Not Just A Seat At The Table

When I first started Cultivations, I had a handful of artists who trusted me to tell their story and help them sell their work. The very first artist who signed on was Brad Smith of Bradford Woodworking. Looking back now, I realize that his standard for craftsmanship set the bar for what I was going to pursue within the space of Cultivations. Brad is a very dedicated artisan who has carved out his own space in the world of woodworking and art. As a graduate of the American School of Craft at Rochester Institute of Technology, Brad discovered the unique direction that he could take his work. Gaining the skills and the insight of an artist, he moved on to create a unique line of furniture that has gained an iconic presence.

I visited Brad a couple years back and was incredibly inspired by his business and work ethic. He has built multiple barns and structures on his property to house his woodworking business. With a distinctive eye for design and a well-established knowledge of engineering, Brad has carefully created a business and line of furniture that reflects his amazing commitment to doing things right. We are so grateful to have him as an integral part of our community of artists and we invite you to revisit our studio tour with him. With updated photos and a unique perspective on his work, we hope you enjoy this little trip down memory lane.

Amble far enough down Fisher Road in Worcester, PA, and you’ll come upon a picturesque assemblage of rustic barns and wood sheds. The doors are all open, and a low hum emanates from within. As you peek through the entryway, you see the light catch swirling sawdust as Brad Smith and his associates sand, shape and slowly perfect solid wood seats, bed posts and more. Stools hang suspended from tapered ceilings and tools clutter crowded workstations bursting with personality and purpose.

Examining Brad’s collection of reclaimed, kiln-dried and foraged wood, you can immediately tell he’s a connoisseur of the highest caliber. As we tour his busy studio, he details the origins of each piece and what the plank is destined to become. Bradford Woodworking has been in business since 1980, and over the past 36 years its owner has captured a lifelong love of the craft and a unique sensitivity in his approach to design. Even amid the roar of machinery, Brad’s effortless precision shines through in every piece he touches. Watching him handle the wood with the grace of a virtuoso sculptor, we observe century-old techniques and marvel at the attention to detail that goes into each curve and each cut.

Before long, Brad treats us to a surprise demonstration of one of the oldest machines in his shop—one he uses regularly in the construction of the premier product in his incredible line of farm-inspired furniture: the Ax Handle Stool. Each leg is cut based on a handmade pattern which is “read” by a rotating wheel, then transcribed onto a fresh block of wood.

This fascinating analog process looks effortless in motion, but requires incredible precision. “It takes a lot of tweaking and fine-tuning,” says Brad of the machine. “That’s where the craftsmanship comes in.”

The finished leg, one of four that will soon comprise another signature Ax Handle Stool, is a work of art in itself, each tactile groove exactingly cut and unmistakably Brad’s. Later, as we say our goodbyes and exit the big, beautiful barn, leaving Bradford Woodworking silhouetted against a setting sun, we can’t help but feel we’ve witnessed something truly special.

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