Cheese-Whey Varnish Finishes Furniture Classics
By Matt Schumake | Posted: 03/24/2014 9:45AM
Ethan Abramson's fine woodworking process begins with a hand-drafted design and ends with a natural finish derived from whey protein--a by-product of the cheese-making industry.
Abramson's choice in using a natural finish is not only for his own health, but also for the well-being of his customers and the environment.
The goal is to keep the process “As human and hands-on as possible." There’s a lot he strives for in crafting original tables, chairs, and custom pieces, but the human element is certainly present throughout.
The Wall Street Journal recently featured his oak Irving Chair as one of its favorite spring designs. The article, “Eight Best New Wooden Chairs,” highlighted his piece at the top of the list, noting how the curvature of the legs “echoes the line of the sitter’s own limbs.”
If the chair were a person, he told the Journal, “It would be someone with timeless style, who respects tradition but isn’t dictated by it.”
Both traditional and modern techniques drive Abramson's process. At his woodshop in Westchester, NY, he keeps a SawStop table saw at the center of production. He also uses a Bosch router with a JessEm lift and various templates to reproduce his designs.
Aside from SawStop’s built-in safety features for woodworkers, and his belief that the company builds quality machines, Abramson likes working with SawStop because he is particularly satisfied with the customer service team. He sees them as knowledgeable people who are happy to field questions and resolve issues.
With the creation of his furniture lines, Abramson maintains a personal connection at each stage. For larger jobs like cabinetry and installations, he will bring in a team to assist in building. But for the most part, he prefers to handle the entire process on his own.
From the initial sketches to wood selection, cutting, assembling, and finishing, he is personally invested.
“Everything that comes out of my shop, I can attest to,” he says.
Before starting his own company, Abramson worked in the commercial interior design industry and in a shop setting where he rose to the rank of foreman. During that time, he started taking note of how he would eventually shape his own space. Environmental impact became one of his top priorities—spurring his decision to protect his pieces with all-natural finishes and to also minimize the waste of materials.
About the Author
Matt SchumakeAs a writer for Woodworking Network, Matt reports on tools, trends, innovations and business methods in the woodworking industry. His experience spans e-commerce and marketing, and he specializes in developing web and media presence for businesses small and large. In addition to writing, Matt builds custom wood furniture pieces at his home in Chicago, Illinois. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org