Did you know - most woodworkers agree the best quality wood comes from “old growth” trees? The wood from this resource tends to be hard, dense, and stable as compared to younger trees. The catch? Getting old growth lumber from nature would require the destruction of very old forests. Whit McLeod, a Healdsburg, CA-based furniture maker, has found a unique solution to this dilemma. It's one that allows him to use the wood that makes the best furniture, while also allowing him to stick to his conviction that nature deserves responsible stewards in order to preserve our resources for the future. He forgoes harvesting the old growth from forests, which would thereby destroy natural resources, and does not work with the less desirable wood from young trees, either. The furniture is constructed from salvaged, reclaimed, discarded, and deconstructed items that gets new life as unique, beautiful, and sturdy furniture.
Whit McLeod began his furniture business in 1991, making use of a unique source of material: the wine casks from the Asti, CA-based Italian Swiss Colony winery. The story of this winery is as compelling as the idea that one man saw the old wine casks as fodder for beautiful and valuable contemporary furniture. Situated north of San Francisco, the winery began as a way for the Gold Rushers of 1849, many of whom were of Italian and Swiss descent, to find employ after the famed gold failed to materialize. As agricultural vineyard workers, they spent many years filling sturdy wine casks with their product. It is these casks that McLeod first used to begin making his sustainable furniture.
Since he first used the wine casks, McLeod has been on the lookout for other types of material that he can transform from old into new, and has found a rather endless supply. Wine barrels and casks, discarded industrial material including the steel bands and wine tank staves, and material from old bridges, buildings and other structures all find a home at Whit McLeod furniture. In addition to providing clients with beautiful, one-of-a-kind custom pieces, using wood from these sources allows McLeod to craft furniture without an environmental cost. Wood that would otherwise be left to rot or discarded becomes useful once again, and valuable forests are left untouched.
The quality and craftsmanship of Whit McLeod's furniture is immediately apparent, as almost every item is crafted by hand to order. The quality and unique attributes of the reclaimed wood and materials add charm and interest to each piece. McLeod’s pieces feature marks from tools, fasteners, and nail holes, giving each new piece a sense of history and life. Much of the material comes from sturdy oak, and the finish brings out the rich beauty and character of the wood, like the burgundy hue that comes from the oak casks.
Since Whit McLeod furniture is handmade and custom-designed, the sky’s the limit with possibilities. However, the company does have several signature pieces that have found favor with clients near and far. The Folding Wine Barrel Chair can be used indoor or out, and adds a unique focal point to any space. A side table and stool are also crafted from material left from old wine barrels. New items include the hexagon flooring tiles crafted from oak wine barrels. Old favorites such as the steel wire basket and the striking, yet comfortable, Morris Chair add that unique flair to your space.
Using a unique furniture making process involving steam bending much of the wood, using strong tenons to join pieces, and applying non-dye and non-stain finishes for better sustainability, Whit McLeod produces furniture for the ages. Utilizing material that has already seen many ages and will continue to provide joy to owners in new forms for generations to come.