Our Materials and Finishes

Our Wood Selection

In keeping with the tradition of our business, the woods we offer are the woods "at hand" in our town and region. Historically, Tappan Chairs were predominantly combinations of hard maple and white ash--choices reflective of the need for rugged durability in primitive household furniture. In recent times, we have responded to popular calls for finer local furniture woods, which take the smooth and simple lines of our historic chairs and give them an elegant turn---for a beautiful and surprisingly contemporary feel. 

Historically, the durability of a Tappan Chair has come not only from the woods chosen in its build but also from their pairing: a slower-drying wood, such as maple, was used for the posts, while a quicker drying wood such as ash was used for the rungs. To this day we continue to employ this tool of disparate moisture, utilizing air-dried lumber for our posts and kiln dried dowel stock as the basis for our rungs and seat rails. The higher moisture of the post wood causes them to gradually shrink and tighten around the rungs, making each chair even sturdier over time...another small part of the local Tappan Chair legend.

Seating Colors

Rush or ash splint was the traditional seating material for the earliest known Tappan Chairs, as well as for this style of chair as a whole, hence the name "basket-bottomed chairs", which is sometimes still heard. Rush or ash seats, however, tend to dry and split with age. Our preferred seating material is Shaker tape, which has proven consistently more durable and comfortable over many years of use. Shaker tape is available in 5/8" and 1" widths; 1" tape is woven in a checkerboard style, while 5/8" tape is woven in a herringbone, cross, or diamond pattern. Any two color combinations may be chosen (including two identical colors, providing a solid-color weave). Whenever possible, we source our tape from U.S. manufacturers.

Seating Patterns

Seats can be woven with one or two colors. 1" tapes are woven in a checkerboard pattern and 5/8" tapes are woven in a herringbone, cross, or diamond pattern. You can find an extensive variety of colors and weave pattern combinations, chosen by other customers, on Facebook and Pinterest!

Our Finishes

Odie's Oil is an all-natural oil and wax combination that is non-toxic both in use and finish. It hardens and achieves an even greater luster over time, and is highly resistant to stains and moisture. Dings and scratches from wear are easily sanded out and all it takes is a dab of Odie's to blend everything back in seamlessly. It makes any wood look incredible--maple, ash, and red oak glow and cherry and walnut move to a higher plane. We can't recommend it enough!

 Old Fashioned Milk Paint is a safe, organic, and all-natural paint made with the same basic ingredients used for hundreds of years--milk protein, lime, and earth pigments. They carry an extensive and beautiful line of historic colors--we are happy to use any of them on any traditionally-made hard maple and white ash Tappan Chair.