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Spotlight on a Rustic Furniture Company

As I’ve mentioned so many times before in this blog, one of the best parts of editing these directories and this blog is visiting so many unique websites and meeting the people behind the products. Last weekend I received an email from Rene Guay, who owns a remarkable website called “Alder Brook“. We exchanged a few emails and I asked so many questions that I finally asked Rene if I could interview him for this blog. He conceded and what follows is some great insight about a small business that makes superior quality rustic and log furniture.


How did the Alder Brook Company come about?

Alder Brook was chosen as our company name because Alder makes up a large part of our product line, and also because There is a brook (stream) very close to my shop that runs off the mountains and its name is “Alder Brook”. I’ve been making twig and log furniture since 1996, here in the mountains of western Maine. I design and make the furniture myself with the help of two employees, one being my son and the other a dear friend. Our Twig line falls under the traditional Adirondack style, with some changes to provide the highest level of comfort, beauty and durability.

What makes Alder your wood of choice?

Speckled Alder is the primary wood we use for much of our product line. Like its counterpart “Willow”, Alder is an extremely fast growing tree/shrub, with excellent bending characteristics. It is a hard wood, with a deep dark brown and reddish brown bark. The barks texture is very smooth it stays intact indefinitely, and it accepts a lacquer or urethane finish very well. There is little to no shrinking or splitting with the Alder, and it is very strong and lightweight when it dries. We are also starting to include White Birch in our twig products.

Alder and Birch for the twig furniture, what is your log furniture made from?

Our Log lines are extremely unique and at the high end of the log furniture world. We offer our log furniture line in peeled Hard Maple, White Birch, Alder and striped Maple. All of our Log furniture pieces are made with kiln dried and steam bent (where appropriate) small diameter log parts and components. We currently offer various style chairs, rockers, coffee tables and end tables. All joinery is mortise and tenons. This line is very comfortable, appealing and very rugged in construction. Another unique aspect of our Log furniture line is that we offer it in kit form, and in parts and component form for the “do it yourselfer” that has very limited access to “log furniture kits, parts and components”, that is kiln dried and steam bent, and particularly in hard woods.

Can Alder furniture be used outdoors?

It can, but I don’t advertise this line as outdoor furniture, simply because it is made of wood, and wood will last only so long in face of the elements. If properly cared for it will do fine out doors, but not indefinitely. Indoors or on a porch with a roof, I would go as far as to say it will last forever.

On your website I noted that you use bronze nails in building your furniture. What is the reason for that?

I use bronze nails on my Twig furniture to secure the smaller diameter twigs and saplings, and screws on the larger. The bronze nails are used because they won’t rust, and also because they are ring shanked which holds very similar to a screw. And last but not least the bronze nail heads compliments the rustic theme, without showing an unappealing contrast such as stainless steel or other more modern nails. The bronze gives the appearance that “it belongs there”.

What range of products will visitors find on your website?

Alder Brook which is myself, my family and a dear friend design and make all of the Twig and Log furniture & lamps, wooden spoons and some of the Burl furniture. On my website I also have an array of products all from local artisans, which include, hand pounded Brown Ash Baskets and pack baskets, Moose antler & bone carvings from naturally shed antlers and bones from Moose that died naturally. Burl furniture and lamps. I soon will be adding wrought Iron products from a local blacksmith along with many other products, including leather covered Gourde canteens, with native American painted surfaces.

Everyone who makes furniture has a favorite piece, what’s your signature product?

My signature piece is the Holeb Pond Rocker and Chairs both in Alder, Maple and White Birch. This is for many reasons. The first because Holeb Pond is a beautiful uninhabited pond about 20 miles into the woods. My father was born in the nearby village (from Holeb Pond)of Holeb which was a railroad village back long ago. The village of 30 people no longer exists as a village. By Grandfather and his family made their living in this tiny village for many years. Holeb village was only accessible by train. The second reason is because it took me many hours to perfect the construction which included steam bending the parts to the rockers and chairs, and kiln drying the parts to 6% moisture content. The struggle to perfecting this furniture to me was a small fraction of “struggle” compared to my forefathers who struggled to survive in a small village named Holeb. And which at the same time they cherished the tranquility of “Holeb Pond”.

What’s in store for the future?

We will be adding pieces continuously to both our twig and log furniture lines (including kits) and children’s furniture.

What makes your products different from other log and twig makers?

Alder Brook Co. stands apart from the rest very obviously, because of our style, devotion to comfort and durability, and because of pure American Pride! Our Rustic furniture doesn’t just set a rustic theme; it is actually Very comfortable to sit in, and very functional.

You made traditional furniture styles prior to 1996, why did you change paths to Rustic?

When I was making Shaker style furniture, I would walk into the woods behind the shop every morning before starting work. My journey would lead me every time to a Brook one half mile away. On my way to and from the brook/stream, I would touch and feel the surfaces of various trees and saplings, wishing to myself that I could make a living with these pieces of mother natures garden. Only because it would give me a true reason and meaning to spend so much time in the woods. To be in the woods to me is like being in heaven. I can’t spend enough time in the woods. During a two year period, my journeys in the woods were consumed by serious thought on how to bring the “woods” & my “work shop” together. Day by day, bit by bit , it slowly came together. I now spend 30% of my time in the woods looking for that perfect piece. And when I find an imperfect piece of wood, I will someday build a perfect piece of furniture with it. That is the foundation of “Rustic”. Perfection by imperfection.

Mother nature is my business partner. “What she lends to me for you to have is taken with GREAT respect, for her, and for all of us. What she has ended for it’s purposed life, I borrow to reborn a different purpose, and for that I know she is grateful as I”.

Editor’s comment… Alder Brook is located in Maine, but ships their creations all over the world. They offer FREE shipping to the United States lower 48. Visit the Alder Brook website at www.RusticTwigFurniture.com

3 comments to Spotlight on a Rustic Furniture Company

  • Anonymous

    This was a nice feature, I would like to see more interviews and companies profiled like this. Good reading and lots to learn. I visited this company and you are right in your comments, really nice stuff they make and I’ll probably be contacting them for a twig table I saw. Thanks.

  • Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  • I definitely would have bought it the first time around! It’s just beautiful and you can do so many things with it for the different seasons. It looks just beautiful as you have it
    right now…love this site.

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