Ross Timberlake marks out a table at his Bethel furniture shop.

The S. Timberlake Shaker and custom furniture company of Bethel provides visitors and customers a view of how wood is transformed into furniture by hand.

The business was established in 1974 by the late Sam Timberlake and his son, Ross. The company makes Shaker reproduction chairs, stools and rocking chairs, as well as custom pieces.

The ladderback chairs made at various Shaker communities in 17th century England and America have a common appearance: a simple, light-weight, “rung-constructed” chair with a finial atop the back legs, an indicator of the chair’s origin. The backward tilt of the chairs makes them more comfortable than other early American designs.

A visit to Timberlake’s workshop at 158 Mayville Road (Route 2) in Bethel is an education in how chairs, tables and other pieces are shaped and put together, start to finish.

“We have always shown people how we go about doing things,” said Timberlake.

For customers, he said, “We’ve taken it to a new level. It goes with made-to-order. We have people selecting their own wood. It gives an education on the whole process.”

Observing Timberlake at work is also a demonstration, he said, of “why furniture takes the time it does.”

Shaker furniture on display at S. Timberlake.

He can put a pretty accurate estimate on the time needed to create various pieces – for example, about five hours for a Shaker chair, 12 hours for a table.

After having the building process described to them customers come away with an appreciation of it, “but they also start looking at everything in their own home in a different way, realizing more what goes into it,” Timberlake said.

Visitors can also gain an appreciation for the sustainability approach Timberlake takes to using wood.

“We try to utilize everything that comes out of a board,” he said. Short pieces of wood left over may end up in a cutting board. The shavings may go to a local person who raises chickens.

Timberlake enjoys sharing his knowledge about wood. And if the conversation finally wanes, he’s just as likely to pull one of his guitars that hang on the walls down and start playing.

Hours at the business are Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Shop Tours are given on Fridays from 12 -4. It is highly recommended you call ahead for an appointment. 207 824-1149 or 207 357-4847 or [email protected]). The website may be found at stimberlake.com

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