Blackwater Woodworks is a small furniture design studio run by Rick Laufer. The studio is located on a picturesque five-acre hillside in Bentley Springs, Maryland. Bentley Springs is a tiny hamlet known for its crisscrossing streams and springs, that once featured a railroad station, post office, general store, and hotel. These are gone now, as is the railroad. In their place is the North Central Railroad hike/bike path. This trail runs from Baltimore up into Pennsylvania and is one of the premiere bike paths in the state.
In his work, Rick strives to create furniture that accentuates the natural beauty of the trees that grow in the area. He works with Appalachian hardwoods, usually cherry and black walnut, often using figured lumber with significant color variation.
His work has appeared in many articles and books. Among them, has appeared in include: the cover of Woodshop News; in Custom Woodworking Business magazine; the Custom Furniture Source Book: a Guide to 125 Craftsman, by Kerry Pierce; 500 Chairs, published by Lark Books. He is a past finalist and winner of the prestigious Niche award, and is a 2014 finalist for the award for The Cooks Tablet Stand, issued by Niche Magazine.
Rick has also appeared in various art craft shows and exhibitions including the Philadelphia Fine Furniture Show; the Crafts at the Castle in Boston; the Washington Craft Show; the Paradise City Art and Craft festival; the Providence Fine Furniture show and the American Craft Council Baltimore event. His work has been shown at the Grovewood Gallery in Asheville NC; the Artful Hand Gallery in Boston; the Rentz Gallery in Richmond VA; The Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft; theTarget Gallery in Alexandria VA; the Chair Show 4 exhibition sponsored by the Southern Highland Craft Guild.
Every piece of furniture begins with a sketch. I'm looking for form and flow and ultimately how a piece feels. In a chair particularly, angles matter. If the front leg is too high, the chair won't feel right. If the back doesn't tilt right, it won't work. If its too blocky, it just won't look right. An arm has to flow out of the leg, with a consistent line. The crest has to flow from the back legs. The spindles have to echo the curve of the legs. The intersection of the back support and seat is critical to the the ultimate feel of the chair, and the hardest to get right. We've all sat in chairs that were too upright, with little or no back support. I test each piece I make for proper fit, and make adjustments as necessary.
The wood for each piece is carefully selected to match figure, pattern and grain, using the best kiln dried local hardwoods available. Whenever possible I mix in the lighter shaded sapwood and the darker heartwood, because of the wonderful color patterns this can create.
Every piece of furniture I sell is made in the studio, from the milling of the rough timber to the final finishing. I generally finish with shellac or a mix of oil and urethane handrubbed many times onto the piece.
I usually use mortise and tenon joints for strength. When possible the joints are precision cut with computerized cutting tools and then hand fitted. Several of my chairs use a modified "Maloof" notched rabbet joint reinforced with a floating tenon.
To create curves in chair arms or crest rails I often join wood at angles with splines or tenons. Exposed joinery can add interesting detail to a piece. The curved bench starts with a single block of 8/4 wood that is cut in two and then rejoined at an angle using both splines and tenons.
The seats for the wood chairs are made of a single 2 inch plank of wood about 10 feet long. Using one board ensures that the grain for the seatplanks will match. I cut the board into pieces about 24 inches long and then rejoin by joining boards with small tenons. The resulting block of wood is then sculpted to form the seat. I use chisels and rasps and a very large disc sander to get the right shape.
Each piece is signed before it leaves the studio.
Placement of Orders - Each piece is made individually, and can be customized to suit you. For example, chairs can be made taller or wider to fit. You may select the wood. I like cherry and walnut, but maple or another native hardwood can also be used. Orders are filled as they are received. Because each piece is individually hand crafted, there is roughly a three to six-month turnaround on orders. But if you have a special need for an item by a particular date, we will do our best to work with you. A 50 percent deposit is required upon placement of an order, with the balance to be paid prior to shipping. When your order is nearing completion, we will call you to arrange a delivery time.
Shipping and Delivery - Shipping within a 50-mile or so radius of the studio is free of charge. Sales tax is 6 percent for Maryland residents. Deliveries at a greater distance are made through a blanket-wrapped art shipping service. I charge whatever they charge me and it usually amounts to seven to 15 percent of the cost of the item.
If you are interested in ordering a piece or if you have any questions, please call (410) 847-4267. Or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.