Since 1899, much of the process remains the same. Every fall, when the sap is down, fathers and sons comb the hills of the Tennessee Valley for the hickory saplings. These saplings, starved for sunlight under the much larger hickory trees, grow thin but straight, reaching for the sun. While their diameters may reach only two inches, the saplings can be from fifteen to fifty years of age. With tremendous inward growth, the cellular density produces the hardest of all American hardwoods, and the ideal candidate for sturdy chairs and settees.
Once harvested, the saplings are brought to Old Hickory, where they are cut, racked, and kiln dried at temperatures that destroy all insect larvae through heat. No chemicals are necessary to rid the wood of uninvited guests.
The poles are then cut for parts, carefully sanded to the required bark texture, and tenoned and domed in preparation for final assembly.
Curved and hooped parts are soaked in a steam tank, then pressure bent into forms. After drying, the wood will retain its new shape permanently.
Each piece of wood being unique, careful measuring, drilling, and sizing is required before the final framing assembly occurs. Each joint is glued and double pinned with air driven nails; regular nails would bend given the hardness of the hickory saplings.
Frames are then final sanded, and sprayed with coloration, or clear matte finish as ordered.
Hand caning requires specially trained craftspeople. The cane is soaked in water, then applied tightly to the frames in either the open weave or herringbone patterns, to assure years of comfort, and that special "look" of Old Hickory pieces.
For the upholstered pieces, the webbing and foam are carefully wrapped around the irregular frames, with the fabric, hides, or favorite old quilt sparingly cut and shaped to each chair or settee.
Through each of these steps, quality control is the most important, from the historical as well as our present day perspective. Every craftsperson at Old Hickory realizes that soon, someone special will be receiving our product. It is the responsibility of everyone here to insure that a comfortable, good looking, and durable piece is sent to our customers.
For 100 years, our methods have basically remained the same. The rewards to the buyer have continued, through generation after generation, to those who purchase and appreciate the products of Old Hickory Furniture Company.