interesting colors and grains, and its cost is reasonable. If you would prefer another wood, we will accommodate your request and price the chair accordingly. Some woods may require a surcharge to compensate for current market prices at the time of the quote. We encourage you to make an informed, thoughtful choice of style, wood, and finish as your alumni chairs will likely reside in your family for generations.
Please continue reading about all of the woods that you may choose for your new, wooden college chair from Alumni Chairs.
Cherry appears in 430 species grown throughout the northern, temperate regions of the world, including eastern United States. Cherry shares the name “fruitwood” with other light-brown woods. Cherry wood is hard, strong, closed grain, light brown to red-brown wood in its heartwood. Cherry is resistant to warping. Its sapwood is a lighter pink. It is easily carved. In New England, Cherry is known as New England Mahogany because of its color, grain, and density. Cherry can be used as structural wood or it can be used as a veneer. (Alumni Chairs does not use veneers ─ only solid wood). The Cherry tree shares the genus Prunus which includes trees and shrubs which include plums, peaches, nectarines, apricots and almonds. The fruit from this genus are commonly called “stone fruit” and are cultivated for both ornamentation and fruit. Cherry wood enables builders to create extremely elegant and desirable furniture. Ask us about Cherry in your next wooden college chair.
Hickory is extremely heavy and it is a very strong wood. It has a close grain and is a light wood. Hickory is employed in applications that require great strength and durability. Hickory wood is very hard, stiff, dense and shock resistant. There are woods that are stronger than Hickory and woods that are harder, but the combination of strength, toughness, hardness and stiffness found in Hickory wood is not found in any other commercial wood. Skis, archers’ bows, other sports equipment, wagon-wheel spokes, drumsticks, and hand tools have long used Hickory as a structural part ─ especially where strength and thinness are required. Decorative Hickory veneers are also commonly used. (Alumni Chairs does not use veneers ─ only solid wood). There are 19 species of Hickory, worldwide. Varieties of this nut-bearing tree are found worldwide. American Hickory is found mostly in the eastern forests of North America.
The Walnut tree or Juglans is a plant genus of the family Juglandaceae, the seeds of which are known as walnuts. There are 21 species in the genus ranging from southeast Europe east to Japan, and southeast Canada west to California and south to Argentina. The Walnut tree is closely related to Black Walnut and Hickory trees. Walnut is hard and durable, but not too heavy. Like Cherry, Walnut is an excellent carving wood. It has excellent woodworking qualities, and takes finishes well. Walnut is used in all types of fine cabinet work, especially 18th century reproductions. It is a popular wood for cabinet making. The color of Walnut varies from light to dark brown with a straight grain in the trunk. Walnut stumps are often dug out and used as a source of highly figured veneer.
Also known as Silver Maple, White Maple grows in the Great Lakes Region of the United State and Canada. Hard Rock Maple is excellent for high ‘impact resistant’ applications or in applications which require a uniform light yellow-white color of wood. Northern Maple is 50 percent harder than Red Oak wood. Maple has a strong, uniform grain. Maple often shows a unique, bright luster and texture depending on the angle of light source.
Brown Maple is not a distinct specie of maple tree. It is the “heart wood” (wood near the center of a tree) of various soft maple trees. Brown Maple ranges in colors from light beige to medium brown. The furniture industry has established Brown Maple as a distinct wood type but purely for marketing considerations. What is known as Brown Maple is actually Soft Maple that has been renamed as “brown”. Soft Maple is usually mischaracterized because of the term “soft” ─ perhaps because it is less hard than Sugar Maples (Hard Maples). Soft Maple is not actually soft but enjoys a hard rating similar to that of Cherry. Red maple has a density similar to that of Black Walnut but is a bit more dense than Cherry. Brown Maple is often used in lieu of Cherry. Although the market prices fluctuate, the cost of Brown Maple is often less than that of Cherry.
Maple is the most popular wood for building our wooden college chairs. Maple trees are abundant throughout the east and midwest and, therefore, more affordable than the other woods which we offer,..and, yet, maple is an attractive and excellent hardwood with which to work. This is why most wooden college chairs are constructed from Maple.
Oak is the most popular wood used to build American and English country designs. Although there are many species of oak grown in North America, for the purpose of furniture making, oak is usually categorized as either of two varieties: Red Oak and White Oak. White Oak is a dense, strong hardwood in a light color with a course texture and uniquely prominent grain. Oak boasts obvious medullary rays which can be seen as “flakes” or “fleks” in quarter-sawn oak lumber. It is also used for Gothic and William & Mary reproductions, as well as many transitional and contemporary pieces.
A method of sawing oak so the cut is made parallel to the wood’s medullary rays instead of across. This cut yields a limited quantity of top grade boards featuring ray flake, and it binds the perpendicular fibers together, giving the oak its amazing strength. Quarter sawn White Oak is much less likely to crack or warp than when it is “flat sawn”. White Oak is similar to red oak but slightly harder, and, when “quarter sawn”, it provides more “ray flake or fleks”, the distinctive striping which is seen in many antique Oak pieces. Quarter sawn Oak has been popular in American architecture in addition to Mission and Craftsman furniture styles since the late nineteenth century. Read about Quarter sawn Lumber, below. See excellent examples of Quarter sawn Oak – our Affinity Mission Rocking Chair and, as an option, our Affinity Mission Chair.
When boards are cut from a log they are usually rip cut along the length (axis) of the log. This can be done in three ways: plain-sawing (most common, also known as flat-sawn, bastard-sawn, through and through, and tangent-sawn), quarter sawing (less common), or rift sawing (rare).
In flat-sawing, the log is passed through the blade cutting off plank after plank without changing the orientation of the blade or log. The resulting planks have different annual ring orientations when viewed from the end. The relative angle that form the rings and the surface go from almost zero degrees in the external planks to almost ninety degrees at the core of the log.
Quarter sawing is a type of cut in the rip-sawing of logs into lumber. The resulting lumber is called quarter sawn, quarter sawn, quartered, and radially-sawn. There is widespread confusion between the terms quarter sawn and rift-sawn with both words defined with opposite meanings and as synonyms.
Quarter sawn boards have greater stability of form and size with less cupping, shrinkage across the width, shake and splitting, and other good qualities. In some woods, the grain produces a decorative effect such as oak which shows a prominent ray fleck, and Sapele (or Sapelli, an redish-brown African hardwood often used for flooring) is likely to produce a ribbon figure.
Quarter sawing gets its name from the fact that the log is first quartered lengthwise, resulting in wedges with a right angle ending at approximately the center of the original log. Each quarter is then cut separately by tipping it up on its point and sawing boards successively along the axis. That results in boards with the annual rings mostly perpendicular to the faces. Quarter sawing yields boards with straight striped grain lines, greater stability than flat-sawn wood, and a distinctive ray and fleck figure. It also yields narrower boards, because the log is first quartered, which is more wasteful. (source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quarter_sawing) More about quarter-sawn wood
For more information about wooden college chairs, wooden university chairs, and wooden alumni chairs, quarter sawn oak chairs, or quarter sawn white oak, please phone us at 866.748.2230.