Furniture Materials


Charles Shackleton Furniture focuses on domestic hardwoods traditionally used for fine furniture making going back to Colonial times.  These include American Black Walnut, American Black Cherry, and Sugar Maple.  The "black" in the walnut and cherry refers to the color of the fruit, not the wood.  All three woods have a tight grain that allows for the fine detailed carvings that are hallmarks of our furniture. All of the woods are responsibly harvested in the United States, shipped regionally, and are in ample supply, making them all naturally sustainable choices for the home.  

Maple wood sample, a light golden brown


Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum) is the lightest wood that we use at Charles Shackleton Furniture and is used mostly in our Naked Table line, though we also use it for other pieces on request.  A favorite variation of Maple is Tiger Maple, a naturally occurring mutation that creates beautifully prismatic stripes running perpendicular to the grain of the wood.  This highly prized form comes at a premium.

Vermont is known for its maple trees and the products that come from it. Our maple comes from our home state as well as the greater Northeast.  

When finished with an oil based finish, the maple will turn more golden over time as it oxidizes.  However, if the desire is to keep the pale, fresh color of new maple, we can use the Vermont Natural Coatings whey based finish which does not change color, though the finish will not be as silky as with oil. 



sample of cherry wood, mid reddish brown



American Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) is our most popular species chosen for furniture.  It has been used for fine furniture since the earliest European cabinet makers arrived in North America.  It has a regular, straight grain, and a workability that makes it a joy to work with.  While a light reddish brown in the raw, it deepens to a rich, warm brown with oil and time, particularly in the first six months.

It is abundant in the United States, the best coming from Pennsylvania, as well as throughout the Appalachians and Southern regions of the United States.








American Black Walnut (Juglans nigra) is the darkest of the woods used for our furniture.  It has greater variation in its color and grain than cherry and therefore requires more raw material to match the boards for the best final product.  It is, therefore, a premium wood.  It is prized for its rich, chocolatey brown and beautiful, swirling grain.  Before the oil finish is applied, it can have a purple cast to the raw wood.  After oil, the walnut really shines, accentuating the depth of color.  Walnut can compliment both traditional and modern designs and allows for deep shadows that make intricate carvings stand out. 





Cottage Chairs, Rockers, Benches, and Stools can be woven with Shaker tape or Natural Rush. 


Natural Rush is a traditional material made from cattail grasses.  These grasses are collected from swampy areas, dried, and twisted for weaving material.  When finished, it has remarkable strength and unmatched character.


Shaker Tape is 100% cotton canvas webbing woven for a durable, utilitarian seat.  As the name implies, it was the preferred seating for chairs made by the Shakers, the great innovators of practical American furniture design and manufacturing.  

Color options for Shaker Tape
Shaker tape seats may be woven with a single color or a combination of two colors to create a checkerboard or herringbone pattern.