May 9, 2017

Kentucky Wood Furniture

I met a guy. 
On the internet. 
A guy on Instagram. 
I left a comment. And he replied. :-) 
Are you curious? 



Sounds like a dating app but really it is about my discovering William Ney, a Kentucky furniture maker. 

We chatted a bit and then discovered that we both graduated from Transylvania University...though a few decades apart. :-)




My favorite William Ney table so far! 
Solid Kentucky Black Walnut.

I saw the table above, ...and I was "hooked." You all know that I love beautiful wood. And I love furniture that is made from KY wood. I especially love pieces that will last a hundred years or more and can be passed down through a family. 

That's just a thing for me that goes along with my love of Ky history, Ky architecture, Ky made furniture, my pioneer ancestors,....the love of the land, etc.   

So...here is a young man of Kentucky pioneer heritage, who makes furniture from Kentucky trees. Let's see what he is all about. 


Meet William Ney, a graduate of Transylvania University, with a BA in philosophy. He is a native Kentuckian and grew up on a farm in Central Kentucky that has been in his family for six generations. William sells tables locally and out of state by commission. 

William was gracious enough to share his philosophy of wood and furniture making...

I believe that beauty resides in subtlety. 

When choosing the wood for a particular project I try to pick a species that compliments rather than dominates the design. 

The goal in my furniture is to build pieces that reflect the values of the individual commissioning the piece. I don’t want to make a table that dominates a kitchen, rather one which fits into it almost symbiotically.



An understated but well-made piece in which the complexity of joinery and various design elements are only revealed upon closer inspection. 

Furniture has the ability to communicate much about the individual who owns it; it can do this quietly and to the point with no need to shout or bolster. 





If I’m working with a local client I will always use locally harvested materials. A few of my favorite species that can be found in KY are, Black Walnut, White Oak, and Red Maple. 

  • White Oak is an amazingly resilient wood, almost impervious to insects and water resistant. Quarter sawn white oak displays beautiful rays and flecks but, in my opinion, can easily dominate the aesthetics of a piece so I try to use this wood to accent or highlight design details. 
  • Red maple is and amazingly gracious wood to work with and can show extremely interesting grain especially when spalting is present. 
  • I simply love black walnut. I actually mill a lot of the black walnut I use myself with an Alaskan Chainsaw mill. I have found air-dried Kentucky Black Walnut to have incredibly rich color and the sapwood is almost white giving extremely interesting contrast when desired.  





In general whether I’m making a piece for someone local or as far away as California I try to limit myself to domestic species of wood. Wood is a natural resource, exotic woods from abroad are often harvested in an unethical non-sustainable manner, it’s simply a problem I choose not to contribute to and the great variety and beauty of wood that can be sourced locally makes the choice an easy one.  





If it were up to me, and it rarely is, I would finish each piece with oil and wax. The beauty and depth one can achieve through this simple type of finish is unrivaled in my opinion. An oil and wax finish also permits one to actually touch the wood instead of a plastic barrier. 

I find there is something inherently pleasing about the way wood feels. Realistically this type of finish is not for everyone. The downside to an oil and wax finish is that it is not as durable as the commercially available polyurethane based finishes. 




Most furniture is now finished using some derivative of polyurethane and it is indeed extremely durable. 

From my perspective however, the compromise is too great considering you are basically laying a plastic barrier over the furniture. I don’t like to touch a beautiful piece of furniture and feel plastic, I don’t know, it just seems that something is lost from the experience.


Although an oil and wax finish is not as durable, and requires some care, it also is easily repairable and the brilliance of the piece can be replenished by simply adding some more oil. 


With a polyurethane based finish if it gets dented or scratched the process of refinishing can be an absolute nightmare.



The relationship between an individual and their furniture should be considered like all important relationships in our lives, as a dance.

The piece will provide lifetimes of beauty and service but requires the owner to care for it. You ask much of it, in return it asks something of you and from my perspective this is a more balanced way to consider the things we choose to spend our money on. 



We live in a culture that tends to be more interested in consuming than creating, in replacing rather than repairing. I think this is unfortunate if not counterproductive in improving the world we live in. 

Population increase and the alarming rate of 
natural resource consumption should give pause 
to individuals considering their next piece of
IKEA furniture. 

You may save some money in the short term but after you have replaced that table in two years, how much money are you really saving? And how much waste are you creating?

Well-made furniture from locally harvested materials produced by hand will cost you more up front, but in the long run when you have a table that you can pass down to your great grandchildren, well, perhaps the long term savings are greater than expected. 


Although I have sold some pieces through local merchants, my work is predominantly commission based. I really enjoy working with local clients and the ability to communicate face to face is always a plus. 

Although the logistics can be a bit intimidating, I also have individuals who commission tables from out of state including. LA, California, Brooklyn, NY, Austin, TX, Portland, OR, and Seattle, WA. 




I have yet to ship anything internationally, although I have worked with some perspective clients in Western Europe nothing has come to fruition, however I’m certainly open to the prospect.



I am also in love with this table!



You can see that William Ney designs many different styles. If you are wanting a hand made Kentucky wood table...give him a call, or find him on Instagram, Facebook, or his own website


I suggested to William that Transy needed to commission him to make a table for the school from one of the campus trees. I mean it seems to me that a full circle thing thing would be going on here. Ok Transy / Dr.Carey ...call William Ney!



William's tables are....
Quite literally  the "table", in the farm- to- table movement.

Here is my full circle theory...

  • Transylvania was the name of the survey company that marked off Kentucky, that was then part of Virginia. 
  • Transylvania is the oldest school west of the Allegheny mountains...founded in 1780, two years before Ky became a state. 
  • William Ney's family is original to the state, i.e. pioneers. 
  • William went to Transylvania, and works with old Kentucky wood. (Did you see the size of his tree slabs in the photos!)

Solid Cherry Natural Edge


The mission of Ney Custom Tables is simple. Heirloom quality tables from sustainably locally-sourced material with an understate  organic design. These are tables that are built to last many generations, it follows logically that the design should stay relevant as well. Commissioning a table to be made can be a, simple, enjoyable, and quick process with a lead time of no more than 6-8 weeks.  The process is fluid from concept delivery and requires as much or as little attention from the client as the client desires.



Get in touch with William so that he can make a great table for you!

I love discovering talented young Kentucky craftspeople. 


371 United Court #7 
Lexington, Kentucky 40509

 
Quite literally  the "table", in the farm- to- table movement


Until the next time...





My Kentucky Living
My Kentucky Living

Hello, I'm Sheila and my house is a giant art project! I enjoy creating an environment where my family can feel safe, secure, and loved. We are empty nesters learning to slow down and enjoy life.

20 comments:

  1. Sheila, I would call William Ney a furniture making artist. All those wonderful pieces are works of art. My husband works in wood and he loves the natural grain of the wood to show. Blessings, xoxo, Susie

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words Susie.
      Best,
      Will

      Delete
    2. Thank you for the kind words Susie.
      Best,
      Will

      Delete
  2. Those are all gorgeous pieces and he does beautiful work--heirloom quality work. I love the live edge on so many of the pieces. They make the each piece truly unique. Thanks for featuring him here. Hopefully, someone else will 'find' him and his work will become even more widely known. xo Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words Diana.
      Best,
      Will

      Delete
  3. What a special young man! Not only is he a skilled craftsman, he understands why his craft is so important.

    ReplyDelete
  4. He creates some very fantastic tables. They are all beautiful and I like his philosophy about using local wood and avoiding the imported woods that may not have been responsibly harvested. I've always enjoyed seeing wood finished in a stain or oiled. That last cherry table knocks me out!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Liz. I appreciate the kind words.

      Delete
  5. Thank you Donna. It truly is important to me.

    ReplyDelete
  6. William Ney, what a God given talent. Nothing we own beats a hand made item made with love. This brings me back to being a little girl in VA. My uncle used black walnut trees on my grandfather's land to make kitchen cabinets. I loved the process. To this day I love working with my hands.
    How lucky are you Sheila to have found this "man on the Internet"
    PS I love that giant white kitchen and dining room full of cabinets too.
    Thanks for brightening my day.
    Myrna

    ReplyDelete
  7. William Ney, what a God given talent. Nothing we own beats a hand made item made with love. This brings me back to being a little girl in VA. My uncle used black walnut trees on my grandfather's land to make kitchen cabinets. I loved the process. To this day I love working with my hands.
    How lucky are you Sheila to have found this "man on the Internet"
    PS I love that giant white kitchen and dining room full of cabinets too.
    Thanks for brightening my day.
    Myrna

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words Myrna, love is always the most important ingredient.

      Delete
  8. Wow...everything is SO pretty! :)

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for recipes, crafts, tips, and tricks: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the interest Jessica, if you would like anything more specific for your group let me know!

      Delete
  9. What beautiful furniture! :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. So much I didn't know! I love beautiful wood furniture. William's pieces are stunning!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words Cathy.

      Delete
  11. Wow. His tables are art!

    ReplyDelete
  12. William is incredibly talented and who wouldn't love to have one of these beautiful tables.

    ReplyDelete

I love reading your comments! Thanks so much for visiting and reaching out to me. That's how we become friends!
Sheila

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