Who Where What When How 

WHO.   After a brief stint as a high school science teacher, I began my furniture making career by working eight years under a German Master Craftsman.  He ran a small shop employing about a dozen people including several other European craftsman. The shop specialized in reproducing high style 18th Century American antiques. I learned to work to the exacting standards set and perpetuated by the guild system which still exists in Europe. 

In 1979 I opened my own shop in the village of Cherry Valley, NY.  Two years later I moved to nearby Cooperstown. I have continued to reproduce high style 18th century American antiques with an emphasis on neoclassical Federal furniture. I developed a  second specialty when I did a series of commissions in the Gothic and Gothic Revival styles for a monastery, and later, for Lyndhurst, a National Trust for Historic Preservation site in Tarrytown, New York. 

WHERE Ralston Furniture Reproductions is located in historic Cooperstown, New York.  Founded in the late 18th century by William Cooper, the father of James Fenimore Cooper, Cooperstown is at the southern end of Otsego Lake, headwaters of the Susquehanna River.

You are welcome to visit my shop; there are usually works in progress to see, and while you are here, you can enjoy the beautiful and historic Leatherstocking region made famous by James Fenimore Cooper's many novels. Many nearby museums and the highly rated Glimmerglass Opera Company are among the other local attractions, not to mention our best known institution, The National Baseball Hall of Fame.  By car, Cooperstown is about four hours from New York City, an hour and a half west of Albany, and two hours east of Syracuse. 

WHAT.  I make custom furniture to order and also conserve period antiques.  While I mainly do reproductions, and as noted above, specialize to some degree in high style Federal and Gothic Revival pieces, the photograph galleries will show an interest and versatility over a wide range.
WHEN.  Contact me; lead times can vary greatly (I've never been able to correlate my backlog to the season, economy, political party in power, alignment of the planets, or anything else). 

HOW.  All good craftsmanship begins with the finest materials. I mainly use personally selected South American mahogany, or native cherry, maple, oak, or walnut.  Often I have the native woods custom sawn. For each project I carefully choose boards for uniformity of color and grain pattern. Construction follows the enduring principles of traditional joinery, generally mortise and tenon joints and hand cut dovetails.

In most cases I use hot hide glue, a traditional glue noted for its strength and durability. I stain pieces with either custom mixed transparent dye stains or chemical treatments, mimicking the look of a naturally aged patina. Shellac that I prepare myself is the standard finish in most instances. For table tops and similar high wear surfaces, I use a water and alcohol resistant lacquer as a topcoat. 

I work from measured drawings, existing pieces of furniture, photographs, sketches, and even, on occasion, verbal descriptions. In all but the first two cases, I provide a drawing, often full scale, for your approval before starting work. 

P.O. BOX 144     COOPERSTOWN     NEW YORK       13326
607-547-2675    e-mail   wralston212@gmail.com
Copyright 2021
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