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Winter settled in at Cherry Pond Fine Furniture located in the heart of the very White Mountains in Northern New Hampshire with sub-zero temperatures, snow, ice, dark mornings and dark afternoons. I love the word “settled”. Meteorologists use it often to describe the arctic air masses that descend from Canada: “an arctic high has settled in the region”, I heard yet again on the car radio. “Settled” means it’s not going anywhere soon; like the ne’er-do-well relative who shows up at your front door with a duffle bag and a Rottweiler. Lovely. In my humble opinion, Canadian arctic air masses should respect the border. I am certain there are multitudes who find joy in this season.

I had occasion to drop by the famous Mount Washington resort recently to meet up with my daughter who works there. As I drove up the long winding entrance, I witnessed a musher driving his team across the snow covered golf course, a group of cross- country skiers bursting out of the woods like Olympic racers, a couple power walking up the drive, and a brave soul on a bicycle. Across the street skiers and snowboarders enjoyed the trails. It was a balmy one degree Fahrenheit. I’m not a fan. I blasted the heat as I drove up to the hotel.

I’m sure Matt Smith; our Chief Engineer/IT specialist is on the same page. His mind must be dwelling on families gathered, huddling by the blazing fire in the fireplace or the warmth of the wood stove, because he’s created some wonderful pieces lately. These include cribbage boards and mancala boards in assorted sizes made from cherry, maple, and black walnut, and for those who prefer more solitary distractions, wonderful little IQ testers that can keep you captivated for a long time – unless you’re a genius of course. The large cribbage boards are not for the faint-hearted. There’s no slipping past a few holes without your opponent noticing on these “bad boys”. They are created for the die-hard, nothing is better than playing cribbage, cribbage player. Once you purchase the board, all you need is the card table. We actually had a customer from Texas order four of them. They were the usual size and shape of the metal version, only made out of cherry, finished with black lacquer, and were complete with folding legs just like the original. They looked amazing. I remember our customer thought so too.

The shop is warm enough, though Peter passes through often with a propane torch in one hand and wrenches in the other. When the arctic high “settles” in, something is always freezing up, including Bill Langevin, our lead assembler. He moved here from Florida where he had worked as a master shipwright for seventeen years. He helped to restore sixteen of the only ninety Trumpy yachts still in existence. One of the most famous of these was the Sequoia, commissioned by the Navy as the official presidential yacht. I call him the Yoda of master craftsmen, though it’s difficult to recognize him in the winter because he dresses like an Eskimo on a whale hunt. It’s his Florida blood.

The good news is (especially for Bill) that January has faded into February, and we’re that much closer to spring. February is a special month. It’s chock full of deep freezes, piles of snow, tax returns, Valentines, and definitely that time of year when we desperately want to throttle the Groundhog. But at least it’s short.

Caroline Lack

I am in love with my dresser.   

 

Now, right off the bat that’s going to sound a little weird, but it isn’t, really. Be assured that this relationship is purely platonic and one of great admiration. It’s pretty clear that great OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdressers don’t have the capacity to engage in any nonsense. Rather they stand quietly in their appointed place and do their job. The select few that are properly made and treated will serve for generations and gain great value as antiques through the passage of the years, or centuries.

The subject dresser has ten drawers, sits directly in line with our bed so that when we wake up it’s the first thing we see over the foot rail. It’s very reassuring to find that it hasn’t gone some place during the night. At first glance it may seem like any ordinary dresser but then we notice the warm glow of the drawer fronts and notice too that each drawer front is made from the same cherry board with end-to-end matching grain. Nice touch!

Then we approach the dresser to open the drawers and get out the necessaries for the day. They glide effortlessly and when gently returned they do so with a very satisfying “thunk”. If loaded beyond capacity, sometimes as in my wife’s case, the “thunk” is not quite so elegant.  Note, she has the six foot model; I have the five foot edition.

What makes these drawers operate so nicely is a matched pair of wooden under-mount slides. The drawers travel in and out smoothly without wiggling side to side or sticking.

I am a great fan of properly installed wooden drawer guides. In the event of a mishap or accident they are easily repaired or replaced. As for durability over centuries wood wins hands down; no rust or worn out plastic bearings. Please note that many of our customers prefer metal slides of which there are many versions and qualities. In spite of our preference for wood slides cheerful adaptions of customers’ views are the norm; there are instances where metal slides are preferable.

Another great sensation is running hands over the surfaces and joinery feeling the inherent smoothness and noticing the precision fit. This is quality speak! It feels as great as it looks! The custom blended oil finish is lovely, environmentally friendly, long lasting, enhances the character of our wood surfaces and is easier to repair or refresh than any other quality wood finishes.

Please note that my enthusiastic and romantic feelings for this great piece of fine furniture and all of its sisters, brothers and cousins are entirely objective in every way, in spite of my close relationship with the makers as one of the founders. Cherry Pond Fine Furniture is truly dedicated to its’ high standards of quality, service and customer relationships.

It is indeed a privilege to be associated with this small band of furniture makers whose skills, ingenuity, dedication to quality and service are at the core of our mission of offering superlative products to discriminating owners.  Nor should we fail to acknowledge our suppliers, our bankers and, above all, our customers, all of whom play integral roles in our very small rendition of the American Dream.

Thanks Guys & Gals! For all that you do…and are!

– The Wood Blogger

 

 

800w-Peter Guest, Sr with family and friends, Circa 1939_FBUp to this point, as an active octogenarian, I have studiously avoided social media thinking all these outlets were poor substitutes for the cocktail parties popular in my parents’ day.  

I was a frequent guest at these even when young because my parents were responsible enough not to leave me on my own but unwilling to miss a good party. These gatherings led to life-long friendships with adults who later in life became cherished and valued connections. I hasten to add that I never saw any of these great folks be anything other than animated, stimulating, great conversationalists, intelligent, kind and thoughtful. I am very proud and happy to have been considered a friend.
It turns out that these social gatherings also led to my first piece of business. One evening, I negotiated my first commission as a fledgling wood worker, a fold-down table mounted to the kitchen wall (made of cherry of course) for our hostess.  Memorable chiefly because I still sport a constant reminder: in-line scars on my left hand between the roots of the thumb and forefinger, top and bottom, caused by an errant chisel. As I got older, chisels became a little more  friendly.

Those days were great and what’s really nice is that a lot of the same elements that made those special also work in today’s social media world. We meet, we start to talk about common interests and pretty soon we’re looking for ways to help you find the furniture that not only works for you but will be an heirloom with all the memories that come with things that last a long time.

So, Cherry Pond Fine Furniture will be out there mingling with the masses and connecting with all you discriminating folks with good taste, appreciation for first-class service, quality and durability for generations to come. That is our mantra! Thanks for tuning in!  
–    The Wood Blogger

 

Oriental Style Custom Dresser

Locating craftsmen to build custom, handcrafted, heirloom quality fine furniture for a decent price is a stretch on a good day.  At Cherry Pond Fine Furniture, nestled in the heart of the White Mountains in Northern New Hampshire, we do it every day.
Peter, our President, is kept busy figuring quotes for a multitude of customers who need either minor changes, such as a coffee table widened or end cabinets shrunk, to major innovations that result in our company creating an entirely new conceptual piece.  I especially appreciate finish sanding these custom pieces. Perhaps it’s the artist in me that enjoys the creative imaginations of our customers who take something that is naturally beautiful and make it their own.
A particular favorite of mine came from customers in Chicago who called their creation a “Bar Cupboard”.  They began with a Cambridge double buffet and hutch set built out of hard maple.  To customize it, they added two rows of wine racks at the base of the hutch, glass shelves, lights in the hutch and another light under the hutch which shone on the counter top which was to be made of stone (though an inch thick black walnut or tiger maple top finished with catalyzed lacquer would also be effective).   They wanted the width of the set slimmer than normal while adding height to the hutch and depth to accommodate the wine bottles.  The result was a beautifully lit wine station with the white wood of the maple adding to the luminescence.  It was an amazing creation.  I just did not realize our Cambridge hutch and buffet could do all that.
Building custom furniture can range from something relatively simple (such as when shrinking or enlarging a piece)  to incredibly complicated (like when Matt, our chief engineer, built the spinning nautilus wall art project for the daughter of an MIT professor).   The process begins with Peter bringing his custom request to Matt, either in the form of specific dimensions, or just a general idea, like when Mike from California asked us to build a surfboard coffee table in the Jackson style.  Matt does a drawing, which is sent to the customer for acceptance or changes,  and we take it from there.  Sometimes, if it is something entirely new, (like Mike’s table), Matt will build a mock-up out of plywood just to get the visual and make any changes as necessary.  For this project, Matt built a tiny one, then a plywood version, a maple version, then finally the actual top.  Of course, the boys took a break to enjoy a ride on the board and Peter joined them with a more safety conscious simulated approach.

There is so much to tell you about our custom work, I will have to save the story about the Quincy bed for next time, but what I really love is this: Throughout our shop, when we are doing custom work, the customer becomes very personal to us. Their first name gets attached to the piece from wood selection in the rough end to the finishing process.  Eli’s three drawer cabinets have the custom sliding tray in the top (shown below in center) and his twelve drawer Verdana dresser has extra-large custom drawers throughout (shown below on left).  Ellen’s night stands just went into finishing and Jim and Debbie’s bedroom set should reach California in two weeks.  Today I finally got to see the top which goes to Steve’s seven drawer dresser (shown below on right).  It is extra wide with a special bend which gives it an oriental flavor.  It feels like we are creating these very special pieces for family.  Our days are filled with endless variety.
I will remind Peter to post a photo of the surfboard table when it is finished.  In the meantime, people, keep those ideas coming!

 

Eli_Custom DresserOriental Style Custom DresserCustom End Table with Slide Out Tray                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Peter Guest, Sr and his father, Ed Circa 1937

Founder, Peter Guest, Sr. or “The Wood Blogger” Peter Guest, Sr. with his father Edwin Guest, circa 1937

My present for Christmas, nine days before my eleventh birthday, was a Sears Roebuck  lathe, a few basic turning tools and a box full of wood chunks. My dad and I had already built a work bench in the cellar so we set up the lathe and, after extensive orientation, I was on my own. I was big on candle sticks, baseball bats, ashtrays, crude bowls and managed to avoid hurting myself.

That was my introduction to wood working; a practice that has run for seven generations in my known family and probably generations before that in France, later England and, starting in the late seventeen hundreds, the colonies.

Our first ancestral records in the New York City archives, beginning in 1796, include a long line of Guests starting with William Guest followed by sons and grandsons including Williams’ two and three, all of whom had many brothers and sisters which may explain, in part, how New York City became so populous.

The three Williams, along with some of their brothers, were talented woodworkers and furniture makers.  Based on conversations with my late grandmother, William one and two may have provided woodwork for St. Paul’s Chapel and Trinity Church (Land marks in lower Manhattan).  In the 1950’s the successor family company provided wood work for renovations in both buildings.

My grandmother was pretty discreet but it seemed quite clear that William one and his successors contributed their talents not only to the building of wood work including the bar for Fraunces tavern  (historic tavern, restaurant and now museum in New York City) but were  dedicated patrons

 George Washington gave an historic farewell dinner and speech at the tavern following the conclusion of the revolutionary war. I like to think that my ancestors were there.

This is my first attempt at a blog. It is interesting, at this advanced segment of my life, to learn to  run a computer and ramble a little bit about how Cherry Pond Fine Furniture evolved from seven generations of businesses  founded on the utilization  of our favorite natural resource.

Yesterday, mid-morning, I drove northwards through Franconia Notch. It was one of the most spectacular days of my life in the North Country.  The sky was brilliant, the foliage was luminescent. How fortunate we are for the abundant forests…the miraculous, self-sustaining, enduring and versatile material we call wood, and the privilege of transforming it to useful and beautiful furnishings for the ages.

 

 

 

Autumn has descended on Cherry Pond Fine Furniture.  One night, while we were all in a deep sleep, a long wind rushed in and painted everything, from the lowliest shrub to the most majestic maple, a riot of brilliant reds, neon oranges, lemon yellow, burnt umber, lime green, chartreuse, gold, and vermillion.  I want to rush out and buy a pumpkin! 

Autumn with Hay BalesIt began subtly enough.  By the end of September, when every view still showcased various shades of green, the young maple saplings turned crimson red, peering out from the dark green forest surrounding them like overexcited children ready for the party before everyone else.  A few days and one very cool night later every living thing was awash in color.  Mums sprung up in town planters, meridians, home gardens, and grocery stores.  Pumpkins piled halfway up the wall at the local market and adorned porches all over town. 

How can you live in the White Mountain National Forest in Northern New Hampshire and not love autumn?  I mean seriously.  The brilliant, sunny, 70 degree days are perfect for haying.  In the backdrop of work and play there is the constant muted whirring of tractors dragging the hay baler and the smell of fresh cut grass.  The five-foot round bales left behind in the field appear instantly; like a woodland fairy tipped her wand and said, “I want one here, and over there, and some here, and maybe here, and here, and here, and here” and *POOF* hay bales in every open grassland from Jefferson to eternity.  They are as much a part of the season as pumpkins. 

Of course our Cherry Pond Fine Furniture showroom gets its fair share of autumn tourist traffic – which makes us all happy.  They are not like the summer and winter tourists who rush from one activity to the next; from kayaking to swimming to hiking to skiing to sledding to snowmobiling.  They are here to simply look, to savor, and to soak in the splendor of their surroundings; sustenance for the spirit.  My favorite question to ask each new customer is “Where are you from?”  It always amazes me when someone from Colorado, California or Texas would find us.  

The most obvious sign of the autumn tourist season in full swing is the multitude of cars pulled to the side of the road holding their cameras.  Peter Guest, our illustrious President, and I recently went on a photographic adventure per request from a customer in southern California.  Every hundred feet or so we would peer through a clearing and discover a spectacular vista to photograph.  It was a short trip.  (Jim and Debbie, By the Sea, this was for you).

 Less than a mile from our shop there is a very special place where artists often set up easels to paint the scene.  This particular spot is called “The Meadows”.  It is a river valley completely surrounded by mountains.  If you stand on the bridge and look northwest, which the artists do, the green valley runs flat and straight and true like a giant runway (dotted with a few cows) straight to the foothills of the Presidential Range.  From this vantage point there is no doubt that Mount Washington is the master and commander.  The autumn colors climb about one third up Mount Washington, then the dark green pines take over.  At the top third, there is nothing but rock.  It is an amazing sight, breathtaking.

 I think about this when I am working.  We are so lucky to be surrounded by such wealth, and challenged by it too.  When we are handling the very material which gives us so much, how can we do less than our personal best with each piece of furniture we create?  It’s no wonder our small shop creates heirloom quality fine furniture.  Anything less would seem an insult. 

Today Neil, who handles the rough wood and imagines the perfect matches he creates from it, came to me with a board about 12 inches wide and 70 inches long.  He wanted to make two matching drawer fronts from it but wasn’t sure that a couple of marks at one end would pass muster.  Any shop like ours that relies on profits from production would frown on an employee deviating from his task, but Peter encourages this kind of collaboration.  This is why we get a result we can be proud of.  This is why it works. 

I was outside this afternoon when a flock of Canada geese flew south right over the shop.  My right brain warned me I shouldn’t look up, but my left brain couldn’t help it.  They flew in their typical “V” formation with the inevitable straggler calling from the rear.  Another amazing sound of autumn.

by Caroline Lack

peterFrom the desk of Peter Guest Jr., President of Cherry Pond Fine Furniture.

     I want to tell you who we are and what we do. A little background : my family has been in the woodworking business for six generations. My father, Peter Guest Sr., and his father, moved their millwork co. from Norwalk, Ct. to Whitefield, N.H. in 1967.  I was ten years old. That co. morphed into Brown St. Furniture, and Peter Sr. retired as president and CEO in the 90’s. However, he could not retire. Cherry Pond Fine Furniture was born out of his undying desire to create and innovate.
 
     My beginning here at Cherry Pond was unplanned. I was working in residential construction when I came out to Jefferson, N.H. to help Peter Sr. and my brother, John Guest, construct a passive solar building that was originally supposed to be Peter Sr.’s hobby shop. You might have guessed where this goes: With his relationships and contacts in the industry, we were in business by 1991.
 
     Our first pieces were mainly traditional shaker designs using mostly cherry but some maple. We advertised in magazines and Peter Sr.’s dealer network from his former company was instrumental in getting our product out there.Times were good and we grew. Sam Cushing, who was also a refugee from the construction industry, came to work with us. His talent was design, engineering, and later, sales. Though Sam left us to pursue other interests, many product lines he designed and developed are still very popular today. Nothing stays the same:time marches on.
    
     Though the vistas are breathtaking, living in northern N.H. is not easy. Those who choose to do so, I feel, have dug their heels in and made their stand. This describes the employees and CPFF: some are native, some came from somewhere else and stayed. Our crew is diverse, talented, and dedicated. Our mission is to produce the highest quality furniture, using the best materials, at a fair price, and stand behind it.
 
     I hope you have enjoyed this small glimpse into the beginnings of CPFF. The sun is setting on the pond reminding me its time to sign off. More next time.
 

Peter Guest

President