A decade after its founding, Chattanooga Woodworking Academy is hosting its first furniture show, a showcase of pieces designed and built by students. The show is scheduled for Nov. 1-10 in the Chattanooga Choo Choo lobby from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
"If you appreciate the fine art and craft of woodwork, I think you will be surprised by the high quality of work," said Bill Carney, the school's founder. "These are museum quality pieces that can be handed down. All are one-off, handmade by American craftsmen."
Every piece of furniture is a unique design based on students' interpretations of traditional styles of furniture, he said. One of the academy's two furniture lines is called Tennessee Traditional, which is built in the style of Chippendale masters using hardwoods such as walnut, cherry and mahogany. The Mission on Main line — named after the Union Gospel Mission building on East Main Street that was torn down in 2013 — is an arts and crafts, or Mission style, line built from recovered old-growth heart pine.
Students plan to fill the Choo Choo lobby with furniture, but customers won't be able to haul away any pieces that day. All furniture is custom built by students and graduates from patterns designed at the school, with the items on display serving as prototypes.
People who have visited the Choo Choo in the past year may have seen the retail store opened by the school to sell handcrafted wooden gifts.
"The show is our chance to showcase the big stuff that people don't get to see," said Ryan Walker, a member of the school's first graduating class who is now an instructor. "We want people to be able to see and touch the work."
Students will also be working and doing demonstrations throughout the show, said Carney. He said handmade furniture is something people aren't used to seeing in Chattanooga, and the furniture's design, quality lumber and workmanship set it apart from typical factory-made pieces.
"We want people to realize they can get the finest quality furniture made anywhere, right here," Carney said.
The school will have a catalog and price list of all furniture pieces on-site as well as on its website at chattanoogawoodworkingacademy.org.
The Chattanooga Choo Choo is at 1400 Market St. The public is also welcome to visit the school, located at 1604 Market St., to see students at work any time.
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